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theinsider Chris Caplan

Do-it-yourself music and philanthropy at the heart of the new folk scene.

Peace Vigil

Osama bin Laden is dead, but the war is far from over.

Street Art Graffiti art debuts in L.A. with the first museum show of its kind.

Budget Crisis How Glendale’s students are fighting educational cuts

and more inside... Glendale Community College


Glendale Community College Magazine Spring 2011

From the Editor living with less

Volume 4

Number I


A folk singer, a revolutionary, and a teacher: three very different lives explored by the Insider staff.

Welcome to The Insider! The Insider is now on its fourth year as the Glendale Community College campus magazine. California’s ongoing budget crisis and the drastic cuts facing the community college system continue to dominate all other concerns on campus and rightly so: 6-8 percent budget decreases in nearly all departments will result in a lot of belt-tightening even in the most frugal divisions. Inflation is rising even as income drops. More bad news? It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Sure, the economy is recovering in some sectors, and the worst of the doomsday predictions did not come to pass, but it seems evident that California’s educational institutions are going to have to make do with less. So with money on everybody’s minds, it should come as no surprise that the Insider’s Spring 2011 issue should be so concerned with how people are living creatively with a restricted income. From film students trying to make a movie for $200 to community members using the services of the Verdugo Job Center to find work in a down economy, and dance students helping with disaster relief to inexpensive vacation destinations; our reporters are finding plenty of examples of resourceful people making ends meet. In this spirit, the Insider is now using Magcloud, a print-on-demand service offered by Hewlett–Packard, to reach a larger audience than the campus community, and augmenting this service with Issuu, another online host of print publications. IPad downloads are available for free, and issues will be printed on demand at cost. This alleviates print expenses and also reduces our carbon footprint, etc. We’re saving money as well as being relatively “green.” We are also transitioning our website to a WordPress platform. Look for the Insider’s online edition in the fall, with all the features of the print copy plus more — more stories, more photographs and interactive media. There may be less to go around, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. — Jane Pojawa, editor-in-chief

On Our Cover: Chris Caplan, familiar to everyone in the music department, is passionate about serving the underprivileged and the Do-It-Yourself music scene. Experience the new face of folk in this Insider exclusive. Pages 2-5.


Osama bin Laden is dead, but the war drags on. Glendale residents continue their peaceful protest.


Is it possible to make a feature film for $200? A group of GCC’s film students are trying. The new robotics club has built a prototype self-driving car that detects road hazards. The budget crisis has many on campus concerned: some are fighting back. In the meantime, cultural diversity programs have been cut. One staffer makes the case for why they should be continued. Trouble with taxes? Business department volunteers help members of the community file their forms.


A “Zombie Walk” introduces the undead to Downtown L.A.’s businesses, the Verdugo Job Center helps the unemployed find jobs, and the world’s smartest high school students compete in an international science fair.

Arts & Letters:

A hip-hop dance troupe, graffiti art goes mainstream at MOCA, and new poetry from Angela Lee.



Glendale Community College Magazine SPRING 2011

Volume 4

Number I

Here’s What’s

editor in chief


Agnes Constante Jennifer Do Seth Harden Roma Kouyoumdjian Marlon Miranda Verzhine Nikoghosyan Ortencia Perez Nicole Rubio Corinna Scott Tex Wells Erica White Catherine Yesayan


Chris Caplan, The New Face of Folk by Agnes Constante. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

by Erica White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 6

Gordon Alexandre , Another Profile in Courage

by Tex Wells. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 9

Out and About: 12 Places to go in the Desert by Jane Pojawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The $200 Movie

faculty adviser

by Agnes Constante. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Glendale Peace Vigil


page 2

Chuco Feliz, Defending the Chicano Raza

Michael Moreau (818) 551-5214 Jeff Smith (818) 240-1000, ext. 1427


by Catherine Yesayan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Downtown L.A. Zombie Walk by Marlon Miranda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Robotics Club by Corinna Scott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

page 11 page 14 page 17 page 20 page 25

Teen Scientists: Inside the Intel Science Fair

by Roma Kouyoumdjian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 27 Print copies are available for sale at

What to Cut? Campus Response to Budget Crisis by Tex Wells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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 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:

Opinion: Cultural Diversity Programs by Verzhine Nikoghosyan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tax Assistance by Ortencia Perez . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Verdugo Job Center by Ortencia Perez . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Beyond Dance Crew by Jennifer Do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Poetry: An Ace to Play by Angela Lee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Opinion: Graffiti Art Member of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges

by Nicole Rubio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

page 32 page 33 page 35 page 36 page 38 page 39 page 40

Chris Caplan The New Face of Folk It’s just past 6:30 p.m. when Christopher Caplan makes his way onto a small, black, platform stage. Holding an acoustic guitar, he seats himself on a chair at the center. Under the greenish, dim lights, it takes just a matter of seconds before he gets into the zone. His right wrist swings up and down naturally as his fingers strum against, pluck, and pick at his guitar strings. He plays effortlessly, but everyone can see the level of skill it takes to play as precisely as he does. While his hands play as if they had a mind of their own, he shifts himself toward a microphone and begins to sing. He radiates a soulful connection with his songs, emitting a resonant voice. Despite the fact that he has a cold, he pulls through his set for the evening excellently, and there’s just no denying the talent this 19-year-old possesses. Standing at about 5-foot-10, Caplan’s green eyes and demeanor are warm and friendly. He wears his brown hair in a tousled fashion and his everyday style leans toward long-sleeved, buttoneddown plaid shirts and jeans. Caplan first picked up on the guitar at the age of 13. He was playing music with one of his friends who couldn’t figure out how to play ‘Under the Bridge’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “I got frustrated and I jokingly said that if he loaned me his guitar, when I came back to his house in a week I would have [learned the song],” Caplan says. “And I did.” After that, Caplan’s friend offered him his guitar. After picking up a thing or two, Caplan began performing at 15 years old. “I used to busk a lot, which is like street performing, and a friend of mine, we would go to North Hollywood through Los Angeles and we’d just street 2

the insider | Spring 2011

perform. Those were some of my first performances.” He currently writes his own songs, both lyrics and music, most of which cover themes of love, politics, depression, drugs, and heart-broken optimism. My insides are coming outside/Too much ego/Too much white pride/Why do I feel I’ve been lied to?/First I hate you, now I love you/God/Oh God/Oh God … Won’t you save me, won’t you kill me/Fill this vessel with your teaching/Won’t you save me, won’t you mother/No, this man is not my brother/God/Oh God/Oh God… His talent and creativity have caught the attention of other musicians, including independent artist Mark Growden, and have opened the doors to more opportunities to expand his career. “I’ve only seen him perform twice and he’s grabbed me enough to make me consider working with him on a record,” Growden says. “I think he’s a very talented singer and guitar player and very soulful … he’s got raw talent.” As far as musical influences go, Caplan makes the most of all the artists he encounters. “Anyone I hear, in some way or some form, influences me,” he says. His particular favorite is Radiohead, but he’s also fond of Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith, and Claude Debussy. “I’m trying to develop a contemporary style that’s like a fusion of folk, blues, jazz and classical… trying to fuse them into a melodic, contemporary-sounding guitar.” The distinct and diverse attributes of Caplan’s musical pursuits reflect his own life, which has been packed with unique events. At around the time Caplan received

­— By Agnes Constante

his first guitar, he was also traveling to Costa Rica to help fix a school by the Rio Grande. His mom encouraged him to join an organization called The Road Less Traveled, a community service opportunity through which middle and high school students provide assistance in other countries. While serving, Caplan also helped build the edifice of a medical facility in Peru. During the project he lived in a tent with no running water or electricity. Two summers ago he helped take down and rebuild a school facility for child-monks in Ladakh, India. His stay involved trekking through the Himalayas for three to four days, and he also lived with no electricity. When Caplan graduated from high school in 2008 he was no longer eligible to participate in the program, but his travels didn’t stop there. Last summer he and his friend Shane Stranahan, who pitched the idea to Caplan, backpacked up to Canada to spend time on an organic farm. “I was personally interested in farming, as I still am,” Stranahan says. “I told Chris I was planning this trip, I invited him along, and eventually he decided that it was a great idea and that he wanted to do it. I was also interested in long-distance bicycling at the time….”

Chris Caplan, a familiar face in the music department, has been involved with international aid organizations, selfproduced music and is currently touring Europe with his newest collaborative project, Nicolette y Christopher.

Photo by Samara Katten

“The farmers were all very staunch communists … but they were very nice people,” — Christopher Caplan With their necessities in their backpacks and their bikes, the two took a train up to Portland where they stayed at the house of a musician they had met after a show in Los Angeles earlier in the year. From Portland, they hitched on the back of a friend’s truck to Seattle, Wash. where they stayed with another musician friend by the name of Ben Marx. From there, Caplan and Stranahan bused 30 miles east of Seattle to North Bend where they encountered a fair share of obstacles. In North Bend, the two biked around seeking opportunities to farm. They also found themselves short of money. “We got lost, Shane’s tire popped, it was getting dark, and we were trying to get a hold of a farm because we wanted to work as farmers up in Canada … but no one needed farmers that day and we were really struggling to find some work.” Caplan and Stranahan joined a network called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, where people who want

to volunteer as farmers and learn about sustainable lifestyles can receive food and board for their services. “We were stranded and we ended up finding a campsite luckily, and we had probably $25 to $30. We put down $15 for the campsite and we stayed the night.” In the morning, the two awoke to find they had nothing to eat. “We were extremely hungry,” says Caplan, reminiscing about this particular adventure. “All we had was the stub of a carrot in the middle of nowhere, we had our tents racked up, [and] we had everything on our backs.” They took off again on their bikes, riding on the side of a freeway in search of civilization. “We were riding our bikes for probably an hour and we found this really bizarre all-American diner and they had this allyou-can-eat buffet for $5 so we both got that and just exchanged meals, and that filled us up.” Eventually Caplan and Stranahan

took a Greyhound bus up to Vancouver, Canada, where they spent the summer harvesting and planting crops, sorting eggs, and other basic tasks on an organic farm in a city called 100 Mile House. During this summer adventure Caplan also stayed with a unique group of farmers. “They were all very staunch communists … but they were very nice people,” he says. While Caplan’s travel experiences have given him a broader view of the world, events in his personal life have also contributed to his individual growth. His father has been married five times, and his most recent bride, an Ethiopian woman, was unknown to Caplan and the rest of his family until four years after the marriage. “He had a son … little Joseph, who I’m just completely enamored by…. It wasn’t until [Joseph] was 1 year old that [my dad] told us that this family even existed, which was pretty intense.”

Service Learning Opportunities: Exploring India with The Road Less Traveled, Caplan helped with school construction in Ladakh, left. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is another organization that allows interested parties to learn through service work - and afforded Caplan some memorable adventures in Canada. Not all adventures require a passport, opposite. Caplan also draws inspiration from the California desert. This 2010 excursion took him to the Amaragosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction.


the insider | Spring 2011

As Joseph recently turned 2, it was only last year that Caplan learned he had another sibling. Despite the shock this news brought, a silver lining emerged from the situation. It turns out that the brother of Caplan’s stepmother is a rapper from Ethiopia, SAMVOD, who works with a producer in Los Angeles. “When life gives you lemons, get an Ethiopian rapper,” he says jokingly. Caplan plans to work with SAMVOD’s producer to further develop his music. In the way that Caplan’s experiences have shaped his perception of the world, his exposure to various musicians have also had an impact his own music. He is particularly grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Jayne Campbell, a music professor at Glendale Community College. “I’ve stolen everything she’s ever taught me,” he says. After taking voice training, opera, and college choir classes with Campbell, Caplan feels his vocal abilities have improved. “[The classes have] completely revolutionized my singing. It just developed my voice tenfold.” Although he attributes much of his improvement to Campbell’s teaching, the college professor says the credit for Caplan’s progress goes to his passion for music. “He was really motivated and interested in improving his sound, and he

did all the work,” she says. On top of becoming a better singer in class, Caplan was also the bass section leader when he took up college choir. “He was responsible for making sure everyone new their parts, if someone needed help with something he’d do that. [The section leader] had to be someone with leadership skills and vocal skills. He did it for one semester and did a good job,” Campbell says. In addition to his musical pursuits, he’s also making time to share the musical knowledge he’s picked up over the years by giving guitar and voice lessons. He keeps busy by taking music classes at Glendale College, hanging out with friends and other musicians, and performing at various spots in Los Angeles. He has also been collaborating with Nicolette Klugkist, who happens to be his girlfriend. He and Klugkist recently released a free record online, and the two are spending the summer busking, hitchhiking, and couch-surfing throughout Europe. Caplan turns 20 in August of this year, and his focus at the moment is set on continuing with his music. “I want to perform professionally, record, write, and tour,” he says. “I’ve been writing [songs] for six years now, so I’m getting better at it. And every time you write a song you get better.”

Nicolette y Christopher

Caplan put an incentive grant, generously donated by Tom Ver Hoef of the Tecopa Mine Trust, to use financing two one-way tickets to Europe. Joining him on this journey is collaborator-girlfriend Nicolette Klugkist. The pair released a self-titled debut album of six tracks available for free download to celebrate their departure on June 24. The folk-themed minimalist album includes: Righteous Minister (3:44) Robber Store Lickers (3:25) Endhervox (Indoor Voices) (2:52) Lotus Flower (3:18) Catlow Likes to Ride His Bike Alone (3:32) Got What I Need (Felice Brothers cover) (3:19)

Free downloads are available from: http://www.mediafire. com/?zcbyv5vm09scmbg They will also be posting their adventures at: http://www.nicoletteychristopher.

Spring 2011 | the insider


Chuco Felix

Defending the Chicano Raza

­— By Erica White

Photo by Erica White


the insider | Spring 2011

“ I had this very socialistic point-of-view, and after a while it came to me, my only is the .”— Chuco Felix

ally Chicano raza

“I don’t like Olvera Street. Everyone is into Olvera Street because there is so much ‘culture.’ All it is the portrayal of the Happy Mexican. ‘Si señor, you wanting me to dance like a puppet?’ You know, wanting to please everyone. It’s the opposite of my own mentality. In fact, I’m a very angry Chicano.” It’s a late Thursday afternoon. The shops on Olvera Street are starting to pack up and call it a night. Stragglers are walking by casting sideways glances at Chuco Felix. Felix is a 21-year-old GCC student transferring to Cal State Los Angeles in the fall. He prefers to be called Chuco and when not referring to him as such, it’s best to call him Chicano. We’re sitting on a bench beside Los Angeles’ iconic street. Chuco dons darktinted Ray Ban sunglasses that hide his eyes. He’s wearing a khaki shirt and brown khaki pants, both pressed impeccably, and hightop laced black boots. Atop his head sits a brown beret with a patch of a cross, for the revolutionary Mexican Catholics, with two rifles crossing each other. The rifles represent armed resistance, with a beret on top of the crossed arms representing militancy. Why is Chuco so angry? And more importantly, what’s with the outfit?

Chuco Felix is the author of “The State of Pachuquismo: The Evolution of Pachucada & its role in the Chicano Movement.” He is an advocate for the rights of Chicanos and is the district commander for the San Fernando branch of the Brown Beret National Organization.

