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THE BULL Pierce College�s student-run magazine


community Fall 2009

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managing editor staff editors

staff writers



RYAN WONG ....... 4 CHARLIE ......... 16 COREY DUNN ...... 13



COBALT CAFE ..... 18 THE ROCK STORE ..... 11 IN THE ZONE ....... 9


advisors AMARA AGUILAR                                               JILL CONNELLY lead translator 


special thanks 



MEDICAL MARIJUANA ...... 20 LIFE IN CARS ....... 13 GREEN BUILDINGS ....... 24 FORECLOSURE CRISIS ......... 28 and KICKBALL? ......... 7

*cover photos by JARED IORIO

letter from the editor I t�s a dog-eat-dog world out there... Students are inundated with a barrage of media on a daily ����������������������������������������������������������� than 10 percent. The cost of books and tuition is on the rise, and at the same time, classes are being cut. As a country, we�re in a couple of military quagmires, home-prices are still down and it looks like it�s going to be a while before we feel any impact of the economy recovering ���������������������������������������������������������� Oh, well. What are we to do? We get up in the morning, hope the sky doesn�t fall down on top of us and keep on plugging away. We go to our jobs and our classes and try to eek out a few moments of personal time to spend with the people we care about. All in the hope that it will get better. And that when it does we�ll be better prepared to strike out at life than we were before. Here�s the secret. It doesn�t have to be overwhelming. Just stop and focus on [y]our Community — on the people, places and issues right in your own backyard. Stop and chat with that homeless guy you give a buck to or walk past. Pop into that small business and ask the

proprietor how she did it. �������������������������������������������������������� through their eyes. It might not be for you, but it does teach ��������������������������������������������������������� There might not be a lot we can do regarding the wars in the Middle East, but we do have local, homegrown issues we can have an impact on. Speaking of homegrown, are you concerned about all those foreclosure signs on the lawns of your neighborhood, or the more than 200 medical marijuana collectives operating in the San Fernando Valley? Well, other people are too. And they�re doing something about it. Consider this issue of The BULL a long overdue introduction to your community. And don�t let a little thing like the language you speak get in the way of that. We�ve printed the issue in both English and Spanish—so no excuses. ���������������������������������������������������������� of ways to get it done.

J���� I����

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Casey’s Tavern in Canoga Park attracts such an eclectic mix of patrons that make you feel right at home as soon as you enter.

Tradition, quality and cheap drinks, Casey�s has it all. Three nights a week, it�s all set to the tune of jazz.


ognac-colored double doors lead the way. Five paces through a barely two-person-wide passageway and the windowless space is revealed. Square, black plastic-covered stools surround high square wood tables. A single-play pool table beckons in the distance. To the right, the bar. Fifteen stools long, a right turn and three more surround it. Behind the bar there are two ancient cash registers, two “cash only” signs, two hanging ukuleles and 10 framed pictures. One stands out. “That�s Mr. Casey,” says Jean Casey, Lee Casey�s widow and the current owner of Casey�s Tavern. Below the picture of the snow-bearded man, whose eyes squint as though to intimidate, there is another frame. In it are

Drinks, friends and all that Jazz


his rules. “No swearing or foul language. No baseball hats worn backwards. No bandanas. No tank tops after 6:00 p.m. No damaged or paper I.D. accepted.”

YOU MIGHT GET AN 80YEAR OLD SITTING NEXT TO... A YOUNG GUY WITH A MOHAWK & TATTOOS. Kevin Casey A bar with rules like these seems foreign, as though it was out of an overproduced, well-written sitcom. Casey�s is a neighborhood bar. Located on Sherman Way in Canoga

Park, it enjoys a largely local and regular clientele. “You might get an 80-year-old man sitting next to a young guy with a mohawk and tattoos,” says Kevin Casey, Jean�s son. Lee and Jean opened the bar in 1981. After two years, they moved less than a block down the street to their current, larger location to bring Lee�s “lifelong dream” to fruition. Lee Casey ������������������������������������� who remember him live by his standards. John Pughe has been tending bar at Casey�s for 13 years. “Unlike other bar owners, Mr. Casey treated his employees with genuine respect,” he says. He ������������������������������������� worked for. By all accounts, Lee was a proud


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FOLD  man. He served in the 2nd Division of the Next to the pool table and worn makes it different from other bars. U.S. Army during The Korean War, earnwooden “lending library,” with titles Other bars have taken notice of ing a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. ranging from Tom Clancy spy novels to Casey�s. The Scotland Yard, located His basic philosophy was “To thine steamy romance pieces by niche icon fewer than 100 feet from Casey�s, is a own self be true,” according to Pughe. As Danielle Steel, there is a plaque denoting busy bar, where a seat is often hard to he makes drinks quietly and methodically, the amounts and methods of the vari������������������������������������� ous charitable contributions Casey�s has face glistening from sweat in the failof their bartenders, Martin Brebin, is a ing light, he adds, “Mr. Casey would not made. regular at Casey�s. ����������������������������������������� Pughe couldn�t be happier in his current position. “I hope to be here as long as I�m alive,” says Pughe. Jean has been arriving at Casey�s at nine every morning to help with the ����������������������������������� since the day they opened. When she arrives, Kevin is already there, wearing the uniform of his day job at Bicycle John�s Bicycle Shop in Burbank, doing the heavy cleaning to prepare for the business day ahead. Kevin does this six days a week. With a youthful exuberance defying her 82 years, Jean leans over the bar, baby blue eyes drifting over the quiet room. “This is not an Irish bar. This is a back east family bar,” said Jean. Jean can also be found there on any of the three nights that Casey�s offers live music. Every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the bar�s capacity is put to the test with these lively events. Woody James plays trumpet during a performance of the Jelly Roll Jazz band. The band performs Three different nights of music, three every Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The band has been playing at Casey’s since it opened. different bands. On Sunday evening from six to nine, the longest standing band performs. The Jelly Roll Jazz band has been “For the kids since 1996” is written “I�ve been working at the Yard for 12 playing at Casey�s since the year they in neon green on the plaque. With no years and I�ve been drinking at Casey�s opened, although the lineup has changed ����������������������������������������� for 24,” Brebin said. over the years. great zeal. “We�ve donated over $117,000 With a barely understandable Scottish accent direct from Glasgow, Brebin Mike Julian has been with Jelly Roll to charity,” Jean said, with most of the has nothing but good things to say about Jazz for four years. Dressed formally money going to handicapped schools. Casey�s. in black slacks and a white dress shirt, ��������������������������������������cate that was presented to Casey�s in “If you don�t respect the place, you ������������������������������������� white hair. “I got the job until I drop dead I 1994 by the City of Los Angeles Commis- don�t get to be in there. Simple as that,” sion for children, youth, and their families. said Brebin, as he adjusts his Guiness guess,” he says chuckling. It dubs Casey�s “Angels over L.A.” T-shirt. Julian loves Casey�s because it�s a Where you have bars, you usually Kirk Mcpherson, an apprentice bar“third place.” tender at Casey�s, seemed to say it best. ��������������������������������������� “Not work and not home, but that Incapable of mustering words to describe between friends about some brawl they third place you go to,” he says. As more the difference between Casey�s and other witnessed at the local watering hole. people arrive, hands wave from both the ������������������������������������������- bars in the area, he touched his black golf crowd and the band in recognition. er Larry Adams said in his stoic, sage-like cap with his left hand, took a sip of his During the playing of the lighthearted drink with his right and chuckled through and fun “Yellow Dog Blues,” the audience drone. Adams has been serving drinks at Casey�s for nine years. a big, bright smile. waves their white paper napkins and “Everything,” he said. Customers notice the difference. yells, “hey,” at several points throughout Justin Flood, a stagehand, is at the song. Casey�s twice a week. He cites the “atmo“We started it years and years ago. sphere and good-priced drinks,” as the Been doing it ever since,” said Jean. She reasons for his regular visits. �������������������������������������kins have to the song. Hank Wardak, who works at a nearby Loyalty is Lee Casey�s legacy. That Italian deli, loves Casey�s because loyalty was reciprocated in 1983 when “everyone knows your name.” He added Casey�s moved locations. “Every bit of that the quiet ambiance and rules make it the labor was done by the customers,” different from any other bar. ��������������������������������������������� While Wardak speaks, a patron drifts community. by, glass teetering, stating that the Casey�s has returned the favor. “straight-upness” of Casey�s is what

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c e n R [evo a

Ryan Wong and Kasia Wailewska dance at the Halloween party at the Olive restaurant in Burbank.




lu�o n]

Ryan Wong brings his diverse  ����������������������������������� ������������������������������������ �������������������������������


