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theinsider Glendale Fighting Club Local martial artists are gaining recognition in sports competition.

To Protect and to Serve Glendale’s police department commemorates a fallen officer

Invisible Children Will Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony ever be brought to justice?

What’s Cookin’? The Culinary Arts Department celebrates regional cooking while training cooks

and more inside... Glendale Community College


Glendale Community College Magazine Spring 2012

From the Editor something for everyone Welcome to the 5th issue of the Insider! Glendale Community College’s campus magazine is staffed by the students of the Journalism 107 class, feature writing for magazines. All of the content is created by students, many of whom have never taken a writing class before. The students may write about whatever they like, as long as it relates to the campus and surrounding community. So what do we get? An incredible variety. The Insider starts with two stories from Glendale: the police pay tribute to a fallen officer with a memorial bike ride, and the archivist at the public library keeps history relevant and accessible in the special collections room. Serious topics such as domestic violence and Joseph Kony’s abuse of women and children in Uganda share space with fun subjects like cake pops and summer swimming. Mixed martial arts is becoming a huge sports trend, although the chances of transferring to a public university campus dwindle. In short, readers will find something new and unexpected in this year’s Insider. In four issues, the Insider has won 40 awards in state competition, including the coveted General Excellence award from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges. Our new website was ranked second in the state by the California College Media Association. The Insider’s online edition has all the features of the print copy plus more — more stories, more photographs and interactive media.

— Jane Pojawa, Editor-in-Chief

On Our Cover: Edmond Tarverdyan won his mixed martial arts match against Phil Nunez with a knockout in his debut fight at the Chaos in the Casino event at the Hollywood Park Casino on May 5. Pages 18-23.

Volume 5

Number I


The public library’s special collections room reveals its secrets and police officers celebrate the life of a fallen comrade with a bicycle tour. Two stories of Glendale by J.P.


Women recover from domestic violence at the Y.W.C.A. and a personal account of living with, and beating, interstitial cystitis.


A world-traveling photographer and a folk legend; Insider staff examine the lives of two very different members of our community.


Transferring from community college is more difficult than ever.


Armenian Hye Fighters take center stage at the Hollywood Park Casino. Public pools offer a refreshing place to exercise this summer.


In spite of the captures of Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Gadhafi, the world has not put much effort into bringing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice. Hair: when weaves become symbolic, it’s time to re-examine the meaning of beauty.


Our “Arts & Letters” section pays tribute to fine food: the simple joys of cake pops and the culinary arts department’s celebration of regional cuisine.



Glendale Community College Magazine SPRING 2012

Volume 5

Number I

Here’s What’s




Jane Pojawa

George Ellison: Inside the Special Collections


by J.P. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 2

Jason Ahn Leah Arzu Laura Candelaria Darria “D.J.” Johnson Lianna Khatcherian Matthew Kemper Claudine Minassian Marlon Miranda J.P. Erica White Arlette Yousif

Charles Lazzaretto Remembered by J.P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 4

Silent Cries: Recovering from Domestic Violence by Darria Johnson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 7

Personal Account: Interstitial Cystitis by Arlette Yousef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 9

faculty adviser

Michael Moreau (818) 551-5214

Karine Armen: Keeping her Mother’s Spirit Alive by Erica White. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Jeff Smith (818) 240-1000, ext. 5493

Raven Jake Dawes, Folk Legend by Matt Kemper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 14

Campus: Transfer Trauma by Claudine Minassian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Print copies are available for sale at To submit an idea or an article: The insider accepts story ideas in news, features, profiles, sports and entertainment from the public. Send ideas or articles, to the editor at Send E-mail to:

or (818) 551-5349. Letters to the Editor: Letters may be reproduced in full or in part and represent only the point of view of the writer, not the opinion of The Insider or Glendale Community College and its district. Letters must be signed and typed and include the full name and address of the writer. The Insider is a First Amendment publication. Send letters to: 1500 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, CA 91208 (818) 240-1000 ext. 5349 Send E-mail to:

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Glendale Fighting Club by Marlon Miranda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Public Pools Offer Summer Swimming by Jason Ahn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 24

Opinion: Bringing Kony to Justice by Leah Arzu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Opinion: Hair Weaves and Inner Beauty by Darria Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Cake Pops: Delicious Dessert Treats by Lianna Khatcherian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Culinary Arts by Laura Candelaria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Member of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges

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GeorgeInsideEllison the special collections

­— By J.P.

George Ellison Photo by J.P.

He recollects in the most thoughtful way, as if he is watching film footage or seeing still images flash before him. “I’ve always lived in Glendale. Went to Glendale elementary school, junior high, high school and then Glendale College in the ’60s. Yep, I’ve been here my whole life. And I’ve been here since ’85.” “Here” being the special collections room in the main branch of the Glendale Public Library. Dressed in a starched light blue oxford shirt, with a flawlessly knotted bow tie, George Ellison, looks right out of a Hollywood central casting office. His manner is formal, serious and sweet at the same time. As he ponders a research request, Ellison shuts his eyes, collects his thoughts and then information floodgates open. The convenience that comes with online databases is tempting because one


the insider | Spring 2012

has the luxury of staying home and alone, trolling the Web, but it comes at a cost of missing out on one of the richest experiences to be had. This gem tucked away in the city’s main library will change the way you might have explored and developed your research. That is to say, be warned, as it is sure to take you in an entirely different direction with your initial research ideas and goals. But only in the best possible way. Visual research materials such as maps, photos or handwritten letters are fairly easy to obtain these days. Printing high resolution JPEGs and TIFFs from the Internet have become the archival norm. But there is nothing like holding a handwritten letter, circa 1899 and reflecting on the one-cent stamp that delivered it. Worn to perfection and onion skin-thin with age, it might appear intriguing on

your laptop screen, but to feel the age of a 100-year-old piece of correspondence will alter your posture. “There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty, holding the stuff. … This is the important part of research,” Devin Frick says as he sits behind a stack of manila folders sifting, unfolding and delighting in every page. He gently and respectfully examines newspaper articles, photos and blueprints that are no longer blue. “You can’t do research on the Internet; it’s a good place to start, for ideas maybe, but you have to go to the source.” Hand-held ephemera from Glendale’s past is more accessible than ever imagined and the ease, with which Ellison delivers a file folder with related clippings, photos and letters makes research all the more interesting and not as intimidating as it might be thought to be. “I’m having fun. I’m excited, because I just found

something,” researcher Frick says, as he adds a yellowed brittle newspaper clipping to a pile he will photocopy before he leaves the room. The special collections room at Glendale’s Central Library opened in 1973 with a mission to acquire, preserve and provide public access to the collected historic archives of Glendale, as well as early California materials. This room is not a lending library and that is what makes the material unearthed even more special. It has been many years since most of the collection has seen the light of day, adding an extra element of jubilation upon unfolding newspaper clippings or one-of-a-kind photo images. It is a resuscitation of sorts in a room that frames an instinctual slowness, as well as an old-fashioned kind of quiet. This is confirmed by the intensely mild mannered keeper of all special collections, Ellison, who acts like it’s his first week on the job and not his 27th year, as he greets each visitor with contained enthusiasm, and does not seem one bit overwhelmed by what is fanned out before him in the way of hard copy e-mails and inner-library research requests. Queries and facts to be checked clutter his desk and are only a fraction of what will fill his workday. The rest he holds in his hands and presents as buried treasures. Ellison will often add a Glendale historical anecdote followed by, “back in the day,” and will always mention a street name with the landmark of what is there now, compared to what was. The history of Glendale seems to be an infectious topic between Ellison and Frick. “The college only had three buildings when I went there. The administration building, the science building and I think the gym; no, they were only locker rooms.” Ellison is an encyclopedia of historical tidbits. His descriptions are extremely vivid, and although they are casual utterances, one might expect a rich and saturated Kodachrome slide show to be presented as well. Ellison’s knowledge of Glendale’s history is performance worthy and Frick hangs onto every word with the passion and attention to detail only a researcher would have. Documentary film producer Vicki Gardner is in the special collections room to pick up some research material about Dora Verdugo, the great grand-daughter of Jose Verdugo. “He owned all the property that is Glendale today,” Ellison says

as an aside, but really to benefit all the eavesdroppers in the room. He has pulled materials for Gardner to look through, some pre-dating 1800. “He’s been so valuable to me,” she says, holding a box marked “Kodak” in her arms. “He knows where everything is.” And she is referring both to the collections and in the city of Glendale. This is Gardner’s third documentary related to Glendale’s history. “We won an Emmy for the first one; I’m on a roll, gotta keep going.” Her first honor was for work on Rockhaven, Glendale’s infamous sanatorium. Gardner tells Ellison that she will be back next week for more material, photos and land plot lines needed for her Verdugo documentary. Gardner is also responsible for the 2011 documentary about the 1911 Tournament of Roses Parade, in which the city’s float took home first prize: a silver cup and $150 in prize money, according to information found in the special collections room. Ellison is eager to help her. They have become good friends through research. He reveals: “Her full-time job is as an assistant public information officer for the city of Glendale.” Gardner’s personal interest as well as her background and city job, fed her exciting path leading to the award-winning documentary. Devin Frick, a 40-something boyishlooking man, reads aloud from his hit list of needs and wants, “...department stores in Glendale, 1920’s-1960’s. Photos, clippings, whatever you have, and if you’ve got any of the interior of Bullocks Wilshire. The entrance and the elevators, the chandeliers?” The curator disappears into the back room as Frick stares off into the distance and waits as if he’s just ordered spaghetti and meatballs and is starving. He’s been here before, and will be here often, as he is compiles research for his latest architecture book, all about Glendale. “If I worked in a library, this is the room I would want to work in. This is where the cool stuff is.” Ellison returns with a box full of department store clippings and vintage items. He is excited by something he has just remembered and continues toward a row of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled

with loose-leaf binders — hundreds of them, with a white glossy labels on each spine. Ellison mumbles to himself, running his hands over the spines and then, “Here it is, maybe it’s in here.” He opens a 2-inch thick binder full of 8-by-10 blackand-white photos, each in a plastic sleeve, all from department stores, circa 1950. “This is elegance,” Frick says. “Maybe the chandelier is in here, maybe there’s a shot of opening day!” The curator has remained close and watches Frick eagerly turn the plastic pages, searching, hoping and then, “can you believe how luxurious this is?” Not “was,” but “is,” because in this moment, Frick is there, transported to a different time and experiencing the grand entrance of a never-to-be-seen-again Bullocks Wilshire Department store. Perhaps that is the most exciting part of research, experiencing the ephemera that go along with a certain time and a certain place. Something that cannot be experienced sitting at a desk, looking at JPEGs or downloading maps. Dueling Glendale history is shared over a long library table as Ellison and Frick share logistical facts, both able to pinpoint every Glendale street corner. Ellison is describing the terrain where the 135 Freeway meets the 5, “and on the other side of the tracks, there was this dairy farm.” And in that tizzy of what some might call “a state of research excitement,” Frick adds, “Hey I just thought of Myron Hunt. Maybe I should look though his stuff ?” And with that, Ellison is heading toward the door that leads to the archives with inspired intent. An exciting moment for the librarian and the researcher as the clock keeps ticking.... What’s next to be unearthed? Glendale Public Library ~ Main Branch 222 East Harvard Street Glendale CA 91205-1075 E-mail: The Special Collections Room is open Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to noon and 1 - 3 p.m. ~ by appointment. Call (818) 548-2040

Knowing nothing about Glendale before her journalism class at GCC, J.P. has enjoyed learning and writing about the community this past semester.