Community Activism Chuco is the district commander for the San Fernando Branch of the Brown Berets. The Brown Berets is a Chicano nationalist activist group focused on the grass-roots Chicano movement, an education and community organization within the wider Chicano community. Chuco says he’s always been an activist at heart, but was officially bitten by the revolutionary bug when he was 15. “I first read about the Brown Berets back when I was 14, 15 — when I was in high school. When I was in the 11th grade, I got involved in the 2006 high school walkouts protesting HR4437 [The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005] —walking out of school, getting arrested and making such a statement, and actually knowing the law. Since that actual moment of radical activism it was my dream to be a Brown Beret.” Before Chuco became affiliated with the Brown Berets he worked with other organizations supporting their causes, until he became dismayed with the unspoken separation. He was involved with protests for AB 540, the Dream Act; marijuana legalization; LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer); marching against Prop 8; and the anti-war movement. Chuco committed hours, days, and months of his time and energy to these causes because he saw the problems within society. “The feedback I got was that people were proud of the accomplishments I had made and the work I had put into the organization, but at the end of the day, I was still the brown guy. I would be asked ‘what does the Mexican community think about this?’ And I would think, the Mexican community? I thought we were all equal? I had this very socialistic point of view, and after a while it came to me, my only ally is the Chicano raza.” Chuco set off to find a Chicano activist group and shortly became involved with a

group known as the Brown Berets of Aztlan. This group broke off from the Brown Beret National Organization in the 1990s to start to start its own organization. Shortly after he started working for the Brown Berets of Aztlan, Chuco noticed he was being followed by a man in a white van who was taking pictures of him. He also felt the group was weird and left them. To this day Chuco believes the man in the van was from the LAPD. Chuco remained independent then dropped out of the movement altogether for two years. In the December of 2010 the need to get involved was ignited once again after he had a bizarre dream.

Chuco’s Dream The dream starts at home, one of my old friends from high school is knocking at my door. He happens to be with his pregnant girlfriend, and as I invite them in, I give them bottles of water. This guy happened to be my right hand during the 2006 High School walkouts against HR 4437 and I find this very important since this dream actually led me to my involvement in the BBNO. We go to my backyard; my dog has dug a huge crater-like hole. As I look in the hole I see running water, as if a river was flowing at the bottom. When I pull away from the hole a deer comes running up from the side of the crater and jumps over the wall into my backyard. Next we are in a city, everything is run down and the sky is red. The people are dressed in rags, and the buildings falling apart. It is as if I was walking in a post-apocalyptic world. I see a man driving a truck with the passenger door wide open, as he passes by me I look inside the truck and he has a huge bag with tadpoles inside that is leaking water. The man passes me and I look forward to see the doors of a church banging, and as the doors swing open a tiger walks out. The people go into frenzy; they were very scared of the tiger as he climbed up the stairs

Spring 2011 | the insider


on the side of the church. I follow the tiger and he is staring down a child on the roof. This child I have seen in another dream involving a huge lion and his cub. As I look at the tiger more closely I notice it is really a man with a futuristic tiger helmet, and tiger suit!

Looking for Answers Blown away by this dream and determined to find its meaning, he started to ask people he knew what they thought the dream might have meant. He asked Aztec dancers and indigenous philosophers, but none could give him a clear explanation its meaning. The interpretation came from an unexpected and not sought after source. “I happened to ask someone from the Brown Beret National Organization, with no intentions of joining or being recruited, and his interpretation just clicked.” Chuco’s first meeting was at a conference about the state of the Chicano movement held at the Latin American Museum of Art. Members from the Brown Beret National Organization, the Brown Berets of Aztlan and their political party, the Party of the United Race, were discussing the Chicano movement. It was his first introduction to the Brown Beret National Organization, the organization that, at 14, he dreamt of one day being a part of. Little by little, Chuco started earning his colors and within three weeks earned his brown beret. Chuco sincerely believes that a person does not have to be of Chicano descent to be considered Chicano; it’s all about living the Chicano experience. Chuco said the Chicano experience is something cultivated within the barrios of East Los Angeles but is not limited to skin color. “It’s particular to us in that there’s been so much discrimination towards our people since 1848 when America invaded this land. The Chicano resistance in the barrio you can only find in cities like L.A.” While we are speaking, a girl wielding a petition presses in to ask Chuco if he’s a communist. He is used to being asked the question, but is visibly irritated. “No I’m a Chicano nationalist,” Chuco says tersely.

Chuco Felix’s book is available online through the Brown Beret National Organization. The website also provides history about the organization as well as different action agendas happening throughout the country.


the insider | Spring 2011

“Oh,” she says, moving to the next group of registered voters asking them to sign her petition. Still looking at the girl, Chuco says: “You can fight a hundred different battles like I used to. Or you can fight one war under one organization. Once we accomplish our main goal of liberating Aztlan for the people, we can focus on the issues of other people. We are in solidarity with other people’s struggles; they’re pretty much in the same boat. But if we don’t help our people first, how can we help other people? That’s why we stick with our own.” His dedication to the raza [literally “race” but used colloquially to mean “people”] is unwavering. He even wrote and selfpublished a book, “The State of Pachuquismo: The Evolution of Pachucada & Its role in the Chicano Movement.” In the book Chuco correlates the Pachuco movement to the Brown Beret National movement. During the 1940s’ Zoot Suit riots in Los Angeles, the Pachucos would defend the Chicano community from Anglo sailors, marines, civilians, and police that were beating people and raping women in the streets. At the time the Pachucos wore zoot suits, which were seen as unpatriotic since the country was undergoing rationing and yards of fabric were used to make them. Zoot Suitors were demonized in the media and portrayed as gangsters. Many minorities wore Zoot Suits and were in turn targeted for violence. “I am a Pachuco. It’s the source of my nickname, Chuco. I’ve been involved in Pachuquismo for six years now. At first I just thought it was really cool. I like the style, the

speaking, the Zoot Suits, the pompadour, the tattoos. But when I found they were defenders of the raza they appealed to me more.” Although his lifestyle in some ways has alienated him from his parents, Chuco says they are proud of him. They worry that his deep involvement will get him hurt and they are wary of his younger brother becoming influenced by him. His parents immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico and are now citizens. Chuco says they believe heavily in the “American Dream.” Secondgeneration Brown Beret Jefe Del Estado Mayor, said Chuco reminds him of himself when he was Chuco’s age. “I was Photo by Erica White always excited about the movement. When I first joined I wanted to change the world for all Spanish speakers and Indios, when of course you can’t. I tell Chuco that he needs to calm down his emotions, listen then use that energy to his full advantage.” Mayor is 45 and lives in New Mexico. He is originally from Oakland, Calif., but he moved to New Mexico to kick a heroin addiction and he has been clean for 16 years. His father was also a Brown Beret and part of the Oakland Chapter. “Chuco is a good kid. I take him under my wing and try to help him when I can. He has a good heart; we need more soldiers like him,” Mayor said. Through it all Chuco remains loyal to the Brown Beret National Organization. “Not even one hour has gone by where I haven’t been focused on helping out the Chicano people. That’s how committed I am to making a true change,” he said.

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

Gordon Alexandre Another Profile in Courage

— By Tex Wells He rolls up early each morning, in his big, blue, imported SUV before the clock on the three-story elevator tower tolls seven, and takes his favorite parking space between the south end of the administration building and the front of the auditorium. He doesn’t take the elevator but walks up to the top floor of the San Rafael building to his office a couple of doors down from Michael Dulay, the chairman of the Social Sciences Division. He has already run five miles, as he does each morning, so the walk up three flights of stairs is a piece of cake. Gordon Alexandre is a mountain of a man who stands almost 6-foot-2 inches tall and tips the scales somewhere just under 215 pounds. “When Gordon walks into the room, people take notice,” colleague Dulay said. But it is neither his imposing stature nor the salt-and-pepper topped leonine head that makes them take notice. It is his aura. He exudes a confidence that is complemented by his broad, toothy smile and his steady, unwavering gaze. The popular political science professor was born on Aug. 22, 1946, about a year after the victorious conclusion of World War II. Some 21 years later, a personal war of sorts would break out in his life. It was a war for

which he had been unknowingly prepared, but he was ready to go to the front line and engage in heated battle. Alexandre was leading the life of a wellheeled, middle-class Jewish boy studying history at UCLA. He was on his way to class one day when he saw a group of his fellow students protesting something and he stopped to investigate. They were raising their voices against Dow Chemical Co., the

manufacturer of napalm, the liquid fire that fried the bodies and lives not only of the Viet Cong and other enemy combatants but also Vietnamese civilians, including women and children. Alexandre said, “I put down my books and picked up a picket sign.” He said he felt that “lives were more important than books” and that action was a fork in the road which led him off in a different direction. “I felt

Gordon Alexandre has been a lifelong advocate for minority rights. His offbeat social science classes and fierce negotiation on behalf of the faculty guild make him popular with students and staff alike.

Photo by Tex Wells

Spring 2011 | the insider


“I felt that saving lives was more important than going to class.”

— Gordon Alexandre

that saving lives was more important than going to class,” he said, so he joined the protesters. His parents were both liberals so the road to political activism had already been paved for him. He exemplified the adage, “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.” When the Vietnam War came to its bitter and unsuccessful end, Alexandre became involved in yet another war. After fighting for peace, he jumped into the fight for the rights of students and minorities. He actively supported the battle for a Black Studies program at UCLA and for the rights of other students. When he was asked forthright where he stood in the war between workers and management, he answered without equivocation. “My whole life has been dedicated to supporting the rights of workers,” said Alexandre. With that, he began supporting the rights of workers in earnest. Although he had earned a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in California, he took a job on the production line at Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), the nation’s leading manufacturer of aluminum containers, and stepped boldly into the fight for the rights of his co-workers. He served as shop steward and organizer for three years before the workers voted for and authorized a strike. During the duration of the strike, talks were protracted and tense, with the corporation finally winning the fight. The workers were forced, by economic need, to recapitulate after some of their demands were not met and, as often happens, they started returning to work individually and in small groups. Instead of savoring the sweet taste of victory, Alexandre endured the agony of defeat. Losing the fight against the corporation hurt him more than not being called back to work. That blow was softened primarily by his progress toward his master’s degree. Several years would pass before he plucked another plum off of the tree of workers’ rights. In the last decade and a half or more, he has fought for a different class of workers: the faculty at Glendale Community College. Alexandre has served multiple terms as


the insider | Spring 2011

president of the faculty guild, winning the praise of colleagues. “He is the best president I have seen,” said John Queen, chair of the political science department. Alexandre is the long-term chief negotiator for the faculty guild in discussions with the administration that pertain to salaries, working conditions and health benefits. He is both a diplomatic spokesman and a tenacious negotiator for the faculty. He led the faculty negotiating team in the agreement that saved the summer 2011 session for GCC students. Although there was an undercurrent of dissent among a few faculty members, Marian Rooney, an English instructor and editor of Chaparral, the faculty publication, said, “Gordon did everything for us that he could.” “Passionate” is a word that often comes up when the father of three is described by his fellow faculty members as well as both past and present students. Queen said, “He is passionate about political issues” in addition to things that concern “both students and faculty.” That passion was exhibited when

he worked as hard to save the summer 2011 session for students as he did for his primary constituents, the members of the faculty. Alexandre’s passion and his liberal ideology were no doubt precipitated by the political activities of his father and the unconditional love of his mother. “I was raised in a liberal Jewish family and my parents were both liberal Democrats,” Alexandre said. As an elementary school boy, he often accompanied his father and mother when they campaigned for liberal Democrats seeking elected office. While at UCLA, Alexandre studied the writings and the works of some of the more prominent protest figures of the 1960s, including Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden, who went on to become a California state senator. Some of what he learned from them may have contributed to his becoming a better organizer and a more effective spokesman. In any case, whenever Alexandre retires, it can be said of him, as Paul said of himself in the New Testament, he “stayed the course.”

Tex Wells is an English major with a background in Journalism. His work has been published widely and he won first place in opinion writing while studying at Los Angeles City College. However, his first love is photography and he wants to continue to complement his photos with his prose.

Organizations committed to student advocacy: Students for a Democratic Society: Students First: Worker’s World: Rock the Vote:

12 Places to go in the desert (but not Joshua Tree) ­— By Jane Pojawa Climbed every medium-sized and larger boulder in Joshua Tree National Park? There are still plenty of things to do in the area, even for the rocked-out visitor, and all of them are easy on the most maxxed wallet. Claude Bell’s Dinosaurs – Everyone who has ever driven out the 10 freeway towards Palm Springs has wondered about those giant dinosaurs at Cabazon, now more famous for its casino. Knott’s Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell (1897-1988) first constructed Dinny (Dine-ee), a 150-ton, larger than life-sized sculpture of an Apatosaurus to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Cafe, which opened in 1958. Dinny was started in 1964 and created over eleven years out of spare material from the construction of nearby Interstate 10 at a cost of $300,000. In the early ’80s, he was joined by Mr. Rex, a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus. More than just sculptures, the dinosaurs are also functioning buildings. Improbably, since 1996 they have been owned by a Christian group that uses them to “prove” the case for intelligent design. Still, regardless of your religious proclivities, the Cabazon dinosaurs are first-rate roadside attraction sculptures and a fitting legacy for Claude Bell’s unique genius. Strolling around and picnicking outside is free; admission to the facility is $5.

50800 Seminole Drive Cabazon, CA 92230-2304 (951) 922-8700 Whitewater Trout Farm – Just a little further down the Interstate 10 is the old Whitewater Trout Farm now re-imagined as the Whitewater Preserve. It’s not just a guys-only fishing hole anymore either, it’s a biodiversity environment lab with hiking trails, a great picnic area and lots of activities – like bird-watching and ranger-led moonlight hikes. And then there are the trout: it turns out that every species of western trout is either threatened or endangered, and down to about 5 percent of their historic range. The Whitewater Preserve is a great place to spend the day – the log cabin visitor center looks just like a hunting lodge, the ranger cabin is solarpowered. Get a cup of free fish food, feed the trout and enjoy the views of San Gorgornio and San Jacinto. Free! 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd #549 Whitewater, CA 92282-2102 (760) 325-7222

Take Interstate 10 to Palm Avenue and head north to Desert Hot Springs. While you’re there, you might want to check out one of the many hot springs for which this town is so justifiably famous. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum – So many of the desert’s monuments involve a motivated individual with unlimited concrete. Case in point: Cabot Yerxa (1883-1965) was known in his lifetime as “The Father of Desert Hot Springs.” Born in Sioux territory at his parent’s trading post, he was guest of Mexican president Porfirio Diaz at the Castillo de Chapultepec in the 1890’s, member of an Inuit household during the heady years of the Alaska gold rush, importer of Cuban cigars following the Spanish-American War, political appointee of Theodore Roosevelt, citrus baron, desert homesteader, discoverer of the aquifers that have made Desert Hot Springs a worldrenowned health center, soldier in WWI (where he attained the rank of sergeant with the 345th Battalion Tank Corps), student at Academie Julien in 1920’s Paris, world traveler, city father, Impressionist painter, newspaper columnist, mystic and builder of Desert Hot Spring’s only museum – an epic monument that is an much a sculpture as it is a building.

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, below, is as much a sculpture as a building, and is still the heart of Desert Hot Springs, California.

