Second day of lifeguard tryouts: Physical trials, paddleboards and porpoises

Photos by Tom Berndt

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Tom Berndt says: I was taking my morning walk at Heisler, when I spotted the tryouts on a cold and bleary day. What I enjoyed most were the four porpoise following the swimmers. I expect they were laughing at the slow-moving fish making so much splash and splatter...I got one photo with two of them about 20 yards from the paddleboard

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Kai Bond, Marine Safety Captain, reports: We had 53 people try out and 41 completed the physical testing portion. We are excited for a very competitive Ocean Lifeguard Academy.

Third Street Writers’ Open Mic Night: Brave writers offer words that matter 

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

When one goes to a Third Street Writers’ Open Mic Night, it’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. That’s what makes it exciting.

Last Thursday evening’s readings just happened to be a box full of my favorites.

The writers who showed up to face the mic on this night were brave and gutsy. Readers take the stage as their names are pulled from a basket, and they have three to four minutes to read their work, which can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or any other spoken word performance piece.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

BC Space provides the perfect stage for readings

Amy Dechary, President of Third Street Writers, says, “Part of the fun of our Open Mic events is the unpredictability – you don’t know who will attend or what they will read. Again and again, I’m blown away by the quality of writing and the readers’ enthusiasm. At Thursday’s reading, several newcomers shared deeply personal stories. It was an entertaining, emotional night.”

The intimate setting of BC Gallery is a perfect venue for this type of event. Some of the works are so emotional and raw, for the writers, I imagine that it’s like baring your soul with no buffers, because there’s very little distance between the audience and the reader. 

 The subjects of these talented writers’ work couldn’t have been more diverse; picture a night filled with guns, crazy roommates, a friend on dialysis, fathers, a young girl surviving a lifetime of bullying, racism, aging, the 1993 fires, and a woman in search of Georgia O’Keefe, to name just a few. 

Readings covered a lot of ground, from the emotional to the bizarre

To kick off the evening, Pat Lockwood related a dream about picking up his six-year-old grandson at school at a time in the future when kids are armed and bulletproofed. 

Later Harmony Tarrant read a piece titled “I’m Still Here,” that started out with “The moment I was born, the universe wanted me to die,” and recounted the deeply affecting story of her life.

Rina Palumbo, VP of Third Street Writers, read from her novel-in-progressGhost Particles, a study of memory and loss told as a braided narrative between a young man putting his ailing mother in a home and a particle physicist facing her own personal crisis. 

From his novel, Season of Flames, William Anderson read an excerpt about residents gathered at Main Beach during the 1993 fires. 

Cecile Sarruf talked about her friend who was on dialysis and their connection.

Nancy Young chronicled her search for Georgia O’Keefe’s grave.

Amy Dechary, President of Third Street Writers

Amy Dechary finished off the Mic Night with a piece about the roommate from hell.

Although not all readers are mentioned here, each captivated the audience. It was an evening well spent, with words that mattered to the writer and the listener as well.

Third Street Writers is a group devoted to fostering the development of new and veteran writers by providing opportunities to study, produce, and showcase literature.

As well as individual projects, Third Street Writers sponsors writing workshops, public reading events and community outreach.

The debut of their new anthology, Lost and Found, will be held at LB Books on May 6.

For more information on the organization and future events, go to 

BC Gallery is located at 235 Forest Ave.

Photographer Jeff Rovner featured at LOCA Art Club

event at downtown LCAD Gallery on Thurs, March 15

  LOCA Arts Education invites art lovers to its Art Club events, offered monthly in Laguna Beach. The next event, The Fine Art Photography Experience, from the Inside Out with Jeffrey Rovner, will be held on Thurs, March 15, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at LCAD Gallery downtown.

   Jeff Rovner is a Festival of Arts fine art photographer. In addition, he is also a magician, lawyer, and software designer. He will discuss the influence those pursuits have had on his photography, and the path that led him to exhibit his stunning cirque portraits at the 2017 Festival of Arts.

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Cirque photo by Jeff Rovner

LOCA members are admitted free to all regular art club events. Guests and visitor admission is $20 per event. Although drop-ins are welcome, advance registration is requested. 

The LCAD Gallery is located at 374 Ocean Ave. Phone number is 949-376-6000.

For more information, visit the calendar page at

New Fire Chief appointed from Long Beach to Laguna Beach


Veteran Long Beach Fire Department command staff member Michael Garcia will take over as Laguna’s 19th Fire Chief on April 30. 

City Manager John Pietig announced the appointment on Friday, the second hire from Long Beach where Police Chief Laura Farinella once worked. Garcia was selected from 37 applicants for the job.His official swearing date has yet to be determined.

“I really look forward to being in Laguna Beach,” said Garcia in a telephone conversation.

