Runaway Production: A State of Emergency

The production and distribution of films and television programs is one of California’s most valuable cultural and economic resources, responsible for nearly 200,000 direct jobs and $17 billion in wages in the state. This doesn’t even include the value of seeing your backyard in a movie: priceless.

As a young boy, I remember going to Ports O’ Call to meet Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), on set while filming Fantasy Island, and seeing Poncharello (Erik Estrada) of CHiPs ride his motorcycle down 19th Street.

More recently, I visited actor Joe Mantegna on the set of Criminal Minds as they filmed a flashback scene in front of the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, and just last week Clint Eastwood stopped by my office for a visit while filming scenes for the movie version of Jersey Boys in the San Pedro Municipal Building. FilmLA, the nonprofit organization that coordinates and processes permits for on-location motion picture, television and commercial production in the Los Angeles region, reports the 15th Council District alone saw a total of over 600 permitted filming days last year.

The City of Los Angeles, including San Pedro and the Port, have often been the star setting of many productions, but in the last decade we have been losing that status and the jobs that come with it. Runaway film production continues to worsen, so much that our new Mayor, Eric Garcetti, has called the situation a “state of emergency” in a recent Variety magazine cover story.

As an example, the movie Battle: Los Angeles was not shot in L.A., but rather Louisiana, a state where film industry employment is up 76% in the last decade. The amount of on-location filming in Los Angeles has plummeted 60% since it peaked 15 years ago. Production of television dramas saw a significant 20% decline in 2012 compared to 2011. This is the largest decline on record and a hard blow to the local economy. Only eight percent of last fall’s new network television dramas were made in LA, compared to 79% seven years ago.

Making one $200 million movie in California has an economic impact greater than six seasons of Lakers home games, so we must do everything in our power to keep these productions here.

While the City Council has already passed a set of initiatives to waive fees for TV drama pilots and Mayor Garcetti has promised to name a “film czar” in his office, we must do more.

“These days studio chiefs insist that filmmakers they work with take advantage of out-of-state incentives to lower production costs, which on a single major motion picture can amount to savings of tens of millions. Those savings are crucial in a franchise-obsessed era when big-budget movies commonly cost north of $200 million to produce,” reports Variety.

According to Entertainment Partners, California lost $3 billion in film crew wages because of runaway production. As reference, a single $70 million movie sustains 928 jobs and generates $10.6 million in state and local tax revenue.

We must rival the out-of-state incentives. The California Film and Television Tax Credit Program has helped support local production since 2009 and has brought new projects to the Los Angeles region, but we must do more.

Evidence continues to mount that California can easily outmatch major competitors like Georgia, Louisiana or Canada for only a fraction of what they offer. Solutions to the problem of runaway production are available, if we want them.

I agree with Mayor Garcetti that the State Film Credit cap must be lifted. This will be the work of our State Legislature. I will urge my colleagues in Sacramento to also see this as a “state of emergency” and help us offer even more incentives for our entertainment industry to remain in Los Angeles.

On a municipal level, we must do what it takes to make it cheaper and easier to film in Los Angeles. I will continue to fight to keep Los Angeles the entertainment production capital of the world, and to preserve the jobs and economic benefits that come along with it. I urge you to support me in this effort.

I launched a redesign of my website www.LA15th.com. This new site will allow residents access to more information and is equipped to accept your suggestions and requests in making our city a better place to live and work. spt

Gone From My Sight

My mother passed away more than two years at the age of 81. It was a challenging time for our family. She had in-home hospice in the house that she had lived for 50 years and where my father still lives. Between my work and children, I would make the hour drive to visit my parents often, to be with my mom and to be supportive to my father.

A visiting hospice nurse left a pamphlet at my parent’s house and I found a poem on one of the pages along with signs that the time was getting close. The poem, entitled “Gone From My Sight,” is about a ship that sails out of sight, that is not gone but at another port. I read that poem many times and felt the words were exactly what I needed at that moment.

After my mom passed, I left the cemetery and went straight to Joshua Tree with my family to spend time away from the schedules of work and life to pause for a few days. When we got back, life was waiting and thoughts of my mom’s passing went from heavy emotion to passing thoughts like clouds going by in the sky.