Spring 2011 | the insider


When he finally “settled down” at the age of 60, it was to build his masterpiece, a sprawling 5,000 square foot, four-story structure inspired by Hopi pueblos and said to contain 35 completed rooms and 150 windows. This structure was primarily designed to be his “castle,” but Yerxa also intended it to house a trading post / art gallery and to function as an artist’s colony. It’s constructed from adobe bricks (fortified with concrete) and completely recycled materials. Cabot referred to this house as “the castle” or “Miracle Hill” in his personal dealings, and named it “Cabot’s Old Indian Pueblo” for the public. He had a “trading post” and gave tours of his domicile to tourists out for a day trip. The story of Cabot’s pueblo might be considered to be as strange and wonderful as the story of Cabot himself. It is now a museum and is substantively unchanged from 1965; a slice of local history and desert lore. Seasonal hours vary. Admission to the grounds is free, there’s a very nice trading post/visitor’s center, and docent-guided tours are $10. 67616 Desert View Avenue Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240-4114 (760) 329-7610 Taking Pierson Avenue west to Highway 62 (towards Joshua Tree) more adventures await. Desert Christ Memorial Park- There is a sculpture of a saber tooth cat, Smilodon Fatalis, in Yucca Valley’s Triangle Park that is depicted a bit smaller than standard life size, but still looks like she could do some damage. These 450 lb killing machines were a more common sight in Yucca Valley 10,000 years ago. Her creator, Antone Martin (1887-1961), was a true desert eccentric with a mission and that mission was world peace. So to this end, he created what was known in his lifetime as “Antone Martin Memorial Park” and is now called “The Desert Christ Memorial Park. It’s up the hill from Triangle Park on Mohawk Trail with a great view of the whole valley. As you may have guessed

Judas considers his decision at Desert Christ Memorial Park, couples dance to the Shadow Mountain Band at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and the Integratron offers an acoustically perfect auditory experience 12

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from the name, Christians will get more out of the Desert Christ experience than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that non-Christians won’t get something from the visit. The park is comprised of about 50 figures constructed over a 10-year period arranged in tableaux that depict Christ’s ministry to regular, common people of both genders and all ages. Basically, one man with a message of peace and compassion. No miracles, no disturbing manger scene, no gruesome crucifixion. The figures have a real heroic Greek look to them (think Hercules) and the “exile in the wilderness” part has a reclining Buddha feel. The story of Antone Martin is really quite compelling – self-educated, he had a number of jobs before becoming a design engineer for Douglas Aircraft. The park is coming back from years of abuse and neglect – the 1992 Landers quake broke off quite a few noses and hands, and vandalism remains a problem. The park is free to enjoy, although contributions of labor and funds are welcome. The park is a really nice place to relax, pose for a photo op at The Last Supper, and take in the sweeping Desert Views. From Interstate 10 take Highway 62 east to Yucca Valley. In Yucca Valley, turn left on Mohawk Trail, and then right on Sunnyslope Drive. The park will be on your left. 6929 Apache Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284 home.html Pioneertown is about 4 ´ miles from Yucca Valley on Pioneertown Road. Pioneertown – Imagine a western movie set built in the 1940s. Now imagine that the actors never left. Like many things in California, Pioneertown was fake for so long it became real. Pioneertown boasts a central street – Mane Street and a bowling alley. The Pioneertown Posse entertains with skits and gunfights every weekend through “the season,” and Pappy and Harriet’s is the best honky-tonk featuring the best music and the best Santa Maria barbeque for miles. Prices are moderate, but reservations are recommended. Occasionally there is a $10 cover charge for certain bands. There is no charge to visit Pioneertown or to enjoy

the family-friendly entertainment of the Pioneertown Posse. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace Hours: Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday 53688 Pioneertown Road Pioneertown, CA 92268 (760) 365-5956 Head north on Pioneertown Road until you get to Pipes Canyon Road. Pipes Canyon also has a lovely wildlife preserve and was the path Willie Boy, the controversial focus of the Last Western Manhunt, took on his desperate bid for freedom. Take Pipes Canyon Road to Highway 247 and turn left. Turn right on Reche Road, then left on Bellfield Boulevard. The Integratron – From humble beginnings in Jefferson, Ohio, Van Tassel left a life of stability in the aerospace industry to raise his family in the desolate Mojave Desert. An encounter with alien spacecraft near the world’s largest monolith, Giant Rock, propelled Van Tassel to national celebrity. His legacy? The Integratron: a device that, had it ever been completed, promised to recharge the cells of the human body to a state of youthful health. The Integratron is a 38-foot high, 50-foot diameter, non-metallic structure designed by the engineer George Van Tassel as a rejuvenation and time machine. Both public and private events are scheduled throughout the year, but most weekends, public sound baths are available for $10, and the dome is open for self-guided tours for $5 on weekends when public soundbaths are available. 2477 Belfield Boulevard, Landers, CA 92285 (760) 364-3126

While visiting the Integratron, a side trip to Gubler Orchids is in order. Right across the street, they have thousands of orchids and carnivorous plants growing year-round in their greenhouses. Gubler’s offers free personal tours Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (closed on Sundays and major holidays). For safety reasons, wear closed-toed shoes with non-slip soles – no flip-flops. 2200 Belfield Blvd Landers, CA 92285-1821 1-800-GUBLERS (482-5377) Take unpaved Giant Rock Road four miles from the back of the Integraton out to Giant Rock. Giant Rock – is the world’s largest freestanding boulder. It covers 5,800 square of ground and is seven stories high. It is one of the Chemehuevi Indian’s most sacred sites, and truly ranks as one of the most impressive of California’s geological anomalies. “Discovered” by German sympathizer Frank Critzer, a sometimes gold miner, he hollowed out a cabin in the sand underneath the boulder, then built several roads and an airstrip. He even offered an Easter Sunrise service for pilots flying in for the occasion. In 1942, Critzer died in an explosion while being investigated by Sherriff ’s deputies over gasoline theft and alleged pro-Nazi leanings. Soon after that, George Van Tassel, of Integratron fame, acquired the land and began holding his famous Interplanetary Spacecraft Conventions at the rock. In 2000, vandals succeeded in breaking the rock revealing the white granite interior. Sadly, it has become a target for taggers and shooters instead

of being celebrated for its unique place in geological and cultural history. Free! From Landers, take Highway 247 back to Highway 62 and turn north towards Joshua Tree. The Joshua Tree Retreat Center – Once known as the Institute of Mentalphysics, the retreat center, in operation since 1941, was founded by Ding Le Mei, aka John Dingle, an Englishman who incorporated Chinese philosophical teachings with New Age Western thought. He attracted thousands of followers, many of whom subscribed to his mail-order self-improvement courses. Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd Wright, the architects, designed several of the iconic buildings. The retreat is available for groups and offers a number of programs including yoga and life drawing. Visitors are welcome, tours of the 408 acre facility, which includes vortexes and a labyrinth, are available for a donation – other charges vary per program. Spa treatments, Native American sweat lodges and various speakers are among the many diversions offered for those seeking spiritual guidance or just relaxation. 59700 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760) 365-8371 29 Palms Oasis of Murals – Since its inception in 1995, Action Council for 29 Palms has used murals to beautify the

Jane Pojawa is the Editor-in-Chief of The Insider. She is a huge fan of all things desert-related and writes a blog, “Raven Jake: Observations of a Western Legend” with her husband Jeryd.

community of Twentynine Palms, and along the way, it has become a symbol of hope to other aging communities around the world. In fact, several times a year other small communities wanting to know how to establish a community mural program contact this organization. Each of the murals depicts an aspect of life in Twentynine Palms, whether that be a historical person or event, or the natural history of the area. Sometimes tours are available through the Schoolhouse Museum http:// Twentynine Palms now has around 22 “official” murals and they add a mural every year or two. Happy hunting, while you enjoy the town. 29 Palms Inn – the lovely and historic 29 Palms Inn is a three-generation familyowned business since 1928. Some of the old adobe cabins are still available for overnight guests. The inn offers great food, a full bar, a relaxed, beautiful environment. Visitors may eat inside or out by the pool and a huge organic garden provides much of the food on the upscale menu. Prices are moderate and up; reasonable for the area. There is no charge to explore the historic Oasis of Mara, the garden or the old Chemehuevi burial ground a short distance beyond the oasis. 73950 Inn Ave. 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760) 367-3505 With so much to see and do in the Coachella Valley and Morongo Basin, visitors may return to the desert again and again to enjoy such seasonal entertainment as music and arts festivals or standbys like meditation retreats. Some events are family-friendly and some are geared more towards individuals who just need a break from the day-to-day. However you choose to enjoy Joshua Tree and the vicinity, you’ll never be bored.

Giant Rock is the world’s largest monolith; early life at the Oasis of Mara is the subject of one of 29 Palm’s Oasis of Murals; Ding Le Mei’s Institute of Mental Physics is now the Joshua Tree Retreat Center and features several “energy vortices”; and the Oasis of Mara is the main attraction of the 29 Palms Inn. Spring 2011 | the insider


The $200 Movie

Film Students Attempt to Make the World’s Cheapest Feature

­— By Agnes Constante

Sprinting ahead at full speed, Ricky Salazar’s feet pound briskly against the ground. He jumps up into the branches of a tree and slips through them swiftly. He is in pursuit of Charlie Verm, who, at the moment, plays the thief who has stolen $40 from Salazar’s temporary alter ego, Kevin Wolf. From a distance, GCC student Nick Weber carefully follows Salazar’s movement with a Canon 7D SLR camera. “You’re not getting away, thief!” Salazar yells forcefully. In a few seconds, there’s nowhere left for Salazar or Verm to go. The two continue to run anyway, but come to a stop when a loud voice interrupts them. “Cut!” Weber relaxes his grip on the camera and makes a few comments. “All right, let’s do another one for safety,” he says. Salazar and Verm return to their places, and the chase repeats again and again until Weber is satisfied.

Kevin has a problem: he hasn’t seen his father for quite some time. To reunite with him, Kevin must follow the instructions of a mystery figure whose identity is hidden behind a mask. Dr. Wolf, Kevin’s father, is a scientist who has been developing a serum to increase physical strength and stamina. But when he finds out that the purpose of the formula is to take control of the White House, he refuses to further his research and declares that he intends to opt out of the project. It is at this point that his boss suggests that Kevin may be harmed if Dr. Wolf doesn’t continue the experiment. Kevin’s plight came to an end


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on May 31 when a group of GCC students wrapped up production for “Hidden Behind the Mask,” a feature-length film revolving around the series of riddles a young detective deciphers to find his father. With a $200 budget and a volunteer cast and crew, it took approximately four months for the group of dedicated students to produce this film. “This movie is a dream that I have seen come to life,” said Ricky Salazar, a former Glendale student who came up with the story concept and served as lead actor. Growing up, Salazar always wanted to be a detective, and he said inspiration to write the script came from Sherlock Holmes and the anime Detective Conan. His characters, however, were based on people in his life. He wrote the main character of the story, Kevin, based on himself, while other characters were based on his friends and other people he knows.

“Working with everyone in the film was awesome.… It was fun and it just felt like a big family.” — José Robleto

“Hidden Behind the Mask” was originally a dramatic screenplay, but after a few rewrites it ended up a comedy. Salazar, along with Weber and GCC student Alan Legrady, took one third of the scenes and spent 2 1/2 weeks rewriting the script. This stage in the pre-production of the project took place during the 2010 holiday season, keeping the three busy even on Christmas Day. Casting for the film took place in early January, and most of the actors were friends and acquaintances of Weber, the director and producer of the project. He used Facebook to put out a casting call and recruit volunteers. In addition to assigning characters during this part of the production cycle, the producers unexpectedly found Jenny Morataya, who became first assistant director and another producer. Morataya began by helping with the auditions, held on New Year’s Day. Her duties at this point consisted of taking headshots and signing people in, but she ended up taking initiative to do things without being told, such as washing dishes. “Three days later she was a producer,” said Weber. “That’s how helpful she was.”

While Morataya was a key player in the production, she had no background in film prior to her involvement in “Hidden Behind the Mask.” “The overall production was a learning experience for me because I had never taken a film class in my life,” she said. Her main responsibility was to keep the project organized, so she had to make filming schedules and remind actors of their call times and filming locations. She also helped in light setup and other tasks. “She became the set mom… She was really instrumental,” Weber said. Morataya earned the nickname “Mama Jenny” for the work she put into the film. But even with a well-organized first assistant director, keeping things in order was still a challenge in the production. “Since it was an extremely lowbudgeted independent film, we were constantly running into problems of not having all the actors and crew we needed,” Morataya said. Producing a film with just $200 may seem like a daunting and nearly impossible task, but this independent project was kept up and running with generous donations.

From equipment (such as lights, cameras, camera lenses, memory cards, and batteries) and locations (including a mansion in Shadow Hills, and the backyard of a house in Santa Clarita), to makeup and food, many costs typical of productions were eliminated by the support of family, friends, acquaintances, and those involved in the film. Weber said the budget was spent mainly on three cases of ramen noodles to feed the cast and other minor expenses, such as a slider and fig rig for the cameras, a dolly, and black paint for the villain’s mask. Filming for “Hidden Behind the Mask” began in mid-January, and for virtually the entire cast and crew this was the first time any of them had been involved in a feature-length movie. For the next four months the cast and crew involved experienced a process that taught everyone something different. For Legrady, time was one of the sacrifices he had to make. However, the GCC student, who is aspiring to some day direct and produce, realized he has

Ricky Salazar, facing page, plays Kevin Wolf, an amateur detective who has to save his father, and possibly America, before time runs out in “Hidden Behind the Mask.” Salazar also wrote the script and produced. Nick Weber, left, directed the $200 movie, and has begun editing. Tad Atkinson, right, a seasoned actor, plays Kevin’s father, a scientist whose sponsor has a nefarious use for the serum he’s developed.

Spring 2011 | the insider


As if Kevin’s problems weren’t enough, his sensei, Master Wang, is kidnapped and shot. Veteran actor/effects specialist Johnnie Saiko appears in a double role in “Hidden Behind the Mask.”

Photos by José Robleto

to yield certain things for bigger pursuits. “If I’m going to thrive in this industry, I have to make certain sacrifices, and one of those includes time,” he said. Along with the big time commitment came the task of scheduling, which Weber found challenging. “There was way, way, way more scheduling than I had anticipated, and a lot of micromanaging,” said Weber. Among the parts of the film requiring scheduling included getting everyone needed to be on set at the shoot on time, setting up props when needed, ensuring the makeup crew had what they needed, getting lights in place when necessary, making sure there were locations at which to film, servicing all equipment, and ensuring people were fed. Time also had to be blocked to transfer footage from the cameras to computers. Another part was also ensuring that cast members involved in fight scenes knew their choreography. This was essential because there were 20 fights in the movie. “The first couple of weeks were just insane because we didn’t know everything that we had to schedule,” said Weber. While most of the lessons learned were new to those involved, the production did have an industry professional on board who lent a helping hand. Actor/producer Tad Atkinson participated in this student-produced film by helping with casting and playing the role of the lead character’s father, Dr. Wolf. Atkinson has been acting since 1971 and has appeared in films like “Violent Blue” (2011) and the new “Star Trek” (2009) as a background alien. He has also produced films


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including “Foursome” (2008), is currently developing 42 feature films, and just recently wrapped up involvement in a movie called “The Critic,” due out in 2012. Because “Foursome” was produced on a budget of $20,000, Atkinson is familiar with working on films with limited funding. “I have been down the road of putting together a feature film on an absurdly low budget,” he said. “I know what the pitfalls are, I know what the frustrations are, so I told them, ‘Well, you’re going to do this on $200, brace yourselves for frustration’.” Despite being a paid professional, the actor/producer, who is mentoring Weber, pitched into the project because he enjoys seeing the aspiring filmmakers develop. “I kind of like watching the young plants bloom in the garden,” he said. Another helpful crew member was Jordan Miller, a GCC student who serves as sound editor. He holds a master’s degree in creative media from Middlesex University in London, England. Shooting for the film may be complete, but editing and other post-production tasks have just started. Weber estimates that the project is approximately one-fourth of the way done. The film is scheduled for release in the fall and will be available for viewing at no cost on YouTube. After four months of long hours on

set, intense time commitments and even tension among cast and crew, everyone who participated took something positive away from investing in the movie. “Working with everyone in the film was awesome.… It was fun and it just felt like a big family,” said Jose Robleto, a film student at GCC who helped in transferring and labeling footage during filming. The bond formed among members of the project was one of the best experiences for many of the cast and crew. “Some of the best things included meeting new people. I can tell that I have some lifelong friendships with some of these people now,” said Legrady. While getting to the end goal – to produce a film – was a lot of pressure, it was still an enjoyable ride. “Filmmaking is the most fun you’re going to have while being stressed,” said Weber. With all the obstacles faced and overcome, the sense of accomplishment in completing a feature-length film on almost no budget has been one of the more invaluable experiences gained by those involved. “It was an adventure. We definitely had some rough times, but there were also some unforgettable highlights. [This film is] something we can call our own,” said Legrady.