“We don’t have the open wild lands in Long Beach that Laguna has; but I do have (wild fire) experience under mutual aid, though I have never herded goats.

“Basically fire service issues are fire service issues wherever you are and I have gained a lot of years of experience that I know will help me in coming to Laguna Beach,” he said.

Garcia has more than 32 years of experience in fire service, 28 of them with Long Beach. Twenty of those 28 years were in supervisorial and managerial positions. He served on the command staff for eight years, as Asst Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief and Acting Fire Chief. 

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Submitted photo

Michael Garcia will become Laguna Beach’s new Fire Chief

“I am very pleased that we can bring a Fire Chief to Laguna with such extensive experience,” said Pietig. “I look forward to Chief Garcia’s leadership in developing plans to enhance the department and prepare for the future.”

Garcia’s background includes expertise in areas of fire operations administration, prevention, emergency preparedness, staff training and community relations, according to a City press release announcing his appointment. Garcia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in vocational education from Cal State Long Beach.

He has yet to meet the firefighters that will be under his command in Laguna Beach.

“I look forward to working with them as we plan for the future while continuing to provide excellent and responsive service to the city,” he stated in the release. 

Garcia said he will be working with Pietig and will meet with fire department members to look at issues for a plan aligned to funding. 

“I am looking forward to meeting the new chief and to understanding what he recommends to improve fire safety,” said Matt Lawson, chair of the city’s Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Lawson is particularly concerned about the aging fire stations and how they will withstand a high magnitude earthquake or other disaster. 

Garcia, who is married with three children, makes his home in La Mirada. He will not be moving to Laguna in the immediate future.

His son is a senior in high school and until he is settled in college moving the family is not an option, Garcia said. After that, the family might consider a move.  

Garcia will be paid $192,000 a year, which does not include benefits. His Long Beach salary in 2016 was listed as $265,380, including benefits. 

He is 53, justtwo years shy of being able to retire at age 55 with an annual pension of three percent of his base pay per year of service. Laguna Beach will be responsible for pension benefits from the date of employment. Long Beach will be responsible for the years he spent in that department.

Garcia said he is in no hurry to retire.  

“I am looking at eight years and possibly longer,” said Garcia. “I am excited about this opportunity.” 

Garcia will be the fifth Laguna Beach Fire Chief, excluding interim chiefs, in the past 15 years. Ken MacLeod served as Chief from 2002 to 2005, succeeded by Mike Macey, who retired in 2010. Kris Head had the job until 2012, when Jeff LaTendresse was appointed. He served until 2017.

Merkel the Doxie dog is ready for a new adventure 

Merkel is a seven-year-old neutered male Doxie seeking a new adventure with a new owner and home. Any home will fit his needs, for he is easily adaptable. He is full of love and is the perfect size to hold in your hand. 

Nancy Goodwin, Shelter Director, hopes to see Merkel adopted soon. 

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Merkel is open to any home willing to adopt him 

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation as possible. Due to their approach to adoption, their return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, (949) 497-3552. For information on adoption procedures, visit

Kanye West’s music interpreted through Spanish wine

Presented by I Like This Grape, SOMMX is a special, limited-admission event that celebrates wine as a primal partner in the pleasures of today’s multifaceted life.

Too often these days, wine can be unrelatable. It can seem like an elite pastime: a quasi-holy libation swirled and sipped by experts and deep-pocketed aficionados in reverent, church-like settings that admit only a privileged few. That’s about to change.

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Kanye West

On April 12, in Laguna Beach, 100 guests will take a guided journey through wine, art, music and fine cuisine. In a seductive Laguna Beach setting that combines elements of an elegant restaurant, an art gallery and a suave European residential retreat, a five-course tasting menu prepared by Top Chef alum Brian Huskey will be paired with five Spanish wines curated by Amelia Singer, celebrity sommelier and host of The Wine Show on Britain’s ITV and streaming on Hulu. It’s a unique wine experience event that mixes Food x Wine x Art x Music at an event space in Laguna Beach, LIVEBOX on PCH.

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Kathy Lajvardi and Naushad Huda

Five of Kanye West’s songs will be interpreted through five original paintings, created and themed exclusively for the occasion by visionary Laguna Beach artist Kathy Lajvardi, each being unveiled over the course of the evening. Amelia Singer – a lively, witty and knowledgeable bon vivant – narrates and hosts the event.

“We want people to see wine as part of diverse world culture, and by “culture” I mean Kanye as well as Kabalevsky, Tarantino as well as Tolstoy, the cave paintings of Lascaux as well as the provocative installations of Christo,” said Naushad Huda, founder ofI Like This Grape and co-creator of SOMMX.

Special thanks to these generous sponsors: OC Register, Coast Magazine, and Sterling BMW. Learn more about SOMMX and purchase tickets at

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