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hey dance as if no one is watching, moving melodically with the soft rhythmic tempo. Tum chick-chick (slow quickquick) – the dancers move, fused at the hip, getting the rhythm of the music, ��������������������������������������� ����������������������������������� with sister, and dance partner, MeaLynn. Lambazouk, a dance that originated in Brazil, combines Lambada, a Brazilian dance, with Zouk, a type of Caribbean music, to form a unique style. Lambazouk differs from other types of ballroom dance with its dip, hip and hair movements. The dance is beginning to spread in some Southern American, European Ryan and his sister Mea-Lynn rehearse in their living room. They rarely practice at and Middle Eastern countries, but it home because the carpets aren’t conducive to the dance style. has not received much exposure in the United States. Wong, a 19-yearold sophomore at Pierce College, is Ryan said. walking. After this, he realized that determined to change that – at least in Ryan, guarded after these childhood retaining pain and planning vengeance Southern California. experiences, thought he found a “sister” ���������������������������������������� Born to a Haitian father and a upon moving to the states a couple towards forgiveness, Ryan called and Chinese mother, Ryan has embraced of years ago. He was there for her wished her a Happy Valentine�s Day. diversity. Growing up in Curacao, a tiny �������������������������������������� The resentment and anger he felt were multi-cultural island in the Caribbean, problems, always lending a shoulder lifted. ������������������������������ to cry on, an understanding ear. “I learned that things aren�t always languages: Papiamentu (a dialect Everything changed when she started going to be the way I want them to spoken primarily on the islands of dating, leaving him alone and confused. be,” Ryan said. Things change. People Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire), Dutch, “I didn�t see her as more than a friend, change, but we move forward.” Spanish, English, and French. but it hurt me so much that she would Ryan says that he has built an Curacao�s cultural mix made Ryan a just trade me over and abandon me,” emotional wall since then that has made person who appreciates the uniqueness Ryan said. him get over things quickly and become of others. “Curacao is the place that His hurt turned to revenge as he less attached to people. made me who I am from personality to began plotting how he would get back at “I�m focusing on my goals right now, dancing,” Ryan said. He credits growing her for causing him so much pain. Then and I don�t want anyone or anything up surrounded by family and close on Valentine�s Day, Ryan describes how stopping me from accomplishing them,” friends with making him feel comfortable they bumped into each other, stared Ryan said. ���������������������������� at each other for a moment, and kept Pierre Bien-Aime, Ryan�s father, All that support didn�t stop helped shape Ryan into the bullies that Ryan had the ambitious person he is to face, though. As a child, today. Ryan was sociable, always His father engraved in his asking questions in class. mind: “Always follows your The “tough boys” felt as if dreams. Always plan ahead. they could intimidate him by Always think of the future.” calling him “gay” to make him Ryan said he took feel inferior. Ryan said these this advice seriously and negative incidents started to began planning his career make him into a pessimistic goals. Since childhood, and vindictive person. He he had always wanted to began to stand up for himself be a dentist so he began ��������������������������� researching the classes he to protect himself from their needed to take. Never the abuse. “I became over kind of person that just sat protective of myself. I didn�t back, he said he has always let anyone put me down,” Ryan and Mea-Lynn demonstrate the Zouk dance to other participants at dance orientation day at been proactive in trying to Pierce College. Almost 70 students participated in this orientation.

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What is

Lamba Zouk?

Evolved from Lambada, a form of dance that originated from Brazil.

������������������������������ Currently Ryan is a full time student with hope of becoming an oral surgeon. His goal is to attend UCLA and then on to medical school. Ryan said he wants to ���������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������ a difference in someone�s life by giving them a beautiful smile. One of Ryan�s dreams has always been to move to the United States to continue his education. Most students in Curacao move to Holland for college, but Ryan wanted a different experience. His hopes were granted when his mother, Lee Wong, was hired to be the new Los Angeles airlines manager for the Royal Dutch Airlines Company. In 2007, Ryan moved from his home in Curacao to Woodland Hills with his mother and sister. “I felt that I was leaving everyone behind at the airport, saying goodbye to everyone and that was a devastating moment, but at the same time I was excited and ready for my journey in life.” Through all the changes, it was dance kept Ryan grounded. Ryan�s passion ������������������������������������ class when he was 14. “I felt something travel through me; a satisfaction that was pleasurable and I realized that this is what I wanted to do.” Through dance Ryan is able to be another person, one who doesn�t have to worry about their next physics exam, but just someone expressing their complete freedom. Wong fell in love with Lambazouk three years ago. Lambazouk arrived in Holland, where Ryan�s older sister, Leanne, lives. Thrilled by the new style, Leanne told Ryan about it. He began exploring the

Meaning “party” Zouk is a Caribbean music sung in Creole, a language that mixes predominantly French language with Afrikaans, an Indo-European language derived from Dutch.

world of Lambazouk through YouTube. Those videos were the building blocks for Ryan. “This dance just transfers me to another dimension that other dances had ���������������������������������������������� I go to a place where I don�t think about anything. I don�t think about school or problems,” Ryan said. “When I dance it�s ����������������������������������������

Ryan Wong, a sophomore at Pierce College, studies in his bedroom.

problems and stresses. I get to a place where it�s just me and my movement. Nothing else matters.” Pierce dance teacher Denise Gibson describes Ryan with one word: Determined. His motivation to share Lambazouk with Pierce students has demonstrated his ambition for this innovative dance style.



“Dancers send out a range of emotions when they dance, not just one,” Gibson ���������������������������������������� emotion to another so gracefully. He�s amazing to watch. A career outside of dance is Ryan�s choice. He always wants to look to dance as his escape. “Dance is part of me; I don�t want to see it as an obligation.



When I�m teaching someone it�s all about technique. It�s not the same as enjoying the emotions that dance gives to you.” Ryan has been choreographing dances for Pierce concerts for a year. He feels that these dance concerts have made people curious to learn more about the style. “I want to give the opportunity to let people see what I see and feel what I feel when I�m dancing Lambazouk.” “Dance is my burning passion, which will always be active. As long as there�s oxygen it will keep burning.”


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KICKING IT OLD SCHOOL Recess Flashback: Adults takeover a popular childhood game.

story and photos by MELISSA KEYES


blow-up sheep stands at the sidelines. Everything from AC/DC to Aretha Franklin has been blaring in the background, and people wearing shirts with pink pig tails attached to them are running around. This isn�t rush week at a college campus. This is a Thursday night at a local North Hollywood park with baseball diamonds. And this is kickball. Welcome to the wonderful world of kickball; part sport, part social networking, all fun. Yes, that grade-school, try-not-to-be-thelast-picked P.E. game has found new life as a competitive adult sport. At any given game you�d expect to see grown men smashing the life out of the rubber ball, watching nothing but the backs of the �������������������������������������������������� down. Surprisingly that�s not the case. For a lot of teams, it�s more about the short game. The bunt. The problems with a power hit is that all it takes to get the out is one person. With �������������������������������������������� cleanly, but then thrown to the proper base. This is a big bouncy rubber ball we�re talking about here, making where it�s supposed to be thrown a lot easier said than done. Jordan Peterson, a newcomer to the sport, was looking for some type of athletic activity to add to his routine. He avoided taking the obvious route of joining slow-pitch softball league saying that “softball feels a little too pro.” “I wanted to play a fun sport,” he added. He�d heard of kickball leagues being played and looked it up online. He didn�t

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A pitcher’s eye-view of the kickball game as Jordan Peterson takes kicking practice.

bother with a Google search, he just tried his luck at typing in www.kickball. com. It worked. The Web site is the home of the World Adult Kickball Association, better known as WAKA, one of the largest recreational adult kickball association in the US. Searching for a league is simple. Just enter the ZIP code near where you want to play and leagues will come up. Take care though, not all leagues are created equal. Many leagues are competitive, highly competitive. It�s not easy for a beginning team to enter these leagues. It�s worth the time to do a little research on the league to know what you�re getting into. “People take this serious(ly),” Laura Michl, a new player, said. “Who knew? They�re like hardcore out here.” Luckily, the league Jordan joined, CA STAR, was a newly formed league. With teams who have names like Piglet�s Revenge and Bro�s Before NoHo�s how scary could it be? The rules are similar to the schoolyard rules most people have stored

IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF GROWN-UP TO PLAY KICKBALL. Cami Slotkin somewhere in the foggy recesses of their mind. No more than 11 people ����������������������������������� on the league, there may be a gender requirement. Generally, a kicker�s count is the same as a batters in baseball. The difference is that fouls don�t count as strikes, they count as fouls, and the kicker gets four fouls. The best rule is still there though, the one everyone probably remembers. That�s ���������������������������������������� get the runner out by throwing the ball at them instead of just throwing it to the base. For the out to count though, the hit must be under the neck. ������������������������������������� of different shapes, sizes, ages and athletic ability. The shirts stand out as the obvious uniform, but there are subtler touches.