Agnes Constante is the copyeditor for El Vaquero and is working on a double major in journalism and political science at Cal State Northridge. She aims to write stories that are relevant to readers. See also “Chris Caplan: The New Face of Folk,” pages 2-5.

The Anti-War Movement Keeps the Faith in Glendale — Catherine Yesayan

On Sunday May 1st, America rejoiced and breathed a collective sigh of relief in learning that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the terrorism attack of September 11, 2001, was killed. As the story of the assassination of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs was unfolding the operation prompted questions. Why did we have to sacrifice so many lives and spend billions to bring bin Laden to Justice? Why couldn’t we do it without waging a war and sending our troops halfway around the world? Why did we have to put our kids in harm’s way and send them to faraway lands to capture the villain? Perhaps the following quote by Winston Churchill, the famous British Prime Minister, says it best, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing — after they have tried everything else.”

Glendale Let’s have a ride to downtown Glendale to meet a dedicated corps of people who come together on Friday evenings to demonstrate opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and see how the group perceives the

operation that killed bin Laden. They call themselves the Glendale Peace Vigil. They come every Friday – rain or shine. They bring signs, banners and their hopeful spirits. They are there to fight injustice. They say war makes our lives less safe because it creates enemies for America – that it encourages terrorism, it depletes our coffers and it consumes the money that should be spent on the country’s infrastructure. Perhaps there are thousands in Glendale who believe in their hearts that the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan are futile and that our troops should be returned home. But only this handful of Glendalians sacrifices the comfort of their homes and makes their voices heard by showing up on Friday evenings to protest the wars and the mistakes of the government. They meet from 5 to 7 p.m. at the southwest corner of Brand and Broadway. Julianne Spillman and Nancy Kent spearheaded the group in September of 2002, six months before the troops were deployed in Iraq. Kent, a soft-spoken petite older woman with smooth, short hair is quick to iterate

her opinion: “The irony is that bin Laden wasn’t even found in Afghanistan. He was in Pakistan. And not captured by 100,000 ground forces in Afghanistan. It was a small sophisticated tracking effort of a few dozen.” She points that the war in Afghanistan has already cost us so much, in terms of the lives of our soldiers and many civilians. She adds, “The only thing a war does is to create more Osamas.”

The Peace Vigil Kent recounts the story of the vigil’s origins: “There were a lot of protests against the war of Afghanistan that was already underway and people were against the upcoming war in Iraq. The main vigil was in front of the federal building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Julianne and I thought instead of driving to Wilshire, why not to start our own group. That’s how we formed the Glendale Peace Vigil. “At the beginning, before the war of Iraq got on its way, there were more people, but after the war in Iraq started, the number has dropped. At the beginning we were getting 20 to 40 people, but the number has gone down

The Glendale Peace Vigil has protested the Afghanistan and Iraq wars since 2002, and continues to meet every Friday evening at the southeast corner of Broadway and Brand boulevards from 5 to 7 p.m.

Photo by Catherine Yesayan

Spring 2011 | the insider


Julianne Spillman, left, and Nancy Kent are committed to a number of causes including public, non-corporate radio.

Photo by Catherine Yesayan

and now only eight or 10 regularly show up. In case of rain we get protection under the overhang of the Glendale Galleria.” Due to several health problems, Spillman, in her 80s, comes in her scooter-wheelchair. She is from Michigan, where she was active in peace groups before coming to Glendale. She says proudly that she has brought the Raging Grannies to California. The Raging Grannies movement was founded in Canada and has been expanded to Israel, Japan, Greece, England and the United States. The group makes its message of peace heard through parodies that they stage on street corners. Spillman in her scooter is holding a curious sign printed in red and blue. It’s hard to tell what it means: “STOP – WAR on WORKERS.” It refers to taking away the rights of the unionized state workers in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. She wears the group’s white T-shirt that has a picture of a white dove holding an olive branch in its beak. The “Glendale Peace Vigil” is printed in calligraphic script. Kent holds in her hands two signs a small round peace symbol and another sign that says 90.7-FM KPFK. “KPFK is a commercialfree, listener-sponsored radio station,” she explains, smiling. “Most radio stations are owned by large corporations or oil industries. We’d like to encourage people to listen to KPFK, during their morning commute.” She passes out small size 4-by-5-inch yellow


the insider | Spring 2011

flyers with information about KPFK radio. The flyer promotes the syndicated news discussion program “Democracy Now!” hosted by investigative journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. The show airs Monday through Friday from 6 to 7 a.m., repeating at 9 a.m. She emphasizes, “KPFK is ‘powered’ by the people without a corporate filter.” Kent wears the peace T-shirt. A few feet away from Kent is Sharon Weisman, a tall woman in her 60s. Her hair is in a simple ponytail. She also wears the group’s white T-shirt. Her sign reads, “NO WAR. NO EMPIRE. NO OCCUPATION.” That’s self-explanatory. But she likes to educate passersby. She says, “The United States spends 46 percent of the total money globally spent on military, whereas China spends only 6.6 percent.” A man approaches. He is wearing a white dress shirt, black dress pants and a baseball cap. He identifies himself as Vahraz from Iran. He joined the group six years ago. He holds a yellow sign protesting the air attacks on Libya. The yellow sign has a website: He explains that A.N.S.W.E.R is a coalition that was formed in September of 2001 to end racism and to stop wars. He tries to explain the absurdity of any war. Further down, Norm Anderson and his wife Pearl Anderson are sitting on their folding chairs with rainbow-colored flags billowing behind them. They’re wearing black T-shirts with purple letters that read:

STR8 – AGAINST – H8. Norm explains the puzzle: STR8 means: straight. H8 means: hate. The message is: “Straight people against hate. The Number 8 stands also for proposition 8, which overturned the California Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.” Norm says they are opposing not only wars but also any injustice, in general. He points to a button among several buttons pinned on his and his wife’s T-shirts. The button reads: “The true Cost of war.” There is a date: March 19, 2011. Norm explains, “On that day my wife and I marched in Hollywood opposing the wars.” The Andersons volunteer for Courage Campaign, an organization supporting gay marriage. Another button on their T-shirt says: “I do support the freedom to marry.” Behind them there are several flags blowing in the breeze. They get up from their folding chairs and extend the flags to show the colors and the sketches. A few of the flags are multi-colored consisting of stripes in the colors of the rainbow: purple, blue, green, yellow and orange. At the corner there is a blue square with white imprints of two female symbols – a circle, connected to a cross. The other flag has the same rainbow strips but in the center it carries the medallion of the peace sign. Henry Fliegel educates the passersby by distributing flyers. Every Friday Fliegel prints and brings a new batch of flyers – 200 of them. Today, he is distributing a twosided flyer. On one side is an article, “My Sister, My Grief,” from the New York Times by Robert Klitzman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. Klitzman tells about the sentiments of losing his sister during the September 11 attack. He says, “Bin Laden’s death was cathartic… but in large part it is only a symbolic victory… As a result of the death of my sister and the thousands

of others at the trade center and Pentagon, George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan, and under false pretenses invaded Iraq.” He finishes his remarks, “I hope that the death of bin-Laden will bring closure and peace. I am relieved that this chapter is over, somewhat, for me…” Flip the flyer and you’ll see letters to the editor of New York Times, from May 3, 2011. John Koppel from Bethesda, Md. Says, “… unless and until the United States and its Western allies fundamentally change their policies and stop trying to impose their will and their values on other nations and cultures, they will continue to generate hatred and resentment that give rise to terrorism.” Reverend Skip Lindeman of La Cañada Congregational Church is not part of the Peace Vigil but when asked about the killing of bin Laden he brings an analogy: “We may remember the many-headed Hydra of Greek mythology. What that particular myth says is that if you cut off one head, another grows in its place.” He continues, “I suspect that’s what will happen with al-Qaeda. Osama won’t hurt us anymore, but there are plenty of Hydra heads just waiting to step in and be the next revered terrorist.”

Montrose In the Montrose area of Glendale, there is another Peace Vigil that meets every Friday evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the northwest corner of Honolulu and Ocean View. The Montrose group, started in 2006, sometimes exceeds 15.

The group keeps its vigil next to the Vietnam Memorial, built in 1968, which is considered the first such memorial in the country. Like the downtown group, they bring their banners and flags. Although the memorial may seem to be relevant to the theme of “No War,” Roberta Medford says their location is controversial, because the merchants’ association on Honolulu takes it as a disrespectful gesture to soldiers killed in Vietnam. When asked about the death of bin Laden, Medford, one of the founders of the group, eloquently says, “the success of concentrated police action, conducted by a small group, huge in skills and backed by superb intelligence should make us stop and seriously question our reliance on an occupying army of 100,000 in Afghanistan.” Nancy Hutchins, another member of the group, comes directly from work in her highheel pumps and dress suit. She holds a beatup sign saying: “WAR IS OVER.” The words are taken from a popular song composed by John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. The complete title is: “Happy Xmas, War is Over.” It is a protest song about the Vietnam War. As the group is shuffling to get ready, a young man approaches and introduces himself as Hayk Alcyan, a veteran of the U.S.

Navy, who served four years, from 2006 to 2010, in Iraq and Afghanistan. He expresses his disdain about the group protesting the wars especially next to Vietnam Memorial. Jeannel Lavieri, who joined the group in 2007, tries to explain that the group supports and appreciates the military sacrificing their lives and their families to serve the country. But Alcyan, not satisfied with her response and still arguing and raising his voice, leaves the scene muttering to himself, “There will always be wars as long as humans are living on this planet.” He returns to the Coffee Bean café across the street, from where he had noticed the group, to continue his studies. In March of 2009, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Bed-in” protest, the Montrose Peace Vigil recreated the Bed-in scene at the corner of Ocean View and Honolulu. On March 25, 1969, the couple had spent a week at their presidential suite at the Amsterdam Hilton to protest the war of Vietnam by inviting the world’s press into their hotel room. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Perhaps these two groups will push the world a little closer to peace.

Catherine Yesayan, an Armenian originally from Iran, has been living in Glendale for 30 years. Her flair for writing has brought her to GCC’s journalism department as a student.

In Montrose, at the corner of Honolulu and Ocean View, another group of protesters meets every Friday between 5:30 and 7 p.m.

Photo by Catherine Yesayan

Spring 2011 | the insider


Zombie Walk

Social Networking Leads to Invasion of the Undead — By Marlon Miranda, Photos by Roger Lai


the insider | Spring 2011

Spring 2011 | the insider


“I wonder how many of these zombies are unemployed.” — Gustavo Banuelos Zombies have stumbled a long way from being the victims of a voodoo curse that causes death, then continued existence in a re-animated state serving the will of an evil witch-doctor. Now these walking dead are regularly encountered in horror and fantasythemed fiction and entertainment, and lately zombies have challenged even vampires for the most beloved nightmare creature in pop culture. “Night of the Living Dead” introduced zombies to cinema and the world; since then zombie culture has manifested into a life of its own, quite apart from its humble beginnings in Haitian folklore.

Downtown L.A. While visiting Boston, Justin Paling encountered a Zombie Walk. He loved the feel and ambiance so much that he brought the idea to California. He and Breana Frisch organized the Downtown L.A. Zombie Walk and the response was tremendous. They quickly received more than 1,000 RSVPs on Facebook. Flyers were handed out all over Los Angeles. On Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m.

Downtown L.A. was flooded with zombies of all ages, ready to partake in a two-mile walk. Nearly 1,000 impatient zombies waited for the organizers to start the event. Some congregated in groups posing for the cameras while others smoked cigarettes. Roving bands of the undead stumbled around scaring everyone who passed them. USC students and teachers were massed to protest budget cuts when, out of nowhere, they were interrupted by a flood of zombies straight out of a George A. Romero film. Nataly Smith was having a graduation celebration dinner with her family when she looked outside. Numerous zombies had begun to gather around, ironically enough, the L.A. Live entertainment complex. “During dinner, my peripheral vision caught something out of the norm. When I turned my head I saw people with blood all over them. I knew it wasn’t Halloween, so I freaked out,” said Smith. The two-mile round-trip stroll took the zombies from L.A. Live at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. north on Figueroa Street to 5th Street across to Pershing Square, down South Olive Street to 6th Street, south on Flower and then

and back to L.A. Live on Olympic. During the walk, zombies sprayed blood on signs and restaurant windows. Startled onlookers took pictures and hurried away as the zombies walked down 5th Street, growling and fighting numerous zombie hunters along the way.

Zombie Hunters With nearly 1,000 brain-eating undead on the loose, some participants felt the need to go against the norm and dress up as zombie hunters and fight the zombies for two straight miles. Bianca Alvarez was one who went across the grain; she feels that one cannot exist without the other. “You couldn’t have a bunch of zombies without having people like me defending humans from infection. I shouldn’t be

GOT BRAINS? Tas Limur, Christiane O’Shaughnessy, Matti Tangring,and Angela Warrick, preceding pages, were among the 800 plus “zombies” attempting to set a world record at the May 13 Downtown L.A. Zombie Walk. Crowds gathered by L.A. Live, right, eager to start the zombie walk. Antonio Figueroa, Jr., above, was one of the youngest zombies in attendance, but his father insists that he asked to be included in the fun. Zombie Hunters, including Bianca Alvarez at right, opposite, kept the shambling zombies in line. 22

the insider | Spring 2011

frowned upon - I should be honored for keeping humanity safe,” said Alvarez. During her hero manifestation, Alvarez never broke character. Neither did any of the zombies. They stayed true to form until the very end. That type of fun and environment is what Frisch envisioned when she organized the event.

Meet the Zombies “The purpose is to bring everyone together to have a good time, and show people what downtown has to offer. I love the area, and there is so much going on down there now. I want people to see that.” When Frisch was a young girl, she saw “Dawn of the Dead” in a drive-in theater. Her love for zombies sprouted from there and become one of her biggest inspirations. Friday the 13th, chosen for its ominous connotations, became the perfect day to be surrounded by bloodthirsty ghouls. The mood was festive and happy. All of the participating zombies had a flare for the dramatic but the vibe was positive, and nobody got out of hand. Lia Hegemon knew that this was a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to come out of her shell and let loose. “I am really shy, but when creating this fantasy world and having a forum to utilize our creativity, it becomes very refreshing. I have waited for a long time to be able to express myself in a deadly but friendly way,” said Hegemon. Angela Warrick agreed and had an unrealized need to scare unsuspecting people. It was a thrill Warrick has never experienced before. “It was so fun to scare regular people who had no idea when they woke up this morning that they would be face-to-face with a zombie on their way to a club,” said Warrick. Amanda Ochoa saw the event on her cousin’s Facebook page. She was so happy to be a part of it that she flew from Seattle to

participate. “I knew I had to be in L.A. by Friday; I couldn’t miss this event. I have been planning on coming here and feeling the rush of being a zombie,” said Ochoa. Grrrr! The strangest vision of the night had to be a 5-year-old zombie covered in blood. Opaque contact lenses completed his uncanny appearance. It seemed like walking around with the undead was second nature to this little kid, and his father, Antonio Figueroa, said that dressing like a zombie was something that he wanted to do. “As I was getting ready for this, my son saw me getting dressed up; he just kept smiling and started asking if he could dress up too. Once he was all ready I thought, ‘heck, why not just bring him as well?’” said Figueroa. While most zombies made the entire two-mile circuit, some gave up after a couple of streets. Ulorin Vex was one of the few casualties who lacked the stamina characteristic of the unrelenting horde.

“I had to get pretty; I didn’t expect to walk two miles in high heels. I was hoping we all would hang out and walk a little bit, I had no idea it would be this long of a walk. I told my friends that I am done, I’ll see y’all when you get back,” said Vex.

Public Reaction Through the last stages of the walk, the crowd seemed to be as pumped as it was in the beginning. There were some innocent bystanders that willingly become lunch for a group of brain-thirsty zombies. Noemi Cheung was asked nicely by a zombie if they could rush her and start eating her for a video he was shooting on Youtube. She was nervous at first but then agreed. “I didn’t want a bunch of strangers to start touching me but they seemed like nice guys. They told me to start screaming and fall to the floor; they wouldn’t touch me, just hang above me and pretend to start eating me. I thought it was just innocent fun, so I agreed,” said Cheung.

