Late Night: Elephants on Parade

Tampa! Guess what? The RNC seated the delegates from Puerto Rico, U.S. Samoa and Guam up front to show the diversity of the GOP.  However, residents of those territories can’t vote in the Presidential election. According to the reports on MSNBC, delegations which have minorities will be seated in camera lines. But I’ve been watching Fox News and the convention looks pretty homogeneously white.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Log Cabin Republicans and Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry are running a full page ad in the Tampa Tribune:

The ad, which features photos of LGBT couples and families, quotes Perkins’s platform language, which reads in part, “The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation.”

“We agree,” the ad continues. “That’s why Log Cabin Republicans and Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry believe that government should stop denying marriage licenses to committed gay and lesbian couples.”

The ad closes by emphasizing the “core ideals and principles” of the Republican party, “less government, more individual freedom, personal responsibility and the importance of the family.”

Late Night: Wine and Mega-Church Clash in Temecula’s Vineyards


It’s evangelicals versus wineries in a Southern California battle for land use, as churches seek to alter the environment of Temecula’s  American Viticultural Area. An AVA is  a designated wine grape-growing region, as defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), United States Department of the Treasury. Temecula is located in Riverside County, about 90 minutes  equidistant from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Countries.

Thanks to its location in an inland valley and the decades of  dedication by vintners, the Southern California burg of Temecula has gradually grown in recognition as a California wine producing area, and a tourist destination. The first vineyard was established by the padres of Mission San Juan Capistrano, 18 miles west of Temecula, in 1820, but commercial wine production began in 1968. The AVA was granted in 1984, and now there are 42 wineries on 33,000 acres in the Temecula Valley, which is located just east of Temecula’s city center. Within that area 5,000 acres have been designated as a C/V (Citrus/Vineyard) zone.

Tomorrow, August 22, the Riverside Planning Commission will address this long-fermenting issue.  A zoning ordinance, adopted in 1994, prohibits the building of  houses of worship and other non-commercial, non-agricultural ventures in the AVA and C/V zones. And at least one church wants that changed, Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship in Temecula, which operates without a permit in the AVA; the church was built before current zoning went into effect. Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship is seeking to expand their campus to include more parking lots and a K-8 school with a playground, and has launched an offensive, including urging their flock to write the Riverside Planning Commission and the Country Board of Supervisors, as well as attending the Planning Commission meeting on August 22. Chick-fil-A will be providing Wednesday’s lunch for the Calvary Chapel cavalry.

Along with Chik-fil-A, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a Christian rights legal group is rallying for the cause:

Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a local nonprofit representing Christian interests, is saying it will file a federal lawsuit against the county if that proposed provision is upheld….Advocates for Faith and Freedom is not at all shy about filing lawsuits, but this maybe a little preemptive considering at a previous public hearing the majority of the Riverside County Planning Commission expressed distaste for the provision and asked staff members to come back with provisions that would allow churches in Wine Country…

On Wednesday, commissioners will have three options to choose from on that front: either continue to disallow churches, allow them, or disallow them except for Calvary Chapel, which already has a church (and plans to expand) there.

The reason the county had proposed disallowing churches and other non-wine-related institutes is plain and simply a matter of a demand on land. It’s way more expensive to start a vineyard, produce wine and sell it than it is it to build a nonprofit, bottom line.

The ongoing battle has been raging since at least 2010:

Confident the Temecula Valley wine-grape region’s strict zoning limits would protect that view, [Ray Falkner] built a multimillion dollar banquet hall with floor-to-ceiling windows peering across a gorge to a nearby vineyard. Now he’s worried that vantage could be ruined by a Christian congregation’s request to change the region’s zoning so it can build on part of the vineyard.

Falkner’s property has become the front line of a bitter divide between churches and growers in Temecula’s wine country, where vintners fear a push to allow more houses of worship would hurt views, limit wine sales and cause conflicts between grape growers and congregations.