(opposite) Jen Douglas-Craig stretches to attempt an out at 3rd in the Sloppy Second Baseman’s game against Bro’s B4 NoHo’s. The Second Basemen were blown away by a score of 18-0.

Many teams have color-coordinated, matching knee high socks. Piglet�s Revenge team members sewed on little piggy tails to the backs of their shirts. ���������������������������������� ��������������������������������������� mascot and bring it to each game. It�s not just cheering that�s heard either. The many teams also bring a stereo and blast music while their team members are up to kick. It�s not just about winning, it�s about looking and sounding good when you do. This league has a lot of younger teams and a heavier focus on fun over competition. That�s not to say ������������������������������������ break out and calls aren�t contested. Losing wasn�t fun in grade school and it doesn�t get easier as an adult. But with WAKA, each league is also associated with a local bar that the players frequent after the game. Losing doesn�t feel so bad with a cool pint of beer in hand, especially if the winning team bought it for you. As CA STAR president Cami Slotkin said, “It takes a certain kind of grown-up to play kickball.”


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A cut above the r If you want a salon, go next door, but if you’re entering the Zone, you better bring your personality and you best be ready to talk sports.


ichael Jordan crosses over a double team. Rushing to get his shot off, Jordan double pumps his shot in mid air, shooting over the longarmed Craig Ehlo. As the ball travels through the rim, there is a combined roar and silence throughout the crowd in the stands and the audience watching the basketball game on ESPN Classic at In the Zone Barbershop. Surrounding the customers and barbers, there�s a pool table that is as worn out as the game on the television. The walls are covered with Lakers yellow and Cavaliers green paint in an attempt to draw the lines of favorites between professional basketball players LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Two barbers side with Bryant and two with James in the never-ending debate over the two ultra talented players. However, that�s where the divide stops. They have one thing in common Onjae’ “O.J.” Longmire, who’s been cutting hair since he was 13, styles loyal client Carlos Magana’s - cutting damn good haircuts. hair on a Saturday afternoon. They are the self-proclaimed “best In the Zone, with a surprising tone in ������������������������������������ barbers in the valley.” What makes this his voice from the shock of hearing shouts the customer. statement true? Longmire�s response. Don�t be confused by their vehemence, It�s not cutting hair, they claim that�s ��������������������������������������� however. This is all fun and games. easy, but rather it�s the dialogue that another barber, as if he needed to When you are there, it�s a place of Zen. goes on while cutting the hair. Learning scream across the Grand Canyon. Nothing else exists. It�s where you can how to persuade an irrational individual Then without hesitation, the best put all your troubles away. Discussing to become rational is a chore. basketball players become the main topic what bothers you or asking random Entering a sports conversation here is of conversation. sports questions takes over many of the a risky proposition, one that might cause ����������������������������������������� conversations. a headache or a lost voice. With sports memorabilia plastered “Name the top three Lakers of all time,” the end of his career, Kobe Bryant will go down as the greatest player of all time.” everywhere on the walls, ESPN on asks a customer. In disgusted unison Longmire and Truitt the television, and talks of the latest “Magic Johnson, Kareem and Kobe,” yell out. An outraged customer chimes in entertainment news, the shop is a direct says Onjae� Longmire, one of the stylists. “I ain�t never seen him do double pumps representation of Truitt. “You gotta put in the NBA logo, Jerry in the air like Mike and make the shot.” Five years ago Truitt was a senior at West,” replies Kelvin Truitt, owner of Who?” says Sanchies. California State University, Northridge

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e rest



when he dreamed of owning his own business. Starting off as an experiment, In the Zone Barbershop was a business that was as busy and hectic as Kelvin�s life was. “I kinda did it as an experiment to see if I was going to move back home after college. But the barbershop worked and it was able to sustain my lifestyle,” says Truitt. Whether it�s sweeping the hair from ����������������������������������� or rigorously cleaning the spotless bathroom, Kelvin�s dedication rubs off on everyone around him. “We have our ups and downs as barbers, but we try to maintain a steady

relationship with each other and our customers,” says Sanchies. His fellow barbers and friends not only appreciate his commitment, but his willingness to work with others and take them under his wing. “Kelvin is great. From day one he just let me come on board with really no questions asked,” says Lorenzo Macon II, another barber at the shop. “I came to talk to Kelvin, and he was cutting my hair at the time and I asked him if he needed another barber. I�m pretty sure that he didn�t but being the man he is, he let me come aboard.” Whitney White, a long time customer at the barbershop, feels comfortable with the barbers. “[Truitt] always keeps a group of barbers that can cut hair,” says White. “It�s a cool place where you can chill. It�s not a hood barbershop. I don�t have to bring my piece every time I come here. It�s a safe place to be.” Like a United Nations conference in its diversity, the shop rubs off a less formal and more hilarious approach. According to Sanchies the demographic is spread out as follows: 45 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic, 15 percent Asian, and 10 percent white.

No matter what the issue is, no matter the color of your skin, you�re liable to be in the middle of a very interesting conversation. “Now Lamar Odom is dating a Kardashian. The big one,” says a customer. “Who? Lamar Odom is?” replies Longmire. ������������������������������ With a quick reply that would perfectly represent the atmosphere of the shop, Onjae� replies, “Oh yeah I saw the interview about that, they asked Lamar [Odom] what he liked about her and he said, �Uh, um, she real smart�.” “She [Khloe Kardashian] was just kissing Terrance from �106 and Park� the other day, say Sanchies. “Now she�s marrying Mister Lamar �I�m an all-star� Odom, little fat whore.” “You�re wrong for that,” Longmire says, chuckling. Another joy of cutting hair for the barbers is helping people with disabilities. Coming in on Saturday mornings, the Therapeutic Learning Center, or TLC, brings several patients to get their haircut. Closing the shop to the general public, these barbers will cut the patients� hair free of charge. They believe people take a lot of things for granted and don�t realize how hard it is for some people that are less fortunate. For the barbers, cutting hair is not a job, it�s a hobby they get paid to do. “So when they get here and they walk through the door, they are not a handicap person, an old person, a white person, or a black person. They are just another head to cut and another friend we have here at the barbershop,” says Kelvin.

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Legends were made in a place tucked away in the hills on Mulholland Highway. The Rock Store is still home to rebels and bike enthusiasts alike.


sun, you turn your wheel again for the umpteenth time and there, as if out of nowhere, you are confronted with the sight of seemingly countless motorcycles, the sweltering SoCal sun glistening off their metallic paint-jobs, all parked more or less neatly in rows.

Ever since opening its doors in 1961, The Rock Store has become a place of legend for motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life. ulholland Highway on a weekday The original building is made solely is a relatively quiet place, tranquil of rocks and mortar (hence the name), even. Apart from the residents with some metal supports here and there who live on the dusty road and the odd in order to keep up to date with the squirrel or coyote attempting to earthquake code. “You can�t make cross it, the winding highway is buildings like this anymore. This is virtually deserted. all hand made, all pieced together, But on any given weekend, this hand mortared,” explains Billy stillness is shattered by the near Favaro, a young bartender gesturing deafening roar of motorcycles to the wall of rock behind him. hurtling up and down the canyon “They literally packed it in there by passes. And chances are, they hand. You can�t build buildings like are heading towards the The Rock this anymore, they�d fall down.” It Store. was originally used as a stagecoach It is an incredible sight. After stop. It changed hands a few times driving down Mulholland�s twisting before Ed and Vern Savko, a young and turning bends under an couple from Pittsburgh bought it and endless cerulean sky and beaming Vern Savko, owner turned it into a convenience store in 1961. But because of its location in the mountains, it was in a prime location to serve as a pit-stop for whoever might be riding. “Steve Mcqueen, Jason Robards, and James Dean parked their bikes under the tree, and it was just word of mouth. Next week there were more and more bikes,” explains Vern. And ever since then, it has become an iconic place in motorcycle culture. There is also a small cafe built of wood along side it, selling omelets and pancakes in the morning, and hamburgers, hot-dogs and tri-tip sandwiches for lunch. The cafe is split into two levels. On the ground level are three red leather booths and a counter that looks in on the kitchen with its oily griddle and gas ���������������������������������� around the base of well-used frying ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ pans.




Highway. Melissa Keyes/TheBull

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������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ rough, but all anyone wants to do is relax and talk bikes. Melissa Keyes/The Bull.