We took our time going through her belongings and a few months ago, my dad had me look at her purses when I was visiting. We had very different tastes and my brother had no use for her clothing, so most of her belongings were donated. When we were going through her purses we found one hidden in the back of her closet. I had never seen it before and my father did not remember it either. It was not her style at all. It was a tan, leather purse that looked like it had Aztec designs, possibly from Mexico. It was very unusual looking and I decided to keep it. Since it had begun to dry rot I took it to Tucker’s Express Shoe Repair. On the way to the repair shop, I used the purse as I ran errands and was surprised by the compliments I received about it.

When I came back to Tucker’s a week later after dropping it off, he said several people had seen the purse hanging in his shop and wanted to buy it. I took my purse home and put it at the bottom of my closet. It needed polishing but I did not have time. After a few months of traveling with my family and everything else that keeps me so busy I noticed the purse in my closet. No wonder my mom kept that purse in her closet for 50 years, life really does get away from us at times. While my mom is out of my sight, she is not out of my mind or heart. The purse was a gift at just the right time, from my mom in her own special way.

“Gone From My Sight” by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.

spt

Exciting Prep Girls Volleyball Season Ahead

The 2012 season was a year of firsts for Port of Los Angeles High girls’ volleyball. Its first year of being in a league (Ocean), ended up with the Polar Bears earning their first-ever berth in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division IV/V (Small Schools) playoffs. How did POLA take advantage? They made a magnificent run with three straight victories and was one more crucial set away from ending Elizabeth Learning Center’s dominance in the Division IV/V championship match.

However, the experience factor came into play, and POLA was left wondering what might have been as the Bulldogs went on to claim their third straight City title in five sets.

“It was amazing to be able to play as a team the whole year and really get to know each other,” says POLA senior middle blocker Allison Bayer. “On top of that to be able to play in championships together. We lost, but it was a huge way to go out with a bang for our many seniors.”

As the 2013 season begins, head coach Felicia Ivie and the Polar Bears are out for some unfinished business as they look to get back to the City Section Division IV/V championship match.

San Pedro and Mary Star of the Sea High are also looking to deliver in 2013 in a town that is synonymous with volleyball.

Mary Star was a CIF-Southern Section runner-up in 1998, while San Pedro claimed three CIF-Los Angeles City Section crowns in 2001, 2004 and 2005.

POLA (20-10 last season) will return a bevy of experience to the forefront as they will be paced by Bayer and fellow senior captain outside hitter Angela Wade, who, along with Bayer, were two of the biggest reasons why the Polar Bears reached the City Section Division IV/V final last season. Bayer, who is already a three-time City champion in softball, will be gunning for her fourth ring. She also won’t be alone as some of her fellow softball friends join her on the team this season.

Playing volleyball for the first time at POLA will be some softball players with championship experience in senior outside hitter Kelsea Short, junior defensive specialist Tiffany Torres and junior middle hitter Savana Ramirez. Another player eager for a championship after two straight finals appearances in girls’ soccer, junior opposite hitter Isabela Van Antwerp, will also be making her volleyball debut.

Wade, who is also a basketball standout, will be looking for a breakout season. Senior setter and libero, Annie Constantino, will also be key, as will senior defensive specialist Myra Munoz and sophomore Makayla Warth.

Don’t be surprised if POLA, already with a key nonleague win at Banning of Wilmington this season, makes another run at glory… and ultimately seizes it.

“I think we have a good chance of being in the finals again, but a key factor will be if we can work as a team for the whole season,” says Bayer. “There is a huge amount of new players this year, and it is key for us to trust and work as one in order to succeed.”

Over at San Pedro, head coach Kyle Ross enters his fourth season at the helm as he will try to guide the Pirates into battle in the killer Marine League that features both Narbonne of Harbor City, last year’s CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I runner-up, and Carson, a D-I semifinalist. Senior middle blocker Mila Maricic is the unquestioned leader, as she is a returning All-Marine League first team pick.