“We are in an economic development zone specifically targeted with the mission of being able to enhance the development of new wineries and the growth of existing wineries,” Falkner said. “How does a church help that mission?” …

State regulations [bar] the sale of alcohol in the “immediate vicinity” of places of worship. That limit is open to interpretation, but vintners feared an influx of churches could stop them from selling wine and opening tasting rooms, where many small operators do most of their business.

The  Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship is part of the Calvary Church empire, a widespread evangelical congregation that believes in the Trinity, the inerrancy of the Bible, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, placing them between Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism.  Calvary Chapel’s founder, Chuck Smith, predicted the end of the world would come in 1981. Though they claim to be non-denominational and to have no legal or financial ties linking the different Calvary Chapel worship sites, Calvary Chapel has its own Bible college and 50 affiliated campuses throughout the world, and to meet the theological definition of a denomination. Calvary Chapel is currently facing charges that they are permitted special access to Camp Pendleton, the U.S. Marine Base in Southern California, and even more creepily, of child molestation in their ranks:

A Calvary Chapel church pastor and youth soccer coach has been arrested for allegedly picking up an 8-year-old girl for a play date with one of his five daughters but instead driving her to a Huntington Beach park, molesting her and giving her $40 not to say anything.

She did.

Christopher Raymond Olague, 39, of Westminster, was booked into the Huntington Beach city jail on suspicion of committing a lewd act on a child less than 14 years of age and preventing/dissuading a witness.


Christopher Joseph Guardado, a 48-year-old Garden Grove man and volunteer Bible teacher at Calvary Chapel Pacific Coast in Westminster, is sitting in Theo Lacy Jail on suspicion of molesting two girls under the age of 14.

He was arrested on July 12 and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

That’s just in Southern California. Here’s Idaho:

Two North Idaho churches are accused of concealing and protecting a known child predator who sexually assaulted boys in both congregations, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Kootenai County District Court. The two churches are part of an international fellowship of nondenominational churches based in Santa Ana, Cali. [La Figa says: That would be Calvary Chapel. The docs are here]. Calls to both churches were not returned Friday…

Their lawsuit alleges the churches knew or should have known Iglesias was a child predator because years before, a Calvary Chapel in California denied him access to children because he had been convicted as a minor of improper sexual conduct with a younger boy.

In addition, Iglesias had been recalled from a religious mission for North Country Chapel at an orphanage in Thailand.

The plaintiffs allege the churches acted in concert with Iglesias to hide his history of pedophilia.

(Calvary Chapel’s mishandling of sexual abuse by its pastors doesn’t really bear on CCBF’s expansion, but it does give some insight into Calvary Chapel culture and lack of judgement).

There are two basic reasons to restrict houses of worship in the Temecula region: The sensitive micro-climate that makes it possible for Temecula to grow grapes; and the county’s funding through property taxes.

Churches, especially mega-churches, which is  the status CCBF seem to aiming for, and other places of worship need parking lots. Parking lots are asphalt. Asphalt creates heat pockets.

One argument for building more churches is that weddings are held throughout Temecula Wine Country in banquet halls and hotels, so why not have more churches? Um, because some people don’t want to get married in churches.

Houses of worship are non-profit and pay substantially lower rates of property taxes than residential or commercial properties, which means that the county would lose money needed to maintain services and infrastructure.

In March of 2011 CCBF bought land and according to the website Protect Wine Country:

 began illegally (i.e. without a grading permit) removing the decades old vineyard overlooked by Falkner Winery and its Pinnacle Restaurant.

(Side note: If the land was for sale, concerned citizens should have bought it!)

The CCBF also stopped watering the remaining vines in the vineyard, hoping they would be granted permission to expand the church and build a daycare center and kindergarten through 8th grade school. The church’s proposed plans will not comply with 75% acre planted requirements imposed under zoning.

