Free workshop at the Susi Q Community Center will offer advice about retirement planning

Laguna Beach resident and estate planning attorney, Michael Simon, is offering a free workshop about retirement account planning on Friday, Oct 13.

The workshop will include discussions about how to calculate the IRS’s Required Minimum Distribution, choosing beneficiaries for retirement accounts, how to avoid common mistakes with retirement accounts, and information about Roth IRAs. The information presented will benefit those who are just beginning to save for retirement as well as those who have already retired.

The free workshop will run from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Susi Q Community and Senior Center, 380 Third Street. 

The workshop is part of a free educational series of workshops called “It’s Your Estate!” and is sponsored by a number of charities, including the Laguna Beach Community Foundation.   

Nothing is sold at the workshops and all are welcome. 

Michael Simon has practiced exclusively in the area of estate planning for more than 15 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of estate planning, probate and trust administration. Simon is a frequent lecturer in the area of estate planning and has made numerous presentations to fellow attorneys, professional advisors, and industry trade groups as well as presentations to the general public and community groups.

The “It’s Your Estate!” series is offered throughout Orange County. Learn more at

Some locals take a knee in solidarity last Sunday

“I grew up in Palo Alto,” said long time Laguna resident Denny Freidenrich, who sent this photo to Stu News. 

“Several of my high school classmates, who now live in Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico, Washington and several other states, took a knee on Sunday with their friends, proving if you drop a stone in water, there will be ripple effects.” 

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Pictured L to R at City Hall are Rose, Steve, Denny, Scott, Kay and Jake who support the NFL players’ call to end injustice in America.

Come to the Table, the Food Pantry urged, and they did, raising money so that no one need go hungry


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Come to the Table, the Food Pantry urged, to support our cause, and so they did, some of the best-known figures in the Laguna Beach community and some of the least-known, from Mayor Toni Iseman to speaker Jay, whose family was able to rise up from poverty with the practical and emotional help provided at the Pantry, and who is now herself a volunteer.

Understanding their good fortune and wanting to share it with the less fortunate, guests came to donate; they came to support the cause; they came to honor those who work so hard to ensure that no one goes hungry in Laguna – and, well, they came to eat, especially when word got around that Justin Myers, former executive director of the Food Pantry, would be catering the event. 

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Former exec director Justin Myers catered: his amazing paella was a star attraction, and his striped pants were much remarked upon

And they came when they heard that Justin (who by the way is also involved with the Playhouse, Friends of the Library, and Sister Cities) would be serving his legendary paella.

And that he would be wearing startlingly striped pants. (No, that wasn’t really a draw, just an added attraction.)

Roger and Sharon McErlane kindly opened their serene garden to supporters. Guests gathered beneath a pepper tree (a very healthy-looking specimen, no concrete needed here) and exclaimed at the beauty of the plants and flowers. Smells of garlic and spices wafted on the fall breeze. 

Friends Mary Ann Henderson, Hillary Caston, Katy Moss and Marcie Jenner sat together at a table, sharing their thoughts about the importance of the Food Pantry, which serves more than 100 people on an average day, feeding approximately 350 family members. 

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Hosts Roger and Sharon McErlane with daughter Anne

“This is such a great cause, and it is so good to see such a great turnout, especially when so many nonprofits vie for support here,” they agreed. “This is a very Laguna crowd, people know each other well, there’s no pretentiousness.”

“The Food Pantry shows respect to the people who come to get basic needs,” Hillary Caston added. “The volunteers make them feel special. Almost all [of the clients] shop with care, they don’t take more than they need.”

Katy Moss pointed out that many people with jobs simply don’t earn enough to feed their families, given low wages and the cost of living. “It’s all about dignity,” she said. “The Food Pantry is able to provide them with the basics during difficult times so that they can focus on work and family issues.” 

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L-R: Marcie Jenner, Mary Ann Henderson, Pastor Rod Echols, Hillary Caston, and Katy Moss enjoy chatting in the McErlane’s beautiful garden

Marcie Jenner says she is proud that people in Laguna genuinely care about their community. “Food insecurity should not be an issue in the US. We’re so fortunate, so many of us. More than 800 million people live every day with hunger or food insecurity as their constant companion. There should be some kind of mandate to ensure no one goes hungry.”

Nicholas Yrizarry’s acoustic flamenco music provided the musical soundtrack to a convivial afternoon during which guests celebrated their good fortune and discussed the best way to share that good fortune.

Two friendly dogs wove their way among the guests, stopping occasionally to gaze longingly at sausages being sliced by Justin Myers’ practiced hand.

Susan Brown, who volunteers at the Food Pantry on Thursday and Friday mornings, said, “It’s a good feeling to touch the food that will touch families’ lives in a positive way. People are so grateful and appreciative.”

Laguna Food Pantry is not a soup kitchen. It offers packaged staples that families can use to cook nutritious meals. Local grocery stores donate food as do residents and businesses. Cash donations enable additional supplies.


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Gregg Abel and John Kirtz. Dr. Korey Jorgenson

Dr. Korey Jorgenson, board chairperson, Roger McErlane, host, and new executive director Anne Belyea thanked guests and volunteers for their support, and former client and now volunteer Jay told her story.