Spring 2012 | the insider


Charles Lazzaretto Memorializing the life of a fallen detective

­— By J.P. Freeway markers identifying exits, interchanges, communities and highway speed limits are essential and important. Driving East-bound on the 134 freeway just past the 5 is one of the most important markers to note. But while the speedometer is closing in on 70 and NPR demands all your attention, well, this is where bumperto-bumper traffic pays off. It is the only way to read and reflect on this specific memorial marker. “Those signs are reminders that someone paid the ultimate sacrifice for this community,” said Thomas Lorenz, public information officer for the Glendale Police Department. “It is what the officers do on a daily basis to maintain the quality of life or improve upon it. ...So often that is forgotten.” Who is this name and what is the story behind the name? It is meant as a memorial, but in this case the man is remembered way ahead of his time. Glendale police detective Charles Lazzaretto was ambushed by a gunman and killed while conducting a domestic abuse investigation at a warehouse in Chatsworth in 1997. At the time he was 30 years old and had served with the department for 10 years. “Chuck was energetic, always willing to learn, excited about being a police officer. I was impressed with his dedication, diligence, and passion to serve the community,” said Glendale College Police Chief Gary Montecuollo, who rode with Lazzaretto when he was a new to the force and Montecuollo was with the city force. “Chuck,” as he was referred to by his colleagues, had been an arson investigator for much of his career 4

the insider | Spring 2012

and had recently been transferred to the robbery-homicide unit. On the evening of May 27 1997, Lazzaretto’s family and friend’s lives were altered forever, as was the history of the Glendale Police Department, when he became the fifth officer to fall during the line of duty in the 100 year history of the force. Lazzaretto’s name still echoes through the hallways of the precinct as fellow officers refer to, quote or celebrate this hero when they pass a display case in the lobby, his photo prominently displayed. “Chuck was the consummate professional, but was also humble, affable, and genuine. He would greet you with a smile, always say hello, always say a kind word,” Montecuollo recalls. But for those who do not pass through the halls of the Glendale Police precinct, or share a personal history with this officer, how might the community continue to honor this humble man, who lived to serve and protect the public? May is Law Enforcement Memorial Month and, since 2005, Command Lead Officer Sue Shine has been Glendale’s driving force behind the Police Unity Tour. Every year since 1997, thousands of police officers unite from all across the country as an important link, designed to raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Meeting together as a group on bicycles in New York City, these blood brothers and sisters pedal together over 250 miles, converging as a group onto Washington, D.C., their final destination being the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial wall.

Another important goal for this intensely athletic sojourn, is to bring awareness and to raise money for this monument, an imposing blue-gray marble structure that is inscribed with the names of more than 19,000 fallen officers, dating back to 1792. With the ride now in its 15th year, participants have raised close to $10 million dollars, which helps to support the richly landscaped memorial grounds and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Museum. This is officer Sue Shine’s 7th year riding. “It’s important to honor the fallen, but also honor the survivors,” Shine said. “To go to the wall and to touch the name on that wall is a pretty amazing thing.” This year Shine is joined by two other Glendale officers, who will start their ride at Ground Zero in New York City and along with more than 1,400 other law enforcement officers, will reach the capital within three days. One of those days is marked by a 100-mile stretch, the longest and most tiring day of the event, with all the officers riding on their own time and on their own equipment. They are all dressed in blue and white bike shirts and black spandex bike shorts with no hint of rank, county or state. These officers ride together in solidarity and are unified Detective Charles Lazzaretto was killed in the line of duty; the first Glendale officer to be slain in 15 years. He is memorialized by a freeway sign, the Charles Lazzaretto Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Badge Foundation, and the Charles Lazzaretto Peace Officer Widows and Widowers Protection Act. The Police Unity Tour honors fallen officers.

Photoillustration by J.P.

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“Chuck was energetic, always willing to learn, excited about being a police officer. I was impressed with his dedication, diligence, and passion to serve the community.” — Gary Montecuollo by the credo, “We Ride For Those Who Died.” Police officer Mike Woolner and detective Victor Jackson both had the honor of riding with Lazzaretto’s father and brother in 2010 and although they had never met Lazzaretto, “it really meant a lot for them to ride with us, and I learned so much about Chuck,” Woolner said, eager and honored to have participated on behalf of his fallen comrade. This three-day bike ride is a shared experience in the endurance of sorrow — an emotional journey consisting of swapping stories and reflecting on those no longer able to “be the guardians for those who need protection,” as Jackson describes an officer’s pledge. “Sue got me motivated; she’s the one who got me excited about the ride.” That combined with a shared understanding of grief and loss, and as Jackson puts it, “a desire to help.... We’re doing a passion, it’s internal.” Jackson won’t be riding with the group this year, as he stepped aside to make room for two new officers who Shine says “I know will come home changed.” Officer Woolner was excited to be a part of the ride three years in a row, “Sue is a very unique person, she’s a ball of energy, absolutely passionate


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about the ride. She’s the guiding force behind our department being involved.” There is a reflective silence and then Woolner adds, “it was probably the greatest life experience I’ve ever had. We always ride in as a group and down the side where Chuck’s name is. It’s hard to describe, when you walk up and you see all those names and think about why they are there, it’s really overwhelming.” Lazzaretto’s mother was at the wall waiting for them, among a sea of blue and tears. Detective Charles Lazzaretto exemplified the deepest and most profound part of dedication, integrity, duty, courage and sacrifice. “When you hear about an officer being killed, you wonder, who was this person...? he wasn’t just a name, Jackson adds. This freeway marker cultivates the life of Lazzaretto in his absence, perhaps even acting as an aid in breaking thousands of drivers out of that most familiar hypnotic state — even if for just a moment — to wonder who is this, who was this man? The Glendale Police Department rides with Chapter 37, based in New York and named after the 37 Port Authority officers who died on September 11th, 2001. Chapter 37 adopted the Glendale department a few years ago.

To donate to the Glendale Police Unity Tour, visit the website at

Glendale Police Department Fallen Officers Detective Charles Andrew Lazzaretto End of Watch: Tuesday, May 27, 1997 Police Officer John Isaacson End of Watch: Friday, May 19, 1972 Deputy Sheriff David Alois Horr End of Watch: Sunday, February 9, 1958 Police Officer Leslie O. Clem End of Watch: Wednesday, May 26, 1926 Town Marshal Charles Whitney Smith End of Watch: Saturday, January 9, 1915

Silent Cries

Recovering from Domestic Violence — By Darria Johnson

Photoillustration by Isiah Reyes

Spring 2012 | the insider


Think back to a time when you felt powerless. That fight in grade school or that argument that resulted in heartache. Float further back to the moment when you realized this was a fight that you will lose and there is nothing you can do about it. Every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is assaulted or beaten. At least one in every three women has been assaulted, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Every day in the U.S. more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Glendale offers some solace for women who are in abusive relationships. “The YWCA of Glendale deals with at least 3,000 cases of domestic violence a year,” says Operations Manager Raquel Ortiz. The YWCA, conveniently located in the heart of Glendale, has become a safe haven for many of Glendale’s domestic violence victims as well as victims from neighboring cities. “They usually come by referral from the police department after an incident has occurred,” says Ortiz. “We get victims of all ages, I’ve seen victims as young as 14 years of age and as old as 65. Domestic violence has no boundaries.” Ortiz, an expert in social work for 30 years, began working with domestic abuse victims at the YWCA seven years ago. Domestic violence is characterized by a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or economic. “The most common cases that occur usually include every form of domestic abuse tied into one. The victimizer usually begins physically and emotionally abusing the victim,” says Ortiz. “Then it flows into psychological abuse by the method of intimidation and economic abuse as they are forced to stay home because of injuries. The goal of an abuser is complete control over the victim. It is that fear of not being able to make it on their own that makes them stay.” The most prevalent cases today include domestic abuse among teenagers. “We usually deal with a lot of young ladies who have been victimized either physically or emotionally by their boyfriends,” says Ortiz. ”These children are being born into a generation where music and television teaches them that it is OK to call a woman a bitch in order to put her in her place.”


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Carmen Rodriguez, 21, a former client of the YWCA domestic violence program can definitely attest to this. “I was 17, a senior in high school, when my ex-boyfriend started [making threat displays] at me. I thought it was funny that he thought I was intimidated by him.” Rodriguez later found out that these nonverbal advances would turn physical and be the way her boyfriend communicated his fury or abhorrence of her. “The first time he hit me it was very surreal, I could not believe he actually did it.” She pauses momentarily and takes a deep breath and continues, “We were arguing about me talking to this guy we were both very good friends with. He saw us hug and came over and grabbed me by my arm. He was very aggressive about it. When I looked into his eyes I did not even recognize him.” Rodriguez continues to recall the events of her first attack. “ When school let out we walked home hand-in-hand and he was very quiet and overly passive I knew something was wrong, so I asked and he just looked at me and said, ‘ just wait, you will see’ I was very nervous, but against my better judgment I still went over to his house.” Rodriguez lifts her pants leg revealing a 5-inch scar on the side of her calf caused by injuring herself on the edge of her exboyfriend’s living room table in an attempt to run from him. “We always had two hours of free time before his mom got home. We usually used that time to have sex and do other things we could not do while his parents were home. He started kissing me and wrapped his hand around my neck. His grip grew tighter and tighter before I knew he was behind me and I was clinching my hands around his arm trying to break free,” she explained the vivid details of this ghastly attack. “There was a dresser and mirror in front of me and I remember seeing my reflection. My face and eyes were very red. I struggled and barely broke free before I ran out of the room tripping and scraping my leg on the edge of his living room table. A couple of days later he called and apologized and had an explanation for his actions and I took him back. During the following years things got worse until

I eventually got tired and I left him one night [while] he was asleep.” Rodriguez found the YWCA on her quest to find independence. She was also a mother-to-be. “I was three months pregnant when I left him. I went in to the YWCA and the staff was very helpful and friendly. They were not judgmental like some of my family and friends had previously been. They helped me with housing, legal paper work, food, and clothing. If it hadn’t been for this place I probably would have been dead, I am forever indebted to them.” Rodriguez’s story is only one of thousands of success stories that have taken place at Glendale’s YWCA. The Domestic Violence program at the YWCA offers various services to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse, including housing, classes on domestic abuse, parenting courses, legal services, and other necessary services to aid victims. “Our whole goal is to empower these women and teach them the necessary life skills they need to survive,” says Ortiz. They work with various shelters and government assistance programs to provide housing and jobs for these women. “When the victims arrive here they are allowed to stay for 45 days and within that 45-day window they are usually assisted with finding housing through the Section 8 program.” The program offers a variety of group sessions as well as one-on-one counseling, such as helping the victim identify the root of the problem, non-violent conflict resolution strategies, self-esteem building exercises, and self-love workshops. “My mother was a victim of domestic abuse,” says Ortiz. “That is one of the reasons why I chose social work as a career, I grew up with the idea that I wanted to facilitate change in people’s lives. I love what I do: I get to see the fruits of my labor.” She smiles briefly, “I get to see children come in broken and leave happy. I get to see women walking out into the world that once imprisoned them with a smile on their faces because they are courageous and their independence has been revealed, that’s the best part of my job.”

Darria “D.J.” Johnson has a background in cosmetology and has a passion for writing. She is a journalism major and this is her first semester with the Insider.