San Pedro, who went 9-7 overall last season, may be able to surprise their league foes considering they add many new faces from the junior varsity team to the mix. Last year’s JV team went 10-2 in the Marine League. Junior outside hitters Paige Peterson, Julia Sampson and Brittany Foster, along with senior setter Vanessa Ruiz, are the only other returning varsity players from a year ago.

Key newcomers to watch out for include senior Michelle Costanza and juniors Kirsten Bauman and Jazmin Tela.

“I have a good feeling about our team this year with all the talent we have,” says Peterson, who led San Pedro in service aces and was second in kills last season behind Maricic. “We are all athletic and have the potential to get that Marine League title. We also get along very well, which always helps practices go a lot more smoother and games a lot more exciting.”

The biggest new additions to the Pirates just may be senior outside hitter Katie Sullivan, who transferred from Mary Star, and Miranda Mueller, a transfer from Carson. Sullivan was an All-Camino Real League selection for Mary Star a season ago.

And speaking of the Stars, One of Mary Star’s all-time greats, Sarah Gascon, is in her second season as head coach. Despite the defection of Sullivan, the Stars, who were 5-8 last season, will still try to be competitive in the Camino Real League.

Senior opposite hitter Brina Garcia, senior outside hitter Sarah Pearson and junior defensive specialist Hope Marinkovich are the top returning players, but playing volleyball for the first time is junior Lexie Geich, who along with seniors libero Victoria Vitalich and opposite hitter Christina Padilla, helped Mary Star’s softball team reach the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 championship game in June.

“I think we will be competitive,” says Gascon. “Our biggest challenge will be consistency. With our team it takes everyone to win. I love my team and staff and I’m honored to have an opportunity to share my volleyball knowledge with them.”

The Stars, who started off the season already claiming the Chino Tournament, have four freshmen on the team that are all looking to make an instant impact in outside hitter Lexi Andrie, S/OH Kaitlyn Martinez, outside hitter Ally Spillane and S/OH Angela Pisano.

“My freshman are great!” says Gascon. “They have a great competitive spirit, they’re coachable, and they have a winning attitude.”

Seems like the Pirates, Polar Bears and Stars all possess a winning attitude, and that’s what should make for three successful seasons. spt

Our Creative Corridor to a Stronger Economy

Last spring, on a local campaign stop, Mayor Eric Garcetti was asked for ideas on boosting San Pedro’s economy. He cited the usual harbor-related stuff you’d expect, but then he added another point that pleasantly surprised me; make San Pedro one of the creative corridors that exist in Los Angeles.

It shouldn’t have surprised me. According to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Business Policy – “The creative industries are a major player in the regional economy, generating more than 640,000 jobs and over $200 billion in annual sales revenue.” Being creative is big business in L.A. and San Pedro has many of the necessary elements to be poised for making good on the mayor’s idea.

Much of the talent is already here. As a local filmmaker, I’ve personally collaborated on numerous projects with San Pedrans. As a matter of fact, I’m even developing a TV idea with San Pedro Today’s own Joshua Stecker (how many of you knew Joshua freelances for entertainment publications such as The Hollywood Reporter?) Our partner, Matt Misetich, manages Script Pipeline, a company that discovers and connects writers from all over the nation with Hollywood’s top producers and managers.

My greatest local collaboration to date was with San Pedran, Chris Burke, and his partner, Jared Cotton, on Bloody Thursday, a PBS documentary film that chronicles how West Coast longshoremen fought to win the ILWU. The film garnered us an Emmy, which has allowed us to go on and do numerous other projects.

It’s probably apropos that my first meeting with Chris was at San Pedro Brewing Co. because he and Jared just premiered a show called Brew Dogs for the new Esquire Network about a pair of hilarious Scottish brewers that travel America in search of great craft beer. And SPBC is at the center of numerous scenes in my documentary, A City Divided, about the USC vs. UCLA football rivalry, which premieres on Fox Sports in November. (And btw, Misetich has an office above SPBC, which seems to be fast becoming the center of the creative universe).