Also present at the event were John Kirtz, board member; Laguna legend Arnold Hano; NCC pastor Rod Echols; Chris Quilter, among other things, an omnipresent supporter of great Laguna causes; Gregg Abel, Board member; Denny Freidenrich, prolific Letter-to-the-Editor writer; and Suzi Chauvel, Laguna Arts Commissioner, to mention just a few of the guests and volunteers whose support makes all the difference to the hungry in our midst.

A personal thank you for great conversation and the warmth of the welcome from all I spoke with at the event, several of whose names I have forgotten, though not the pleasure of their company.

(And thank you for the watermelon salad in particular…my taste buds are still doing a happy dance.) 

Laguna Food Pantry is located at 20652 Laguna Cyn Rd. Visit for more information.

The Dirty Book Club – a novel – launches with dirty martinis at the Dirty Bird on Oct 10

On Tues, Oct 10 at 5:30 p.m., Laguna Beach Books will host the launch of Lisi Harrison’s new novel, The Dirty Book Club. The event will be held at The Sandpiper Bar (aka The Dirty Bird), which is across the street from the bookstore on Coast Highway. 

A purchase of a ticket for the party entitles the guest to a copy of Lisi’s book, which is published by New York’s Simon & Schuster. There will be additional books for purchase at the Sandpiper as well. Tickets can be purchased online at

Lisi Harrison is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series. 

Lynette’s brief review…

Despite its provocative title, Lisi’s book is utterly charming, practically devoid of swearwords, and almost innocent in its down-to-earth dirtiness, if that makes sense (you’d have to read the book to know what I mean.) 

What shines from its page is the importance of female friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of sharing secrets revealed by the reading of a dirty book (and the enjoyment of sometimes acting on them).

The book will appeal to the chick-lit reader, yes, but women of every age, I can attest, are likely to feel empathy for the characters as they battle problems with the men in their lives and try to figure out what “being in love” demands of them – or doesn’t.

Author Lisi Harrison has a firm hold on plot and character development. Her writing style is easy and breezy but not lazy. She loves her metaphors – and many are terrific, for example: ”…cars sharked the narrow streets looking for parking…” Can’t you just see it?

Harrison also is a master (mistress?) of unexpected phrasing, reminding me of one of my favorite authors, Rachel Cusk: “She … needed somewhere to dry her tears, and the couch wasn’t Scotchguarded yet.” “She turned so quickly she generated a breeze that, any stronger, would have blown the family photos straight off the wall.” 

That’s the kind of delicate hyperbole that brings a smile to my face.

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Lisi Harrison

So many books arrive with loud praise and high expectations. This book is well-reviewed, yes, but it crept into my ken without much fanfare, and delivered far more than I had expected. I love books that don’t pretend to be more than they are, and this one doesn’t. It’s just an easy-to-read, sweet book about friends who inherit a Dirty Book Club from a group of older women and learn a lot about life (and sex) in the process; it’s a book that provides pleasant escapist reading; it’s a book I can easily recommend for those times when the world is too much with us.

I’m looking forward to meeting Lisi on Oct 10.

Author Lisi Harrison: her mini-bio

Lisi Harrison worked at MTV Networks in New York City for twelve years. She left her position as senior director of development in 2003 to write The Clique series. That series has sold more than eight million copies and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two hundred weeks, with ten titles hitting #1 and foreign rights sold in thirty-three countries. The Alphas was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and Monster High was an instant bestseller. Her latest YA series is Pretenders

Lisi lives in Laguna Beach, and has been a proud member of her own dirty book club since 2007.

Sunday with Scott part two…


Scott Brashier, one of our terrific photographers, spent last Sunday capturing images of planes, trains, and automobiles – oops, not trains, but there are some boats in one pic – and his photographs are so terrific that we though we’d share lots of them with you in a combined gallery. 

Here’s to Scott’s simply sensational Sunday…first at the Rotary Club’s Invitational Classic Car Show in Laguna Beach (see First Front Page), and then at the Air Show in Huntington Beach (see below).

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A sensational series of shots from the Huntington Beach Air Show

Second Annual Event recognizing Bullying Awareness Month scheduled at Main Beach on Sat, Oct 7

On Sat, Oct 7, the Ability Awareness Project will hold its Second Annual Bullying Awareness event on the cobblestones at Main Beach from 8 a.m. in the morning until sunset. 

October is Bullying Awareness Month, necessary given that bullying-related suicides remain the third leading cause of death among children and teens. 

Ability Awareness states, “It has been an incredibly confusing year for our children as racist, xenophobic and misogynistic messages along with loathing and hatred have become acceptable in our culture. There is no better time than this unique opportunity to gather in unity, be the example and honor the lives of so many children who have lost their lives due to bullying.”

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October is Bullying Awareness Month

As per the Southern Poverty Law Center, 917 hate groups are currently operating in the US, and OC Human Relations has reported 77 hate incidents and 28 hate crimes in the past year in OC alone.

“More than ever, our youth need our clear and simple guidance wrapped in kindness, respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, non-judgment, empathy and friendship to be able to move beyond this fog and build a bully free, safe and happy environment for themselves, their homes, schools, and their communities,” states Ability Awareness Project.

Residents interested in volunteering on the day of the event, to set up vigils, pass out information, or take donations, (or if high school students would like to talk to younger children about bullying), should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Volunteers are asked to bring their community hour cards to receive credit.

Donations are 100 percent tax deductible through C3: Center for Conscious Creativity. To donate, reply to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie  Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

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