Interstitial Cystitis a personal quest for a cure

— By Arlette Yousif

9:30 p.m.: go to bed. 9:50 p.m.: get up and go to the bathroom. 10:22 p.m.: get up and go to the bathroom again… 11:00 p.m.: get up and go to the bathroom yet again. Get up and go only to find that I don’t really have to go. So why does my bladder think I do? A day in the life of person with interstitial cystitis is unbearable. It is a rare auto-immune disorder that “has no cure” — or so I’m told. It feels like something is poking me from the inside of my abdomen, more specifically, the lower left side of my abdomen. I go through my day constantly feeling like I have to urinate. I have been living with interstitial cystitis, also known as IC, since early 2009. As I go from doctor to doctor, I find myself growing more and more miserable. I think to myself, “How did this happen to me?” As the nights grow longer and the pain intensifies, I finally schedule an appointment with my general practitioner, Dr. Mihaela Beloiu. I’m sure it’s just a bladder infection. Strangely, the lab results show not even the slightest indication of a bladder infection. So what is it? That’s

just what Dr. Beloiu wants to find out. “I’m going to order more lab work on you,” she says with a curious and concerned tone. She orders more lab work, and still nothing. She now orders an ultrasound only to find… nothing. The process of elimination leads Dr. Beloiu to conclude that I have interstitial cystitis. I look puzzled while she explains the rareness of this auto-immune disorder. She says that there is no cure due to lack of research. She says that the cause is unknown…. I could not believe my ears. Dr. Beloiu refers me to an urologist. I keep saying, “Please give me something for the pain.” I am in total agony at this point. The urologist refuses to give me anything for the pain. He says he will not give me anything until he diagnoses me and only suggests a procedure called a cystoscopy that requires anesthesia. I had already been put under earlier in the year for removing my wisdom teeth and for removing my tonsils, and knowing all the risks of anesthesia I do not want to do that again. This specialist doesn’t want to help

me. I am alone with this aching nightmare. I quickly begin my search for another urologist. Months go by and I have seen almost a half-a-dozen specialists. It is sad to think that this disorder does not have the attention it deserves. I begin to believe that doctors and researchers have taken an out of sight, out of mind approach to IC. But I finally end up at Dr. John J. Martin’s office. Something feels different here. Dr. Martin and his nurse seem to really care about my pain. Their small office looks like it is stuck in the ’90s and it somehow comforts me. They tell me that my severe pain is probably an ongoing flare-up. The nurse gives me a list of what not to eat or drink and tells me that this has to be a way of life now. The list has everything on it. With a panic, I think “I’m going to starve!” She tells me about an over-the-counter antacid called Prelief that can be taken before a meal to eliminate acid. It is only sold at Costco and on the internet. However, she cautions me about my symptoms. They are severe and Photo by Selwyn Ward

Spring 2012 | the insider


I cannot eat anything acidic or anything containing potassium, even with Prelief, until the symptoms are manageable. Until then, I am to keep a food journal in an attempt to pinpoint which foods I am most sensitive to. Dr. Martin immediately starts me on a DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) treatment. I must endure this treatment weekly until my IC is under control. I wouldn’t wish this treatment on my worst enemy. It consists of the medicine, DMSO, being injected into the bladder through a catheter. Dr. Martin also suggests the cystoscopy. He tells me that it must be done in order to see my bladder and give a definitive diagnosis, but that I can be awake during the procedure. Not knowing what I was in for, I finally agree. This is worse than the DMSO treatment! First, they fill the bladder with a liquid, through a catheter; in order to stretch the bladder walls. In some cases, stretching the bladder gives the IC sufferer some relief after healing from the procedure. This relief may be for a few weeks or it may last for several months. Though there is a possibility of temporary relief in the future, presently, stretching the bladder creates a multiplied urgency to urinate. I am full of anxiety just from the pressure. Once the bladder is stretched and full of liquid the doctor begins the procedure. He inserts a long tube with a light and camera through the urethra into the bladder. As I lay there all I can think is “are they done yet?” it is complete discomfort. Maybe the anesthesia wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Dr. Martin tells me that he can see many blood vessels in the wall of my bladder. This is not typical of a healthy bladder. It is confirmed – I have IC. All hope has gone out the window. I rush to the restroom to finally get all the liquid out. My temporary relief from having my bladder painfully stretched never comes. After months of painful DMSO treatments, taking medication that made me almost pass out, more often than not, and eating very basic meals like boiled vegetables and boiled bland chicken and water, I cannot bear it any longer. I find myself depressed and crying at the dinner table as I watch my family indulge in their delicious, flavorful meals. I look down at my plate to see a bunch of boiled mush -- cruelly unfair. My dad says the doctors don’t know what they are talking about, but still he and my mother prepare separate meals for me every day. The worst part about it is that the pain has


the insider | Spring 2012

only slightly subsided. My food journal is nonexistent and I have been taking Prelief more often than my nurse knows about just so I can eat regular food again. I cannot live with this agony any longer. I decide to do my own research. I search websites and articles and compare what all these urologists have told me about this rare and covert disorder. I now know that interstitial cystitis means inflammation of the bladder. Interstitial cystitis also means that there is a breakdown in the mucus lining of the bladder. I find that people with interstitial cystitis tend to also have low vitamin D and calcium levels. I have always had a problem with unexplainable inflammation throughout my body and I have never been a milk enthusiast. I am determined to eliminate all these contributing factors in hopes of feeling normal once again. I head to the local farmers’ market to find natural remedies. I leave with a dry vitamin D supplement as well as turmeric capsules (roughly $40 altogether). Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, but it is risky because it is in the mustard seed family and mustard is on the do-not-eat list. Something is missing; I still need to try to rebuild the mucus lining in my bladder. Desperately searching the Internet, I come across a website that specializes in IC. As I stare at the screen with a humbled joy, I find a pure aloe vera supplement. This is the answer to my prayers. This will coat my bladder; it has to. The customer reviews give me hope. Eagerly, I place an order for one bottle of pure aloe vera. This alone is about $20 with shipping for only 30 pills. I begin taking the dry vitamin D, the turmeric and the aloe vera supplement while I continue to take Prelief before each meal. Within the first month I notice something miraculous: I have no pain. I am so excited I call my boyfriend to share the news. I tell my family; I tell my friends. I had forgotten what it felt like to live without pain. The constant pressure is gone. Now I can cry because I’m happy, not because I’m in pain or because my pants are too tight around my waist, not because I like to lie on my left side when I sleep. Maybe now I can eat and drink without fear. This is truly a miracle.

Now, in 2012, I am eating and drinking whatever I want. I only take my selfdiscovered herbal remedy when I feel pain, which is less frequent than ever. It is not a permanent solution and Western physicians may argue that this is not a cure, but the pain is not running my life anymore. I could go weeks and even months living pain-free! My flare-ups are infrequent and usually related to stress. I had a will and I found my way to live my normal life.

Interstitial Cystitis: • Interstitial  cystitis, or bladder pain  syndrome (commonly abbreviated to “IC/BPS”), is a chronic, oftentimes severely debilitating disease of the urinary bladder. • Both men and women suffer from this condition, however, it is more common in women than in men. • Women of menopausal age are the most susceptible but anyone, even children, may develop IC. • Many researchers believe a trigger (caused by one or more events, such as a bacterial bladder infection) may initially damage the bladder or bladder lining, and ultimately lead to the development of IC. • In 2009, the RAND IC Epidemiology (RICE) Study surveyed more than 100,000 US households and determined that from 2.7 to 6.5 percent of US women may have IC, which translates to about 3 to 8 million women. The same study suggested that 1 to 4 million men have IC as well. • There is currently no cure for IC, but it is considered to be a treatable condition. Information courtesy of The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA)

Arlette Yousif is a singer and actor who is involved in all aspects of the entertainment industry. Join her on Facebook at

Karine Armen: Keeping her mother’s spirit alive through positivive messages

— By Erica White

Karine Armen has been an avid photographer and world traveler, but her journey has landed her in a place she never would have expected to be and now lovingly calls home. I knew it was her apartment even before I began to climb the whitewashed wooden staircase to the second-landing door. Below one of the living room windows was a flag with a bright red heart against a pink background. On the stairs were various potted plants and on the porch wind chimes sang and twisted in the light breeze. They were all indicative signs of a free spirit. But I called out just to be sure I was in the right place. “Hello? Where are you? Ok I’m coming out to get you.” The door to the apartment and Armen looked shocked to see me. She’d expected me to have a challenging search. I was slightly out of breath after having chugged my backpack up the steep Glendale hillside. The view from Armen’s apartment was worth the trek. She has lived in this apartment since she moved to California from Washington D.C. in the summer of 1985. Sweeping panoramic views of emerald green and golden honey hills could be seen for miles around. It was a clear day, and the light breeze had blown away what remained of the early morning haze. I looked down below and could see cars whizzing along Verdugo Boulevard. But up here it was quiet and peaceful, the only activity Armen bustling around in her kitchen preparing Armenian treats.

“Sit down make yourself at home! Would you like something to drink?” She started to rattle off a number of options before I settled for water, then she brought out small plates of cashews, red and yellow cherry tomatoes sprinkled with basil, string cheese, Armenian flatbread, and banana cream sandwiches. As we munched Armen shared part of her journey with me. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Armen had a modest childhood, but was blessed with a mother who inspired her to seek knowledge. Like many children, she didn’t realize until late in life how influential her mother was in her life, her decisions, career paths, and her later plans to write a book based on her mother’s life. “She was a caretaker for everybody. She always helped people. [When I was younger] I didn’t appreciate it, but later I thought ‘wow she was so cool!’ ” Armen left Iran to attend college in the United States. She double majored in social work and photography at the University of Baltimore Maryland County. Social work majors were required to pick an additional major, which turned out to be fortuitous for the young woman who was still trying to find herself. Two classes changed her life forever, histories of social work and photography. “It hit me.” Armen said. “Oh my God that’s what I want to do, use my camera to document social problems!” The budding photographer jumped right into her new passion and began taking black-and-white pictures of

homeless people in D.C., New York and Los Angeles—an experience that stripped away her earlier stereotypes about the dispossessed. Armen admits to being one of the people who would lock her car doors and roll up her windows when driving through certain neighborhoods. “I would freak out if I got off the freeway and there was someone there offering to wash my windows.” “But one day I was in New York with my zoom lens taking photos of homeless people. Then this homeless man approached me. I gave him a dollar and we started talking and he asked me ‘is that a zoom lens?’ That’s when I became brave and started combining my social work. I started to listen to their stories and got rid of my biases and fears. They could’ve easily grabbed my camera, but there was a connection, something happened.” Armen continued to foster relationships with the homeless and take their pictures, sometimes returning to give them copies of pictures she had taken of them. “Once I went to Portugal and took photos of some of the people I had met, and promised them I’d give them copies. I returned to Portugal a couple of years ago taking with me the pictures I took. I didn’t even know the address, but I found them! They were so excited. One woman was like ‘wow you remembered after all that time; you came back!’ ” Armen pulls out a huge portfolio of her newspaper clippings from press releases