“I didn’t want a bunch of

strangers to start touching me but they seemed like nice guys.”

— Noemi Cheung

Spring 2011 | the insider


Planning a Zombie Walk With four official walks occurring locally in the last six months, it seems that zombies cannot be avoided. Southern California has hosted: • The Jingle Brains Zombie Walk, Dec. 11 • The Redlands Zombie Walk, Feb. 12 • SoCal Zombie Walk, Santa Monica, Apr.16 • Downtown L.A. Zombie Walk, May 13 Advice from Zombie Walks or Zombie Pub Crawls can be great fun. Their popularity has in recent years, swept the world like an evil viral infection. Before you organize or take part in an event, there are a few pretty basic things to think about. 1. Plan your route: You need a good plan for any event, and a good zombie walk needs a planned route. Plan your route in advance. Talk to people or businesses who live or operate along the route, see if any of them will have a problem with a mob of zombies passing by. Be clear about the purpose of your event and what it involves. Most people are not going to have a problem with a good-spirited event that they’ve been notified about in advance. 2. Know your numbers: Any kind of event these days, once it’s on the internet, can spread like wildfire. So try to keep an eye on who you’re telling, and how many people are coming. If you think you’ll have hundreds of zombies turning up, then as the organizer you’re going to need to make sure there is a place to go, and a place that knows you’re coming. Be organized. If you’re expecting large numbers, ensure you’re preparations are solid. Speak to the authorities and make sure everyone is clear about the purpose of your event. 3. Be sensible: Whether you’re organizing an event or just taking part, make sure you take responsibility for your actions. No matter how much make up you put on, you’re still human. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do. So, don’t be an idiot: don’t harass people or damage public property. And don’t do anything illegal.

Once the zombies attacked and ate Cheung, the crowd went wild and some people seemed perturbed. The attack was tame by the standards of horror fans, but others were disgusted. Gustavo Banuelos was having some coffee when he saw the group feeding. “I don’t know what it is all about, I am glad my kids weren’t around or I would have been really pissed they had to see that type of nonsense. I don’t know what this young generation finds amusing or fun anymore; to me all this is ridiculous. I wonder how many of these zombies are unemployed?” said Banuelos.

The Love of the Genre Even though Downtown L.A. Zombie Walk was advertised on Midnight Ridazz and it infected Facebook, it failed to set the Guinness World Record for most zombies in a walk. That distinction belongs to Pittsburgh with 1,028 zombies. But that didn’t deflate the crowd’s enthusiasm in the least. Julia Matuss felt that she needed to be a part of this event and took the day off work to enjoy the festivities, but did it for the pure pleasure and not for any awards. “There don’t have to be any awards for this type of event, we didn’t do it for recognition,

we did it for the love of the zombie genre and the pure fun of it all. It is amazing how we all can put our differences aside and just enjoy a simple pleasure,” said Matuss. Once the zombies returned to L.A. Live, some went straight home while others hung around. Some tried going to nightclubs, but weren’t allowed in due to dress code restrictions or possession of objects club security deemed weapons. There were zombies of all races, ages and sexual preferences in attendance. For two miles, there were no differences and no conflict, just fun to be had by all. Taz Limur felt very appreciative for the common ground. “Where I grew up there was nothing but problems, people fighting over the simplest things,” said Limur. “It is sad to see that in the society we live in today, the only thing that can unite us is dressing up as flesh-eating zombies.”

Before returning to L.A. Live, the determined and relentless zombie horde took some time to stagger around Pershing Square.

4. Have fun: It’s the whole point of zombie events right? Have fun dressing up as zombies!



the insider | Spring 2011

Marlon Miranda loves basketball and zombies. In addition to JOURN 107 (magazine writing), Marlon also writes for El Vaquero, Glendale’s student newspaper.

The Robotics Club Determined students on a quest for a self-driving car... — Corinna Scott

Its shiny blue metal frame gleaming, the robot is equipped with an onboard computer and laser-guided rangefinder. It’s blind, as it does not yet have a camera to show it where to go, but it has artificial intelligence to guide it. Robot 1.0 makes its way down the hall, swerving to the right and left under autonomous control. The robot car is short and squat, utilitarian rather than stylish and is made of metal, wood, and plastic with a couple of bicycle wheels. It also has the distinction of being the first robot built on the Glendale Community College campus. Meanwhile, as the sun shines through trees nearly covering the windows, the “technicians” of the Glendale Community College Robotics Club laugh and talk and grab a quick break as they listen to some music. The computer plays a theme that was once part of the soundtrack for the movie “Hackers” and now is more commonly known as the “Mortal Combat” song. Work is, for the most part, done for the day, but now these would-be scientists are transitioning the robot from remotecontrol to autonomous mode. A rangefinder is produced and the technical work on the robot’s “brain” begins. “In autonomous mode, the robot will be able to make decisions for itself,” said Rick Guglielmino, the physics instructor who gives the club members scientific advice. The students get credit for giving up their Fridays to the cause. The robotics club is considered an independent study project, said John Gerz, who provides the structure and advice for the club. “The robot will be designed to carry a payload and see two lines that it must stay

within for the [Intelligent Ground Vehicle] competition we are entering it in,” said Narek Isaghulyan, 20, who is studying for a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Isaghulyan plans to get his master’s degree in robotics engineering. In the competition, the robot is required to move through an obstacle course carrying a payload, guided by its own onboard navigation system, and it will be making decisions on its own based on what it sees through the camera and on information on the terrain through the rangefinder. Apart from getting advice from instructors Tom Voden, their adviser, Guglielmino, and Gerz, robotics club members are completely self-taught, says Isaghulyan. The club was structured so that people who have studied different courses could work on the robot, for example those who have studied C++ could work on the

computer programing, welders could work on the structure itself, and engineers could design the robot in computer-aided design. “We started out with teams and subteams, however everybody ended up working on everything,” said Edwardo Aldana, 19, vice president of GCC Robotics. “Our roles and titles are just for paperwork.” There are plans in the works for getting the pictures of the components on to an Apple iPad so that technicians can work on the robot from a remote location and share it on the website, said Antonella Wilby, former club president and an active member. “We learned most of it [making a robot] on Google,” said Rufus Simon, 20, computer engineering major and GCC Robotics club member. “Everyone does everything,” said Isaghulyan. “We are not engineers. If we didn’t help each other we couldn’t do anything. If we [worked alone] we wouldn’t

“We learned most of it

[building a Robot] on Google.” — Rufus Simon

Spring 2011 | the insider


be as successful. When we work together [on a problem] everyone says something then, all of a sudden, we have a solution.” The robotics club began in the summer of 2010 with a conversation between adviser Voden and students Isaghulyan and former club president Wilby. The seed was planted for the robotics club to grow from. More members joined the club. Team effort kicked in. Applications went out to the associated students of Glendale Community College, sponsors were contacted and the money came in. “ASGCC gave us about $4,500 to make the robot frame,” said Isaghulyan. Then they needed to make the robot. Wilby chose the design and is also the creator of the website that the club uses to showcase the robot and their sponsors — local businesses and the college.

Some members of the Robotics Club present GCCR, the first robot built on the GCC campus. From left, Narek Isaghulyan, president, Edwardo Aldana, Rufus Simon, Leo Pashayan, and Ashkan Ershadi. 26

the insider | Spring 2011

RoboteQ gave them a discount on remote controls for the robot, and the Associated Students gave them a grant for the funds. Other sponsors included the Montrose Bike Shop and Industrial Metal Supply Company, Bob Smith Toyota and Hamilton Tool and Engineering. GCC Robotics club has a Facebook page, GCC Robotics Club. After the robot design was chosen and agreed on, then the club needed a space to build the robot in and so the physics department provided a workshop. The physics department also provided Lab View software to program the robot in its remote control mode. There was a problem; the students did not know how to use the new Lab View software. “When the school purchases a program it comes with little or no tech support … They learned how to use [the software] through watching YouTube videos,” said Gerz. Club member Paul Kaila, 20, welded the robot.

The IGVC competition approaches, and along with having the first robot built on campus, GCC would have been the first and only community college having entered into the competition. However, they will have to enter the robot into the competition next year as the robot is not yet ready to be entered into the competition. Simon, Kovach and Isaghulyan are transferring, but the club will still continue next semester and old members will recruit new ones, said Isaghulyan. The newer club members will be working on the robot. During the summer the new club members will be working on the new robot , robot 2.0, a redesign of the old robot. The new robot could possibly have an aluminum frame, said Aldana. The last robot, he says, was made of aluminum, but it is difficult to weld. Students interested in joining the robotics club can go to the Student Center for more information or call Voden at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5628.

Corinna Scott is a journalism student at Glendale College. She is a long-time contributor to El Vaquero and occasional cartoonist. She is spending the summer in Europe .

Teen Scientists Tackle the World’s Biggest Problems

­— By Roma Kouyoumdjian

• • • •

Can a teenager discover a cure for cancer? Can a teenager design a way to counter nuclear terrorism? Can a high school student invent the next type of biofuel? Alternate energy? Fuel cell? Can a 15 year old design a system to protect cities from tsunamis?

Impossible? Ridiculous? Think again. That’s exactly what some of the most brilliant, dedicated, innovative and talented teenagers anywhere are working on in the fields of science and engineering. For proof, take a mind-boggling look at the world’s largest pre-college science and engineering research competition, the prestigious annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, or ISEF, a program of Society for Science and the Public, which was held which was held in Los Angeles in May. More than 1,500 pre-college students from more than 65 countries and territories competed and won in affiliated science fairs, going through the required ranks of their high school, city, and state levels to qualify to be selected to compete at Intel ISEF. First-time participants this year included France, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Macao, a region of the People’s Republic of China. In addition to the possibility of winning awards and prizes, one of the most meaningful benefits of the competition for the finalists is the opportunity to meet and communicate with their peers and with expert judges regarding their original research and inventions. Hundreds of judges from nearly every scientific discipline evaluate the Intel ISEF finalists onsite. All judges have either a doctorate or the equivalent of six years of related professional experience in one of the

scientific disciplines. Many of the students already hold patents, and some have government contracts for their inventions and research. The International Science and Engineering Fair was created by Society for Science and the Public (previously known as Science Service) in 1950. The fair became international in 1958, when Canada, Japan, and Germany joined the competition. Funding for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2011 was made possible by Intel and the Intel Founda-

tion. Dozens of other academic, corporate, governmental and science focused organizations provided additional support and awards. Nobel Laureates This year all fair attendees were invited to a conversation opportunity with a group of Nobel laureates. The Intel Corporation formed the Excellence in Science Discussion Panel, inviting Paul Berg, J. Michael Bishop,

Prizes, Awards and Winners Finalists at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2011 were competing for more than $4 million dollars in prizes.

Top Intel ISEF 2011 Winners: For new cancer treatment research: the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award went to Matthew Federsen and Blake Marggraff, a team from Lafayette, Calif., for developing a less expensive and potentially more effective cancer treatment that places a tin metal implant near a tumor before radiation therapy. For nuclear physics research: development of system to counter nuclear terrorism, the $50,000 Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award went to Taylor Wilson of Reno, Nev., for his research in developing one of the lowest dose and highest sensitivity interrogation systems for countering nuclear terrorism Also receiving the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award was the team of Pornwasu Pongtheerawan, Arada Sungkanit and Tanpitcha Phongchaipaiboon from Thailand. This team’s environmentally responsible invention was the determination that a gelatin found in fish scales could be successfully used in modern day fish packaging. More than 400 finalists received awards and prizes for their original research, in addition to the winners mentioned above. These included 17 “Best of Category” winners who each received a $5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded $1,000 grants to all winners’ schools and their affiliated fairs. A full listing of finalists is available at

Spring 2011 | the insider


Martin Chalfie, Dudley Herschbach, Robert Horvitz, Douglas Osheroff, and Richard Roberts to participate. The panel was moderated by NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca. About Intel Intel Corporation is an American global technology and semiconductor chip company, based in Santa Clara, with revenues in 2010 of more than $43 billion, and 82,000 employees. The company is the inventor of the X86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers. More information about Intel is available at Local Efforts and Organizers Organization of a large event like the Intel ISEF requires a lot of planning, coordinating, and teamwork from many individuals, volunteers, organizations and sponsors. Hundreds of volunteers, judges, and translators are needed for the fair, as well as a production crew, set up crew, press, and others. This year the local chairperson of the Los Angeles Local Arrangements Committee for the Intel ISEF was former educator Joe Reuter, who was responsible for Display and Safety. He was also the chaperone and adult in charge of Southern California finalists. In addition to his involvement with Intel ISEF, Reuter has worked with the Los Angeles County Science and Engineering Fair, and is a strong supporter and advocate for science and engineering education. He recognizes and promotes the value of participation in science fairs for students. “Some districts better recognize the importance of the science fair process at the high school level,” said Reuter. “Competing at the state fair is an achievable goal for hardworking students.” “Every year over 100 participants from the Los Angeles County Science and Engineering Fair are selected to attend the California State Science and Engineering Fair”, he said. The number of fair participants a county can send to the International Science and Engineering Fair is based on the size of its population. A smaller county will be allowed fewer participants, sometimes only one. Since the population of Los Angeles is so large, up to six participants from the Los Angeles County Fair can be selected to attend ISEF. From the California Fair, they’re also allowed six participants to ISEF. Middle and high schools are all eligible to host their own science fair, said Reuter. Reuter remembers being impressed while teaching at Glendale High School, with the exceptional ability his Armenian students showed in math and engineering, frequently presenting elegant solutions to mathematics problems. Glendale has the greatest concentration of Armenians outside of Armenia. Consequently, he hopes to see local support for an Armenian delegation to be represented at the Intel ISEF in the future. Reuter has a background in electronics and communications, taught electronics at Glendale High School, and was on the Electronic Trade & Industry Advisory Committee at Glendale Community College for many years. An average of one to nine months of effort is made by the contestants before any of their work goes on their display boards. Preparation involves correct inquiry, research, data collection, and analysis, then presentation of results. In some cases, students have worked for years on their research which could be presented in stages. There are specific rules for the projects that can be found in detail on the Intel ISEF website.

Neela Andres, Big Sky High School, Missoula, Montana Age: 15, Grade 9, Teacher: Brandon Thomas Honzel Intel ISEF 2011 Project: Animal Science: “Stress Relevance Affecting Female Productivity Traits in Swine” lnspiration: Her family Goal: To become a teacher Neela Andres is an outgoing, enthusiastic 15 year old finalist from Missoula, Montana, who has been researching ways to improve the health of swine livestock, one of her family’s businesses. Having been raised on a farm, Neela has been involved since a very young age in many farm-related activities, and is responsible for the sows (adult female pigs.) The pigs are sold for meat and showmanship, and also to kids for fairs. Neela loves animals, and gives all her sows names. “I’ve been taught that you can love an animal but also treasure its meat”, Neela said. Neela’s project was to test her sows to determine which ones had a specific stress trait in their DNA. “Stress can be in the swine’s genes, and will affect their productivity,” said Neela. She took small blood samples from all of her sows to send to a lab, and have their DNA tested for a specific stress trait. She then analyzed two different genotypes, carriers and non-carriers. The farm will save money by choosing a non-stressed pig. The pigs with the stress trait experience difficulty breathing if scared, bruise easily, and are irritable. This factor would also affect the quality of their meat. Neela was quick to add that there were no external factors causing stress – it was entirely genetic. Neela entered her first science fair in kindergarten. When she was older, the family drove 10 hours for her to participate in the Utah Science Fair. Neela has been involved with Future Farmers of America, as well as 4H. She placed 4th in a Montana state FFA career development event, in the sales competition. At Big Sky High school she got special permission to participate in a program called Advanced Problems in Science, or APS, which is usually reserved for upper classmen. Her father is a farmer and agriculture teacher, and her mother is a school administrator. “My family is my inspiration,” said Neela. “Agriculture is a big part of my family’s life.” Later her college choices might include Montana State University, or possibly Lesley University, where she would like to major in teaching.

