What a lively inauguration new Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl of the 11th Council District had at Venice Beach Saturday morning, July 2nd.
You knew it was going to be a different type of ceremony when the warmup act — a rousing gay band called the Great American Yankee Freedom Band — started playing rousing music from The Rocky Horror Show.
The band had the folks on their feet, moving them “just a little to the left” and then “just a little to the right.” All the participants were singing along with the well-known words from “The Time Warp.”
We can report that although the audience was quite animated, there was no throwing of toast during the performance.
The band had hardly finished its last note before the second warmup group — the Venice Kosin Taiko — started up.
Over the years, we have enjoyed the Venice Kosin Taiko during its many performances at various events at the Venice Japanese Community Center on Braddock Drive in the Del Rey area, so we knew what to expect when we saw the group’s name on the program.
But for most in the crowd of some 500, hearing the Japanese taiko synchronized drum beating was a new, and amazing, experience.
DIVERSITY THEME — A theme for the Rosendahl event was diversity, as it should have been.
Even Rabbi Leonard Beerman noted in his invocation that the 11th District that Rosendahl has taken over is “very riotous and crazy.”
Would we want it any other way?
Mar Vista resident Rosendahl honored his neighborhood. Tom Ponton, president of the Mar Vista Community Council — the community’s Neighborhood Council — served as an emcee and did a fine job of keeping the lengthy program moving along.
Children of the Mar Vista Family Center Honor Guard, AmVets Post 2, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
MANY OFFICIALS THERE — Former city controller Rick Tuttle — who had been mentioned early on as a City Council candidate himself — had a formidable job keeping track of and introducing all the bigwig officials who turned out.
Quite a few City of Los Angeles councilmembers were there, as were both the city police chief and the city fire chief.
Santa Monica mayor, mayor pro tem and a few more of its City Council members were there.
We even ran into former Santa Monica councilman Mike Feinstein, who admitted he is taking it easy for a while after his recent defeat for reelection.
Culver City had several of its city officials there, as were County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Congresswoman Diane Watson, who used to represent our local area in the State Legislature.
Yes, State Senator and State Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen was there, wisely wearing a stylish wide-brimmed white summer hat.
When the ceremonies began, there was a heavy cloud cover but it didn’t take long for the clouds to burn off and the sun to come out, really warming up the crowd.
INAUGURATION POEM — Fortunately, the long introduction of officials was followed by a real crowd-pleaser — and something truly different — the reading of an inauguration poem for Bill Rosendahl by Philomene Long.
The little downtown daily described Long not too accurately as a “Venice beatnik poet” and described her dramatic presentation as offered in a “crusty voice.”
Well, it certainly did wake up the folks who had fallen asleep during that long introduction of officials.
Noting the Venice Centennial now being celebrated, Long remembered that on this very day 100 years ago, July 2nd, 1905, “Venetians gathered to turn on 17,000 light bulbs illuminating Venice of America.”
She carried the illumination theme through her poem, reminding Rosendahl that those who are here today need to “welcome all as neighbor, loving freely” and at the same time preserve and protect “our radiant city with magic and practicality.”
Long concluded by urging, for those who follow into the next century,
“That the light of Venice not be extinguished
“Nor diminished, nor simply be maintained
“But that light burn, burn, burn into a boundless Luminosity.”
MAYOR: CROWD PLEASER — Then it was newly installed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Vill-araigosa’s turn.
The mayor noted that Rosendahl already has a record of dealing with politics and politicians.
Villaraigosa said that when the new 11th District councilman had his cable TV program, he “was there every week challenging politicians.”
“We need these individuals who are willing to put themselves out there,” the mayor said. “This part of the city is a very important part of the city and we want to protect this lifestyle here.”
“We need a transportation system and we need an airport but we believe it shouldn’t all be at one airport,” Villaraigosa said, raising cheers from those who have been fighting to stop an airport expansion program promoted by former mayor James Hahn and former councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.
Villaraigosa had been introduced to the Rosendahl inauguration crowd by Val Velasco, who has been strongly leading efforts in the Westchester-Playa del Rey area to oppose the Hahn-Miscikowski airport plan.
“We want to build airport capacity throughout the region,” the mayor continued, “and we know that the areas where the growth is are on the Eastside near Ontario and near Palmdale.
Regarding local transportation improvements, Villaraigosa said:
“We have to start talking about building the Red Line all the way to the beach. We know you can’t have that in four years but we have to start now.”
The mayor noted that he has known Rosendahl for many years and called Rosendahl “unabash-edly progressive” — adding quickly, “and that is a good thing.”
“I am looking forward to a great partnership with a great leader and a good friend,” the mayor said of Rosendahl.
ROSENDAHL THEME —”People” and “partnership” were also the themes that Rosendahl used during his inaugural address.
“We’re all joined at the hip,” the councilman emphasized.
Noting the presence of city officials from Santa Monica and Culver City, Rosendahl told the Santa Monica mayor and councilmembers present, “We embrace you in our district.”