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of her work and exhibitions. She has been featured in many magazines including Armenian International and the Ararat Quarterly and in The Guardian and the Glendale News-Press newspapers. Her photos capturing the homeless plight have been critically acclaimed and have opened many doors for her. But her genuine concerns for the people she’s photographed and her receptivity keep them open. Her approach to life is “I’ll accept you if you accept me.” Her two-bedroom apartment is decorated with trinkets from her travels around the world, family photos, and her own photographs. On a hall closet is a note of encouragement to live life to the fullest that she received from a mentor and writing coach. Every inch of her refrigerator is covered with a magnet from a country she’s visited. But this is now home, as attested by hand-drawn/scribbled love letters from her first grade class that adorn the inside of her front door. How did she make the transition from an ambitious photographer in D.C., to a first grade teacher in Glendale? The transition was part serendipity, part time to move on. After graduating from college in 1985, Armen moved to Glendale and quickly landed a job at an info hotline handling calls from all over Los Angeles. At the hotline, Armen learned all about Los Angeles and the resources that the city offered, which was perfect for the recent transplant. Since she spoke both the Iranian language of Farsi and Armenian

she was an asset to the info line and all Farsi and Armenian calls were transferred to her. Concurrent to job at the hotline, Armen worked part-time at a homeless shelter for women and children in Boyle Heights. At the shelter she cooked meals for the women and children. “We were like family,” she fondly recalls. The shelter itself was small, only housing a handful of women and children in a tiny five-bedroom house with a small house for the staff to share. Armen said she didn’t take photos of the women for fear their husbands might see the pictures and come after them. But Armen did continue her photography and even did the newsletter for the hotline. In 1987 her parents came to California from Iran to visit her and attend her brother’s wedding. While visiting her daughter, her mother, Berjik Kurkjian, began writing articles in Farsi and sending them to a local weekly newspaper called Fogholadeh. “We were shocked,” Armen said. “She was not a writer. She had no college degree. She didn’t even have a high school diploma. She wasn’t getting paid, but she was just happy to be published.” Kurkjian stayed in the United States for a year and wrote 37 self-help-positive thinking articles before returning to Iran. In 1989 Armen returned to Iran to visit her parents. A few months later Kurkjian was diagnosed with cancer of the spinal cord. She died in 1990 at the age of 56. “We didn’t know it was cancer. We just knew she wasn’t feeling good,” Armen

said. “They [the doctors] didn’t tell us. It happened so suddenly. We weren’t expecting it.” Her mother’s sudden death was devastating to Armen and her two brothers. She was also burning out working for the info line, but was unsure of what to do next. In kismet fashion, she was hired at Horace Mann Elementary School in South Glendale based on her ability to speak Armenian. She wound up teaching bilingual second grade classes for seven years before getting her credential from Cal State L.A. She now teaches first grade. As the years passed, the now seasoned teacher was still heartbroken over her mother’s death, but she was determined to turn the negative experience into a positive one. “I had to do something. I decided to put all her articles into a book,” Armen said. “On the 15-year anniversary of her death, I decided to do it.” The feat proved to be a five-year emotional struggle over reading her mother’s words. Every year Armen would take out her mother’s articles only to put them back after being reduced to tears. “I started to pull them out. I had all the magazines out and then I’d start to cry, so much so that I had to put them back. I was always like ‘next year, next year.’ ” By the 18th year after her mother’s death, Armen felt she had to move on. She got over her crying and had the articles copied, then took them to a typesetter. She then took them to a printer and was told it would cost $2 to 3,000 to have them translated to English and printed. “I thought, ‘I might as well translate it.’ I’m speaking to a limited audience, so I translated her words with the goal of selfpublishing them.”

Karine Armen is an international traveler, photographer and elementary school teacher. She can now add “editor” to her list of accomplishments. Translating her mother’s motivational columns into English has brought them to a much wider readership.

Photo by Karine Armen


the insider | Spring 2012

Two women, left, are the subject of one of many photos Armen took on a trip to the city of Salvador, Brazil in 2004, highlighting differences and similarities between cultures.

After translating three articles, Armen started to panic. Why was it coming so easily? She feared that she was doing something wrong. She thought maybe it had something to do with a fear of success, but she stopped. She wanted to be sure she was doing it right. Time passed and before she knew it was the 20-year anniversary. Giving herself a deadline, Armen sequestered herself in a hotel in Orange County and translated all 37 articles. With the articles finally translated, she asked friends and family for phrases for the book and began to work on the cover. “Inner Heaven,” the collected writings of Berjik Kurkjian, is available in English for the first time. “I knew I needed a sky and yellow roses, my mother loved yellow roses. The nice morning I woke up and the sky was perfect! It was exactly what I wanted. I just pointed my camera at the sky and snapped a bunch of photos.” Armen started receiving feedback and editing of the book, but summer soon ended and school started all too soon. Once again time passed and the winter school break was already here. Armen forced herself to get an ISBN number and took the book to the printer. It had to be published in 2010 so it would be 20 years exactly from her mother’s death. While editing the book, a writing group she had joined suggested that she add her grandmother’s story as well. When her grandmother was 7, Turkish soldiers came to her home killed her brother, then raped and killed her mother. Her grandmother hid under the bed while this happened. When the soldiers left, Victoria, Armen’s grandmother, came from underneath her bed and grabbed her 6-month-old sister and ran from her village. She walked and walked but soon grew tired and hungry. She placed her sister underneath a tree and placed rocks around her to protect her from animals then went to search for food.

She wandered for hours but fell asleep from exhaustion. The next day she could not find her way back to her baby sister. Her grandmother met some women and started walking with them through the desert of Iraq until finally weeks later they arrived in Iran. The guilt of never finding her baby sister haunted Armen’s grandmother. She lived the rest of her life in a constant torment of nightmares and guilt, wondering whatever became of the baby. “Including my grandmother’s story made more sense as to why my mother was the way she was. She changed this negative, our family’s genocide survival, into something positive by writing these positive spiritual [stories]. There was serious damage and depression in our family, but my mom was able to use meditation and prayer to pull herself out of it,” Armen said. Armen said that as she matured she realized what a large influence her mother played in her life and the appreciation she had for her. “Translating her work has brought me closer to my mom. When doing so I would pause and reflect. I ended up with a greater appreciation for her wisdom and insight. The translation was an interesting spiritual and emotional journey for me. She was so ahead of her time. I admire her even more when I think about her. ” When I asked Armen what she planned on doing next she just smiled. “Travel! I love to travel! Let me know if you want to know where the cheap but nice places are!” “Inner Heaven” by Berjik KurkjianGiragossian and edited by Karine Armen is available from Amazon or ordered through, where visitors can also see her photos from around the world. On June 29, she will be signing copies of Inner Heaven at the Bureaucrat Bookstore in Yerevan, Armenia.

Erica White is a journalism student at Glendale College and Cal Poly Pomona. She has a fascination with radio and hosts “The Living Room Lounge” on

Words of wisdom from Berjik Kurkjian: 14. Gratitude: Having a sense of gratitude and appreciation of our blessings is one of our healthy feelings. Despite having health, beauty and good families, many of us feel dissatisfied with our lives. We think that our friends or neighbors have happier lives. We are not able to appreciate all the blessings we already have. It is a habit to not feel satisfied. It’s a learned behavior that can be changed. Our emotions are connected to each other like a chain. Here is a technique (suggestion) to use for feeling thankful for our blessings. As soon as you sense dissatisfaction or frustration, jot down the positive factors of your life in a journal or on paper. Write down both good and bad parts and compare them. This way you will see all the amazing good things in your life that you might have been taking for granted or had forgotten. This exercise will bring them to your attention. You will then be energized and can handle difficulties with a sense of control and enthusiasm. You might say, “Who has time for all these activities?,” but remember by spending a few minutes to bring the positive up you can save lots of time that was wasted on negative thoughts and feelings of being drained. October 10, 1987

Spring 2012 | the insider 13

Raven Jake Dawes: Songs as Stories as Songs

— By Matt Kemper

Photo by Jane Pojawa


the insider | Spring 2012

Clad in all black, Raven Jake wanders the desert talkin’ to rattlesnakes and picking up rocks. Along the way, he meets interestin’ folks; some dead, some not. Raven Jake is partial to history, the natural sciences and the written word. He enjoys poetry shoot-outs and mining for art… So begins the autobiography of Raven Jake Dawes, a fictional desert rat created by art director and visual effects specialist, Jeryd Pojawa. These days, he’s less involved in the movie industry, more likely to be writing a song about the depletion of the earth’s petroleum reserves. How did an L.A. boy from 122nd and Western who lived through the Watts riots end up as a folk icon? Let’s ask him. At the age of 50, Pojawa went back to school, taking a Photoshop class at Glendale Community College; the effect of which he describes as “being given a new pair of eyes.” “Joan Watanbe, [former head of the department] is a genius, and it was a privilege to learn from her.” The reasons he gives for returning to school vary, but Pojawa’s strongest motivation was to “get back into a learning environment.” “I wanted to get a degree,” he said, “but also wanted to expand my skill set. And, quite frankly, I had the luxury of time.” Before attending GCC, Pojawa had already built a career in the visual effects aspect of the film industry, working on such movies as “Terminator II,” “Godzilla” (the American one), and the “Final Destination” film series; when asked what his favorite film to work on, Pojawa said “It’s a toss-up between “Terminator II” and “Attack of the 50-foot Woman.”” His expertise lay in model-making, but Pojawa has also attracted attention for his “plein-air UFO” artwork: paintings

HONKY TONK DREAMS: Jeryd Pojawa, previous page, sometimes known as Raven Jake, stands on the stage at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, a favorite venue. His plein-air painting “Flying Saucer Over Giant Rock,”above, is on display at the Morongo Basin Historical Society Museum in Landers, Calif.

of nature that mimicked the painted-inthe-outdoors style of Van Gogh and Guy Orlando Rose…only with the addition of hovering spacecraft and little “grays.” “By any measurement, Raven Jake is more of a myth than a man” says Stephen Berkman, an artist who specializes in wet collodion process photography, most popular between 1850 and 1880. Pojawa has built a number of props for Berkman’s eccentric photographs, including a dwarfsized dog sled and a rocking horse for a child with hypertrichosis. “Raven Jake is a real interesting guy,” acknowledged Christopher Caplan, “He’s got this weird western cowboy/ Indian aesthetic.” Caplan, a former GCC student and musician, also spoke of how Pojawa was “very knowledgeable of geology and the weird history of America.” Pojawa was also part of a special effects team that won two Academy Awards. Ironically, this did not have the effect on his career that one would assume such prestige would. “When people see that you’ve gotten an award for being damn good at something,” Pojawa elaborated, “people assume you don’t need the work, or that the job offers are lining up out the door. This was not the case. But eventually, somebody was willing to pay the big bucks to consult with an expert in his field, so the work started up again.” Still, Raven Jake paints a positive picture of his experience as a whole: “Not only has the motion picture business enhanced my ‘people skills’,” he explains, “but it has also expanded my skill set and interests. As one discovers new things, one grows and expands their knowledge base.” His passion also bleeds through as he describes his battle with the San Marino School District over the fate of the Michael White Adobe building. Three years ago, the school district was planning to demolish a 166-year-old home – the first in San Marino – to expand the swimming pool on the high school campus. A group of outraged community members, including Pojawa, took them to task on what he termed an “act of historical violence.” Fortunately, the district relented, and the historic home still stands, although it is in need of restoration.

Pojawa elaborated on his motivation to save this artifact of Americana, saying “The Michael White Adobe building is 166 years old, and even if it is not a major piece of architecture, it is still represents a very interesting slice of multi-cultural history; and tangible at that. How can we expect our children to be enthusiastic about the subject if we aren’t willing to preserve the evidence of its existence?” Something else Raven Jake takes seriously is music; his and everyone else’s (well, everyone who isn’t Katy Perry). He took music and dance lessons as a youth, and even worked with the Company Theater for a time. “I believe that at their best, songs are stories,” he says. “My songs, the ones I write and perform, are personal expressions of things that, to me, are universal experiences. Some are happy, some have a political message; some are sad or angry, just like people.” But he also adds that it is about more than just the music: “Storytelling goes back in human history a very great distance…dating back even farther than the Druids, who used songs to pass down stories and accounts of history. Since they had no written language, it was vital that these bards could remember long and complex histories of the great deeds of great individuals and the familial lineages of their kings.” Wearing a black shirt, black pants, and a black Stetson with a raven feather in it, Pojawa cuts a dashing figure. So what’s up with the Raven Jake Dawes get-up? “Raven Jake is a character I created, a sort of cross between an old Native American shaman and a Spirit of the Old West.” “The raven,” he went to explain, “is a spiritual animal… and “Jake” is a little joke, since jackdaw is another name for raven.” Pojawa says he settled on the raven after an encounter where “a wild raven approached me quite casually and let me interact with him without any semblance of fear.” His appreciation for the bird is apparent; as he avidly talks about the species he calls “magnificent black birds.” The difference between Pojawa and his alter-ego is “Raven Jake is a purer version of myself; me but better, simpler and more direct.” “Jeryd Pojawa is gradually transforming into Raven Jake,” alleges Jane, his wife of eight years. “A lot of his newer friends know him only as ‘Raven,’ which is a little weird to hear.”