The Path to ISEF For students who wish to work towards competing in the Intel ISEF, the process has several stages. The student must compete and win at his or her local school level in an Intel ISEF-affiliated science fair, then at their city/ county level in order to be considered to compete at Intel ISEF. A student See “Intel” on page 31


the insider | Spring 2011

Brittany Christine Williams, E . A. Laney High School, Wilmington, North Carolina Age 14, Grade 9, Teacher: Sharon Cicero Intel ISEF 2011: Project: Physics Stealth Technology: I Can See You…But You Can’t See Me!!! Interests: Stealth technology; light bending

Brian Patrick Ralph, Smithtown High School West, Smithtown, New York Age:17. Teacher: Joanne Figueiredo Intel ISEF 2011 Project: Animal Science “Understanding the Evolutionary Trends of Basal Dinosauria With Respect to Body Mass Analyses” Goal: Medical field. Planned Major: Biochemistry. Awards:2011 Intel Science Talent Search, Semi-Finalist, and American Statistical Association ‘s Certificate o f Honorable Mention

“Did you see the Harry Potter movies? Do you remember the invisibility cloak?” said Brittany. “Well, stealth technology can accomplish the same thing – it can make planes invisible to radar,” she said. Stealth technology is the science behind “invisible” aircraft, meaning aircraft that is undetectable to radar. It incorporates the use of advanced design and specialized materials used to create these “invisible” aircraft. Brittany investigated some of the principles of this technology in her science project which involved measuring the light reflection among various shape/color combinations, used to simulate radar reflecting off of various stealth aircraft. She could determine whether objects could become “invisible“ to radar based upon the reflective properties of each shape/color combination. Sixteen different color/shape combinations were used for testingglossy and matte, black and white, in combination with cubes, cones, cylinders and spheres. Brittany’s hypothesis was that the “stealthiest” combination would be the one that reflected the least amount of light. She predicted that the most angular shape would also deflect light, or simulated “radar” best, the most angular shape being a cube. She also expected the matt surfaces to be more successful. She measured the level of reflection of a beam of light off of her various color/shape combinations by using a LUX meter, and recorded the results. Her hypothesis was that the most successful, “radar deflecting” combination would be the matt black cube, and the worst combination, or most “visible” would be the shiny white ball which reflected the most light. This turned out to be the correct prediction in her research, which she tested multiple times to guarantee accuracy. Brittany talked about applications for this technology, the most dramatic example being the F117-A aircraft which had no electromagnetic radar jamming technology, but instead achieved its impressive level of stealth “invisibility” to radar through its angular shape and black surface. “Most stealth aircraft look more unaerodynamically stable because irregular angles help with invisibility,” she said. Brittany is interested in light bending technology. She is considering applying to Stanford University or Cornell University in the future.

Brian Ralph, aged 17, has been involved in an independent research class at Stony Brook University in New York, where he did his project in paleontology, entitled, “The Evolution of Body Mass in Basal Dinosauria With Respect to Body Mass Analysis.” Brian’s project is a study of the evolutionary trends of basal dinosaurs – the earliest that existed. By using two computer programs he was able to test models of evolution. Using a known equation, he first calculated the estimated body mass of organisms using their femur (leg) bone length, and formed a database. He then graphed the data using a second program called Bayes Traits. He created phylogenetic trees, showing relationships between organisms. Using statistical tests he was able to show that punctuated evolution was the model followed by basal dinosaurs. A practical application for punctuated evolution analysis is the ability to pinpoint environmental stresses as possible change factors. Brian’s interest in biology started in eighth grade when he took an honors biology class, then continued with AP Biology in 10th grade. By 11th grade he started looking for a mentor and with the help of a friend found Dr. Alan Turner, Assistant Professor of Anatomical Science at Stony Brook University. Brian requested an interview, and was given permission to do independent research at the college. He also participated in the Summer Simons Research Fellowship offered at Stony Brook University. Brian is now a senior at Smithtown High School West, in Smithtown, New York. He recommends to other interested high school students that they look around for research labs in colleges. He also suggested to those students who are serious about studying paleontology, that they consider becoming professors and teach during the year, then in the summers they can go on research digs. Brian was a semi-finalist this year in the Intel Science Talent Search, considered one of the most prestigious science competitions in the United States. He is planning to attend Stony Brook University Honors College in Long Island, with a major in biochemistry, and is interested in the medical field.

Spring 2011 | the insider


Michael Anthony Labbe, Notre Dame High School, Chattanooga, Tennessee Age:16, Grade 10, Teacher: Carl Anthony Labbe Intel ISEF 2011 Project: Physics “Positrons, Elements of Dark Matter” Inspirations: Family; positrons; scientist Eugene Sänger Goal: Invent a positron fuel cell; clean energy Awards w  on at the 2011 ISEF: Award of $1,000 - National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance/The Lemelson Foundation

Michael stood quietly in his science fair booth, next to a mysterious looking machine with wide bands of gleaming copper wire wrapped meticulously around large twin cylinders, housed within what looked like a polished steel frame. A meter of some kind was mounted on one side of the device which he built himself, and which he described as “a positron production and containment system.” The title of his project is “Positrons: Elements of Dark Matter.” Last year, in 9th grade, Michael learned about dark matter, dark energy, and positrons, which he found to be intriguing. A positron is a positively charged sub-atomic particle having the same mass and magnitude of charge as the electron, and constituting the anti-particle of a negative electron. He also read about a German rocket scientist, Eugene Sänger, who thought it would be possible to use the annihilation of positrons and electrons for rocket thrust, but it penetrated all the materials. So it couldn’t be used effectively as rocket thrust, but inspired him to investigate it as possible clean abundant energy source. Michael’s goal is to produce and direct positrons, and contain in a magnetic field to be used as an energy source. From there that energy can be used to power something, as in a light bulb. He explains: “In this experiment I needed a hot electron source which would shoot hot electrons at a high-Z material (or goal). The hot electrons lose energy as they interact with the nuclei of a gold atom. They then form high energy photons which mutually annihilate with the protons located within the gold nuclei spinning off pairs of positrons and electrons. From there the positrons can travel effectively toward the negative side of a magnetic field where they could be used to power an energy source. “ Michael wants to go on from this experiment to develop a positron fuel cell, using the same idea as this experiment on a lower scale (smaller size). This is Michael’s theory – “We don’t know what dark matter is made of,” he said. Inspiration comes from his family – Michael’s father is a synthetic engineer who works in materials science, and his older sister, now attending the Naval Academy, got him interested in science through her own involvement with science fairs. Michael aspires to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.


the insider | Spring 2011

Caleb George Gestes, J ohn Curtis Christian School, River Ridge, Metairie, Louisiana Age: 17, Grade 11, Teacher: Cathy Boucvault Intel ISEF 2011 Project: Energy Lightning in a Bottle, Phase 1 Harnessing the power of lightning is the ambitious goal of Caleb Gestes, who calls it “the most powerful force on earth.” The 17-year-old from Metairie, Louisiana makes a persuasive case for his project, called “Lightning in a Bottle Phase 1.” According to Caleb, “Lightning can reach over 300,000 volts and is hotter than the surface of the sun. It strikes anywhere at any time in any place and is one of the last natural resources on this earth that we have not utilized for our energy needs. It’s dangerous, unpredictable, and powerful beyond belief, but it is a jackpot of energy we cannot pass by. This project is my first step to working to solve this dilemma and to take use of the power.” Storms have always fascinated Caleb, and there are plenty of them where he lives in Metairie, Louisiana, which is approximately 7 miles from New Orleans. The state of Louisiana averages 27 tornadoes and 60 days of thunderstorms per year, and the lowlands around New Orleans are vulnerable to cyclones and hurricanes. Metairie was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005, as well as New Orleans, which was devastated. Caleb expects to conduct his research in stages, and believes a Leyden jar type design is the best way to go about capturing lightning. The first phase of his research involved experimentation to explore different designs of Leyden jars and to determine which design was the most efficient. He used a Van de Graff generator to charge the jars, due to the great similarities between static electricity and lightning. His results showed that the first design ever built was the most efficient The Leyden jar was invented around 1746. It is a device that collects and stores static electricity, and was a simple but critical breakthrough in the history of electrical power. The Leyden jar was basically the first battery. For phase two of his research next year, Caleb is planning to use artificial lightning, and will probably need funding. This is his third year of participation at Intel ISEF, and he also participated in the ISWEEEP Competition in Houston. He always liked to build things and is now interested in the field of engineering. He also enjoys aerospace. Caleb offered more compelling statistics: “There are 16 million lightning storms in the world every year, and the energy released in just one of these storms is enough to give the entire U.S. power for 20 minutes,” he said. “I noticed that when you take a picture of lightning and turn it upside down, it looks like a tree – the tree of life,” said Caleb. “I believe that creating renewable energy sources is not just for us, but to protect the earth for future generations – to protect God’s earth.”

Taylor Wilson, Davidson Academy of Nevada, Reno, Nevada Age: 16, Junior. Teacher: Elizabeth Walenta Intel ISEF 2011 Project: Physics “Countering Nuclear Terrorism: N  ovel Active and Passive Techniques for Detecting Nuclear Threats” Interests: Passionate about applied nuclear physics. Goals: Use applied nuclear physics to solve problems related to national security, nuclear waste, and cancer Awards w  on at the 2011 ISEF: Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000; Intel ISEF Best of Category Award of $5,000 for Top First Place Winner - Physics and Astronomy - Presented by Intel

Affilliated Science Fairs, cont.

Nuclear physics is Taylor Wilson’s passion. As incredible as it seems, 16-year-old Taylor has been working in applied nuclear physics for six years, has already patented a neutron detector, has been published, holds special licenses to allow him to research, and is working with the Department of Homeland Security on problems of national security related to terrorism. Highly engaging, articulate, and speaking at a very rapid and almost dizzying pace, Taylor described his project as a small crowd of onlookers moved closer. “35 million containers go through ports each year in the United States, and anti-terrorists are afraid that terrorists will bring in nuclear materials,” he said. “I am developing a system to scan and detect nuclear radiation.” The system Taylor has developed for detecting nuclear weapons and materials in cargo containers at ports utilizes active and passive interrogation methods, and constitutes one of the lowest dose, highest sensitivity, interrogation systems reported. Methods were presented to detect small quantities of Uranium 235, weapons-grade Plutonium, as well as highly enriched Uranium. The Portal Monitor which Taylor developed as a result of his research is consumer and environmentally friendly, cost effective, and significantly more sensitive than systems currently deployed. This year at Intel ISEF 2011, Taylor Wilson won the $50,000 - Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award, and the Intel ISEF Best of Category Award of $5,000 for Top First Place Winner in Physics and Astronomy, presented by Intel. This is the third year Taylor has participated in the Intel ISEF. Last year he won a trip to CERN, Switzerland to see the largest particle detector/accelerator in the world. He has built a portable fusion reactor, and is using the byproduct of the reactor to do physics experiments. “At the age of 14, I achieved nuclear fusion. I am the youngest known person ever to do this,”

An Intel ISEF-affiliated science fair is a science competition that is a member of Society for Science & the Public’s (SSP) fair network. These competitions exist in nearly every state in the U.S. and over 50 countries. Learn more about affiliation rules, and find Intel ISEF Affiliated Fairs from these websites:

“Intel” from page 28

can also win at the state level for a chance to compete at ISEF. It is very important for all parties to understand and familiarize themselves with the ISEF rules from the beginning, since the fairs on the pathway up to ISEF must be Intel ISEF-affiliated science and engineering fairs. Intel ISEF-affiliated science fair

Other Ways to Help Support for students is very important, and often determines the difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t. Support can be offered by parents, teachers, and counselors, as well as from fair directors, local colleges, universities, special science programs, professional associations, and sometimes from the community and related industries. Mentorships can provide critical guidance that can be life-changing. Community members from all regions are encouraged to consider volunteering at local middle and high schools to support students interested in participating in science fairs and to possibly compete at county, state and international levels or to volunteer directly at county or state fairs - there are plenty of opportunities.

said Taylor enthusiastically. He holds a patent for a neutron detector, which, prior to his inventing one, he said, had been described as ‘the holy grail of nuclear physics.’ Taylor’s family moved from Arkansas to Reno, Nevada so that he could attend The Davidson Academy, a special school for profoundly gifted children on the campus of the University of Nevada, in Reno. The students work on individualized projects and study at an accelerated pace and in greater depth than they

would at a traditional school. Taylor started taking university classes three years ago, and is currently taking all university classes. For his graduate level work, he is thinking about attending the University of California at Berkeley. Taylor is also interested in working on nuclear applications for the diagnosis of cancer, and solutions for nuclear waste. “I love to take basic physics and apply it to solving problems,” he said.

Roma Kouyoumdjian is a communications and marketing major with a background in design. She is interested in ecology, environmentalism, education, and science/engineering education for K-12. Her hobby is gardening. She has three sons and lives in Los Angeles.

Spring 2011 | the insider


What to Cut?

Budget shortfalls force the college to tighten its belt – but what gets sacrificed in a tough economy? — By Tex Wells The 100-plus schools that comprise the association of California Community Colleges are going to be forced to accept funding cuts totaling a minimum of $800 million because the bicameral legislature of the Golden State cannot come to the realization that the future of California lies in education. Janet Shamilian, Glendale Community College student body president, spoke for a generation when she said, “We are the future of our state and our country.” Glendale Community College had to start tightening its budget belt in the middle of the Spring 2011 semester as a result of the log jam in Sacramento. That belt-tightening started with reductions in the Summer 2011 session. Whereas 270 classes were offered in the summer of 2010, this year’s session was initially cut to 160 and that plateau was reached only because the faculty agreed to accept a 40 percent cut in salary according to political science professor, Gordon Alexandre who heads the negotiating team for the faculty guild. Before the agreement could be ratified, however, another issue preventing its approval was introduced. One instructor who declined to give her name because of the sensitivity of the negotiations said, “There was some sniping” by another group of employees. Another high-ranking college official said there was the appearance of unfairness “to the other constituency groups on campus.” The tension surrounding the back and forth was palpable. Michael Ritterbrand said, in the meeting of the board of trustees, “This is a terrible situation…for our students.” At the same board meeting, the coordinator of the adjunct faculty decried the unfairness of the situation to the members of her group. There was speculation later that the class offerings might be whittled further to 100 sections and that led to rampant hue and cry before Alexandre and his team made the administration an offer that it could not refuse. Led by its newly-installed president Anita Quinonez Gabrielian, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday, May 20, just three days before the onset of priority


the insider | Spring 2011

registration and only four weeks prior to the first class meetings of the summer session, to approve the agreement between the faculty and the administration. Before the compromise, during the first week of April, Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administration and business said, “We are trying to protect summer. We are in negotiations with the faculty union to see if we can come up with an option that would not cost the college.” His words turned out to be prophetic. Nakasone had said GCC might have as much as $11.5 million cut from its budget. In a best case scenario, $7.5 would be lost to the college’s programs, services and salaries. “Once the budget deficit is determined, it is divided among three groups,” the chief fiscal officer explained. “The management group, the faculty group and the classified employees all have their share of the budget deficit.” Both classified employees and faculty negotiate with the administration over potential reductions in salary and each constituency votes on the agreements. The administration is going to utilize several options to deal with its share of the budget shortfall. “We are going to have a hiring freeze,” said Nakasone. “Once positions become vacant, they will be left unfilled.” He added, “We are offering a retirement incentive and we’ll be very selective in who we hire to replace the departing retirees. “I would say that it’s going to be hard for us to balance the budget without employees taking some kind of cuts or furloughs or something.” The administration has a subcommittee in place “that is going over the budget and looking at every account over $7,500,” Nakasone continued. Moving in that direction, the Milky Way Café across from the San Gabriel Building has been shuttered. Other food outlets, including the cafeteria in the Sierra Building, have cut back on their hours of operation and are not open as long as they used to be. Again, when retirees are not replaced, cutbacks in service will take place. The furlough seems to be the common denominator for both classified employees

and the administration. Dan Padilla, manager of the massive facilities department, said furloughs will be necessary. In a worst case scenario, he speculated, it might require two or three days a month to hold the line on his department’s budget. “There will be furloughs for all of us,” he said. “The budget cuts will prevent us from hiring new employees for vacant positions” he added. Padilla also pointed out that, at present, the department has fewer than two dozen employees on the night shift to service “almost a million square feet of building space and grounds.” Continuing, he said “The custodial department is already short three workers.” Even the department for students with disabilities will be adversely affected by the cuts although its programs and services are mandated by both federal and state governments. While the department will still provide tutoring for disabled students in the Instructional Assistance Center, and the Adapted Physical Education Program will be maintained there will not be sufficient funds, according to Associate Dean Joy Cook, to “upgrade technology.” This is particularly important in the High Tech Center which offers the Jaws and Kurzweil programs for students who are blind or whose sight is severely impaired, whose sense of hearing has been lost and whose motor skills have been radically diminished. Cook said, “The High Tech Center needs new chairs because some of the old chairs are falling apart.” Cook also said, “The budget for supplies has been drastically reduced and there is no money for program instructors to attend conferences. They have to pay their own way.” Perhaps the biggest loss of all for the students with disability program will be the loss of its director and chief advocate. Cook will be retiring in late June and will be replaced by an interim director who will have to start from scratch, she said. The biggest losers of all, however, will be students. “Students are targeted!” said Nakasone.