Federal and State law prevent vineyard owners from applying regulated substances necessary to protect vineyards within a quarter mile radius of schools. Calvary Bible fellowship’s large  unpermitted campus, with its vast parking lots, sits across from Temecula’s oldest commercial vineyard, now owned by Maurice Car’rie Winery, and about a tenth of a mile away from the Falkner Winery where wedding are held.  There is a push by environmentalists to expand the anti-chemical radius  to 1/2 mile, which would effectively prevent a number of wineries from  producing. No production and the land is useless–it could take years for land to be qualified as organic or biodynamic, and in the meantime, owners are losing money–unless, of course, housing developments are put in.

The State Alcohol Board of Control requires all licensed sales of alcohol have of setback of 200-600 feet from a place of worship, youth outdoor facility or school, and thus the potential for new wineries could be prevented from opening by the influx of  churches and their related schools, whose locations prevent the growing of grapes.

Meanwhile there are over 60 churches in Temecula proper, as well as Calvary Chapel K-12 located just a 20 minute drive from CCBF which is still accepting enrollment for the 2013 school year; and a Calvary Chapel Christian Academy which provides the ministry a home school for high schoolers. Why does CCBF need to expand its school? Or expand at all unless they have something else afoot….?

And as for the argument that since so many people get married in Temecula Wine Country, why not have more churches?  Because um, many people choose not to be married in churches, and having more  churches won’t convince them otherwise.

CCBF senior pastor Clark Van Wick has thoughtfully provided a list of email addresses of planning commissioners and county supervisors so concerned citizens can express their views on the matter. If you have an opinion on the importance of small businesses, the environment, viticulture, and family farms, and dislike the idea of large asphalt parking lots destroying a county’s tax base, well, now you know who to contact. The meeting begins at 9 am west coast time.

Mary Stark, Planning Commission Secretary
County of Riverside Administrative Center
4080 Lemon Street, 12th Floor
P.O. Box 1409,
Riverside, CA 92502
Phone: 951-955-7436

fax:        951-955-1811
Riverside County Planning Commission:
Write separately: “Attention” each Planning Commissioner

Commissioner John Roth, District 1

Commissioner John Snell, District 2

Commissioner John Petty, District 3

Commissioner Jim Porras, District 4

Commissioner Jan Zuppardo, District 5



County Administrative Center
4080 Lemon Street – 5th Floor
Riverside, California 92501
Bob Buster, Dist. 1, ph: 951-955-1010, fax: 955-1019
John Tavaglione, Dist. 2, ph: 951-955-1020, fax: 955-2362
Jeff Stone, Dist.3, ph: 951-955-1030, fax: 955-2194
John Benoit, Dist. 4, ph: 951-955-1040, fax: 955-2194
Marion Ashley, Dist. 5, ph: 951-955-1050, no fax given.
[Huge hat tip: Nelsy Rodriguez, Press-Enterprise. Her ongoing coverage is awesome!]

Big News: Coppers, Diplomatic Police, and Cabbies at Ecuadorian Embassy, All for Assange



Police surround the Ecuadorian embassy in London, preparing, or at least trying, to arrest Julian Assange on violation of his bail, as he has not checked in with the court in over a month. But of course if he left the embassy to check in, he’d be nabbed and extradited to Sweden to deal with accusations of rape, and possibly then extradited to the U.S. where he’d be up against far more serious charge–like life and death charges–of espionage over WikiLeaks.

Protestors and citizen journalists began reporting at around 11pm UK time, and several news feeds including OccupyNewsNetwork have been broadcasting live. There is police van parked in front of a side door. About a dozen police officers went into the building at 9:15am UK time. Earlier, men in suits who identified themselves as diplomatic police entered.

At few minutes earlier, around 9am UK time, some wags began calling taxis to the embassy using Assange’s name. The first driver was let in, and left disappointed. More cabs arrived, despite the livestream chatters explaining that the cabbies were part of the 99% and shouldn’t be pranked. Eventually a gray cab Mercedes pulled up with this sign in the window.

No one came out to take the ride to Heathrow.

What if Assange gained a bunch of weight, grew a beard and dyed it brown, and left on a fake passport during the Olympics!?

