Category: Westsiders 2019

A Voice for Animals — Jane Velez-Mitchell

She has covered some of the biggest headline-making court cases in the country (including the 2005 Michael Jackson trial), anchored her own cable news show and is a New York Times bestselling author, but these days veteran journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell is giving a voice to those she calls the “ultimate voiceless” — animals. “They can’t speak for themselves,” says Velez-Mitchell, 62, over a green juice at one of her favorite local spots, Café Gratitude in Venice. After her eponymous show on cable news network HLN ended in 2014, Velez-Mitchell launched, a social media-driven digital network focusing on animal...

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Keeper of the Pier — Peter Ruiz

When Peter Ruiz looks at the Venice Pier, he doesn’t see worn-out railings, faded paint or empty holes where benches once seated visitors. He sees potential for a renaissance — restoring the pier as it was more than 30 years ago, when locals and tourists alike would gather to watch beautiful sunsets and dolphins play in the ocean. Ruiz, who was raised in Venice and Mar Vista, spent countless hours fishing off the pier as a child in the 1970s. The past few years he’s made it his personal mission to clean up trash, scrub away graffiti and otherwise...

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California Cool — Kim Gordon

Designer Kim Gordon admits carrying some elitist East Coast baggage with her when she moved to Los Angeles almost 30 years ago. “Being from New York, it’s always like New York hates L.A., the whole Woody Allen thing. I kind of had a little bit of that when I first got here,” she recalls. That was especially true when it came to walking through neighborhoods and looking at houses, where one style of home juxtaposes the one next door — a Spanish-style bungalow, say, next to a super modern manse. “At first, I thought it was a disaster,” she...

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The Fixer — Michael Vartanian

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...

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Everybody’s Buddy — Teresa Kim

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...

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