Talk About Race Opinion: Saving Cultural Diversity Programs

— By Verzhine Nikoghosyan “YOU SAY ‘TOMATO,’ I SAY ‘TOMAHTO.”’ But who is right? Calm measured discussion is one way of approaching the differences; another way is “You say ‘tomato,’ I say ‘shut up.’” A pinch of anger and a little fight over taste clears the air and solves the issue. Whether it’s a good way of resolving conflicts depends on the situation and the tools you have at hand. What an amazing formula. Unfortunately, we do this so often that we lose the track of our thoughts and the circumstances that drive us to the point where we scream and yell at each other. Some people say that differences are good because they add to variety, they give us new

experiences and new ways of understanding life. Others do not agree with this because differences are the reason for all of the arguments and misunderstandings. Perhaps it would be easier to be around people who always agree, never doubt or maybe never think differently, but our world would be a disaster. We may not know exactly why it is so difficult to understand one another but this issue seems always topical, especially in California, because of our culturally diverse population. Glendale mirrors the state in this regard.

History Every city in the world has some kind of diversity, but this hasn’t always been the case. On June 2, 1929, the Los Angeles Times named Glendale an “all-American” city, free from foreign elements, and all that implied. This changed quickly. It was hard to imagine at that time that the city would change so drastically. By the 1920s, the census already recorded a big increase in population. In 1910, there were 2, 746 residents and in 1920 the population grew to 13,576. Not only did the number of people increase, but the ethnic make-up changed dramatically. The homogeneous city began its transformation into one of the most diverse cities of the U.S. According to the census results, in 2000 the population consisted of “white,” which also included a large number of Armenians who migrated here as early as the 1920s; “Black” or “African American”; “Native American”; “Asian American”; “Pacific Islander”; and also “Hispanic” or “Latino.”

Hayk Oganyan, a GCC student, was stabbed to death in what was believed to be a Hispanic gang initiation outside a party in Northridge. Racial tensions rarely result in overt violence on campus, and yet cultural misunderstandings are common. Diversity programs open the channels of communication and help initiate constructive problem-solving. Hayk Oganyan April 16, 1989 - April 2, 2009

Spring 2011 | the insider


The sudden population boom in the 1920s caused the state of board of education to permit Glendale to organize the college, which opened in 1927. The population continued to rise, and with it cultural diversity. Eventually, Glendale turned from an “all-American” city into a pan-cultural way station for different ethnic minorities. With the changing demographics ethnic clashes, gang fights, and racial discrimination became major concerns for city officials.

Gang Violence In 2000, a 17-year-old Latino student from Hoover High School was stubbed to death in Glendale and the police arrested an Armenian gang member as a suspect. In the same year, an Armenian man was killed in Hollywood in response to what happened in Glendale, which in its turn was another response to earlier shootings between these groups. Some people don’t like Glendale as much as they used to. There is even a Facebook page named “I hate Glendale,” where someone suggests to his friend to light a match and burn the place before moving out of the city. Although there haven’t been any serious racial clashes reported at Glendale Community College, there is still tension between the students. But sociology Professor J. C Moore is one who believes that differences can be overcome. “Faculty don’t pay enough attention to diversity issues present on campus,” says Moore. “They hide these issues under the rug because they are too negative to talk about.”

Diversity Program Moore has been coordinator of the diversity program on campus and through her efforts a black culture festival was started and the program expanded. The program brings students of all ethnic backgrounds together through workshops, festivals, open conversations and much more. Unfortunately, budget constraints have put the program on indefinite hold and it may not return. The problems don’t go away. According to Shaina Zadoorian, an Armenian student at GCC, it would be wrong to say there are no racial problems on campus. “When I go hang out with Hispanics and Armenians would find out and they would be like, ‘why would you hang out with them?’ They’ll talk really bad and when I go hang out with Hispanics they will be like ‘ooh, we know you are Armenian — you’re cool but still ....’ ” Zadoorian adds that this prejudice is not limited to her age group. She doesn’t remember a Hispanic person ever setting


the insider | Spring 2011

“Faculty don’t pay enough attention to diversity issues present on campus. They hide these issues under the rug because they are too negative to talk about.” — J. C. Moore foot in their house, as her father doesn’t like them. Zadoorian is also a member of STAR (Students Talking About Race) and she notices these problems are not limited to her family and close personal acquaintances; other students mention similar issues.

Solutions The program of cultural diversity used to address those concerns through several channels. Professor Moore has been working on fundraising for the programs such as festivals, literary evenings for the students, panel discussions and workshops. “They used to eat each other’s food. Can you imagine? How much closer could they get to each other?” said Moore. The cultural events calendar that she prepared, together with her colleagues, depicted all the projects they carried out before. But she bemoans the fact that even when she functioned as the coordinator of the diversity program, there didn’t seem to be much support by the college. The problem racism is there and obvious to students though. Students don’t know and appreciate each other’s’ cultures? “They come with their friends and they stick with their friends,” says Karen Koocharian-Pekacheky, another student. Often, it is parents of students who are culturally insensitive, immigrants who find it hard to transcend their own traditions and languages. And so the work of enculturation must be done by others — teachers, clergy, neighbors — people who can make a difference in teaching students about tolerance and understanding.

A Recurrent Problem Considering that we live in an era when Orange County Republican official Marilyn Davenport can send an e-mail containing a doctored photo depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee then protest that she wasn’t aware that act might be construed as racist, improvements could be made in educating the public. “We do not help our students to use their potential,” says Moore. “There is a bit of an animosity toward the Armenians from the non-Armenian population; there is a wall between them; we have to break it. We should involve students through workshops in cultural diversity. We give them knowledge by inviting lecturers, panel discussions.” It is nice to think that there are solutions to gang violence, hate crimes and racially motivated violence. It’s nice to think that there might be foods to be tried and friends to be made outside our own familiar routines. But we need to listen. We need to listen to others — the voices that make us aware of problems and suggest solutions. These are hard times for everybody. People lose their jobs, classes are cut, education becomes more expensive and so on and so on. Hopefully, this crisis will not affect programs that enhance our ability to discover new cultures, understand our neighbors next door and around the world, and enhance our ability to find common ground. It is, after all, our relationships with others that give life its meaning. Fortunately there are others who help us, who are still willing to sacrifice their family time, their studies, even their reputation among their friends, to identify and address these critical problems. That gives us hope for the future.

Verzhine Nikoghosyan is a first generation Armenian who likes talking and learning about religions, cultures and traditions of other people. She loves writing and wants to become a journalist.

Student Volunteers Tax preparation may seem incomprehensible,

but business students make April 15 easier for — By Ortencia C. Perez low-income families On a typical spring Saturday morning; the sun was shining and nothing seemed to be happening on the grounds of the Glendale Community College campus, when there was big commotion on the first floor of the San Rafael building. It was the last Saturday for free tax preparation help. Volunteers at GCC were helping low-income families fill out their federal and state tax return. The free income tax preparation services were a courtesy of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Organized by the staff and student volunteers of the GCC accounting department, this program helps low-income families file their income taxes. Staff and volunteers were busy helping patrons at this center. Christine Kloezeman, the instructor of the class, monitoring students, answered their questions, and guided them in assisting patrons. Through their walk-in service, volunteers were able to help as many people as they could. As soon as the patrons arrived, they were instructed to put their names on the waiting list. When their names were called, patrons had to meet with a volunteer to show them that they had all the necessary documentation for income taxes. If all the documentation was in hand, a separate volunteer would proceed to help them fill out their income tax. One of the volunteers who was helping doing this task was a former accounting student volunteer who currently works at the office of a certified public accountant was Ms. Kim, wanted her first name to remain private. While she was helping a patron, she said, “I like to volunteer here because I like to help people take advantage of all the special credits they qualify for that perhaps might not realize. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit and the Making Work Pay Credit.” With more people steadily arriving, patrons sat patiently waiting for their turn. The waiting room area was full of people of all ages – men and women ranging from young adults to senior citizens. As they waited, many of them engaged in group conversations. Although

their discussions topics ranged from speech to political issues, all of them had something in common. They were there is because they did not feel confident to fill out their income taxes on their own. One of them was Noemi Martinez, a senior citizen from Korea Town who said, “My husband and I came this morning before 9 a.m. I like it here because volunteers are pleasant, friendly, and eager to help.” The center was so hectic that every volunteer that was on hand was busy helping patrons or helping another volunteer. Some volunteers were greeting people at the entrance, getting them to sign their names on to the waiting list and helping answer basic questions. The other volunteers were working on inputting tax data into computers. One of the volunteers at the entrance was Lausineth Haynes, a second-year student at Glendale College. As she greeted and directed patrons to sign their names, she said “Being in the program requires a lot of responsibility and

can be stressful at times, but I like it lot because by helping people I gain more experience.” She also pointed out that to be a volunteer on this program you have to be enrolled in the Accounting 156 class at GCC. “The best thing about this program is that students are learning by helping the community” said Kloezeman, while helping one of her students. As the hours went by, the commotion was still going on and Kloezeman was still busy helping her students. She also pointed out that the program has been running for more than ten years at GCC and this year they have already helped approximately 800 patrons. The program started helping on Saturday Feb. 19 and ran until Saturday, April 9. Next year it will be held at the same time and place. Overall, the people who came at this center on all these Saturday mornings have benefited from this free tax help and volunteers working at this program certainly have made a difference in the community.

Ask Your Accountant About: •

Earned Income Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit

Additional Child Tax Credit

Making Work Pay Credit

Tuition and Fees Deduction

Lifetime Learning Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit

For More Information visit:

Ortencia C. Perez a single mom with one daughter. She is employed as a teaching assistant and loves working with kids.

Spring 2011 | the insider


Helping Hands at the

Verdugo Job Center

Assistance for the Unemployed — By Ortencia C. Perez

With the current economy in historically bad shape, and jobs at a minimum, it’s uncommon to hear many stories of success. The exception may be found at the Verdugo Job Center, an agency dedicated to taking stories of failure and turning them around. One of these stories was recounted by Ophelia Gevorkian, one of the staff members. It was almost closing time at Verdugo Job Center [VJC], and the employees and clients were getting ready to call it a day. The lights were dimmed and the place emptied, while Gevorkian was preparing to go home. On her way out, she was surprised to see a woman still sitting at one of the tables, who looked devastated. As Gevorkian approached her to see what the matter was, she immediately recognized the woman as one of the participants in the welfare program. The woman’s eyes were full of tears and her hands trembled as she said in desperation, “I did not pass the test. I failed! I failed!” Blaming herself, she repeated, “What am I going to do? This was my last chance!” as she cried uncontrollably. This woman was a single mother with a two-month-old child at home. Gevorkian sat next to her, listening and trying to console her; she knew this woman and was sure that she was capable of the job she had just failed the test for. She didn’t know what to do at the moment except to comfort her. As Gevorkian sat next to the woman, she looked around and noticed that the Bank of America recruiter who came to test candidates for employment was still there and just getting ready to leave. She did not think twice; she had to do something to help this woman. Gevorkian assured the bank representative that her client was capable and bright. She explained to the recruiter that the woman was in a desperate situation and asked if she could give her one more chance.


the insider | Spring 2011

Gevorkian told the woman to speak directly with the recruiter again. The last piece of advice she had to offer was to not be nervous, and tell them about all her previous skills and qualifications because this was her last chance. The woman went into the interview room, and it was up to her to sell herself to the recruiter. A short while later, that same woman who had previously been crying tears of sadness came out with tears of joy and happiness exclaiming “I got the job, Ophelia. Thank you! Thank you!” To this day, Gervorkian still remembers this moment with this woman as one of her highlights of working at the center. “I will do anything to help my clients, if I have to go the extra mile I will do it for them,” said Gevorkian as she continues her story. A few years later, Gevorkian had a problem with her Bank of America credit card. So she called customer service, and while the associate on the other side of the phone was doing his best to help, he ran into some authorization problems that only his supervisor could address, so he politely asked Gevorkian to hold the line and wait. A few minutes later, a soft, vaguely familiar woman’s voice appeared on the line. It was the supervisor. As she was helping Gevorkian, she requested her full name for authorization. As soon Ophelia gave her name, the voice on the other side of the phone recognized her immediately and said “Are you Ophelia from Verdugo Job Center?” Ophelia was a little surprised and puzzled with this question but responded in the affirmative. The woman said, “Do you remember me? I am the woman who you helped years ago. Thank you so much and I will do anything for you.” As Gevorkian shared this story there was an expression of sincere satisfaction on her

face at having helped another human being to better her life. “When clients come here after they have lost their job, I see and I feel their loss. I am not here just to provide them help with paperwork but to help them emotionally by giving them words of encouragement,” she said. “I like to help people by leading them to self-sufficiency, that provides financial security for them down the road.” Gevorkian has been on the staff of the Verdugo Job Center for 13 years. Her current position at VJC is Employment Program Specialist with the state. Through all the years working at VJC, she has worked on different employment programs like Welfare Recipient Program, Long Term Unemployment Program, and the Ex-Military Employment Program. Gevorkian is a self-made woman with a strong desire to help people. Even though she had other offers with larger salaries than VJC, she says she likes working at the center because she likes to help people. The center makes her reach out to clients. While Gevorkian works on the federal side at the south end of the building, where they mainly deal with EDD (Employment Development Department) services for people and their claims, the north end of the building is the state side where they have all the available resources for a job search. Computers with internet access, fax machines, copy machines, phones, and job listings about openings received and posted every day. “I come here on and off because I get a lot help from the staff. Just today José helped me to adjust my chronological résumé to a functional résumé,” says Vahe Minassian, a man who worked as security officer, “I also come here because the staff makes you feel as if they are your friends.” José Garcia is one of the staff members who work on this area. His position is public

“I will do anything to help my clients. If I have to go the extra mile, I will do it for them”