There is a Native American theme to the paint-job, now somewhat discolored �������������������������������������� smoke from the incalculable number of burgers, hot dogs and omelets that have been cooked there over the years. Upstairs there is more seating, and a big screen TV which seems to always have a football game on it. There are some plastic tables set out by the trunk of a towering oak tree ��������������������������������������� all kinds of long forgotten nails, staples, thumbtacks, and pins used for securing them still tacked on to it. Behind it and up some stone steps to the right side of The Rock Store is a patio area with some more tables and an outdoor bar, behind which a red and blue neon sign that reads “Rock N� Roll” is stereotypically ��������������� In the front of the cafe there is an old, bored looking gas pump, which gives the impression that it spat out its last gallon years ago. And under the shade of the enormous oak tree, the leather clad can be found milling around each other�s bikes, exchanging technical information and admiration. “You get to see a wide variety of bikes, and you meet a lot of nice people, you see the same people up on the weekend,” shouts Steve Sabo, trying to contend with a particularly loud Harley peeling out. Walking through the throngs of bikes and riders, you can�t help but

pick up shards of conversations, most The Rock Store also has its fair share of of which involve chrome in them at one celebrities. point or another. Jay Leno is a regular here, showing There are all kinds of bikes here, from up on his jet-powered motorcycle. And the traditional Harley-Davidsons to the Arnold Schwarzenegger used to ride up super fast Asian Suzukis and Hondas, all the time before he broke his femur and maybe even a three wheeled while skiing. motorcycle or two. Despite its rough look, The Rock Store “Riding is just a different kind of way of is a remarkably friendly place. There are life and culture, and a great way to meet even families with kids staring in awe at new friends,” says Mark Stevens, who the bikes in their shimmering glory. It is a owns “that Heritage (motorcycle) over great place to come and hang out at even there with the ice chest of beer on the if you don�t ride. As Vern says, “If you back.” don�t have a friend when you come here, The clientele does not only consist you�ll have one when you leave.” of hard-core bikers who have tattoo sleeves, bandanas, and cut-off denim jackets with patches, although there are a fair few. “When someone says bikers, they think of gangs, but I have lawyers, and doctors for just about anything out there,” explains Vern “Come talk Ed Savko opens a beer for a customer on a busy Sunday morning. to them, they are not outlaws.” Jared Iorio/The Bull.

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shiny metal boxes words and photos by JARED IORIO

10. 101. 110.

118. 405.

The numbers add up like the time I�ve spent suffering in my shiny metal box. Well, not so shiny, but still... $3.06 a gallon. More numbers. 10 miles-per-gallon. 30.2 miles to work, 28.1 to school. I�m reluctant to calculate the number of hours I spend in my car. It�s daunting. ������������������������������������������������������������������������ in the LA area. I�ve nurtured a keen sense of timing. I know when I need to strike into that lane at this exact point on the freeway, literally shaving hundreds of seconds off the drive. 3:08 p.m. That�s what time I have to leave to make it from downtown to Topanga to get to work at 4 p.m. It�s absolutely optimal. I�ve tested it. And tested it. It�s a fact, like the sun setting in the West. You could set your cell phone clock to it. ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� lackluster public transportation system to thank for that. It has its down side, though. Open spaces, nature, large groups of people— they all bring on a slight feeling of panic now. It�s subtle, but it�s there. And I think it�s getting worse. ���������������������������������������������������������������� �����������������������������

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Icing on the Cake Who says small business is dead? Stacy Nakamura makes a go of it — her own way.


Stacy Nakamura shows off a couple of her latest creations. If nothing strikes your fancy, you can always build your own cupcake from scratch.


yes gleaming beneath her auburn bangs, Stacy Nakamura ���������������������������������� place and switches the mixer on. As the beater slowly turns, she moves to the refrigerator and takes a tray of miniscule cupcakes to the counter. She puts on a pair of transparent rubber gloves as she picks up a spoon to frost the cakes. “These are my condom gloves,” she says nonchalantly. She brushes the hair out of her eyes and begins to cover the petite cakes with icing. Nestled between the Cella Art Gallery and the Salomi Indian Restaurant in North Hollywood,

Cupcake Central is certainly not the ����������������������������������������� but it is unique in many ways. There is an impressive variety of sweet treats available, but it isn�t the quantity of ����������������������������������� stand out, it�s the creative mind behind them. Nakamura, owner and sole employee of the establishment, is short, spritely and energetic, constantly

I’M THE BAD ASS OF CUPCAKES. Stacy Nakamura, owner, Cupcake Central

coming up with new ideas and inspirations for cupcake designing. “I�m all about cupcakes,” she says, licking a glob of frosting off a spoon. Stacy is constantly on the move in her small store, mixing toppings, straightening the back room, checking items off of her packed calendar. She ���������������������������������������� It�s clear that Stacy loves what she�s doing. Cupcake Central opened March 2, 2009 and she says it�s been a rollercoaster ride ever since. The store is open six days a week, and there are different cupcakes available depending on the day and season. Her store sets itself apart with a level of customization unavailable in other establishments. There is a Coldstone-


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owner and establish a relationship with them. It isn�t just advertising heavily that brings in the business, though. She insists that “you rely a lot on special orders,” especially around the holidays. She thrives on the specials that people request, cupcakes she can customize herself. In her display case is a variety of cupcakes created by request. There is a cake with the USC Trojan, one with the Transformers icon, and, naturally, an LA Dodgers cake. When individuals request personalized cupcakes, Stacy fairly crackles with intensity as she plans. Her favorite cake is one she designed for an “Alice in Wonderland”-themed party she catered. On one cake is a perfectly-rendered Alice, complete with blue dress and white apron. On the next is the Queen of Hearts, Nakamura packages a Sesame Street-themed box of cupcakes for a birthday party. ���������������������������������������� not call herself an artist, but she does “draw on the side,” when she�s not esque counter with Gummi Bears, I�ll get business back, I�ll go for it,” she ����������������������������������� Graham cracker crumbs, chocolate says. Prominently featured on the wall chips, Reese�s Peanut Butter Willie Fidail, owner and creative �������������������������������������� Cups and more lined up. “Yeah, that�s genius of Vicious Dogs restaurant a of Ownership is a framed photo of the build-your-own bar. How many few doors down from Cupcake Central, a Playboy Playmate (just a glossy places do that?” she challenges, as she vouches for Stacy. He�s the man headshot). “Yeah, I�ve made cupcakes chuckles to herself. who gave her the money to start the for Hugh Hefner. Jessica Hall, one of She leans down to ask a young girl business, and he has never doubted the Playmates, she what she wants on her build-her-own her for an instant. comes in here,” as the youngster�s mother looks on. “She�s one says Stacy, as The mother points out a display of of the most she leafs through Halloween-themed cupcakes to her get-together, a binder full of �������������������������������������� put-together past cupcake These are adorable,” she says to Stacy, people I�ve ever inspirations. She who humbly accepts the compliment. met. She�s very pulls out the mold While ringing up the mother, Stacy creative, and the of the pulls a sticker sheet out from under customers like Playboy Bunny the counter, much to the delight of the her,” he says, Willie Fidail, owner, and smiles widely, children. She winks as she whispers, “I nodding sagely. Vicious Dogs recalling the order. know what they want.” She does, too. “Taking care of “Next time, I�ll do The mother walks out of the store with multiple people the delivery myself. I�d love to see the three boxes of cupcakes, and the young at once? It�s a lost art. But it�s the most mansion.” girls with huge smiles on their faces. important thing in business.” Stacy wants to expand. Stacy is adept at what she does, When the space became available “Conquering,” as she calls it, but she but she never went to culinary school. he immediately let Stacy know that “her believes things will come “all in due ����������������������������������� boat might have come in.” Willie keeps time.” in the area, she went straight into the a cupcake that Stacy customized for “I�m dying to. We�re very stuck in the ����������������������������������� his restaurant in an airtight box next to wall. But at the moment I�d rather have and boiler technician. After traveling to the cash register and if customers ask one place with a line out the door than Chicago, San Diego and Hawaii, she about it, he launches into just where it expand.” She doesn�t have anyone settled down in her hometown of North came from and who made it for him. working under her, and while she enjoys Hollywood to help raise money for her Since she is both the manager and her freedom she hopes to one day be mother, who lives in Minnesota. the owner, Stacy offers discounts and large enough to have a staff working She is independent and has an deals to whoever she wants, including ����������������������������������������� amazing work ethic, and it all springs students from the Art Institute on pauses. “Unless I need a partner. You from the fact that she is incredibly Lankershim, Disney employees, and just do it.” enthusiastic and wants to spread people who order in bulk. ��������������������������������� that enthusiasm to others. She turns Every store within a block of during a lull in the late afternoon. others onto her product through simply Cupcake Central has one of Stacy�s “Cupcaking is like Nike.” letting them have a taste. “If I can give ������������������������������������ “You just do it.” somebody a cupcake and it looks like she has made it a priority to meet the