A great thrill in making Bloody Thursday was having a song in the film performed by Mike Watt. Ask almost any alt-rocker about San Pedro and they’ll tell you that it’s Watt’s hometown. Watt, the bassist in Iggy and the Stooges, was in the Minutemen, a seminal punk band at the forefront of a rock revolution that allowed musicians to control their own career fate with a do it yourself (DIY) ethos, which exists to this day. In fact, San Pedro’s Recess Records, headed by Todd Congelliere, has for over 15 years kept our town on the punk map with its DIY approach to promoting music.

However, punk isn’t the only form of music that’s emerged from San Pedro. For example, 2003 SPHS grads proudly watched the Grammys last February as one of their classmates took home a trophy. San Pedro’s Miguel Pimental won a Grammy for Best R&B Song, “Adorn,” and electrified the audience when he performed the song in a live duet with Wiz Khalifa.

In addition to all of the great talent that’s already here, I’m also heartened by the numerous opportunities that exist for local youth to help build our creative corridor. Marymount is constructing a state of the art production facility on 6th Street that will attract film students from all over the world. The Boys & Girls Club features an amazing studio that allows its members to record music, shoot short films, and create animation and 3D projects. San Pedro City Ballet nurtures the talents of young dancers and includes prima ballerina Misty Copeland as an alumna. And the Warner Grand Theatre is home to youth theatre company Scalawag Productions and Encore Entertainers.

We often discuss linkage between our downtown and the waterfront as a key factor in a sustainable economic future for San Pedro. I would propose that we also begin to include linkage between our local talent, youth and the creative industries of Los Angeles as a key strategy in developing San Pedro into one of the prosperous creative corridors that make L.A. the entertainment capital of the world. spt

SPHS Totally 80’s Class Reunion

I still remember graduating from San Pedro High School back in 1983. It was a clear and warm day as we walked onto the original high school field. Back then the football field ran east to west as opposed to the current north to south setup. We were the Utopian’s as our painted sign proudly hung on the outfield fence. Our cap and gowns were a flashy gray with a burgundy tassel and the excitement of this milestone was in the air, not only on the field with the candidates, but in the bleachers filled with family and friends. As Student Body President, I had the honor of welcoming everyone to the ceremony, made a brief speech on the importance of this day, and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony. Thirty years ago seems like yesterday as time has truly flown by.

Having been involved in planning the SPHS Class of ‘83 20th and 25th year class reunions the time seemed right to combine class reunions for our 30th. I thought whom better to approach with this idea than my friend and SPHS teacher Kathy Carcamo (class of ’85)? Always the optimist, Kathy and I have stayed friends since high school and when approached with the idea she not only liked it, but thought the whole decade should be invited, and coined the phrase “Totally 80’s Reunion.” Although the phrase sounded like a valley girl expression from the 80s, it worked. I then proposed we engage the San Pedro Pirate Boosters to help with membership and scholarship fundraising efforts, so we did.

The San Pedro Pirate Boosters were incorporated as a nonprofit in 1958, but actually started supporting student athletes under the leadership of Matty Domancich and Bill Seixas in 1954 and is one of the oldest booster clubs in all of L.A. Unified School District. Next year, the boosters are preparing to celebrate their 60th anniversary. Currently lead by Pirate Boosters President, Leonard Miller, the club has seen memberships go from a 71-member organization two years ago to 376 today. This success is attributed to the commitment and hard work of the Pirate booster new leadership team like Guy Spinosa, Noe Lopez and Joe Domicoli, longtime members Jerry Lovarov, Larry Robertson, Leon Carr and Rick Trujillo. Other key contributors to this success are John Fiorenza, Kathy Carcamo, and Stacey Soto. This is the core of the “Pirate-for-Life” theme that continues to transform the traditional Pirate Booster club into a forward-looking group with a vision to bring home Pirate Alumni and build a Pirate network that is unparalleled by any other in the Harbor Area.

An example of this transformation is the boosters’ goal to break 500 members this year and surpass 1,000 by 2015. Most importantly is the focus and emphasis on building the Pirate Booster Scholarships annual fund. In the past, 2012 seniors received scholarships from a $1,000 budget, whereas 2013 seniors received scholarships from a $4,000 budget. The 2013 scholarships were presented at a dinner for the first time in front of family and friends at the San Pedro Fish Market. The goal now is to double the fund each year through membership and fundraising so more and more scholarships can be presented to students at the annual San Pedro Pirate Booster Scholarship dinner event. The proceeds from the Totally 80’s Reunion will not only support the scholarship fund but also provide reunion attendees an introductory membership to the San Pedro Pirate Boosters.