Tiki Oasis 12: Exotic Espionage Weekend Mirrors Current Events


Tiki Oasis 12, a four-day exploration of all things mid-Century and island-themed from art, cars, dance, fashion, movies, music and of course cocktails, arrives in San Diego August 16-19th with 3,000 unconventional conventioneers ready to hula and watusi between Tiki archaeology slide shows, cocktail symposiums, and art exhibitions at the still-fairly-Polynesian-themed Crowne-Plaza.

This year’s theme Exotic Espionage and Polynesian Pulp surfs the connection between Tiki culture (far away, sensual locales and cocktails) and spies, private eyes, and secret agents (namely far away, sensual locales and cocktails), whie celebrating the 50th anniversary of the cinematic James Bond.  The theme also dovetails nicely with Bradley Manning’s trial, real life international man of mystery Julian Assange’s bid for amnesty to avoid both a trial on alleged sex crimes in Sweden and extradition to the U.S. for Wikileaks’ related espionage, and a rise in both domestic and international spying. Was that intentional? Who knows, but lately Tiki Oasis has magically managed to reflect the current zeitgeist; last year’s theme, South of the Border, tied in nicely to immigration issues, and next year America’s hinterlands receives full focus with Hulabilly, Tiki at Its Doggone Best, a perfect compliment to the scrutiny the U.S. will receive no matter who wins the election.



I’m actually going this year, since I don’t want to miss Rob Zabrecky, the Magic Castle’s current Stage Magician of the Year who’s performing Sunday night (though Tiki Oasis  Friday, Saturday and all-weekend passes are sold out, there are tickets still available for Sunday which include Zabrecky’s performance, along with events,lecture and poolside activities). Plus I want to see Saturday’s one-day car show, which in true aloha spirit is free and open to the public, as the are indoor and outdoor Tiki Marketplaces, and the 3rd Annual Tiki Oasis Art Show highlighting the mysterious connection between Tiki and spies and featuring artists like Atomikitty, BigToe, Dawn Frasier, Doug Horne, Eric October, Maya Rogers, Ken Ruzic, and Tweelebop.

The car show has one car I really, really want to look at: the “Get Smart” Tiger Sunbeam. My late father loved “Get Smart;” we used to watch it together, and he did a great Don Adams’ impersonation. No wonder he was into Agent 86 and 99: He worked for almost a decade at Systems Development Corporation when it was a division of RAND, shifting over to NASA where he was a human factor specialist/test astronaut. Before working at SDC he was in the Air Force, stationed in Morocco during the Moroccan struggle for independence; he told me taught the locals how to recognize different airplanes and

trained pilots on how to survive if their planes crashed,

something he continued while in the Air Force Reserves through the early part of the 1960s. In the early 70s Dad worked for a strange little company called Seredipity in Santa Monica which, he explained to me at the time, made

hidden commercials that can go in films.

Uh, subliminals? Huh, what? Golly, Daddy, what actually did you do?

Anyway, Dad’s birthday was  August 14th, so attending a spy-themed weekend and seeing the “Get Smart” car is a good tribute to him. He died from lymphoma in 1995, which why I’m walking in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Light Up the Night Walk in October. My team is from the Center for Inquiry West, a bunch of atheists and skeptics, which would have pleased Dad immensely. Dad was a really loyal Democrat, he supported Hubert Humphrey, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton, and he and my awesome stepmom worked hard in their little San Diego County burg to keep fundamentalists from overtaking the local schoolboard.

I’ll be reporting from Tiki Oasis this weekend, assisting the agents of A.L.O.H.A. in their mission to spread the Tiki message of hospitality and friendship.

Paintings used by permission of the artists.

Tiki Oasis poster, Derek Yaniger
Wendy Cevola
Eric October
Susannah Mosher, aka Atomickitty
Ken Ruzic

Late Night: Romney’s Rafalca Folds, But Could Spawn a Hot ‘n’ Sexy Industry

Mitt Romney’s (wife’s) dancing horsey Rafalca flubbed her Olympic performance, but hay hey the old gal could still be a money maker for Rmoney–and not by being retired to the glue factory or turned into a breed mare. How about a whole line of Rafalca latex wear for seksy time?! Pony play is big in the fetish community, here’s a way for Mitt to create jobs by creating the Rafalca line of latex and leather goods–and improve couples’ (straight, married only ’cause that’s how Mitt rides) love lives!