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photos by harlie sits against the wall behind Jerry�s homeless. Famous Deli in Woodland Hills. He strokes his It is estimated that on any JARED IORIO sandy, gritty white beard as he reads the latest given day last year 57,166 issue of the Los Angeles Times. people were unsheltered in Los Angeles, according He takes a quick, purposeful drag from the to Alvaro Cortes, a staff member for Abt Associates. Pall Mall Light cigarette hanging limp in the right corner ���������������������������������������������������������� of his mouth. He coughs. Charlie says there are cheaper the Annual Homeless Assessment Report for the U.S. cigarettes available, but he won�t settle for those. He says Department of Housing and Urban Development. they�re nasty. ���������������������������������������������������������� After reading the Times, he moves on to The Daily by choice, Charlie prefers his life the way it is. News to get “the community feel.” “It gets addictive,” says Charlie. “No “Gotta act like you know it all,” says boss, no wife, no kids, no mortgage, no Charlie, grinning. 401k account.” His dark and dirty face shrinks when “�On the streets� is an ambiguous term,” he smiles. He is careful not to allow his says Charlie, sarcastically. Eloquent and ���������������������������������������� well-spoken, it�s hard to imagine him as and colored the dark yellows and having been homeless for the greater part browns from antismoking commercials. of his life. Charlie is wearing a a dark green polo Charlie says he was an extra in the 1987 shirt and ragged blue jeans. Around his ������������������������������������������ neck is an Ed Hardy charm he says he ������������������������������������������ “Charlie” found. old residual check in October totaling more Charlie is well-known around the than $200. parking lot at the Northeast corner of Topanga Canyon Most of his money is spent on beer. He only eats once and Ventura Boulevards. Some know him because of the a day. penny whistle he plays at night. Some know him from his Charlie gets much of his clothing from his “patrons,” morning routine of coffee and newspapers. The massive including the brand new black “Kangaroos” sneakers on ����������������������������������������������������� his feet. there for more than 35 years. Charlie was born Bryan Joseph Hunt on May 5, 1956. It often seems as though he is a part of the parking When Charlie arrived in Topanga, he said he wanted a lot. Much like a sidewalk or parking stop that does not stronger, “manly” name. �������������������������� “You know, Mike, Chuck, something like that,” he says. Few stand near him, due to the overwhelming stench Nobody in the area calls him anything other than of beer mixed with cigarettes that emanates from him. Charlie. Looking at Charlie can be unsettling. Audrey Waters, 49, has lived in the area since she was His skin is worn from too many years in the sun. His ������������������������������������������������������� nose is covered in what appear to be biblical-grade boils. years old. She says that since then she has “never, never, Though you�ll never see him with a sign asking never” gone a year without seeing him. “I look at this ��������������������������������������������������� parking lot as belonging to Charlie,” says Waters. A daily customer of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Audrey sees Charlie every day. “He offers to buy me coffee all the time,” says Waters, jokingly. “He�s just another neglected child of the 60s,” she says as she takes a seemingly endless drag of her cigarette. She never appears to exhale. She considers Charlie to be an amazing artist and musician. She reveres both his penny whistle playing and his ability with an Etch-a-Sketch. “What a waste,” she says shaking her short, dirtyblonde hair. Charlie claims he�s the product of foster care. He was picked up by a couple of hippies while hitchhiking his way to the beach from Sunset Boulevard when he was 15 years old. They took Charlie plays his penny whistle for an empty parking lot in front of Rite Aid at the corner of Ventura and him to Topanga Canyon.


charlie hustle


Topanga Boulevards.


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���������������������������������������������������������������������������� front of the Ralph’s supermarket.

“The rest is history,” he says, although it�s Charlie�s history and ������������������������� Playing the penny whistle and selling marijuana is how he has ��������������������������������������������������������������������� “A decent bag for a decent price.” He outlined his method of survival in clear business terms. “Give ��������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������� “Roll ten joints and sell them for $1 a piece. You do the math.” He also makes money from his penny whistle playing. Charlie estimates that he can make $25 in four hours of playing. Although he lives in the parking lot, he sleeps under the 101 freeway at Topanga Canyon Boulevard. “Gotta keep it simple or Caltrans will haul it all away,” says Charlie. “Just a mattress and a blanky. Cardboard condos get hauled away.” Charlie looks at his Rite-Aid bought, pay-as-you-go, cell phone for the time. “Know what time it is?” he asks with a smirk. “It�s beer thirty,” he says. It�s 11:30 a.m... ������������������������������������������������������������������ yearning for “the famous Budweiser” surfaces. This can happen anywhere from the time when nearby Carlson�s Liquor opens at 8 a.m., but it�s rarely later than noon. Depending on income, Charlie says he�ll go through up to a dozen 24-ounce cans of beer a day. Though he says many shops in the parking lot offer him discounts, he complains that Carlson�s never does. Of all the businesses, The Chop Shop is most friendly to him. They�ve allowed Charlie to use their place as his mailing address. He recently got an updated drivers license sent there, claiming he needed a valid ID to pick up his residual check. ������������������������������������������������������������ barber at the shop. Dressed in all black, with tattooed sleeves ���������������������������������������������������������� “He�s not like most of the derelicts around here,” he says shrugging and gesturing at the parking lot. ��������������������������������������������������������������� can be seen in the lot at different times. “But Charlie doesn�t bother anybody,” he says. ������������������������������������������������������������ describing an Etch-a-Sketch portrait of Osama Bin Laden that ������������������������������������������������������������ “When you got all that time on your hands, you can be as careful as you want.” Another employee at The Chop Shop, Justin Lackie, cuts Charlie�s hair and beard once every six months or so, free of ������������������������������������������������������������� smoking, Lackie was well versed. “I�ve smoked pot with him before,” says Lackie, as he exhales

his cigarette smoke with a laugh. Meanwhile, Charlie passes in front of the barber shop, �������������������������������������������������������� sign. Lately, Charlie�s health has begun to deteriorate. “40 years without even a head cold and then boom,” Charlie exclaims. Raising his voice causes another cough. Charlie says he was diagnosed with colon cancer in �������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������� patient privacy laws. He also says he suffered a stroke in September. “If he doesn�t get help soon, he�s going to have a big problem,” says Waters. ������������������������������������������������������ �������������������������������������������������������� penny whistle. “It�s getting pretty hard to play,” says Charlie. “I�m getting kinda weak.” As Charlie cracks open another beer, he moves a cardboard box to block it from view. Charlie says he has received more than 30 tickets in the area for drinking, but that he never pays them. “You get brownie points for being discreet.” Charlie�s plans for the future are both large and thought out. Charlie plans to cut a music record. “There are a variety of styles I can do,” says Charlie proudly. “Jazz, rock, Celtic, folk.” Charlie says he has already released an album entitled “Charlie�s Christmas Songs.” ������������������������������������������������������� proved hard to track down. “You really don�t need economics 101,” insists Charlie. “Nobody can do Etch-a-Sketch like I can.” Charlie went on to offer a challenge at “high noon” to any other Etch-a-Sketch artist. “I�d like to publish one of those coffee table hard bound books of all my art,” says Charlie. He outlines how one page would be the art and the corresponding page would tell a little of his story. ������������������������������������������������������������� ideas. “I have my fan base,” says Charlie, gesturing his arms toward the lot. Until any of those plans take off, Charlie isn�t going anywhere. He says he is happy where he is and is comfortable “biding his time.” Waters is concerned about how much time Charlie has left. She says she feels safe when Charlie is in the lot and she believes he�s a part of her life. “I would miss Charlie more than you ever know,” says Waters. “He�s a part of Woodland Hills.” As the sun sets, Charlie rises gingerly from the wall. He ���������������������������������������������������������� and pulls the penny whistle out of his right pocket. Just another day for Charlie. Much like yesterday and much like tomorrow will be.

����������������������������������������������������������� friend and “driver,” Judy.