To Culver City officials, Rosendahl said, “You are in the middle of our Venice with your Costco.”
Following an earlier reading of his “Constituent Bill of Rights” that promised that every constituent would receive council services, including having phone calls returned, Rosendahl emphasized:
“We need to be open wherever the truth may be. We are all in this together.”
Rosendahl admitted that when he received the campaign support of a majority of Los Angeles City Council members, it “let me think I could make a difference.”
Rosendahl shared with the crowd that he had called his election opponent, Flora Gil Krisi-loff, earlier in the day.
Rosendahl finished up his inaugural comments as though he were still on the campaign trail.
This is about “people first,” he emphasized. “When you look at the affordable housing we have, I don’t want you bulldozing it down and putting up high-end condos.
“If you can get the transportation infrastructure in place, we will build housing where there is no housing for people who need housing.
“We will make the city safer.”
On the issue of education, Rosendahl admitted it was the biggest issue he heard about when he was “banging on doors” as a candidate.
“People with children are asking, ‘What about the schools?’ he noted.
“At LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), I never want to hear the word ‘expansion.’ I want to hear ‘modernization’ and ‘regional’,” he said.
He continued to claim that Playa Vista Phase II “is not a done deal. They still need a lot of things” that require city approval.
The new councilman said his new staff will reflect the diversity of the district and will range in age between 25 and 77 years old.
MANY ON THE PROGRAM — Rosendahl was sworn in by Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader. During the event, the councilman received a photo of a mural of a Venice scene from Emily Winters of the Venice Arts Council, who recalled how the mural had been painted on the wall of a building at Dell Avenue and Venice Boulevard.
Venice artists came forward to save the wall mural when it was painted over. After several attempts to paint over the mural — each responded to by artists repainting the mural — efforts to paint over the mural ended and the mural was saved.
Also participating in the event were members of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, who offered a blessing of the land, following by a blessing in dance.
Post-inaugural entertainment was provided by Conjunto Los Pochos and Oxalis, an Irish group.
The Venice Drum Circle offered a closing tribute.
SANTA MONICA FIREWORKS — The City of Santa Monica and Santa Monica College put on another successful “Celebrate America” event at the college Saturday evening, July 2nd.
Again, there was a big fireworks show, preceded by two musical warmup groups, lots of family picnicking on the football stadium turf and bleachers full of happy folks.
It at first seemed to us that the somewhat gloomy overcast and surprisingly chilly early evening kept an early crowd away.
But by 8 p.m., the folks were streaming into the stadium and by 8:30 p.m. the latecomers were struggling to find seats.
Someone started putting down mats on the stadium track so folks could have a seat.
By 8:45 p.m., there appeared to be one of the largest crowds ever for the event.
As we have said before, the idea for a July 4th fireworks at Santa Monica College on a Saturday night before the Fourth evolved out of some unsuccessful efforts to have a fireworks show on the Santa Monica beach.
Attendance at the Santa Monica beach fireworks show on the Fourth became so great that it was unmanageable and there were so many fights and other disturbances that families wouldn’t bring their children to the big show anymore.
So Santa Monica officials decided to change the “fireworks at dusk” show to a “fireworks at early dawn” show, firing off the fireworks on July 4th just before the sun came up.
That didn’t last too long.
Now the city and the college have the ideal situation. The crowds can be monitored as they enter the football stadium — picnics are fine, but no glass bottles.
Saturday night, the Main Street Americana Band was the first opening act and they were a delight, playing patriotic tunes.
Then came JD Hall and the JD Hall Band — definitely designed for a different audience.
Although we could relate to a few of the Motown numbers from our youth, an hour of the howling got a bit much for us and we yearned for a return of the more sedate Main Street American group.
Low clouds greeted the fireworks show at 9 p.m.
We found mixed reviews on the cloud cover.
While some we talked to bemoaned the clouds and thought that bright night would have been better for the bursts of fireworks, others found the “fireworks through the haze” a new and somewhat novel experience.
“I really enjoyed it,” one fellow told us as we walked together toward the exit.
He admitted he hadn’t seen fireworks shot off in such a hazy, foggy situation and it was a rather intriguing experience.
Well, yes, but we’re hoping for clearer skies next year.
WESTCHESTER PARADE — The annual July 4th “Westchester on Parade” keeps getting bigger and better.
The parade is presented by the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce and a long list of local commercial sponsors.
The parade staff is really getting the knack of getting parade entries in line and down the street in a professional manner.
The parade moved smartly along — something that is required when you have more than 50 units.
Early in the parade were the fun folks — who really know how to make noise — from the LA#1 H.O.G. That’s Harley Owner’s Group.
Fortunately, not too far behind was the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West Traffic Motors entry and the LAPD Pacific Area Community Police Advisory Board — no doubt there to keep the H.O.G. riders under control.