The window exhibit at our local Silver Lake BDSM boutique Stockroom features what to me is definitely a Rafalca-inspired installation. They also stock a complete line of pony play items, including harnesses, bits, latex hooves, horse hair tails (use your imagination for how those are held in place) as well as machines which simulate bareback riding. ‘Nuff said, and NSFW.

Speaking of horseback riding, maybe Mitt could figure out a way to import these awesome exercise devices to the U.S. of A (or better yet, have them manufactured here!), and then put Ann and Rafalca’s horse team in a very tasteful infomercial for a horseback riding exercise device, explaining how fun and good for the thighs, back and core muscles horseback riding is. Kinda like Cindy Crawford advertising Relentless Beauty or whatever that French face goo from melons is called.


photo 1: Cindy Schwarzstein

photo 2: Lisa Derrick


Occupy Back to Chalk Sidewalks at Los Angeles Art Walk

Occupy has vowed to return to Art Walk tonight, Thursday the 9th, and “Chalkupy” the sidewalks, as well as staging

an open community art and music space in Pershing Square with a community potluck and a “Really Really Free” Market.

Occupiers also plans to have a portion of the evening dedicated to the victims of LAPD violence at last month’s event including those arrested for chalking, those injured by police projectiles and other law enforcement weaponries, small businesses and artists who had to shut down early, and residents and patrons who the LAPD kept from entering or existing buildings until early the next morning.

In advance of tonight’s Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, members of Occupy were arrested earlier today for chalking Pershing Square. The three arrested Chalkupiers were bused in from Occupy Oakland. Two were released, and one remained in jail on an outstanding warrant.

The Los Angeles Police Department–which came down hard on  Occupy last month for chalking the sidewalks, streets and crosswalks–is taking a firm stance on sidewalk chalking, as is the city. Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Horace Frank, of the Central Division, told the Los Angeles Times that his officers plan to enforce the anti-chalking law if they see it being broken:

It’s a violation of the law, it’s vandalism, and we’re going to make an arrest,” he said, adding that he has received frequent emails from downtown property owners complaining about damage from chalk.

“My BlackBerry is burning up with pictures of businesses being vandalized.”

Meanwhile, though the city has declined to press charges on the majority of those arrested for chalking–which seems like a huge waste of everyone’s time and a form of intimidation–no permits will be issued for  chalking:

Richard Schave, a founding member of the Art Walk non-profit, asked the city if it would be possible to create a “safe space” for the group to protest, after LAPD clashed with protesters at last month’s “Chalk Walk.” The city said that it could approve a permit for protesters to congregate at Pershing Square, but not if the event included chalking, which it does not consider lawful.

The President of Public Works, Andrea Alarcon, sent Schave a letter saying that the city considers chalking illegal activity:

“Unfortunately, a request for a permit to assemble in Pershing Square for the purposes of ‘chalking’ does not fit within the parameters of our permitting structure because the use of chalk to deface public or private property is not lawful.”

9:15 p.m: According to Channel 9 News, Chalkupy is going on at Pershing Square and no arrests have been made. While there is a police presence, it’s waaaay smaller than last month’s; and police say they are taking things on a case by case basis, with no arrests so far tonight. Meanwhile, some of the chalkers are heading to Art Walk.

Will update at next news report.


Photo: Twitpic @FreshJuiceParty

HT: LAist

Joan Rivers: Unclear on Constitutional Concepts While Promoting New Book

Joan Rivers, after giving away autographed copies of her new book in front of Costco yesterday, handcuffed herself to a shopping cart inside to protest the mega-mart big box store declining to carry her new book.

Costco won’t carry Joan Rivers’ new book because it has off-color jokes on the back cover. Costco has the right to decide what merchandise they carry.  Joan claimed that selling her new book wherever she wants is

A free speech issue and a First Amendment right.