[See Raven Jake, page 17] Spring 2012 | the insider


Transfer Trauma Campus: Students Have the Hardest Mountain to Climb

— By Claudine Minassian

College students face a lot more than just challenging professors, indecision over majors, complications in love, and the drudgery of minimum wage jobs. They now have to deal with the dreaded registration day. This day is not dreaded just because it means that summer vacation is over. The worst part of it is that classes are almost impossible to find. The drops of sweat can be counted before the process of registering is complete. Not only are there fewer classes available but there are shorter windows of time that classes are offered. “I have been trying to add a math class that I need for two semesters now and I haven’t been able to, said Taleen Bedikian, a third-year student at Glendale Community College. “I had no choice but to pay more for a UCLA extension math course.” Situations like this interfere with the educational process and make it more difficult than ever to transfer. Often students are left to register for classes they don’t need. . Consequently, transferring has become difficult and frustrating. Also, the common two-year program for a full-time community college student has become at least a three-year process. Transferring is not the only problem. To be considered a full-time student, students must be registered in at least 12 units. However, since it has become difficult to do so this often affects student aid. Not only are the community colleges affected by the budget cutbacks, but so are the universities to which students might transfer. “The California community colleges are going into their fourth year of


the insider | Spring 2012

budget cuts,” said Richard Perez, vice president of student services. “As a result, classes have been cut, thus making it difficult for students to get their classes and prolonging their attainment of their goals: transfer, certificate or degree.”, a website that discusses current state budget issues, says that the state has cut approximately $7 million from each California State University. Consequently, classes have been cut from their schedules. Glendale Community College has also made deep cuts to deal with the economic situation. Summer session, which used to be two five-week terms, has suffered with consequences. This summer there will be a scant 120 courses offered in only one session. In good times, there were nearly 600 classes offered in two sessions. This became critical for many students like Bedikian. “I needed to take just one class that would be a prerequisite for another course I wanted to take during the fall semester, but I couldn’t even get any classes because of how many students there are and how many classes are actually available.” This can hold a student back for another year, as it has for Bedikian. Not only has it been difficult to get classes at a community college, it also has become difficult to transfer to the four-year universities. In past years, a student would be easily able to find a spot in a CSU campus with a 2.5 GPA and 60 units completed. Some CSU campuses even accepted transfer students during winter, spring, or summer semesters or quarters. Now, if a student logs onto the CSU mentor website, it says only transfer students with associate degrees or transfer degrees will be considered.

Kevin Meza, a Glendale transfer counselor for the past 12 years said the “transfer degree doesn’t work for most students; it’s very limiting. That’s why the Cal States were able to make that statement because they knew, out of the state of California, only a couple of hundred students could do it. It is almost a way to appease.” Many Cal States have also become impacted, resulting in a cutback in admissions. On a Cal State website the following was posted: “An undergraduate major or campus is designated as impacted when the number of applications received from fully qualified applicants during the initial filing period exceeds the number of available spaces. Such majors or campuses are authorized to use supplementary admission criteria to screen applications.” There are 23 Cal State campuses, and 15 of them are impacted. Of those impacted, six are in the Los Angeles area. Transferring out of community college does not mean a home run when it comes to the budget cuts. The Cal States have recently raised tuition by 15 percent, bringing the cost for a year to nearly $5,000. Melissa Irigoyen, a student at Cal State L.A., has had a tough time dealing with the budget cuts and increase in tuition. “I have had to sacrifice work time,” she said. “They now offer a certain amount of the same classes during a certain quarter; and with classes filling up so quickly and me trying to register for four classes to be considered a full-time student and finish quicker has been difficult.” Students like Irigoyen find themselves at school all day, which prevents them from working off campus. The federal

government has also cut back on financial aid. “I used to have a school grant plus a loan, and this year I didn’t have a grant,” Irigoyen said. “It made it difficult because not only are they lowering the amount of financial aid we’re receiving, but also raising tuition.” During this crisis, students may look at options such as private schools, but with the recession, many are priced out of these institutions. The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise, a private school for students seeking a career in fashion design, interior design, styling, digital media, business, and more, is an example of this. On the school’s website it suggests students who are interested in applying to the school apply before May 1 because afterwards the tuition will rise 5 to 10 percent across the board. When one factors in tuition, books and supplies,

There are 23 Cal State campuses, and 15 of them are impacted. Of those impacted, six are in the Los Angeles area. studio and lab usage fees, matriculation fees, and a student association fees the price comes up to about $28,000 a year. USC is even higher. Arleen Danelian, a second year college student at Pasadena City College, has

been affected with these budget cuts. “It is almost impossible to get classes,” Danelian said. At the moment, most students are left begging for opportunity.

Claudine Minassian is an English major with hopes for teaching one day. She secretly wishes to have one of her novels become a movie.

Songs as Stories as Songs...

[Raven Jake, from page 15] The Pojawas also run a blog together. “I started writing the blog primarily to highlight Jeryd’s art and poetry, but it really became a lot more than that,” says Jane. “It’s become a very collaborative effort – not just him or me, but us – and it keeps evolving. We were lucky to be able to use it [the website] for social advocacy.

OLVERA STREET SKULL MERCHANT One of Pojawa’s early Photoshop projects at GCC involved stitching a series of photographs and aging the finished work. Tellingly, this would be the first appearance of “Raven Jake.”

The Raven Jake character isn’t politically inclined, but he does take a stand on certain issues.” The blog, focused primarily on natural history and out-of–the-way travel has attracted at least one celebrity fan, Yoko Ono. She commented on a follow-up on her “Wish Tree” installation, now growing in Pasadena’s Arlington Garden, by stating emphatically that “Now is the time for action!” regarding the peace consciousness movement.

So what does the future hold for Raven Jake? Aside from putting out an album, Pojawa hopes to stage a comeback to the world of acting. And, as they say in the West, he has “a whole lotta irons in the fire.” For the moment though, he is conducting a public “rodent jihad” on the ground squirrels ravaging his garden, writing songs and wandering the desert talkin’ to rattlesnakes and picking up rocks…

Matt Kemper is 20 years young and working on a journalism major at the University of South Dakota. In the future, he hopes to mold young minds without actually having to meet them and to model for American Apparel. Spring 2012 | the insider


Glendale Fightin Local martial artists are gaining recognition in sports competition — Story and Photos by Marlon Miranda Inside a gym in the heart of Glendale, a 7-year-old boy is tossed around and kicked to the ground. Any normal kid would be in tears after such punishment, but not this one. Arsen Muradyan rises up, smiles and continues the fight. Remarkably, he trained at the Glendale Fighting Club for the last two years. With aspirations of becoming a professional, Muradyan is wise beyond his years. Muradyan said that he started taking classes to learn how to defend himself. “But the more prepared you are and the more you know about fighting, he says, “the less fighting you will ever have to do.”

A mural near the entrance to the gym depicts boxing great Muhammad Ali and Edmond Tarverdyan. The mural’s message: “Nothing is Impossible.” A multiple winner of international and national championships, Tarverdyan, 30, has trained in Full-Contact Karate, Wushu, Kung Fu, Tae-Kwon-Do, Draka and Muay Thai. He is the main instructor at the fight club, where he has taught since he was 16. “Having studied so many styles I can assess students better and instruct them on what style serves them better for their body type,” said Tarverdyan.

Alfred Keshishyan keeps his distance with solid jabs in his first professional match against Victor Jovel in a Muay Thai competition.


the insider | Spring 2012

ng Club

Spring 2012 | the insider


The gym has three types of classes. The kid’s class is for children who are 4 and older. A child is taught at his or her own pace. As the student progresses, the challenges get harder; each class is an hour long. The fitness program is open to adults of all ages, but the professional fighter’s program is only for those with experience who are ready to move on to the big stage. “I love our kids program; it helps all the young people stay away from


the insider | Spring 2012

the street and focus their energy in a positive outlet,” said Tarverdyan. “We are not like other gyms who just take money from kids; we prepare them and make them mentally tough. Living life is always a fight and I like my kids to be prepared.” The success of the program is compelling. On May 22, the Glendale Fighting Club was represented in the PAL National Boxing tournament [National Police Athletics/Activities Leagues Inc.] and California Judo

Championship. Four of the club’s boxers and 10 judo students competed. Edmen Shahbazyan, 14 years old and 138 pounds, won a gold medal in the boxing tournament in his division. Judo students Patrick Bagumyan and Edward Arusutumyan both received gold medals. Other Judo students placed in second and third place. Glendale Fighting Club is not only for kids and pros, but also for adults who flood the gym looking for an

“It is comforting to know I can come to a

gym where they understand the person that I am; my heritage and my background.” — Edward Manukian

escape from the real world. Brothers Sarkis and Edward Manukian visited the gym a couple of times before they signed up. Sarkis, a single parent, says he lives a very stressful life and finds solace in working out there. “It is comforting to know I can come to a gym where they understand the person that I am, my heritage and my background,” said Manukian. “Once a week I come and relieve my stress and lose myself in battle. Edward has been known to have a temper and started taking classes in learning how to be disciplined and find a way to control his anger. The brothers consider GFC the best gym around.

“Learning self-control is hard. Thinking you will learn this by fighting might seem absurd at first, but believe me, it works,” said Ed Manukian. Tarverdyan believes that mixed martial arts [MMA] is like no other sport around, where the participants work out and grow as much emotionally as they do physically. “MMA is great and people shouldn’t be afraid to bring their kids or try it out for themselves,” said Tarverdyan. “It is not only meant to compete or just go out and fight but it’s for getting stronger and physically fit. Unlike basketball – that’s just

fun – MMA teaches you to challenge yourself and keep growing as a person.” At the gym, the pros prepared for their big May 5 event, Chaos at the Casino, held at Hollywood Park. The event showcased 12 Armenian fighters, some making their professional debut. Weeks before the event, GFC held cross-training sessions with members from the GFC and from the Hye Fighter’s Community. Hye is a promotional entity that showcases Armenian combat sports. “Chaos at the Casino” was Edmond Tarverdyan’s MMA debut.

Tatsuro Irie and Georgi Karakanyan square off in a boxing match, top left. Edmond Tarverdyan, below, a Glendale Fighting Club instructor, won his mixed martial arts bout against Phil Nunez with a knockout, and celebrated with a standing back flip.

