Category Archives: News

Vote16CulverCity Builds Support TO Lower the Voting Age in City Elections

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Sarah Hager (left), Piper Samuels
and Rebecca Rottenberg

An organized group of 16- and 17-year-olds wants the right to vote in local elections. That’s the push behind the national campaign Vote16USA, which aims to raise awareness for this issue around the country.

Wait — don’t teens get in more car accidents? Aren’t they apathetic? These are the kinds of questions that Vote16CulverCity organizers Piper Samuels, Rebecca Rottenberg and Sarah Hager hear all the time, and a lot of the effort that goes into their campaign is to refute negative stereotypes about teens.

The three Culver City High School students are at the Veterans Memorial Building on a Wednesday night in mid-August to ask the Culver City Democratic Club for an endorsement. They hope to build support for a proposed 2020 city ballot measure that would ask Culver City voters to lower the voting age to 16 for future city council elections.

And they’re making a very good case to this crowd of more than 60 club members, each of whom have chosen to commit at least two hours on a weeknight to staying engaged in local politics. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

The Historic Landmark Next Door

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Photo Credit: Maria Martin

Where did the phrase “pulling out all the stops” come from?

From an 1879 pump organ like the one inside the Centinela Adobe, Historical Society of the Centinela Valley President Diane Sambrana will tell you on a tour of the house, located just west of the 405 Freeway between Florence Avenue and La Tijera Boulevard. “Each one of its knobs gives you a different sound,” she explains, “and when they’re all out, you have a grand finale.”

This and hundreds of other interesting historical facts about Westchester, Playa del Rey, Inglewood and beyond flow from Sambrana, who lives in Inglewood next to the house where she was born.

The Centinela Adobe, where you’ll see and hear about the many inhabitants of this three-room homestead and how they shaped local history, is open for free tours from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment. So are the adjacent Haskell Heritage Center and Freeman Land Office, where books, photographs and artifacts illustrate the story of the Centinela Valley. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

The Fixer – Michael Vartanian

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Photo by Courtnay Robbins

Most small business owners know the exact date their lives changed forever. “Sept. 20, 1996,” Michael Vartanian replies immediately to the question of when he opened Marina Bay Watch Company.

For Vartanian, the son of Armenian immigrants, what has become a thriving family business has jumped a few high hurdles to land where it is now — in the mini-mall sharing space with Wharo Korean BBQ and Walgreens on the southwest corner of Lincoln and Washington boulevards.

At age 16, Vartanian received an offer he couldn’t refuse: a job at a watch shop in Lakewood making $4 an hour (minimum wage then was $3.25). He stayed there for nine years, learning the business. Over time his plans to attend medical school and become a pharmacist changed. Vartanian liked repairing watches.

“I love dealing with people,” he says. “I’m a people person. I love to make people happy and see them smiling, thanking me a million times.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Everybody’s Buddy – Teresa Kim

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Photo by Courtnay Robbins

Sitting behind the counter at Gordon’s Market with owner Teresa Kim, I see a different side — actually, every side — of Playa del Rey. There’s a couple on a date buying spices and sauces, a college student picking up some beer, a young man in sweats buying chips and soda for the second time today, a pair of bubbly ladies treating themselves to a bottle of rosé and plastic cups, a junkie buying a lighter, a young professional purchasing stamps to mail in her tax return, two stoners indulging in Dippin’ Dots, an athletic couple buying alkaline water (one of the market’s most popular items) … and the bell at the door keeps dinging as the people keep coming in.

For the past five years and change, this creatively stocked shop on Culver Boulevard is the place where people come for just about anything and everything they need. And Kim is usually behind the register with a welcoming smile and warm conversation. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

No Room for Natives

jessicaMy husband and I were both born and raised in Venice, and we can no longer afford to live here. It breaks my heart when I tell this to people, but we’re not alone. The people we say this to all know someone — a daughter, a friend or coworker — priced out of Venice just like us.

Forty years ago, Venice was considered undesirable. Before GQ called it “the coolest block in America,” Abbot Kinney was known as West Washington Boulevard, with only one restaurant and a string of vacant storefronts.

Venice was riddled with drugs and gang violence. As a kid I used to think people were yelling “quack” at us as we drove down Brooks Avenue. I witnessed a drive-by shooting when I was a senior at Venice High School.

My dad and stepmom handed down a love of Venice to me. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Creative Judaism

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Rabbi Lori. Photo by Edizen Stowell/venicepaparazzi.com

Disco dancing down Abbot Kinney Boulevard with headphones for Simchat Torah. Reading text from rabbis about human sexuality as essential herbal essences waft in the air at Scent-ual Havdalah. Biking through 100 Years of Jewish Venice on an Electric Light Bike Shabbat.

This is Open Temple.

“I always say the core values of Open Temple are truth, creativity and love,” says Rabbi Lori Shapiro, who created Open Temple four years ago. “People that stick with us are on that journey. They are people seeking love, creativity and truth. It creates a strong core. I see that happening. It’s beautiful and fascinating.”

Open Temple is having a breakout year, according to Shapiro. It now has a home — Open Temple House on Electric Avenue — and is receiving national attention: a three-year commitment from The UpStart Accelerator and recognition in the current Los Angeles edition of the Slingshot Guide, which highlights the most innovative Jewish organizations in America.

“What began as one woman standing at the Abbot Kinney Fest collecting names is now a powerful dynamic reverberating throughout the Jewish world, locally, nationally and internationally,” says Shapiro. “It’s its own thing — bigger than me.”

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Mar Vista’s Christmas House

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Photos by Mia Duncans

Sitting comfortably one Saturday afternoon in mid-December in his Mar Vista home, David Gusman doesn’t look like Santa Claus. But in a few hours, that’s exactly who he’ll be representin’ — as he told one nine-year-old boy who questioned his authenticity.

That was obviously the right thing to say, because the tough kid revealed to “Santa” what he wanted for Christmas, and his mom, who was standing to his side, gave Gusman a big thumbs up.

Each December for the past four years, hundreds of kids have marched through Gusman’s front gate on Federal Avenue to sit on his lap, tell Santa what they want for Christmas (some even hand him a letter) and receive a gift: a candy cane, pencil and eraser. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.