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on the


The Hardcore music scene is characterized by violence—but it’s misunderstood, according to local players


by ALEX FUHR photos by COURTNEY COLES Corey Dunn, 19, showing off the tattoos on his shins, “Edge Life,” in support of his lifestyle choice of being Straight Edge. Straight Edge refers to a lifestyle of living drug, alcohol and tobacco free.


othing characterizes the Hardcore music scene more than the pit: a wild group of young men wildly ����������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������� outsider, but this is a style of dance and release for a tight-knit community. It seems there is a general consensus that the hardcore music scene is violent, hypocritical, and tightly woven with the Straight Edge ideal. Corey Dunn, also known as xCoreyx, approaches the thicket of people at the densest part of the crowd, in front of the stage. Pushing his way through the crowd of people, he stops only for the ��������������������������� The Valley is a pivotal scene for the hardcore community. It is a growing community, but the industry as a whole is plagued by violence and misconception. There is certain unanimity that the hardcore scene, particularly the local Valley scene, is incredibly violent. Kids go to shows and venues for the mere excuse to beat people and start ������������������������������������������� is Straight Edge, and if you aren�t you run the risk of being “punished.” Those who

are part of the scene would disagree. When the band starts to play, Corey�s demeanor changes drastically. His lighthearted smile turns to an intimidating frown and he begins to dance. Flailing wildly, throwing elbows, arms, legs and knees, anyone not paying attention gets hit. The occasional dancer falls to the ground, grasping their nose, or stomach. ���������������������������������� intimidating, large, not necessarily tall, but wide. His bulky frame is accentuated by his gruff beard and dark skin. He ���������������������������������������� and a black band tee; two-inch gauges dangling off the side of his head complete ������������������������������������ and proves to be soft-spoken, quiet and reserved. David is the lead singer of


the hardcore band Heavy Hitters, and sees the violence and hypocrisy in his local hardcore community as tarnishing the true ideals of strength through community. ������������������������������������� to one of his fellow hardcore community members, it�s all smiles. “A lot of kids go there to… well basically, fuck shit up,” David admits. “ I�m not gonna lie, I�ve done it too. But I tell the kids basically, don�t hold back. Let it all out. Go ahead, punch someone in the face, whatever makes you happy.” This all sounds quite brash, but David ������������������������������������� this way. Hardcore, David said is about community more than anything. “The hardcore scene in the Valley, most of the time is just your friends, and soon enough they become your family,” David continues, “I think, as you get older, you start going to shows and you ����������������������������������������� no point in it. I just like going, spending time with my friends, and watching the bands. I want to pay my respects to the bands, and not ruin everyone�s night just


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Dunn hardcore dancing at a show at the Cobalt Cafe Mon. Oct. 19, 2009.

because I want to be a hard ass.” “If you really like the scene, not just ������������������������������������������ and make the scene stronger,” David continues. Perhaps it�s not all about the violence. Community is obviously a major contributor to the scene�s draw, but the violence had to originate from somewhere. Corey believes he has the answer. Corey is the 19-year-old lead singer of the local hardcore band Consider Her

Dead. “We are really terrible,” he admits “except in Lompoc, we�re like gods ��������������������������������������� community in Santa Barbara County where the band plays regularly. Corey�s modesty is comical due to his in-your-face personality. Unlike David, he is much less soft-spoken, trailing off into long stories and rants. “For every fucking one shitty show, ���������������������������������������� need to get called there are like, twenty fucking million where everyone goes,

shedding light on COBALT CAFE

Hollywood isn�t too far from the San Fernando Valley. Who wants to drive 20 miles to Hollywood, 50 miles to Anaheim�s Chain Reaction or Pomona�s Glasshouse when there is an all ages venue in your own backyard? Owner Dave Politi wanted an alternative to the bar scene on Ventura Boulevard in 1990, so he opened a “San Francisco-style coffee shop.” Starbucks began creeping up on every corner and the coffee business did not look so good for an independent. But Cobalt had open mic nights and poetry readings—they offered a unique experience. Able to hold 400 people, Cobalt is one of the only live music venues in the San Fernando Valley – and the stomping ground that many, mainly high school kids, call home. John McCrary, 29, and his girlfriend, Maggie Hasbun, 28, started twoHEARTS Concerts in 2001 with $3 backyard shows that became the force behind bringing talent to the Cobalt Cafe. In transitioning from backyard shows, McCrary chose to promote at the Cobalt due to its sentimental value and convenient location. ������������������������������������������������������ place I ever played,” said McCrary. “It has sentimental value. ��������������������������������������� The venue has always, and continues to, provide possibilities for smaller artists. Such bands as Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake, Linkin Park (then Hybrid Theory), Avenged Sevenfold and Hoobastank all got their start here. Recent na-


everyone has a good time and it�s all good.” It is hard to keep from laughing, but despite Corey�s demeanor he knows what he�s talking about. He begins shedding some light on where the violence originated. “A lot of Nazi kids used to come into the scene back in the day, like the late 80�s… trying to take shit over,” Corey said. “So now you�re at your shows, and then groups of kids try to come in and take over your shit. So it comes down to you needing to defend what�s yours, you needing to defend your scene.” He admits that he has fought for this reason, and alludes to the reason why this type of violence still exists in the scene today. “What people don�t realize is that�s our way of having fun,” Corey said. “I don�t [throw it down in mosh pits] to hurt people, I do it because I have fun doing it.” Regardless of the history, their form of release stems from an earlier time of ������������������������������������������� affect today�s scene and despite any outsider�s opinion, it is clear they will continue their way of life, and defend it. David concludes, “For anyone who reads this, if you�re free anytime, come check out some shows at the Cobalt, it�s open anytime to all ages. He laughingly continues, “Hopefully you wont get hit in the face, but I can�t make any promises.”

tional touring bands that have played at the Cobalt Café with promotion from twoHEARTS Concerts include The Ataris, The Casualties, We Shot the Moon, American Me, Memphis May Fire and The Ghost Inside. When it comes to moshing, hardcore dancing and being interactive with the musicians playing on stage, the Cobalt Cafe has a lax attitude, as long as you�re not endangering yourself or those around you, anything goes. Since the Cobalt Cafe is an all ages venue, alcohol isn�t served but if you�re of age, Scotland Yard and Casey�s Tavern are two bars within walking distance. “I hope that this can someday become a full time career,” said McCrary. “Until that day, I must continue having a 9 to 5 job to keep investing in our much improved and much more enjoyable music scene.”- Courtney Coles

Kevin Vanegas, 18, (center) hardcore dancing and John-Michael Salas, 20, protecting himeself in the mosh pit at a Cobalt Cafe show.

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Irma Villa smokes medical marijuana in an effort to curb her insomnia.

tHEMPorary solutions

Pa�ents find relief and comfort w�h medical marijuana — but some Los Angeles officials are figh�ng back.



t�s 10:30 p.m. and Irma Villa, 23, is ������������������������������������� ���������������������������������� conference calls, meetings, paperwork, and when she had a free minute, homework on her laptop. Working a management position that demands roughly 45 hours a week in retail isn�t your normal 8-5, Monday to Friday, it�s a schedule that doesn�t lend itself to any consistency whatsoever. Add taking online classes to that already hectic schedule makes Villa�s day tired and stressful.

Villa is now in her living room at home, taking a minute to relax and calm down and hoping that tonight she will sleep well. “I�ve had many sleepless nights in the past,” Villa said. “I feel that this medication has helped my problem.” Sleeping has become increasingly ������������������������������������������� schedule. “Sometimes I work early mornings, in the day, or at nights, I have to try and sleep around my schedule,” she says, “and sometimes when I need to sleep, I can not fall sleep, I lay wide awake, even if I am tired.” According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 60 million

Americans suffer from insomnia. There are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs, such as Ambien, that are on the market as a solution to insomnia, guaranteeing its user a night full of rest. Fear of all the side effects from prescription drugs made Irma turn elsewhere, to an alternative medication that has become increasingly popular in the Los Angeles area. Villa reaches for her medication, tightly concealed in an orange translucent canister complete with a label giving information about the medication. She gently twists the top off, releasing a potent odor that rushes


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to the nose. She packs the medication “Have you seen all the side effects that into the bowl of her decorative glass prescription pills may cause,” states bong that�s sitting on a circular glass Villa, “diarrhea, nausea, blood clots, I table directly in front of her. With a do not want to take something that can shiny yellow lighter in her right hand, potential kill me, give me a stroke or ������������������������������������ something. Those side effects are not medication, creating smoke that shoots present in marijuana.” up into the glass chamber of the bong. “We have many patients that are on Seconds later, she pulls the downstem sleeping pills like Ambien and who are out of the bong and inhales the smoke on painkillers like vicodin, or on other through her mouth. types of medication who are trying to Her medication of choice? Medicinal get off those prescription drugs and marijuana. With an array of names like this (marijuana) works for them,” said OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Skywalker, and Lynn Pearlman, manager of Mendocino Purple Train Wreck, medicinal marijuana Meds Wellness Center. “There are use has become increasingly popular other people who take it for other pains. as a medication to treat many illness We have cancer patients who use the symptoms, including insomnia. There marijuana for the nausea that is caused are more than 200 medical marijuana by the chemotherapy and glaucoma dispensaries in operation in the San patients as well.” Fernando Valley, and driving through the valley they can be seen everywhere, from Van Nuys to Woodland Hills. “The San Fernando Valley seems to be the epicenter of it all,” said In 2007, a moratorium was put in Mark Stewart, who is an employee at place by the Los Angeles City Council Mendocino Meds Wellness Center, a meaning that new dispensaries could not compassionate collective located in open. Although a state law, California Canoga Park. And according to CNBC marijuana is also California�s number one cash crop, worth $14 billion to the state. With the passing of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the Medical Marijuana Program (MPP) was established in ������������������������ patients. Patients like Villa have been able �������������������� type of medication and have used it as an alternative to prescription pills that seem to have a neverending list of side Villa packs medical marijuana into her bong after a long day at work. effects. Villa tried other medication before marijuana, including an over-the-counter medication, Tylenol Simple Sleep, but was not impressed with results. “It did make me sleep eight hours, but what the medication did is knock me out completely,” she added, “If I had to wake up say before eight hours it was very ������������������������������������������� gave me in the morning, I felt disoriented at times.” Aware of all the potential side effects Irma Villa prescription pills may cause, Villa is ������������������������������������� get similar side effects from marijuana.