Spring 2012 | the insider


“We’ve got 12 Hye Fighters on the card; it’s going to be a big thing for Glendale and the community.” — Gokor Chivichyan Participating in the historic event were: Ara Muradyan and Sako Chivitchian; boxers Azat Hovhannesyan, and Georgi Karakhanyan and Alfred Keshishyan; and Muay Thai competitors Sevak Ohanjanian and Ando Janoyan. Art Hovhannisyan, Vito Gasparyan, George Amiryan, Roman Mitichyan and Edmond Tarverdyan rounded out the card. The fighters were united and ready to demonstrate their preparation and work ethic in the upcoming challenge. They smiled and laughed, but there is nothing funny about their training; they are serious and nothing but business. Many of the fighters at the GFC training session were from different sides of the Armenian combat sports spectrum, from Gokor Chivichyan’s Team Hayastan MMA Academy to SK Golden Boys Wrestling Club and Main Event gym. They all came to

train at the GFC club to prepare not only for personal wins but to dominate the May event. Armenian pride was at an all-time high and they seem to motivate each other in preparation. “Some gym’s fighters just come to work out. We all come here and cross train and push each other to better ourselves. We aren’t just workout partners, we are a huge family,” said Tarverdyan. “Chaos at the Casino” featured three different types of fighting styles. Three fights were fought in Muy Thai (kickboxing) style, two fights featured traditional boxing, and five fights were mixed martial arts. The event was running late with fans flooding the entrance. The arena was jammed with audience members supporting each fighting camp and group, cheering and shouting every time their

fighter would come up. The crowd was predominantly Armenian fans giving GFC and Hye a home-court advantage. Alfred Khashakyan, in his first professional fight, dominated Victor Joval and won on a technical knockout midway through the second round. Khashakyan showed good form and didn’t panic when the fight seemed to gravitate toward Joval’s advantage. He stayed level headed and kept pushing forward and never backing down. It was a stunning way to start a career. “It feels good to have the support I have during the fight; they have faith in me and I have faith in myself,” said Khashkyan. The boxing match showcased Georgi Karakanyan, who dominated and humiliated Tatsuro Irie. The fans erupted from the moment he was

“Edmond! Edmond! Edmond!” The Armenian community was out in force to support Hye Fighters and the Glendale Fighting Club at the Hollywood Park Casino. Ara Muradyan beat Octavio Morales in mixed martial arts, top right.


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introduced and didn’t stop until well after the fight was over. Karakanyan has a Roy Jones Jr. swaggered, baiting his opponents and stopping them in their tracks with quick strikes and keeping his opponents off-balance with power shots to the body. Karakanyan was, at times, toying with Irie. “I trained hard and realized early what he was trying to do in the ring,” said Karakanyan. “He was a good fighter but I got him early and kept giving him body shots to keep him winded and keep him guessing.” Khaskakyan and Karakanyan both received medals after their match for best newcomers in boxing and Muy Thai, respectively. Both achieved their first win in their professional debut. GFC really stood out in the MMA part of the event as all four fighters won decisive victories. Ara Muradyan beat Octavio Morales. Muradyan showed his superior strength on the ground, constantly throwing Morales on the floor and attacking him viciously and ferociously. Morales was unrecognizable after the fight, his

cheek busted open from his right eye and his face swollen. Morales needed help standing up after the fight and was checked out by the medical staff. Sako Chivichyan defeated Preston Scharf and Roman Mitichyan beat William Sriyapai with a submission. Edmond Tarverdyan won via knockout over Phil Nunez. “It’s a very big deal personally for me,” Chivitchian said. “We’ve got 12 Hye Fighters on the card; it’s going to be a big thing for Glendale and the community.” The fight started like something out of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. Minutes before the match, much of the audience chanted “Edmond! Edmond! Edmond!” The introduction to the match lasted longer than the fight itself. Tarverdyan demonstrated his superior skill set

by always shifting two steps ahead of his opponent, Phil Nunez. Tarverdyan moved like a crab and confused Nunez with his different strikes. The fight ended when Nunez tried to tackle Tarverdyan and was greeted by a knee to the face. Nunez went down and never got back up. GFC dominated the event and could back up Tarverdyan’s claim: “We make champions.” This year, the number of Armenian fighters doubled on the card. With a growing contingent of new fighters coming out and professionals representing the Glendale Fighting Club, it is fast becoming the gold standard of success and glory, not only for the Glendale community but also in the greater fighting circles.

Marlon Miranda, a media arts major, loves sports and has an obession with the undead. He writes for El Vaquero and can usually be found working on his screenplays.

Spring 2012 | the insider


Summer Swimming Local public pools offer a range of services

— By Jason Ahn Heart pumps, body heat rises, breathing shortens. Beads of sweat drip from the brow. Thirty minutes later, the euphoric runner’s high arrives. This feeling can be achieved in many ways such as running, cycling, recreational sports, and other activities. They do have their drawbacks, though. Running is the cheapest form — cost free, but it’s bad for the knees. Bicycling requires a considerable initial expenditure, and then there’s the risk of getting hit by a car. So what’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise that afflicts little wear on the body? Swimming. With a bit of exploring, one can find an ideal venue for practicing this safe and fun way to stay healthy. The first thing needed is a facility. There are several local swimming pools in the Glendale area, including the Glendale YMCA, Glassell Park, and the Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. The Rose Bowl pool has an especially illustrious history and is where Olympic swimmers have trained. On June 1, the US Men’s Water Polo Team beat the Croatian team in a pre-Olympic exhibition match. One point to consider when picking a pool is the fee to use it. Jason Bender, of Eagle Rock, uses the Glassell Park pool and takes advantage of the low price. “I like how it’s 50 cents cheaper with a library card,” he says. The other option is to pay $2.50 without one. If a swimmer were to go every day, this would add up to $60 a month with a library card, and $75 without one. The Rose Bowl, on the other hand, has more options. People who want to relax in a shallow pool only pay $2, while swimmers pay $10. The latter allows access to all of the pools, including the 50-meter Olympic-sized one and the therapeutic pool as well. Other services and amenities such as the weight gym, Pilate’s classes, and new karate classes are included with the lap swim day pass.


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Mark Gutierrez, 45, from Eagle Rock, comes to this pool five times a week. “I’ve been coming here since July,” he says. “It helps me relax; it’s good for my joints because it’s no impact and all resistance.” He spends his day as a maintenance mechanic at a lead refinery so many of his health concerns come from the daily strain on his body. The pool is a natural way for him to restore himself mentally and physically. There is an alternative to paying the $10 daily fee, which is to pay $60 for the monthly fee, which is the same as the cost of the discounted Glassell Park pool price. The Rose Bowl’s locker rooms are spotless. Sunlight pours through the half-domed holes in the roof which then bounce off the yellow and aqua interior. Magaly Elgado, a Pasadena resident, works the front desk at the Rose Bowl and takes pride in the Aquatic Center. “It’s a nonprofit pool that belongs to the city,” says Elgado. ”But we give back to the community through scholarships and donations to schools.” Helping young swimmers go to college is a plus. Children can start swimming from six months and climb the ranks of the various swimming teams and clubs. “I recommend this pool because kids can move up in the different skill levels if they’re good enough,” Elgado says. “Then the doors open for universities.” Another factor in picking a pool is the staff’s friendliness. The Glassell Park pool has a kind front desk worker who gave a first timer the discounted price without his library card. Bender rates the level of friendliness as “fair.” The lifeguards there seem to care as well and yelled “Good Morning!” to the patrons as they came out of the locker rooms. At the Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the staff receives praise from daily

users. “They’re very friendly,” Proniewcz says. “The director of the therapeutic pool tells us what to do to create more resistance.” Proniewcz depends on the therapeutic pool because he suffered from a stroke as well as injuries he sustained from a fall. He benefits from the water’s healing abilities and the staff’s willingness to help. “There are a lot of unsung heroes here,” he says. “They donate money and help [injured] old people. It really helps.” Another point in deciding where to swim is what different types of services these pools have to offer. The Glassell Park Pool has a playground, a baseball field, a large grass field, basketball courts and a picnic area that neighbors the pool. The Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatic Center has a nearby park with a brand new playground, baseball fields, tennis courts, and the Rose Bowl is walking distance from the area. The final point to consider are the hours the pool is available. The Pasadena Rose Bowl is open year-round, Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. On the weekends, they’re open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. All of their heated pools are located outdoors. The Glassell Park Pool has varied hours through the summer months, with public access somewhat limited by different classes and programs. Call (323) 226-1670 for up-to-date information. Overall, the best pool to work out at depends the swimmer’s level of ability. The Pasadena Rose Bowl Aquatic Center is the best place to go for the person who enjoys lifting weights and swimming. The Glassell Park pool, on the other hand, is great for the casual swimmer who wants to take advantage of a low daily rate.

Jason Ahn is a psychology major and hopes to transfer to USC. He’s a Christian, an avid track and field javelin thrower, loves sports, fashion, and anything outdoor-related. He lives in La Crescenta.

Where’s Kony?

Opinion: In the wake of the captures of Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi, why isn’t Joseph Kony a priority ? — By Leah Arzu

Photoillustration by Isiah Reyes

Spring 2012 | the insider


“If there’s no direct profitable gain, the world turns its back.” — Bianca Walker

In a world more often at war than at peace, it’s easy to become inured to the images and stories of those left in its wake. Too often the faces of innocent victims blur with those of the intended target. However, history has shown that there are slivers of compassion even in war, and those moments of humanity shine brightest when children are at stake. It is this compassion for and need to protect their innocence that has helped to bring the Invisible Children’s Kony2012 mission to the forefront. Kony2012 is the organization’s much-publicized effort to bring attention to and help ensure the capture of warlord Joseph Kony, who as head of the Ugandan guerilla rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is responsible for ordering the abduction of and enslavement of more than 60,000 children and displaced another 2 million people over the last 26 years. In a 2006 interview with UN Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland, Kony called himself a “freedom fighter, not a terrorist.” The selfproclaimed “spokesperson of God” orders his soldiers to take children from their beds and kill the remaining family and neighbors, leaving the children orphans with little choice but to join his army. Manipulating the Ten Commandments for his benefit, the admitted polygamist with 88 wives 26

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and 42 children of his own, turns the young girls into sex slaves. The boys become soldiers, whose duties include participation in the mutilation of mouths, ears, hands and feet, of innocent people. Those who have managed to escape join those who live in fear of being abducted. They sleep pressed together in rooms by the hundreds, praying that Kony’s army won’t find them. Sadly, this isn’t new information. In fact the International Criminal Court has held Kony in the number one spot out of 27 on the list of the world’s worst criminals since 2005 for what head prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo calls the “perverse nature of his crimes.” So how then could he be in the number one spot above even the late Moammar Gadhafi and be so under the radar around the world? Perhaps because the world didn’t have the incentive to put an end to this genocide in the way it did to end the Gadhafi reign of terror. Cameron Hastings, a political science professor at Glendale Community College, says the lack of attention makes sense. “Kony is a resistance leader and affords less attention. Similarly, there are feelings in Uganda and elsewhere that eliminating him would not eliminate the problem, and that another leader would be in his shadows to take his place.”

For years Jason Russell and his team form Invisible Children went to the nation’s capital with the information about Kony’s evil deeds, only to be told by every official that “There is no way the US would get involved where our national security and financial interest aren’t at stake.” Their efforts weren’t in vain though, on Oct. 14, 2011 President Barack Obama issued a letter to Invisible Children stating that he had, “authorized a small number of US forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.” But unfortunately, most of the world still hasn’t heard of Joseph Kony. The tipping point came with the March 5 release of the Kony2012 video. Within days more than 70 million private citizens were watching, sharing, and protesting for an end to the monstrosities perpetrated by Kony. It wasn’t long before the streets were plastered with propaganda for the cause and celebrities rallied behind and joined in the fight. Some critics argue that this video is nothing short of self-serving, a white man’s attempt to look like the good guy. Others say the campaign is sending the wrong message with its “let’s make him famous” slogan. Some question George Clooney’s call for Kony’s face to be plastered on magazine covers as

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WARLORD? Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and target of the controversial Invisible Children’s viral video campaign, remains at large despite being identified by the International Criminal Court as the “world’s worst criminal,” beating out Gaddafi for the top spot. much as his is. Finally, some are left questioning the crediblity of the facts presented. Many say Kony is no longer in Uganda, and that he’s spread out to surrounding areas, so why all the effort to find him there? Kony may not be in Uganda but some of his subordinates are, and on May 12, with help from the 100 US advisers, top commander for the LRA, Ceasar Achellam, was captured in Uganda. Upon capture Achellam said, “My coming out has made a big impact on the people still remaining in the bush to be encouraged to come out so that sooner maybe the war would come to an end.” Unfortunately even with the capture of Achellam, Kony is still on the loose, gaining more power as he continues to find ways to elude efforts to catch him.