Uh no. Joan has the right to free speech in public. She has the right to publish a book. And booksellers have the right to decide which books they choose to sell. It’s America!!!! We have rights! Just we don’t always understand them.

Consumers have the right to buy books at other stores aside from Costco. (And they should! Support your  independent booksellers!).  Some gossip report, which I caught on TV while eating an awesome tuna sandwich at the Casting Office while avoiding rush hour on the 101, showed Joan giving away her new book in the Costco’s outdoor nosh pit before marching inside with a bull horn. The “news” left out some of the crazier bits, which thankfully LAist caught:

She declared that the property wasn’t Costco’s, since it belonged to the Indians, and that it was like “Nazi Germany” for not permitting her book to be sold there. Ultimately, Rivers clamped on handcuffs, attaching herself to a shopper’s cart as the police and confused shoppers (with cellphone cameras) looked on.

She added:

Next, they will be burning the Bible.

before marching into the warehouse store without showing her membership card and handcuffing herself to a shopping cart before security called the police who escorted her away without pressing charges.

Joan came off like a crank. And her publishers should have realized that big box stores are fussy about packaging, then adjusted the cover material if necessary. Or simply created a

Banned by Costco!

wrapper for copies shipped to other stores.

If I had a precocious six-year old I might not want them reading smutty jokes at Costco. I’d want my kid to learn dirty jokes in the right environment– at the family dinner table!

Comparing a store to Nazi Germany because they won’t carry an item is just dumb. Health food stores don’t carry certain brands because of the ingredients. That’s their right, and it doesn’t make them Nazis, fascists, totalitarian, etc.

Hopefully for Joan Rivers’ sake, the book is funnier than her stunt.


Screenshot: TMZ

Marvin Hamlisch, Music, and Arts Education


Composer Marvin Hamlisch, whose popular songs for stage and screen were a vibrant part the 1970s, has gone to the great piano bar in the sky.  He scored The Sting,adapting the music of Scott Joplin, and was responsible for the music in groundbreaking A Chorus Line which is so iconic it is part of the dancing waters show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Spy Who Loved Me and Leslie Gore’s Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows were also among his hits, and he recently finished the score for Behind the Candelabra, the HBO Liberace biopic which will star Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover Scott Thorson.

Hamlisch also traveled to promote music in the schools, and criticized cuts in arts education:

I don’t think the American government gets it. I don’t think they understand it’s as important as math and science. It rounds you out as a person. I think it gives you a love of certain things. You don’t have to become the next great composer. It’s just nice to have heard certain things or to have seen certain things. It’s part of being a human being.

Do Hamlisch’s songs bring up any memories for you?





MARS!!! And a Mohawk at JPL


Curiosity has landed on Mars! The car sized rover is there to discover if there was ever life on Mars. And there may  be methane. One astro-scientist speaking on CNN explained that the largest source of methane on Earth is

bovine flatulence.

Martian cows! Three eyed? Green and able to build space ships? Totally cute! Cows will invade earth because they need to be milked!

How long before tinfoilers start claiming the whole thing is faked? And no worries. Curiosity will not kill any cats, but its televised landing may cause a brief pause in the posting cute kitty pics on Facebook.

Meanwhile, this Mohawked JPL dude is  creating a lot of curiosity. And some memes.

Olympics: Romney’s Rafalca Squeaks By

Ann Romney’s pretty pony Rafalca managed to waltz her way into the freestyle dressage competition, earning the 18th and final spot in Thursday, August 9′s freestyle dressage.

While Rafalca’s rider, Jan Ebling, and the fancy horse finished 30th overall in the individual dressage on Friday August 1, and 13th on in the earlier competition the day before,  they will be part of the Grand Prix team competition on Tuesday, August 7.

Pundit William Kristol speculated that Rafalca has delayed Mitt Rmoney’s picking of a vice-presidential running mate; Stephen Colbert dangled the idea that Rmoney might pick Rafalca for the VP spot.

Hey, it worked for Caligula and Incitatus.

Photo: Screenshot from Colbert Report

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