The Totally 80’s Reunion is scheduled for October 12 and will start at 6:30 p.m. at the San Pedro Elks Lodge. Music will be provided by DJ Scott Martin, an 80s favorite and Pirate alumni. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased online at www.sanpedropirateboosters.com. Please purchase tickets ahead of time and spread the word. Our goal is to sellout the event before the Oct. 12. If the event has not sold out, tickets will be available at the door. I look forward to seeing all of you at this great event for a great cause to provide scholarship funding for our future Pirate Alumni. spt

Biggest Change In Fast Food Isn’t What’s Served, It’s Who’s Serving

I was amused reading about fast food workers wanting to go on strike for higher wages. Not amused by the plight of a group of people who work hard for very little, but because it took me back to my days in the fast food industry, when it was still in its infancy.

Back then, if I had gone to my boss and asked to have my wages doubled, he would have said something like, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” Not to get too political, but the fast food industry has always relied on an unskilled workforce willing to work part time for minimum wage. The difference is that when I was young, the workers were mostly teen-age kids in high school who weren’t depending on those jobs to make a living.

Like so many others, my start in the “business” world was as a News-Pilot paperboy. My first “real” job came at the McDonald’s in Lomita on Western and Pacific Coast Highway, which is still there, albeit in a newer, bigger version (they introduced the newfangled Big Mac while I was there, and with every order we had to say, “Would you like a hot apple turnover with that?”). It was my senior year in high school, October 1968, when I started at the then-minimum wage of $1.25 an hour (and the Big Mac was 49 cents). I worked 26.5 hours those first two weeks, after school and weekends, and brought home $27.29. I’d never had so much money. I was rich!

I didn’t have a car, however, so I jumped at the opportunity when San Pedro got a brand-new Jack in the Box on Western Ave., the one that’s still there, in January 1969. It also meant a huge raise to $1.40 an hour. I now had a car and had graduated so I could work longer hours. The cash was pouring in.

My fast food experience ended just a few months later, when I began my journalism career as a sports stringer for the News-Pilot (30 cents a column inch could add up real fast), but I’ll never forget flipping burgers during the lunch or dinner rush and cleaning the grill and mopping floors at cleanup.

My colleagues at that time were fellow teens. At McDonald’s, I worked alongside my friend John Hiigel, who was San Pedro High’s student body president. He went on to become a pastor and then a professor at a Midwest college.

I was the “old man” at Jack’s. Most of my co-workers were juniors or sophomores. One was friend Ted Petrich, now a retired teacher living in Hemet. Another was Chris Traughber, a champion swimmer at SPHS and today Dr. Chris Traughber of the Palos Verdes Family and Immediate Medical Care Center. In a recent conversation with Chris, we agreed that we learned a great deal about life during our fast food days, but what we learned most was that it wasn’t what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Even at $8 an hour.

Of course, as I write this, the Big Mac is $3.89, and California is planning to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Maybe I should rethink this and start practicing: “Would you like to make that a combo?”

Let’s Go Surfing

There are a couple of entertaining videos on YouTube that should interest San Pedrans. Linda (Barnes) Krammes (San Pedro High Winter `62) alerted me to the first (http://youtu.be/paLt3HLS3YQ) called San Pedro Memories.

Posted by Van Barbre (Winter `64), Memories is a series of snapshots, many of which appear to have come right from his family album, mingled with postcards of San Pedro and Long Beach in the `50s and `60s. I particularly liked the shots of the Pike, the Fishermen’s Fiesta in the heyday of the fishing industry, hundreds of white-uniformed cannery workers, the old Gaffey Street Pool, Marineland and San Pedro High in the early `60s.