The announced elephant did not make his (or her) appearance. There had been lots of expectation when employees at the LAX Travelodge won a lottery at the chamber installation dinner last month for the elephant ride.
The Travelodge “family” had purchased 40 tickets with the idea that a boy with severe health issues — a whole series of tumors — could ride in the parade atop the elephant.
But apparently, the boy’s doctor nixed that idea.
Then we heard that the young boy’s father and brother would ride on the elephant and the young boy would be pulled along.
Alas, that didn’t happen either.
Democrats in the chamber — yes, there reportedly are a few — had earlier decided that if someone was going to ride an elephant in the parade, there should also be an opportunity to ride a donkey.
As we said, the elephant didn’t show up, but a tiny donkey did — a donkey hardly large enough to carry anyone, much less a Democrat, should one be found in Westchester.
So, the donkey was simply led down Loyola Boulevard by a young man, behind a sign suggesting that the donkey had been “paid for” by a Republican.
Obviously, the Republican didn’t want to invest too much in a donkey and couldn’t come up with one large enough to ride.
Fortunately, there were 50 other wonderful units in the parade.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and Indian Guides from the Westchester Family YMCA filled the street.
The delightful Westchester Lariats, a group of local youngsters, danced down the boulevard.
Lots of young sports players marched in the parade, including the Westchester/Playa del Rey Girls Little League Softball team; the Del Rey American Little League All Stars; and participants in the All Olympians Gymnastic Center.
The Loyola Marymount University basketball team — and its new coach — threw up balls at a hoop on the back of a truck. We can report that some of the Lions basketball players actually did make a basket or two in the process. Maybe the Lions will have a good season this fall after all.
The religious community was represented by entries from the Westchester Clergy Association and Visitation School.
And both the Westchester Elks and Southern California Masonic Lodge #529 had entries.
The majestic Great Pyrenees dogs were back again, entered by the Great Pyrenees Alliance of the West.
There was a variety of vehicles in the parade, including a Dodger car entered by Mrs. Kent Mace and a dragster from M&M Printing/Pacesetter Graphic.
Music was provided by:
– the lively Dixiekatz, aboard a 1932 fire “bandwagon”;
– the White Spots Barbershop Quartet, who were so well miked we could actually hear them sing;
– the Beach Cities Swing Band, which really did;
– our favorite, the Locke High School Band;
– a dandy Fife & Drum Corps, which reminded us that this was Independence Day we were celebrating;
– a group called Music West; and
– one of the best-received musical groups, the Mariachis for the 4th, aboard another fire truck.
Behind the mariachis came some beautifully performing horses carrying charros.
After the mariachis came a cleanup crew to pick up the horse droppings.
And, behind them, finally, a huge truck decked out with lots of American flags from Tony P’s Grill in the Marina and driven by Tony Palermo himself.
“I think I’ll just wait here until these guys have done their job,” Tony told us, eyeing the horses and the cleanup crew just ahead of him.
“Westchester on Parade” had many of the regular entries back that so delight the crowds every year.
The Kentwood Players were in all sorts of costumes. They dubbed themselves, “The Rag Tag Thespians.”
The Westchester Neighborhood School — which always has a wonderful entry put together in large part by its students — was entering its last Westchester parade as The Westchester Neighborhood School.
This fall, the school moves out of Westchester to the Del Rey area near Playa Vista and renames itself The Westside Neighborhood School.
There were entries from local groups trying to improve the environment, such as the Cowan Avenue Nature Center, the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association and an environmentally sensitive travel group calling itself California Native.
No community parade can be a parade without the mandatory public — and honorary — officials.
The family of the late Mary Lou Crockett served as honorary grand marshal.
New Councilman Bill Rosen-dahl was there, waving a cowboy hat in a manner that will no doubt improve during his four-year term.
State Senator Debra Bowen was riding in an open car but, alas, had left her lovely white Samoyed, Misha — a veteran of many Westchester parades — at home.
Cedric Sutherland rode in the parade and as such was performing his first official duty as chamber president.
Honorary mayor Barbara Yamamoto had her whole family with her and looked very majestic high atop a Rolls convertible.
Behind her, chamber executive director Tony Ciancimino and wife Judith had to struggle to avoid tipping over their tiny little 1959 Nash Rambler.
The parade had lots of patriotism, including an appearance from Westchester resident, Uncle Sam.
It was a long parade and we are grateful to Southwest Airlines for throwing a bag of peanuts our way to help sustain us through the event.
PINK CLOUDS — Wish we could report the annual July 4th fireworks in the Marina were spectacular this year.
But the overcast skies and low-hanging fog was just as prevalent along the coast Monday evening as it was Saturday evening when Santa Monica held its fireworks show.
The difference was that the Santa Monica College audience sat right under the fireworks and had a closer look, while those in the Marina, who were some distance from the fireworks, ended up seeing what one county official described as “pink clouds.”
Especially discouraging, considering all the effort that went into preparing for the fireworks show, including lots of meetings with local traffic officials.