LA Stepping In


cities and counties have some rights in proposing ordinances and regulating medical marijuana within their districts. Before the moratorium, however, there were 186 dispensaries and today there are more than 800 dispensaries open in Los Angeles County, many operating within Los Angeles city limits. The city has yet to take action and has failed to fully enforce a law that has been in effect for two years. Los Angeles has struggled to write and pass an ordinance to control medicinal marijuana since the 2007 ruling and have let many dispensaries open up anyway. Many were able to open by requesting an exemption from the ban, and then opening without approval while their cases were pending. “The permanent ordinance should be focused on securing access to ���������������������������������������� while protecting surrounding areas from potential negative impact. This would include: operational guidelines, proliferation and over-concentration, proximity of dispensaries to sensitive uses, and appropriate permitting and licensing,” said Councilman Dennis Zine, who represents Los Angeles�s third district, drawing on his experience as a former police ������������������ 41 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. The ordinance to control medical marijuana has yet to be written by the City Council, however Zine added that, “Los Angeles is taking many steps forward to regulate dispensaries.” While some will argue that they are not legitimate non������������������ Pearlman disagrees. “We pay sales tax ������������������������������������� we pay our fair share of taxes, it is absolutely a business.” California law requires dispensaries to operate ������������������������������������� marijuana sales a “donation” rather than a purchase. “We are normal people ���������������������������������������� Michael, who is one of the owners of Sunny Day Collective, located in Chatsworth, and preferred we use just ��������������� ����������������������������������

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�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������

������������������������������� dispensaries from many state and local taxes, including income taxes. But that might soon change.



In early October, both Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich announced that all medical marijuana dispensaries in the county were operating illegally and that they would be prosecuted. This news didn�t scare Pearlman nor was it a surprise. “They have been saying that for awhile, but nothing has happened,” she said. Both Trutanich and Cooley agree that over-thecounter sales of medical marijuana are illegal and a large majority, if not all of the dispensaries in the county work in that way. However, both attorneys must work with local law enforcement to crack down on the dispensaries. At a time when the city, if not the whole state, is in a ���������������������������������� the funds might not necessarily be available. �������������������������������� to be named on record stated that “nothing yet” had been done in the department regarding Cooley�s and

Mark Stewart, employee, Mendocino Meds Wellness Center Trutanich�s recent actions. “We are currently working with the attorney�s ���������������������� The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on the measure in November after a Superior Court judge ruled on October 19 that the moratorium that was put in effect in 2007 on the dispensaries had illegally been extended. Sunny Day Collective was one of the ten collectives who sued the city in September. Their lawsuit stated that the City Council violated state laws when it increased the length of the moratorium into next year. “The city was acting unconstitutionally by shutting down collectives without an ordinance in place,” said Michael. A measure was drafted by the City ������������������������������������� the sale of medical marijuana, forcing hundreds of dispensaries to shut down. It would require dispensaries opened

after the moratorium, including Sunny Day Collective and Mendocino Meds Wellness Center, to shut down, as well as the 186 that opened before the moratorium. However, shutting down all marijuana collectives might not be as easy as it sounds. The problem with the measure is it that even if the city attempts to ban it by a City Council vote they can expect many legal battles in court, which would possibly overturn it as medical marijuana is legal in the state of California. As with the moratorium issue, the judge sided with the medical marijuana collectives. “We would like to see these businesses treated like adult businesses and those that sell alcohol. Both of these have very ������������������������������������ can be located and what can be done,” says JJ Popowich, president of the Winnetka Neighborhood Council. The City Council is currently working on an ordinance that would regulate collectives instead of just shutting them down, as there are no regulations in place for collectives currently. The ordinance would include provisions such as: ensuring ��������������������������������� regulating the number of collectives, enforcing zoning laws that would prohibit them from opening

By The Numbers:

*in the Los Angeles area

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Michael, who asked that his last name not be printed, explains the 10-12 varieties of marijuana the Sunny Day Collective usually has in stock.

in certain locations, such as 1,000 feet from schools, child facilities and other collectives. More controversial provisions include keeping collectives from only having no more than 5 pounds of dried marijuana or 100 plants at any given time, as well as regulating business hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. only, as many collectives are open as late as your favorite fast food joint. “We will comply with whatever the city decides,” Michael said. When the City Council makes their ����������������������������������������� ends up making the decision, it will cause headlines, both negative and positive. But one thing is certain - that some Angelenos don�t have a problem with marijuana. “Its getting pretty

THE CITY WAS ACTING UNCOSTITUTIONALLY BY SHUTTING DOWN COLLECTIVES WITHOUT AN ORDINANCE ... Michael, co-owner, Sunny Day Collective mainstream. You have to remember, that people that are older now, say 60, they grew up in the 60s. This is not out of the norm for them,” said Pearlman. “Even

people that don�t smoke, not many frown at it. It�s a personal choice.” Villa is pleased that this type of program is available in California and like many others, including Councilman Zine, supports its use for medical reasons. “It works great, I have no complaints. The marijuana puts me to sleep, I wake up in the morning and feel �������������������������������������� medication.” When asked if Mendocino Meds Wellness Center had any problems with local police, Pearlman responded, “No, they even asked me if I wanted to advertise in their magazine.”

Cal�ornia’s Propos�ion 215 (1996) ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who had �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine or any other illness which ��������������������������� FOLD  BULL_CROPmarks_PROOF.indd 24

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CONSTRUCTING EFFICIENCY An examination of the energy program in the Los Angeles Community College District


By Natalie Yemenidjian

The Los Angeles Community College District wants to sell you an education wrapped in a big, “green” bow. Consumer culture is now geared toward environmentally conscious products, and apparently education is no exception. Just like the label on an Arrowhead water bottle boasts of the 30 percent less plastic it uses, the district has labeled itself a “leader in environmentally responsible construction” on its Web site at www. Hence, the district mandated to certify every new construction project with the Leadership in Energy and

Environmental Design. LEED is the U.S. Green Building Council�s building standards that rate each building. In total, $6 billion in taxpayer money from bond measures Proposition A, AA and Measure J will be spent on constructing new structures on all nine campuses in the district. Pierce College has been authorized to receive more than $719 million of the total bond money. Energizing a campus Not everyone agrees with how the bond money is being used. Much of the criticism of the school district�s building practices surround one of the E�s in LEED: Energy. “It�s all about energy,” said Craig Meyer, environmental science professor at Pierce College. For a building to truly be eco-friendly, Meyer ���������������������������������� Buildings use 71 percent of the electricity and 40 percent of all


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The USBGC claims LEED �������������������������� ������������������������ ������������������������ ��������������������������� ���������������������� ������������������������� ���������������� From a report by Henry Gifford entitled “A better way to rate green buildings.”

������������������������������������ ������������������������������������� ������������������������������������� ����������������������������������� �������������������������������� ����������������������������� ����������������������������� ���������������������������� ����������������������������� ���������������������������������� ����������������������������������� ����������� ����������������������������������� �������������������������������������� ��������������������

�������������������������� energy in America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The district spends more than $9 million on energy bills a year, according to Larry Eisenberg, executive director of facilities, planning and development from the LACCD. “You can design a building, then implement all these components they�re using to conserve energy or use less,” Meyer said. “Or, you can design a building that doesn�t need much energy.” If thoughtful design could wean the school district from unnecessary energy use, Meyer believes there would be no need for costly mechanisms. The lowest LEED rating is ������������������������������������ platinum. The city of Los Angeles also requires every new building to ������������������������������������� to the city�s Web site. The most prominent critic of LEED standards in the U.S., Henry ������������������������������������ use more energy then their non��������������������������������������� better way to rate green buildings.” Gifford, who has worked more than 25 years as a building scientist, cited a study from the New Buildings Institute of Vancouver, Washington.

