Author: christinahanford

Edison Language Academy fundraiser featuring comedian Carlos Mencia canceled hours before performance

A comedy night fundraiser that was scheduled to feature Carlos Mencia, Gabriel Iglesias and Greg Fitzsimmons to benefit Santa Monica’s Edison Language Academy was canceled by interim superintendent Tim Cuneo the afternoon of Sunday, January 11th. The event was scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening at Barnum Hall, on the Santa Monica High School campus. Proceeds from the event were to go to the Edison Parent Teachers Association (PTA) to support instructional aides, art and music programs, field trips and assemblies. The event was canceled because the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District had received several complaints from community members who felt that the material to be presented in the comedy night fundraiser at Barnum Hall wasn’t consistent with district standards, Cuneo said. “There were concerns that [the material] really kind of divided the community,” Cuneo said. “What we want to do is unite our school community, not divide it.” He continued, “Every performer has a reputation, and [Mencia] has a certain genre that he uses, so knowing what his genre is, some people really objected to it.” Mencia’s style of comedy is political and typically involves issues of social class, race and culture. Cuneo said the district does not support “material that demeans or exploits women or any other racial or minority groups.” Added school board president Ralph Mechur, “What’s the message we’re sending if we’re inviting adults to...

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City Councilman Herb Katz dies at 78

Santa Monica City Councilman Herb Katz passed away Wednesday, January 7th, after a longtime battle with cancer. He was 78. He died peacefully and with close friends and family by his side, said Kate Vernez, assistant to the Santa Monica city manager for community relations. A heavily attended public memorial service was held for Katz Monday, January 12th, at St. Monica Catholic Church, followed by a graveside burial service at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. Katz, who lived in Sunset Park, had for over three decades been involved in public service in Santa Monica, most recently serving as mayor of the city last year. He was first elected to the City Council in 1984 after serving as chair of the Planning Commission from 1977 to 1982. Katz was mayor pro tem from 1986 to 1988. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl remembers vividly when Katz first ran for City Council because Rosendahl had him as a guest on his cable television show called Local Talk. This was before Rosendahl got into politics. “He went from a friend of mine to a colleague of mine,” Rosendahl noted. Rosendahl was so impressed by Katz and his late wife Ilona — who together had two special-needs sons that have also passed away — that he continued to have Katz on the air. “He’s a true brother of mine,” Rosendahl said of Katz....

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Venice High School pool to reopen January 19th

The Venice High School pool, which has been closed since September 29th due to leak repairs, is expected to reopen on Monday, January 19th. The year-round pool at 2490 Walgrove Ave. in Mar Vista, owned by the City of Los Angeles, has been closed for over three months. “The repairs are completed,” said Sophie Sabbah, a teacher at Venice High School and coach of the swim and water polo teams there. “We’re just waiting for the pool lights and the ladders and to fill the pool up [with water].” And Sabbah said she couldn’t be more excited about the pool reopening. “I’m just so happy,” she said. “I’m very thankful that they worked so fast to get the repairs done, but also for the community involvement. They helped so much in getting the pool reopened.” Lydia Ponce, a parent of a Venice High School swimmer and a community leader for People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), is also thrilled about the pool reopening. Ponce and others were concerned that the pool was going to be “shut down altogether because of the economic stress on the state and city — that there weren’t enough funds to fix this pool with all its problems,” she said. Of the pool reopening, Ponce adds, “I just see it as being an all-around win for the community to have the pool open. It gets...

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Sponto Gallery owner Mark Kornfeld dies at 59

Mark “Sponto” Kornfeld, the owner of Sponto Gallery in Venice, died suddenly Sunday, December 28th. He was 59 years old. The cause of death is unknown, pending toxicology and other testing, said Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Kornfeld’s friends suspect it may have been a heart attack. “He was complaining of chest pain and pain in his arm right before he died,” said a friend, Venice artist Suzy Williams. An avid art collector and a collage artist himself, Kornfeld, who often went by “Sponto” — a nickname he coined for himself by combining the words spontaneous and pronto into one — moved from New York to Venice in 1971. Thirteen years later, in 1984, he opened Sponto Gallery — the former home of Venice West CafÈ, which was a hangout for many of the Venice Beat poets in the 1950s and 1960s — at 7 Dudley Ave. Since then, the spot has remained a home to many local artists. “The important thing about Sponto is that it was so much more than an art gallery,” said Gerry Fialka, a close friend of Kornfeld and curator of the film screening series at Sponto, called 7 Dudley Cinema, which will continue at other local venues. “Most art galleries don’t do all these other things — poetry readings, live comedy, live music, experimental film screenings. “Sponto nurtured the...

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Borders Books & Music to close

Borders Books & Music in Santa Monica, a major anchor of the Third Street Promenade for over a decade, is closing its doors Saturday, January 10th. Some have suggested that the closure is due to a struggling economy and the existence of another bookstore — Barnes & Noble — at the other end of the Promenade, but Borders corporate affairs manager Mary Davis says, “It doesn’t have anything to do with the recession. We look at our stores from time to time to see if they’re meeting our sales expectations. “We have eight other stores within 15 miles of this location and two that are just five miles from this location, so when we went through and evaluated this store, we determined that all the other stores are meeting the needs of this location.” Nearby locations include Westchester, Culver City, Westwood and Century City. “We’ve really enjoyed serving customers at this location,” said Davis of the 29,100-square-foot three-story Santa Monica Borders. “We feel certain that [customers] are going to have the same great experience at our other great Borders stores which are all very close by.” When asked why the Santa Monica location was closing down instead of another one of the eight locations within 15 miles, Davis said, “That, I don’t know. “I don’t know the specifics. It’s probably not something we would comment on.” However, she did...

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