It seems the world has turned away from this issue and the attention seems to have faded from the headlines. Perhaps we bit off more than we could chew? Or is this a fear of history repeating itself? Hastings says “America was burned pretty badly with the Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu, Somalia in which a number of American soldiers were killed, and dragged through the streets. Americans basically said never again to getting involved in Africa. That was around 1993 and we have not forgotten that lesson.”

The truth is, a terrorist is a terrorist regardless of our interests. Each country has a responsibility to do its part to stop the Konys of the world. How do we do that? Stop acting as though we’re all separate and the issues across the pond or even next door don’t have any effect on us. Rather than fighting fire with fire, let’s come together to teach prevention. As Russell said in regards to his promise to help stop Kony, “That promise isn’t just about Jacob or me, it’s also about you!”

Leah Arzu is a journalism major with an interest in magazine writing and broadcasting. She lives in Burbank with her husband and enjoys traveling, reading, music and lazy beach days. Spring 2012 | the insider


Hair Weaves

Opinion: Old  School vs. New School — By Darria Johnson Beauty or Not? Glamorous hair. How do Rihanna, Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Tyra Banks and other celebrities achieve that perfect movie star look? Beautiful hair is often purchased, not natural, and gorgeous tresses aren’t necessarily just for the rich and famous anymore. Think of a weave as a semi-permanent wig. More recently reimagined as hair extensions, weaves have been staples of African-American hairstyles since the early 1950s, and are finding a wider consumer base with many women, and not an insignificant number of men, who have thinning hair issues.  With new and advanced applications on the rise, more and more people are becoming acquainted with hair extensions.  Human and artificial hair may be purchased and used to augment a person’s natural hair. Longer locks, a quick change in color or texture, and different styles are all possible in the course of an afternoon at the beauty salon. There are several methods of applying hair extensions, track and sew, bonding, fusion, micro-rings, and clip in.  Many of these methods commonly used can be very damaging to one’s natural hair.  An extension wearer and a licensed stylist myself, I’ve seen the effects of improper weave care.  So I took to the streets to find out what other stylists and patrons think is the healthiest method of hair weaving.

Los Angeles is hair weaving central and home to many stylists who consider themselves, “weaveologists.” Keokia Childress, a stylist for 18 years in Inglewood, considers herself one of the best weavers on the West Coast. 

— Photos By Jane Pojawa 28

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“I started doing weaves many years ago,” she laughs. “I was scared my first time out the gate because I was taught by one of the best, and it came to time to ‘show and prove,’ and I had to weave her hair.  I was very nervous.”  Keokia found her love for hair weaving at Contempo School of Beauty in the ‘90s. “I’ve taken various classes and attended various shows to perfect my craft.  I love hair weaves: they’re one of life’s little miracles.  It makes me very happy knowing that I can make my client feel good in a matter of minutes.  It’s very inspiring,” she says. Keokia claims that the “old school” track-and-sew method of hair weaving is the safest procedure for African-American hair. “The only problem with weaves is that people get too comfortable and forget about their own hair.  This can have all types of negative effects on the hair.” Keokia has attended fusion and micro-ring courses but says, “My clients don’t have the type of hair that calls for procedures like those; it would be more damaging than beneficial, and I can’t risk that.” 

At Spa 313, in Inglewood, Petina Purvis, also known as “Tina the Magnificent,” styles client Portia’s hair. Portia started the process by having her natural hair braided and covered with a permeable net cap. Tina sews Indian hair to the rows in layers to mimic naturally straight hair. After all the hair was attached, it was styled and cut, inset.

Spring 2012 | the insider


Fusion hair extension, also known as “fused hair extension,” is a hairlengthening technique where the extensions are fused or bonded directly to the hair shaft. Each strand is fused with a warm fusing tool and a keratin-based bond.  At the root of the hair, the stylist

gathers a bundle of strands, adds the extension between the jaws of the fussier, and squeezes to melt the bond and hair together. It is suitable for women who are looking for long-term use in extensions.  It less painful then the glue-in or sew-in

method but has some irreversible effects if taken out improperly. The tools needed to remove these fused bonds from the hair include alcohol-based gel and pliers. The term “alcohol-based,” as applied to my hair, makes me automatically think “dry and crunchy.” I think I am going to pass on fused hair extensions. 

Fused hair extensions involve bonding supplemental hair to the wearer’s own hair using a heat/chemical process. This technique works better for wearers with naturally straight hair who desire more fullness, but it can also be quite damaging. 30

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Keokia Childress, a “weaveologist” for 18 years, has taken a number of courses in new extension techniques, but believes that the traditional track-and-sew method is far less damaging to the hair of African-American women. Micro-Rings, also known as the “loop” or “easy ring” method, are also very nice if applied correctly. In this is method, little metal rings are applied to a small area of gathered hair at the root.  Pliers are used to crush the metal rings flat, but not to necessarily close it around the hair.  The idea is to lock the hair in, so as not to damage it.  While this method sounds attractive, and probably looks nice on certain clients, neither it nor fused hair extensions are ideal for an AfricanAmerican woman. Our hair is far too thick and curly for something like this.  While the idea of straying away from the “old school” method sounds good, it just isn’t ideal for us.  Shakira Davis, an extension wearer for the last two years, claims that she spends at least $5,000 dollars per year getting her hair done.  “I get my weave done every six to eight weeks, and I usually purchase new hair (Indian hair) every time.  I spend about $250 to $300 on hair, and then about $250 for the service.  So I spend around $500 or $600 every time.”   Davis says her stylist introduced her to weaves two years ago for her brother’s wedding and she has been hooked ever since.  “The first time it was bit uncomfortable, a little tight but I got used to it eventually and I loved it,” says Davis.  “I can preserve my natural hair and its very low maintenance.”  She seems to love her hair extensions but says, “The only

thing I hate about having my weave is that I cannot directly scratch my scalp; it can become a bit irritating ’cause it itches all the time.” Davis is a patron of a salon in Pasadena and says she will always wear a hair weave.  Davis’ experience is not unusual.  A tell-tale sign of an otherwise invisible weave is the wearer tapping or patting herself on the side of the head.  Your scalp may itch, but don’t scratch: those fingernails will destroy a very expensive hairstyle.  Petina Purvis, also known as “Tina the Magnificent,” deems herself an artist in motion. “I’ve been working as a stylist for 13 years and doing weaves for the last seven.” Tina claims at least 30 percent of her clients’ wear extensions. “My clients love the versatility of having a hair weave (color, cut, style); they can go from short to long without cutting their hair and many of them like that.”  She specializes in short cuts but has a vast number of clients who want longer hair for the winter and she is happy to oblige them with a “quick weave.”  “A quick weave is when you mold all your hair down with styling foam or gel and bond with hair directly to the client’s molded base,” explains Tina.  A style like this can be potentially damaging to the client’s hair if not cared for or taken out improperly.  “There is a method to taking this style apart; you have to use oil and neutralizing shampoo to remove the bonding glue as

“If it were meant for you to have Indian hair, God would have made you Indian.”

y t u a e B

— DeLeon Lewis

this will loosen the glue and tracks will slide right out,” she continues. Styles like this have become very popular these days, many people are looking for that versatility but don’t want to cut or color their natural hair. Bobbie Wilkerson, known to many as the “Goddess of Hair,” a stylist for the last 23 years says, “Weaves can be a good thing and a bad thing.”  She explains how clients get into this comfort zone and forget that they have natural hair underneath these weaves they’re wearing.  “Curly weaves are low maintenance; just wet and go,” says Bobbie.  “Straight weaves are a little more complicated, because you have to treat them like your own hair.”  Hair weaves can be a bit pricey, especially if you’re looking to purchase the best of the best when it comes to natural hair.  Indian, Bohemian, Brazilian, Malaysian, and Chinese straight are among the popular choices when it comes to human weave hair.  “People are looking for the low maintenance and versatility that a hair

weave can provide,” she explains. The Goddess herself wears a weave and it’s little to low maintenance. Hair weaving has become very popular and the uniqueness of it has definitely worn off, not only for celebs but for working women as well.  DeLeon Lewis, 23, says, “Honestly, I hate weaves; they make all these women look the same and they don’t always look right.”  He explains his disgust with hair weaves and how America presents the image that the longer the hair, the better you look.  “Hair weaves are absolutely horrid.  If it were meant for you to have Indian hair, God would have made you Indian.  Natural beauty is the best.”  He continues, “I like a girl who wears her natural hair and no make-up.”  He explains how he does not date girls who wear hair extensions because that’s just not his style.  “I don’t date girls who wear hats,” he laughs as he refers to weaves.  “Those things look terrible. I absolutely hate them.  I can respect a woman who wears her own hair pulled back into a nice ponytail or a natural blow-dried style.  I even like a girl

Hair weaves require patience and skill, below. Row by row, using a curved sail needle and strong thread, Tina sews supplemental hair onto a base of tightly woven braids until only a small amount of Portia’s natural hair remains. Then all the hair–grown and purchased–is styled. Portia can expect about two month’s wear from her new hairstyle. If the hair isn’t damaged, it may be reused for her next weave.

with a natural low cut. “Hair weaves are a sure sign of insecurity.  I really want women to stop hiding behind hair and make-up because one day it will eventually run out and when it does they will be lost.” It seems that he likes it all natural and says, “Any woman wearing a weave is insecure.”  While Lewis believes the choice of wearing a weave is a cover for insecurities, many others interviewed for this article weighed in and agreed it’s all for the convenience and versatility.   Nothing we as women do to our hair is good for it.  We over-process it with colors, relaxers, and too much heat-straightening or curling it.  Society presents us with an image of what beauty is supposed to look like, and we rush to stores to buy the longest human hair they have to offer.  What happened to the all-natural greaseand-water ponytails that mom used to do? Or the old school blow-and-wears that grandma used to do in the kitchen every Easter?  Those were the days when everyone had long, beautiful hair and were comfortable with who they were. True beauty radiates from within; it does not sit on top of your head and drape down past your shoulders in spiral curls

Spring 2012 | the insider


on either side. Beauty is not that bang that hangs over your left eye, or that “crush red” hair color you wear.  It is not hundreds of dollars’ worth of the finest Indian hair

that money can buy. Beauty is who you are before you apply all of that stuff. Think of yourself as a Christmas tree and hair is merely an ornament.  It doesn’t define

you, or make you any less of a person, but it seems to have that effect on people. It’s one of life’s little mysteries and I guess we’ll never understand.

Bobbie Wilkerson, top, has earned the nickname the “Goddess of Hair,” over her 23-year career. Here styling a client’s hair with a hot comb, she believes that weaves may cause client’s to neglect the health of their own hair. Spa 313’s billboard above 313 La Brea Blvd says “Where True Beauty Begins,” but true beauty originates from the heart and not from the hair.


the insider | Spring 2012

Darria “D.J.” Johnson is a licensed stylist and journalism student. See her other article, “Silent Cries: Recovering from Domestic Violence,” on page 7.