For an entirely different look at San Pedro High, check out “Pirate Pride” (http://youtu.be/P21OZ7X55CQ). Judy Kiesel sent me the link to this video, which has been out since last fall. The brainchild of Joanne Cherry Booth, the dance teacher at San Pedro High, it’s a “Gangnam Style” parody that takes you on a tour of both campuses, and by the time it’s over has shown hundreds of choreographed students and a good part of the faculty and staff. All in good fun, it’s well-done, and if you don’t know what “Gangnam Style” is, well, you’ll just have to look to find out.

Kudos to Booth, a Venice, Calif., native who’s been at Pedro for 30 years, and camerman Victor Prudeux, an SPHS grad. Prudeux was on the stage crew as a student and, according to Booth, comes back and assists with performing arts events and technical needs.

I can’t help but wonder, however, what the Pirates’ API score would have been had they shown the same enthusiasm in the classroom. Just sayin’. spt

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Raymond Green, Attorney at Law

As an estate planning attorney, I’m often asked about what my thoughts are about “do-it-yourself” (DIY) wills and trusts. My answer is always the same, “Assuming your estate planning needs are exactly the same as the person the do-it-yourself will or trust was originally copied from, that DIY will or trust might work for you.” The problem is that in 25 years of creating estate plans for hundreds of individuals, couples and families, I’ve never had two estates that were the same.

You hope a DIY will or trust will result in a legal estate plan, however, best case scenario is that it might only achieve 75% of what an estate planning legal professional drafted will or trust aims to achieve. Why worry?

There is no need to worry if you have your estate plan in order and done correctly. I find that most people do a will or trust because they care deeply about what’s going to happen to their husbands/wives, children, grandchildren, etc. when they pass away.

Everyone dies (usually unexpectedly and too soon) and more than 70% of us have not prepared for their families to deal with this event. A will? A trust? Estate planning? What is the difference? What do I need? This process is very confusing. There are so many questions about this process. A do-it-yourself will or trust might be more affordable today, but those few dollars saved could cost your loved ones dearly later on.

An attorney is trained to learn and understand your unique situation, provide you with the legal strategies and tools to carry out your wishes and ultimately to make the difficult transitions easier for your loved ones when you are very ill or after your passing. An attorney will guide you through the critical decisions about whether a will or a trust is right for you, which powers of attorney for assets and health are appropriate, and finally, advise you how to legally create and fund your estate plan (bank accounts, businesses, personal assets, legal documents, taxes, stocks, bonds, etc).

Even if you do decide to prepare your own estate planning documents, it is a good idea to have a compassionate professional review them to make sure that they are legally sufficient and relevant to your current situation (often at little or no cost). Most importantly, you will be at peace knowing that you have planned ahead for your family’s future, so that their worries during their time of bereavement will be minimal. spt

Raymond A Green is a fifth generation, Southern California local. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkley and the McGeorge School of Law. He has been practicing estate planning in the South Bay for 25 years and has recently opened an office in San Pedro. Ray happily provides free estate planning consultation.

Food Is Evil (And Other Lies)

What I’m about to tell you isn’t particularly groundbreaking information, but the thing is, most people don’t know it. It’s astounding how we can know so little about something so essential. We do it everyday and how we do it will affect our health, fitness, body, mood, energy levels, and overall well being whether we want it to or not. That thing, of course, is eating.

Too many people are nutritionally illiterate. They can’t read a food label. They don’t really understand what protein, carbs or fat are. They just know that according to whatever website, friends, or alarming new “research” they come across, one of them will kill you if you don’t cut it out right away!

These days, the demon food of the week is gluten. So now you browse the aisles and you’ll see “Gluten-Free” so people buy these products and think it’s healthy when it’s really just marketing.

Eating is one of the subjects you shouldn’t choose to be ignorant on, but it’s hard to know whom to believe, right? What you need to know are a few principles that serve as a filter to discern whether the info you hear is valuable. You know, a B.S. detector. Here are some simple but universal truths that can help you decide on your own:

Food is energy, plain and simple. When you eat, you are fueling your body with macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). Your body is one shrewd machine so whatever it doesn’t have immediate use for, it will store. This storage is fat.