The institute found LEED buildings to be energy independent; he even to be 20 to 30 percent more energy wanted buildings in the district to go ���������������������������������� off the grid from local power utilities. but Gifford saw cracks in the It was a goal too ambitious even investigation. The buildings chosen for the LACCD. to be in the study were not a random “I now describe our aim as sample, according to Gifford�s energy independence,” Eisenberg report, and they were not built at reportedly said on laccdbuildsgreen. ���������������������������������� org. “Going off the grid was a buildings. tantalizing idea…we could have “If you follow LEED you�ll be more essentially said goodbye to the ������������������������������������� power companies and eliminated Meyer said. “I�d like to see LEED utility bills entirely. But, if we stay ���������������� your way, anyway you want, but ��������������������������������� make sure ������������������������������ structural design and component design are ���������� Eisenberg would like the connected, we will have to pay for mandated standards to be ���������������������������������������� temporary. a way to satisfy all our power needs “My hope is actually that it is a with renewable energy.” transitory system and then it goes It does not help that the six away,” Eisenberg said. colleges in Los Angeles Department ����������������������������������� of Water and Power territory are a building. Although it is not a required to have power generated substantial price, it can add up. to it from the DWP, according to The licensed buildings save money Eisenberg. over time, Eisenberg argues. The interim chancellor of the Originally, he wanted each building LACCD, Dr. Tyree Wieder, sent a

(opposite) art by KATHLEEN BUCKLEY

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���������������������� ��������������������� ��������������������� ��������������������� ���������������������� ������������������������� ������������������� ���������������������� ������������������� �������������� From a report by Henry Gifford entitled “A better way to rate green buildings.”

memo to faculty and staff addressing a Los Angeles Times investigation into the district�s use of bond money and the energy program. “The energy program is very complicated and costly with the proposed end result to reduce energy bills to the colleges,” Wieder said in an e-mail. “ We have an energy task force reviewing the proposed energy plans to see if ������������������������������������� colleges.” The Times is also apparently investigating the LACCD�s use of consultants, the quality of construction management and planning, according to Wieder�s memo. “I believe really strongly in the idea of continuous improvement and good use of taxpayer dollars,” Eisenberg said. “In a similar way the idea of the Times looking at our program, I welcome that too...If on the other hand, the Times� interest is to just sell newspapers, I don�t think its really a positive thing.” Form over function In the district�s pursuit of higher

������������������������������������ ���������������������������������� ��������������������������������� ������������������������������������� ����������������������������������� ��������������������������������������� ������������������������������������� ������������������������

enrollment numbers, aesthetically appealing buildings play a major role. The old buildings looked funny, according to a focus group of students from Los Angeles County who went outside the LACCD for community college. The study was conducted by the school district. The look of the campuses was a pivotal reason why Los Angeles residents were going elsewhere for higher education. At the highest point on campus, in the parking lot of the Art Building at Pierce, solar panels have been contributing to powering nearby ���������������������������� they may be, they are not very handsome. “[The buildings on the Pierce campus] all are mission style,” said David Tsao, college project manager with Build LACCD. “You don�t really want to throw solar panels on top of those rooftops.” Tsao was the former operations ���������������������������������� of Swinerton Management and Consulting, the company that is managing new construction projects ��������������������������������� ������������������������������������� ability to educate in a functional

institution, Tsao said. Next, it is the context of the building to the rest of the college campus. Finally it is the building itself. The latter includes comfort, structure and any efforts to be sustainable. “You can build a building that stays pretty comfortable all year long, but its going to look like a pretty interesting building,” Meyer said. A truly sustainable building would need to be positioned in a ������������������������������������ a college campus. Windows in the Student Services ����������������������������������� they could open, but there are safety concerns. “These buildings are not built ������������������������������������ design themselves,” Meyer said. “The way they�ve got it planned is not satisfying.” Although creating environmentally sound structures is a nice concept, it ������������������������������������������� new buildings that allow young people to see the future a little more clearly. “[LEED] isn�t about public relations for us anymore,” Tsao said. “Sustainability is a way of life. I believe in the process.”

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Rev. John Lasseigne sits in a pew at Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima. Jared Iorio / Bull

From the courtroom to the altar, a priest helps his commun�y using his knowledge of law to take loads off of families by ANIBAL ORTIZ


hattering perception, he walks into a ����������������������������������� leaders. His white collar highlights his all-black clerical clothing. As he sits down, the meeting begins. Hard-hit in the housing crisis, Los Angeles County District 7, which includes the city of Pacoima, has attracted a diverse group of would-be saviors who are attempting to work together to keep homeowners from losing their property through a multi-pronged series of initiatives that address different needs. Rev. John Lasseigne, a second-year pastor at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, has helped persuade, motivate and encourage not only district leaders

but also homeowners that have been affected by the economic downfall. Behind his priestly garments Lasseigne stores a distinctive knowledge about property laws and mortgages. In 1998 he became a licensed lawyer in Texas. He has become one of the key ������������������������������������������ predominantly Hispanic community. Mary Immaculate is one of four churches in the Valley that have joined ����������������������������������������� known as One LA-IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation.) The combined efforts of One LAIAF, councilmember Richard Alarcón, Lasseigne, and countless others has helped launch the City of Los Angeles Foreclosure Prevention Demonstration Project, a $1 million city-funded pilot project designed to help struggling homeowners that have not been eligible

for President Obama�s Home Affordable �������������������� ������������������������������������� about the foreclosures in his area, but over time he learned that the problem was much larger than he anticipated. Lasseigne sat down and spoke to Tom Holler, an organizer for One LA-IAF. ��������������������������������������� of the foreclosure problem in Council District 7, Holler was able to convince Lasseigne to join the campaign. “I was getting a few families, one family in particular came and spoke to me, but it wasn�t anything like what Tom was telling me,” said Lasseigne. “He was telling me it was hundreds or thousands of families in this district.” Over the next four weeks Mary Immaculate Parish was able to acquire 300 names. “We�ve received request for help from


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homeowners throughout the Valley and even beyond the Valley, but it is true that we try to focus our efforts in that of Council District 7,” said Lasseigne. The pilot project that Alarcón helped launch in September is designed to help an estimated 25 to 35 homeowners stay on their property by helping with their mortgage payments. “Through his efforts we got one million dollars to launch a pilot project to put our plan into practice,” said Lasseigne. “One million dollars sounds like a lot but it really isn�t when you are talking about homes in the valley.” Jose Hernandez signed up for help through the program in December 2008 when his family realized that they needed help with their payments. “We�re still going through negotiations,” said Hernandez. “The feeling of not knowing who to turn to can be devastating.” “Most people waited until the last minute,” said Lasseigne. “People were either embarrassed or they didn�t think the church would be of any help to them.” “Despite our combined efforts we have not been able to help every homeowner in the original group,” said Lasseigne. Although nobody has been helped by the pilot project yet, Lasseigne talked about what the combined efforts within One LA has done for the community. So far, Lasseigne claims that the campaign has been �moderately successful� for those who have signed up from the start. For those who can still make payments but not the full monthly total of their original contracts, the group has advised them on legal help to obtain mortgage ������������������������������������������� their monthly payments so that they might stay in their homes. “There are those that we have

Jose Hernandez, homeowner already been able to help get a mortgage ����������������������������������������� that they can live with.” “We have at least been able to hold off the foreclosure preceding,” said Lasseigne. “Some families have been able ������������������������������� ������������������������������������� parishioner that took advantage of the group�s helping hands. Gomez and an estimated 70 parishioners from Mary Immaculate joined thousands of others in an effort to help persuade district leaders during a Los Angeles meeting that took place in June. At the time, Gomez was paying over $3,200 monthly with an interest rate of 11 percent. After working with One LA, Gomez was able to modify his interest rate to 5 percent with monthly payments ��������������������������������������� years. During the early stages of their ����������������������������������������� as the lawyers at Neighborhood Legal Services, strived to help struggling home owners modify their loans and payments. “Sometimes we can�t talk to the right people,” said Gomez. “One LA can contact them directly.” According to Lasseigne, none of the people that have joined the program have been

Foreclosure signs decorate the front lawn of a house in Pacoima. Anibal Ortiz / Bull.

foreclosed upon, but warns that some may be very close. “The lawyers have had to make calls on the spur of the moment in order to intervene,” said Lasseigne. “It�s like running a race and you have to run really far, really fast.” While intervening may be fast paced, ���������������������������������������� “It�s a slow process,” said Juan Carlos Jacobo. “It requires patience.” Modifying Jacobo�s payments was a 7-month process. “The pilot project will help these 25 or 35 home owners in a more permanent way because that $1 million is going to help give, basically grants,” explained Lasseigne. “It�s going to be a loan to the home owner, but then the homeowner will give that money to the bank just as a payment on the principle of the mortgage.” The next step in their campaign would be to convince banks to agree with their ������������������������������������������ the remainder of the time. “Banks have not accepted the process,” said Alarcón. Among the banks that have rejected the process are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Indy Mac. “In reality some of these banks realize that our plan will actually help them make more money off of this new plan than if they foreclosed,” said Lasseigne.

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Thousands of students are changing their lives for the better every day at Pierce College, and you can too. ����������������������������������� ����������������������������������� ������������������������������������ ���������������������������� �


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