Cake Pops A Delicious Dessert Trend

— By Lianna Khatcherian

One of the most recent novelties in the dessert industry, cake pops are like bite-sized works of art. This special treat has become very popular, and many pastry shops are now selling them, as are coffee shops such as Starbucks, and even online stores like Amazon. The cake pop is a mixture of a lollipop and a delicious cake, which creates a classy dessert for everyone to enjoy. Originally, the purpose of the cake pop was to use leftover cake batter. They were rolled into balls with icing and coated with chocolate. Today, cake pops are purposely made to sell and, simply put, they are a wonderful innovation. The popularity of this new dessert was initiated by the cake pop queen, Bakerella, also known as Angie Dudley, who came up with the idea of putting the cake pop on a stick to make it more convenient. There is a cake pop for every occasion, whether it is a wedding celebration or a birthday party. Cake pops complete the setting. They are used as party favors, replacing chocolates or cupcakes. They may carry the theme of the party as a decorative element. What is a better way to design a table than by using a display of colorful cake pops? Simplicity requires a good imagination and persistence. It is not difficult to make cake pops, but it does take time and patience. The instructions must be followed carefully and through trial and error, the owner of Sweet Sensations

Ofelia Abadjian, owner of Sweet Sensations Bakery, holds a “groom” cake pop.

Spring 2012 | the insider


Bakery, Ofelia Abadjian, has been kind enough to give her recipe as well as her secret tips and tricks. Her number one rule is to not to begin baking on an empty stomach. For weddings, Abadjian gets requests to decorate the cake pops with glitter and bride and groom decorations. She can make her cake pops look like a groom’s suit or a bride’s veil. The most popular flavors are the red velvet cake pops and the double chocolate with frosting inside the cake. When asked how she started her cake pop business, Abadjian said, “Well, originally I started making one-tiered red velvet cake, and I heard of this wonderful idea to minimize the cake and make it into small rolled-up pieces. So now many more people can enjoy it, and it’s a nice presentation.” “My first client was a mother of a 7-year-old boy,” says Abadjian. “She placed an order for 50 cake pops, and I had to create Power Ranger design cake pops for her son’s birthday party. It was such a fun experience.” The baker’s passion is evident. She that she feels “joyful” making them and that it helps her relax. “When I see 400

Cake Pops in 10 Easy Steps: 1. Bake the cake. 2. Break the cake apart into tiny crumbs. 3. It is important to cool the cake  crumbs in the refrigerator. 4. The best method is to make small balls and place them onto aluminum foil on a cooking sheet. 5. Store them in the freezer once more for 15 minutes, and then move them to the refrigerator for another hour. 6. Prepare any color chocolate coating, and melt it. 7. Insert the white sticks into the cake ball carefully, and also dip in the cake ball into the melted chocolate to cover the outer part. It is best to start by taking five cake balls out at a time from the refrigerator. 8. Lay them upside down on a cooking sheet. Wait about five minutes before starting to design them. 9. Drizzle chocolate or glitter to make them look sophisticated. 10. The last step is to organize them on a platter and leave it in room temperature. Your cake pop journey is now complete. This process takes about three hours.


the insider | Spring 2012

people at a party eating the cake pops I made, it is a satisfying feeling,” she says. “It has become my hobby.” Abadjian has discovered a way to prevent the cake pops outer layer from cracking. This was her greatest challenge. Her trick is to use Paramount Crystals in the chocolate. This is a white, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil shortening; it looks like small coconut flakes, which can be found in chocolate shops. She also says that her secret ingredient does the trick in creating the best cake pop. Through some persuasion, she revealed that her secret was to add chocolate condensed milk into the chocolate frosting, which enhances the moist taste of the cake. She uses a lot of extracts to create different flavors. Her favorite part was the designing, and she spent over an hour on just the display to make it look perfect. “Not only does the inside have to taste good,” she says, “but presentation is key in creating the cake pop. It is a form of art, and I savor every moment.” “Whenever I deliver the cake pops to banquet halls, or to other party locations, whoever sees the display watches in awe,” says Andre Keshishian, Sweet Sensations’ delivery man. “And it is beautiful once it’s displayed and put on everyone’s plate. Some people begin eating it before the

dinner is served. I stay a little more to see their reactions, and they are all pleased.” Armine Shamirian has been baking cake pops for four years. When asked why she has not established a business she said, “Baking cake pops has been my hobby for many years now; to establish a business would take away my passion, and the simple joy I get from making these delicious treats.” She had heard about cake pops when her friend ordered some, and she was mesmerized by the bite-size look, and the colors. She continued, “I immediately searched for ‘cake pops’ online and watched the videos, and soon enough, I was baking cake pops every week for family and friends.” It never occurred to her to start a business; she simply bakes for fun, and to enjoy her creation afterwards. One would never assume just by looking at the small cake pop that it takes up to three hours to make, and up to 10 hours to do a set of 400. The intricate designs require a steady hand and creativity. The Sweet Sensations Bakery owner likes to draw out the designs first before implementing them on the actual cake pop. “Cake pops are like art,” says Shamirian. “You first use your imagination, then execute your design, and finally reach your desired goal.”

Lianna Khatcherian, a freshman in college, is taking her general education classes. In her spare time, she loves interior design and long walks with her golden retriever, Simba.

Culinary Arts: It takes more than raw talent...

— By Laura Candelaria

Flames shoot from stovetops as pans start to sizzle in a fury. Ingredients are poured into mixing bowls, spices added for the perfect touch. Plates are carefully arranged while knives slice through crisp vegetables. The kitchen is loud, crowded and hot. But when you have that passion for food that burns like a first-semester student making toast, the kitchen is the only place to be. Glendale College provides the beginner steps to becoming a master in the kitchen. If you’ve ever had a dish served to you in a restaurant and thought “I can make this” you may want to take a look at the wide array of courses available on campus: from the fundamentals of baking, foods for modern living, wine pairing and tasting, and even advanced classes for those who think they’re Food Network ready. But the truth is no one is ready. Not by a long shot. The would-be culinary artist needs to understand the basics first. Learn

to be a cook, and then time will tell one can play with the big kids and eventually become a chef. “You learn by doing. You don’t learn by watching TV when it comes to hands-on skills like culinary,” says Andrew Feldman, the Director of the Culinary Arts program for the college. He has an East Coast accent that lends understated authority to the kitchen. He’s calm, confident, and has an answer for everything when it comes to cooking. His students nod their heads as he walks down the hallway. “Chef,” they call him. He is the master and commander of his department. Feldman teaches the hands-on lab classes in the culinary department. “I like to teach those [classes] the most and I think you’re best at the things you like,” he says. Feldman talks passionately about why he does what he does and who will benefit from these lessons and how they can put them to use.

Spring 2012 | the insider


Benefits of Taking Culinary Classes At Glendale Community College If you’ve thought about looking into the classes, think you’d like to be a better cook, or are driven to work in the food industry, the Glendale College culinary arts department is a full-service training program. Now, don’t be fooled. Nobody can jump into a 101 class and suddenly be Gordon Ramsey. That’s not the point. But culinary students will be put on the right track to learning to be a cook. Feldman is blunt: “There are a lot of misconceptions about what cooks do and what chefs do. Cooks are those folks that perform hands-on tasks. Chefs oversee operations. And no one comes to school and walks out a chef like that, because there’s experience and judgment that’s required of people who become chefs, and I don’t think schools can tell a student that they’re a chef.” Culinary courses through the college yield several unexpected benefits that other departments simply cannot offer. For starters, students get the real world experience of being in a kitchen. Of the 32 classes offered in a semester, usually 27 of those are in the kitchen, working on actual recipes. Take, for example, Day 21— Moist Cooking Methods. Day 21 of Culinary Arts 111 splits the class into groups, usually of four, and allows them to try out three dishes:

Tex Mex Lunch: Derek Florez and Jafer Vallejos, above, preparing meals in the kitchen of the Los Robles Building. Jose Soto, right, creates side dishes including guacamole.

The culinary arts program offers five “Wednesday Restaurants” per semester. The usual cost is $8.85 or $6.95 for students with id. Regional flavors include: “Bayou Blast”, “Florribbean,” “California Dreamin,’ “ “Tex-Mex” and “Titanic.” The prix fixe meal is prepared and served by the culinary arts department and includes beverage and salad. 36

the insider | Spring 2012

A chicken fricassee; the more advanced coq au vin, and a South American soup, canja. Every student gets the chance to participate, feel, smell, see and taste the dish. It is an experience, not a lecture. The program centers on a 17unit certificate, which requires completing 144 internship hours. These are usually eight-hour shifts over weekends, depending on where one works. This internship, if done well, provides: work experience, a portfolio, connections, job recommendations, and the potential for a job offer after graduation. “My desire for my students is that they get the skills they need to get jobs. And they get jobs by being able to perform certain tasks in a professional manner,” says Feldman, whose passion for cooking and teaching is driven by his students’ needs. “And if they can do that there is a better chance they are going to get and keep a job.”

Can you take the Culinary Arts program? Many students have full schedules or even full-time jobs that limit their time for classes, and Feldman recognizes this. But the department doesn’t enforce a rigorous time crunch that some might fear. Classes are offered mornings, afternoons and in the evenings as well as on Saturdays. Unlike many culinary programs there are no specified start or end dates. This flexibility makes it a lot easier for students to obtain that certificate and start out into the real world. Don’t be fooled, it’s still going to be tough. “I don’t typically yell and scream but I have no problem getting in the face of my students and telling them what’s wrong and what’s right,” Feldman plainly

— Photos By Monica Tecson

states. “Because that’s what they want to know and sometimes they have to hear it at an elevated voice to get it through the din of the kitchen. So it can be a realistic experience when you have to have a little chat with me, just like you have to have a little chat with your chef if he didn’t like what you were doing,” he clarifies with a chuckle. “But it’s all done in a friendly professional manner. Unless you make me angry. But that rarely happens.”

Success Stories Several Students have gone on from the college’s culinary program to successful careers in the culinary world. Acccording to Feldman, one former student is

currently an intern at the fine French eatery Lucques, in West Hollywood. Some students go on to be chefs, others work in the hospitality industry and some just want to be better cooks at home. Elizabeth Sinanyan used the skills she picked up to start a successful business. She sells jarred goods to local farmers markets. The opportunities for culinary arts graduates are as broad as hard work and imagination carry them.

Salaries in the Culinary World: Chef/Owner: $85,685 Executive Chef: $79,402 Chef de Cuisine: $57,417 Pastry Chef: $48,861 Sous Chef: $42,266 Line Cook: $29,962 60-hour work weeks are average for chefs and cooks. It rises to 80 hours a week for chefs who own restaurants. Information from

Laura Candelaria is pretty sure she’s an English major. She works in marketing and loves her two dogs, baking, writing and planning her upcoming wedding. Spring 2012 | the insider


Become a part of a tradition stretching back to 1927 by enrolling in Journalism classes at Glendale Community College. You can learn to report and write the news while gaining first-hand experience in the college newspaper, El Vaquero. Earn class credit, build a portfolio of published work and learn to convey your ideas and experiences to the campus community and beyond...

101 Introduction To Mass Communications 102 Reporting the News 103 Student Publications Staff 104 Student Publications Editor 106 Introduction to Broadcast Journalism 1 107 Magazine Writing 110 Photojournalism 116 Introduction to Broadcast Journalism 2 210 Advanced News Writing 250 Visual Communication

El Vaquero Staff

Photoillustration by Bertha Cardozo


Insider Magazine Spring 2012  

Glendale’s student magazine enters its fifth year with a plethora of stories. Community: Inside the archives at the public library and memor...