How much you need to eat (and your capacity to store fat) varies from person to person depending on activity level and metabolism. To use a car analogy, some people burn fuel like a Mack truck (high metabolism) and some people like hybrid vehicles. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. The key is pay attention to how your body responds when eating certain foods.

You must decide what outcome you are eating for before you decide which foods are “bad” for you. Eating for health, body transformation or performance are not the same thing. Certain foods accomplish different outcomes. Some help you burn fat, some gain weight, some prevent cancer, support longevity, some make you stronger, some give fast energy, some slow energy, etc.

Knowing this one fact will clear up 90% of the information that you are flooded with.

Anytime someone spouts nutrition advice like, “Carbs are bad,” ask yourself, “Bad for what outcome? Is it harmful to the results I want?”

Broccoli is a carbohydrate. Is that bad? So is fruit. The statement is too general to be meaningful and yet it’s used all the time.

For an obese, sedentary individual with a desk job, excessive carbohydrates would be bad. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and starches should be avoided. However, a high school linebacker hoping to play in college needs to eat carbs (and lots of them). He needs to fuel his performance and growing body. In his context, carbs are good and absolutely necessary.

But eating foods that cause weight gain, or help you get stronger when you’re trying to lose weight (and vice versa) is a recipe for frustration. You’re following the wrong recipe.

Food is Neutral. Despite what the media says, food isn’t evil. Any food can be good in the right context and right amount. You get that? It’s all about when you have it and how much.

(By the way, when I say food, I’m talking the broad categories of protein, carbs and fat. Not food preparation or sources like organic, GMO, grass-fed, artificial, etc.)

So here’s the takeaway: avoid absolutes. We are all special little snowflakes and we tend to react differently to food. The best things you can do are test it for yourself and see how you feel and what your blood work says.

Eating is too important to rely solely on Dr. Oz. If you care about health and fitness, inform yourself. spt

Come See & Touch the Future at PortTechEXPO

A solar concentrator dish that can burn through a one-inch thick solid steel block (at 2,650º F), create steam to run a turbine, or recycle wastewater for reuse; hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles; an electric semi truck; a remotely operated zero emission vehicle, on which can be mounted cameras and sensors for diverse purposes, such as railroad track safety or marine infrastructure inspections; a computer system that uses game theory to prevent security breaches… these and scores of other exciting clean energy, environmental, transportation and security technologies will be on display during the fourth annual PortTechEXPO. This year, for the first time, the public is invited for a free, action-packed afternoon seeing and touching these technologies of the future.

Produced by PortTechLA, the expo will take place on Wednesday, September 11, at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles (110 E. 22nd Street; 22nd Street at Harbor Blvd.).

PortTechLA is a local public/private nonprofit with a global reach. It is dedicated to creating sustainable technology companies for ports and beyond by bringing together entrepreneurs, corporate partners and investors to accelerate innovation, advance clean technologies and help create economic opportunities. PortTech promotes and helps to develop technologies that enable enterprises to meet their environmental, energy, security, transportation and logistics goals. Attracting and growing these technology companies creates new jobs, protects current jobs by ensuring that our port remains competitive, and reduces negative environmental impacts on local communities.

PortTechEXPO kicks off with a morning session featuring Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero, a panel discussion focused on Clean Energy, and a luncheon with Keynote Speaker, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Tickets and table sponsorships for the morning session and luncheon are still available at www.PortTechLA.org. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. exhibits open for the free public event: “CleanTech – Cool Tech.”

Much of the CleanTech – Cool Tech event is focused on education. The Port of Los Angeles TransPORTer, a mobile exhibit that features displays on the history, jobs, cargo, equipment, environmental programs and future of the port, will open for visitors. Southern California’s top research universities will be represented with displays and interactive exhibits on their latest research and development projects. And local high schools have been invited to bring displays on their STEM projects. Anyone considering a career in research, technology or the maritime industries, will surely find something of interest at the expo.

Clean Tech – Cool Tech will also feature a host of alternative fuel and electric vehicles for use on both land and water. If you are considering purchasing a hybrid or plug-in electric automobile, several vehicles will be available to look over, and experts certified to maintain them will be available to answer questions. Small, medium and full-size electric trucks will also be on display. And speaking of vehicles, unmanned, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are becoming more versatile for both land and sea applications, and both will be exhibited at the expo.