— Ophelia Gevorkian

service representative, and he has been working at the VJC for 32 years. While he helps clients with the computers, he also assists with guidance about the center to clients who have questions. “This side is my favorite side because I am better able to help clients because of continuous communication with them,” said Garcia. “By working on this area, I am face to face with clients, I can look at their résumés, their cover letters, and help them to create an e-mail account if they do not have it.” While he talks about the clients he helps, he points out that some of them need more help than others. “For example, while I am helping a client, and I see that the clients’ hands start trembling while he holds the mouse - that tells me that he needs more help than others, and I know at that moment that I should be at his side.” As he continues the story, he said that this is the situation of some older workers who have being laid off and have never used a computer in their life. Since the VJC is connected with other external services like Glendale College’s Garfield Campus, these clients are referred between each location. “People who are looking for a job need to come to this center. According to the Workforce Investment Board, one out of two people found work by going through this center. People need to keep ongoing communication with us and be proactive in their job search because recruiters from different places come here and we will help you with new updates,” says Garcia as he encourages people to go to VJC. To point out how VJC helps individual when they keep ongoing communication he shares an example of a man who got a job that morning. According to Garcia, the man had been going to VJC for some time. He looked reserved and worked independently on his assigned computer. Through his desperation of not able to find anything on his own, one day he decided to open up to Garcia. He asked for current job openings and shared his life and economic situation. He was in a desperate situation to find a job. He had a lot of valuable skills, but with the

current job market it was difficult for him to find employment. Even though his previous job pay was high, through his desperation he was willing to take as little as $9.00 per hour. Garcia looked at his skills and his experiences on his résumé, and recalled one that seemed to match his skills and suggested it to him. The man contacted the recruiter then faxed his résumé immediately, as instructed. He was contacted for interview the same day. Later, when he went for interview, he got hired and they offered him a pay of upwards of $20 dollars an hour. “Stories like this we get often, says Garcia. “However, for our clients, privacy we do not reveal names.” As he continued explaining the center facilities, he also pointed out that he is the coordinator for the orientation workshop at VJC. The orientation is an overview of the services offered at the Verdugo Job Center and all new job seekers are required to attend and are enrolled in order to qualify for VJC services. During orientation clients are informed about resources, workshops, and programs available at Verdugo Job Center

The VJC offers important workshops like the stand-out résumé writing workshops, which helps clients how to write résumés, cover and thank-you letters. The other workshop is the “Empower Yourself ” workshop which helps clients to deal and manage stress by offering relieving techniques, relaxation and meditation exercise. The last workshop is the Job Club-Networking skill. This workshop is more about sharing personal experiences about job search and networking. The Verdugo Job Center is a great place to go for anyone who is looking for a job or new carrier opportunities. This center helps people to explore career options, prepare applications and résumés, or improve their interview skills. “People come here come from far-away distances because we have an excellent reputation and service,” said Garcia as he ends his description of the center, “Every staff member who works here is eager to help you in whatever you need.” The Verdugo Job Center is located at 1255 Central Ave. in Glendale. For more information, see

Labor Statistics at a glance

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the local unemployment rate is 11.7 percent. More than 2,000,000 Californians are unemployed. Minimum wage is $8.00 an hour. A living wage is estimated to be 11.99 an hour for one adult. Typically food service jobs pay $9.43; personal service, $11.77; and office support, $15.31. A living wage for an adult with a child is $21.75. According to the census, Los Angeles County’s poverty rate jumped to 16.1 percent in 2009. This means that more than 1.56 million county residents lived below the poverty threshold, which is $10,956 for one person and $21,954 for a family of four. 29 percent of the county’s full-time workers earned less than $25,000 per year and 22.6 percent of L.A. County residents have no health care.

Spring 2011 | the insider


Beyond Dance Crew

Glendale’s Newest Dance Group ­— By Jennifer Do

Dance has always been a popular creative outlet for people and with hit shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Best Dance Crew” it is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. With celebrity judges and dancers, viewership is skyrocketing, but underneath it all - the cameos and famous faces - there is also an appreciation for the medium. Dance is back on America’s cultural radar. Dancing is a creative expression that incorporates participation. The dancers create art using their bodies; putting everything they have in themselves to portray a certain emotion and incorporating their passion with the technical qualities of movement. For the audience, a dance performance is watching the process of creating art as well as being in awe of what a trained and committed individual can do with their body. According to the great dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille, “The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.” Glendale offers many classes through its dance department and there are also several student organizations for dance. Nationwide, crews are continually being created by students and various competitions are held each year for these groups to participate in. Oftentimes, these events are held at participating schools or universities. These competitions are often hosted by schools or on college campuses where crews come together to show off their choreography and dance pieces. The contests help to showcase each group’s specific styles and talents, pushing the dancers to be creative and showing the public something new. A dance group’s goals showcase original choreography

Beyond Dance Crew was formed several months ago in one of the jazz technique classes on campus. Interested dancers may join their Thursday night workshops. 38

the insider | Spring 2011

and entertain the audience with unique movements as they strive to gain recognition and ultimately win these competitions. “There are so many good dancers out there, and these people deeply influence me,” said Hans Kim, a member of Beyond Dance Crew. “The amount of effort they put into their dancing only makes me want to dance better.” During fall semester last year, Glendale Community College held a jazz technique class in which several students came together to create a dance group. They wanted to perform and explore new ground with their dancing, and thus Beyond Dance Crew was formed. “We often practice at 24-Hour Fitness in Glendale or at my apartment gym, or even the parking lot complex,” said Kenneth Mejia, one of the directors of the group. “If we have a show coming up we’ll try to practice three to four times a week, but if we already know the choreography, we’ll practice once a week.” “We began dancing by preparing for a local hip-hop competition,” Mejia said. Beyond Dance Crew is passionate and motivated about dance, working together to create original choreography based on their different dance backgrounds and techniques. “We incorporate hip-hop and jazz funk as our primary dance styles,” said Kim. “Hence, we use ideas like tutting, waving, popping, and pirouette turns.” These techniques are very popular components to hip-hop dance these days and show how well-rounded dancers are by showcasing their ability manipulate their bodies rhythmically.

Photo by Jennifer Do

“What makes them a unique group is that they all have different dancing styles and they are able to combine them all together and make it look really fluid,” said Kristina Yershova, a participant in Beyond Dance Crew’s dance workshops. Generally, each member gives their input on choreography, so there is not just one main choreographer for the group. This combined effort helps to incorporate different techniques and have each member participate in the creation of a dance piece. Aside from dance competitions and shows, the dance crew also holds weekly workshops to teach people how to dance. These workshops are open to everyone and are held on campus at the small dance studio in the Sierra Nevada building on Thursday nights. They advertise these classes on Facebook by just inviting their friends first, hoping that those invited will invite other people. The purpose of these workshops is to have fun and teach participants a few dance numbers. Generally, they have a different choreographer from the crew that teaches the attendees a small bit of choreography from a popular song. There is a schedule posted on the Facebook event page which lists who is choreographing and what song or musical artist they have for each night. Beyond Dance Crew wants to promote dance as an enjoyable activity and create a casual and comfortable atmosphere for the people who want to learn. Participants learn at their own pace and may ask the teacher to repeat parts if a step is missed or a move misunderstood. It is a great way to learn to dance and do it at a selfpaced level with great people. “Reo teaches at BlackBird Studio in Hollywood and he does contemporary and hip-hop,” said Yershova. “He always breaks down his choreo really well, which makes it easy to follow once you really get the hang of it.” A recent event they participated in was a fundraiser for Japan on March 18. “One of our members, Julie, got an event for us at Hollywood High School,” said Kim. “And it was a charitable event to help Japan.” They performed a dance piece, which has been posted on YouTube, and displays their proficiency in multiple dance styles and techniques. “I thought this was a great opportunity to show off who we are and also help out for a great cause since two of our members are Japanese,” said Mejia. The crew strives to promote dance itself, but also to promote charity by putting dance towards a good cause. Their most recent big performance was on May 1 at the Cal State Northridge (CSUN). The event was CSUN’s Third Annual Night of Expressions. They had prepared for this event for several months. Generally, this event is to showcase the talents of local artists and dancers in Southern California, but with

recent occurrences in Japan, they decided to incorporate fundraising efforts as well. While some members of Beyond Dance Crew are aspiring dancers, there are some members that simply enjoy being part of this group for the time being with no plans to continue with a professional career. “For the most part, most of us are aspiring dancers while others are doing it just for fun,” said Mejia. “I think right now, we love dancing together, but for those who are just doing it for the time being, they have other plans and goals in life.” Either way, with the members coming from different backgrounds in dance, they have joined together to reach the same goals. “Our goals as a group is to grow as dancers, to become super-amazing and great at dance, display our passion for dance, and to basically just get our name out there,” said Mejia. Being a new group, they are discovering each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learning to work together. “I personally love dancing with them but it can be tough as well because there can be times where we get frustrated because we can’t pick up the

choreography,” said Mejia. “Sometimes people don’t show up to practice, and sometimes we disagree with each other over choreography because we want it to look amazing,” Even though they are a close-knit group and have gotten closer because of this shared experience, they each have their own reasons for loving to dance. “Not only can I vent and let out all my energy and talent out there, but I can also show something beautiful, amazing, and personal,” Mejia said. Beyond Dance Crew is now a great outlet for creativity and to bring people of different backgrounds together to work towards a common goal. “After dancing I felt like this was something I really enjoyed and it was very expressive of how people felt,” said Kim. “I really liked the idea that I could use movement as an art.” They want to also promote dance to the public, thus holding their weekly workshops to have anyone who is interested participate. Beyond Dance Crew will continue to strive for greatness and work hard to not only be great dancers individually but also as a unit.

Jennifer Do is a part-time communications student hoping to improve her writing skills. She has an undying love for ice cream and blogs on occasion.

Poetry - “An Ace To Play” The sound coming from the guitar he’s strumming Matches the tune I’m humming. But I just can’t tell. A pathetic statementI know his notes well! Maybe we should lower the octave? It doesn’t need to be that way- stop it. Maybe we should abandon the F- Chord, My fingers aren’t capable of stretching that far. No, you need to practice, Art can’t be born if you’re sitting on the sidelines passive! Then comes the wordsHe opens his mouth and he’s singing to the birds. So I start to sing along, My fingers stretch and we’ve made a beautiful bond, You know? The kind that lasts all life long ‘Cause the F- Chord didn’t need to be practicedI always had it. He set the pitch and my words, my voiceThey matched it. See, I’m no longer sitting passive. ­— By Angela Lee Spring 2011 | the insider


Art or Vandalism?

Opinion: Street Art has found a home at MOCA, but has the medium lost its message? — By Nicole Rubio

Self-portrait of muralist and devout Communist David Alfaro Siqueiros

Los Angeles has been a Mecca of sorts for street artists. These run the gamut of such luminaries as Bank$y and Shepard Fairey as well as some “artists” representing L.A.’s drug gangs. To many, unauthorized painting or stickering the side of a building constitutes vandalism, plain and simple. To others, it is social commentary, part of an ongoing dialog between those who have buildings and those who do not. But when did it become art? L.A. has a rich tradition of muralist paintings. On Olvera Street, the Getty is in the midst of a restoration of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ “América Tropical,” a 1932 masterpiece of the Latin American Muralismo movement. It depicts an image of an Indian worker being crucified by American oppression with well-armed revolutionaries attempting a rescue, and from the onset was considered quite controversial.


the insider | Spring 2011

Siqueiros was deported for his political activities and, like Diego Rivera’s “Man at the Crossroads,” painted for the Rockefeller Center in New York City, “América Tropical,” was destroyed for its pro-communist content. Times change. Siqueiros is now seen as an artistic genius, and “América Tropical,” which was once viewed as offensive, is now celebrated as one of his pivotal works. This mural may not have revolutionized indigenous peasants, but it did revolutionize perspective in mural painting. The Getty is donating $3.95 million of the $9 million overall cost in restoring this landmark, which will also feature an observation platform and a visitor center. Let’s face it, public art plays a large role in urban communities. Whether “official” or not, it’s everywhere. Norma Sanchez is a Los Angeles resident who remembers graffiti as

a pleasant childhood memory. “Driving on the freeway with my dad,” said Sanchez, “I looked forward to seeing these three black and white cats that were on the side of the [L.A. River], something I couldn’t wait to go past.” The Museum of Contemporary Art’s [MOCA] Geffen Contemporary, its satellite in Little Tokyo, has mounted an exhibit of the world’s finest examples of street art. Billed as the first major museum show of its kind, “Art in the Streets” features work from the 1970s through the present, including international stars such as Bank$y from London and Space Invader from Paris. Shepard Fairey, who is L.A.-based, is perhaps best known for his Obama presidential campaign “Hope” poster, but one doesn’t have to look far to see one of his Andre the Giant “Obey” stickers. They’re everywhere.

This is not to say that graffiti art has become mainstream. Many, even in L.A., where “street art” is pervasive, are outraged. “None of these lucrative arrangements would be possible without a stable system of property rights, which graffiti vandals respect only when their own wealth is involved, rages Heather MacDonald in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed. “Good luck to parents trying to keep their children away from a tagging lifestyle, now that word is out that a fancy downtown museum has honored graffiti with a major exhibit. And those children who visit the show will learn that MOCA thinks tagging is cool — just look at that life-size, animatronic tagger endlessly spraying his tag high up on a wall!” Jesus Martinez, a Los Angeles resident with background to the graffiti community, disagrees. “I think society as a whole tries to put a lot of walls between what’s street art and what’s considered just plain vandalism,” says Martinez. “I think it’s up to us to distinguish what is street art from misinformed stereotypes. “Art in the Streets” was a perfect example of what happens when the street art community comes together.” The Oxy Street Art Project, which was made up of students from Occidental College, made the official statement that “Los Angeles might be known as a vast urban space punctuated by freeways and a river, but those of us who live here know that the sprawling neighborhoods are made up of distinctive streets. Fittingly, we’re also a city of street art. Yet this art form changes as quickly as paint comes out of a spray can, as profoundly as laws prohibit it, as easily as some kid discovers a new trick on her skateboard.” But don’t be fooled. MOCA is not unequivocally pro-street art. Like the “América Tropical” debacle of 80 years ago, the Geffen Contemporary offered its wall to a prominent street artist; in this case an Italian called Blu, and then didn’t like what they got. Less than 24 hours after the mural, which depicted of wooden caskets draped in dollar bills in place of flags, was finished it was painted over. Museum director Jeffrey Deitch stated that because the mural faces the Veterans Administration healthcare building, and is proximal to the “Go For Broke Monument,” a memorial to Japanese Americans who fought in World War II, that it would be insensitive to the community to let it stand. In other words, MOCA selfcensored the mural, an expedient that would have been avoided if they had been aware of the mural’s design in the first place. It seems that Deitch, along with throngs of teenagers who are devoted to hip-hop and the graffiti art style, like the look but not necessarily the political message of protest.

L.A.’s Murals 1932-2011

Robert Bredecio, one of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ associates, standing in front of the mostly-completed “América Tropical” in 1932. Within months, part of the controversial mural were painted over, and by the end of the decade, it was gone.

Photo courtesy of tBrian Forrest / MOCA

Blu’s mural lasted only hours before being literally whitewashed by MOCA. Graffiti has always been primarily concerned with protest first and artistic consideration as an afterthought. Has recasting ‘street art’ as ‘fine art’ stripped away the populist message? “Personally I think some [paintings] belong on the streets, not in art galleries; that’s the essential of what graffiti is,” said Martinez. “That art is done by us, and is meant for us. It’s not for sale or meant to be put up on display.” “Art in the Streets” runs through Aug. 8 at the the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA 152 North Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012

MUSEUM HOURS SUN 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. MON 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. TUES, WED – CLOSED THURS 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. FRI 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. SAT 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Admisssion is $5 for students with i.d. Free on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Spring 2011 | the insider


New Classes for Fall: JOURN 210 - Advanced News Writing JOURN 250 - Visual Communication

Insider spring 2011  

People: A folk singer, a revolutionary, a teacher : three very different lives explored by the Insider staff. Challenges: Osama bin Laden i...

Insider spring 2011  

People: A folk singer, a revolutionary, a teacher : three very different lives explored by the Insider staff. Challenges: Osama bin Laden i...