Electric lighting and ways of saving energy have been hot topics for years. We’ve progressed from incandescent, to fluorescent, to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights in an effort to reduce energy and cost. Come see a demonstration of the next generation in lighting: Light Emitting Plasma (LEP).

Councilman Joe Buscaino will be the featured speaker during the Clean Tech – Cool Tech event. In addition, representatives from AltaSea, the marine research center planned for City Dock #1, will share their vision and plans for the iconic, world-class facility. Food trucks and entertainment round out the event. So, step into the future on September 11 at the fourth annual PortTechEXPO. For further info, see www.PortTechLA.org.spt

Herb Zimmer owns PriorityOne Printing in downtown San Pedro and serves as Board Chairman of PortTechLA.

Where Did the Summer Go?

In many ways I’m a bit old fashion and somewhat of a traditionalist. For example, I don’t believe in wearing a hat at the dinner table, I think holding a door open for a lady is still pure class, and teaching your kids to mow the lawn, pull the weeds, put out the trash and put away the dishes is important. I also believe that having them get a job to pay for gas and car insurance builds responsibility and character. Lastly, I believe school in the second week of August is too early, especially when most other schools start two weeks later.

There is still something pure about summer unofficially beginning on Memorial Day weekend and ending after Labor Day weekend, thus starting the school year. For all of the reasons for starting at the beginning of August, it still seems odd and doesn’t feel right and most families haven’t adjusted and in some cases continue to rebel by taking their family vacation during the first week of the new school calendar. After all, isn’t that what August is for, vacations? The only saving grace this year is that June gloom seems to have turned into July gloom, but I am sure by the time this column comes out we will be in the last days of beautiful, sunny, 90-degree August days enjoying the beach with the kids.

Oh yeah, they’ll be in school.

Although cut short, this summer has been a blast. My family spent a couple days with friends up in Paso Robles having a great time on Lake Nacimiento, then a week in Palm Desert with 100 or so fellow San Pedro locals for Pedro Springs week, most of whom live in our neighborhood, and a week in Florida visiting Universal Studios Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center, and Cape Canaveral then experiencing the launch of a communication satellite all while enjoying Cocoa Beach. It was a summer to remember.

What is most memorable about most summers though is watching the kids in our neighborhood growing up together. When we moved into our house back in December of 1996, the only kids in the neighborhood were Nick and Courtney Synstelien and our three-month-old, Antonio. Today, Nick just graduated from UCLA, Courtney attends San Jose State, and Antonio is a junior at SPHS and just received his driver’s license. Wow, how time flies.

Since then, we have seen the neighborhood grow in the number of kids, 20 to be exact. The nine girls and 11 boys; my other two sons Vincent and Luca, as well as Shereese, Sydney, Noah, Logan, Heather, David C., Tiana, Falo, Vincent A., Hailey, Madison, Avery, Joey, Kaitlyn, Nathan, Liz, Eric, and David O. are all growing up together in various stages. I think of them as the neighborhoods Little Rascals as each of them have some characteristics similar to Alfalfa, Darla, Spanky, Buckwheat, Porky, and Froggy. Watching them grow over the past 17 years has been great and it’s not over yet. Recently, the neighborhood graduated from elementary school and having two of my own in high school and one in middle school promises to bring even more experiences to the neighborhood, let alone our house.

The summers are filled with late nights with the kids either playing sports, capture the flag, skating boarding, video games, wiffle ball, swimming or just hanging out in front of the house. As I sit hear writing this column the street is full of the kids skating up and down the street, yelling “car!” anytime they see a car heading up or down the street so nobody gets hit. Even on family nights out for dinner, Noah Botica and Dave Carlton are on their skateboards in our driveway when we pull up as the boys constantly text each other on when they are almost home so they can hang out together. Soon, the question will come up from one of my boys, “Can so and so sleep over?”

As I finish up this column the next morning, sure enough, David Olivieri is crashed out on one of our couches and my son Antonio on the other. After all, isn’t this what summer is all about? spt