November 12, 2015
Volume 46, Issue 15
Laker Gary Vitti
True to farm to table
Off to the pumpkin race
South Bay Gift Guide
Considering A Major Remodeling Project?
November 12, 2015
Volume 46, Issue 15
ON THE COVER
Laker trainer Gary Vitti.
Photo by Pete Henze
18 Veni, Vitti, Vici by Paul Teetor
For 32 years sports trainer Gary Vitti decided who could play and
who couldn’t. Now the Manhattan Beach resident has decided it’s
time for him to play.
30 Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak by Kevin Cody
Israeli commando, prime minister and classical pianist Ehud Barak
shares his fears, hopes and a few jokes about the new world order.
36 True Food by Richard Foss
True Food Kitchen attempts to scale up the farm to table trend
40 Rethinking High School by David Mendez
Redondo High student Chris Paludi finds inspiration and
challenges in author David Foster Wallace’s ideas on community
and self awareness.
10 Beach calendar
14 Spyder Surf Scare n Tear
26 South Bay Gift Guide
42 Pumpkin Race
44 Skecher Friendship Walk
46 Best of Manhattan Beach
48 Jimmy Miller Surf Fiesta
51 Service Directory
PUBLISHER Kevin Cody, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Richard Budman, EDITORS Mark McDermott, Randy Angel, David
Mendez, Caroline Anderson and Ryan McDonald, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Bondo Wyszpolski, DINING EDITOR
Richard Foss, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Ray Vidal, Brad Jacobson and Gloria Plascencia, CALENDAR Judy Rae,
DISPLAY SALES Adrienne Slaughter, Tamar Gillotti, Amy Berg, and Shelley Crawford,
CLASSIFIEDS Teri Marin, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA Jared Thompson, GRAPHIC DESIGNER Tim Teebken,
DESIGN CONSULTANT Bob Staake, BobStaake.com, FRONT DESK Judy Rae, INTERN Sean Carroll
EASY READER (ISSN 0194-6412) is published weekly by EASY READER, 2200 Pacific Cst. Hwy., #101, P.O. Box 427,
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254-0427. Yearly domestic mail subscription $50.00; foreign, $75.00 payable in advance.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to EASY READER, P.O. Box 427, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. The entire contents
of the EASY READER newspaper is Copyright 2015 by EASY READER, Inc. www.easyreadernews.com. The Easy
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Hermosa Beach. Easy Reader / Redondo Beach Hometown News is also distributed to homes and on newsstands in
Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Torrance, and Palos Verdes.
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6 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
S O U T H B A Y
Woman’s Club of
Hermosa Beach presents a
Talbot’s Holiday Fashion
Show. Door prizes and merchandise
discounts. All proceeds
benefit the charities
of the Woman’s Club of
Hermosa Beach. Contact
Margie Dupuis to RSVP or
for tickets call (310) 900-
com. Continental breakfast
will be served. 9:30 a.m. -
noon Talbot’s, Manhattan
Village Mall, 3200 N.
Sepulveda Blvd, MB .
Dewey Weber by
The lifesize Surf Legends
Memorial Statue, sculpted
by Phil Roberts after a
Leroy Grannis photograph
of Dewey Weber will be
unveiled in front of the
Hermosa Beach Community
Center at 11 a.m.
Though the statue depicts
the legendary Weber, the
statue’s committee and primary
funder Joe Melchione
want the statue to honor all
surfers. 710 Pier Avenue at
Pacific Coast Highway.
“Elf” by Margaret
Destination: Art celebrates
its first anniversary
with a holiday party and
sale of original artwork. 5 to
8 p.m. 1815 W. 213th St,
Art.net (310) 742-3192.
Restore the floor
The Woman’s Club
Redondo Beach hosts a
“Restore the Floor” tasting
with wine, craft beers, artisan
chocolates, cheese and
fruits. (The clubhouse, with
its beautiful hardwood
floor, was built in 1922 and
is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.)
Entertainment by Diana
Drake, silent auction, and
gift vendors. 2 to 7 p.m. 400
S. Broadway, Redondo
Beach. Tickets at wcrbinfo.com/ticket-sales.html.
Vistamar School hosts an
open house to showcase the
value of learning within a
diverse community so students
thrive in a globalized
society. Registration: 8:30
a.m. Program: 9 a.m. to
noon. 737 Hawaii Street, El
A Night at the
The Hermosa Beach
Historical Society will
invoke the spirit of the old
Biltmore Hotel with a 1920s
themed gala at the Hermosa
Historical Museum. 1920s
dress encouraged. Proceeds
will help fund children’s
tours of the museum,
expand exhibits and preserve
historic objects and
newspapers. 7 to 11 p.m.
$50. 710 Pier Avenue,
Hermosa Beach. Tickets at
ciety.org or call (310) 318-
"Social Security Works" is
the topic of Sylvia Moore, a
Common Cause organizer.
Ernie Powell, a former
AARP Senior Manager of
Advocacy and current political
consultant, will speak
on Strategies to Protect and
Expand Social Security. 2:30
- 4:30 p.m. Palos Verdes
Peninsula Center Library
Community Room, 701
Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills
Estates. Free. For information
contact David Hall at
Shine the light
The Torrance Memorial
Hospice 20th Annual “Light
Up a Life” tree lighting ceremony
Hospice and Palliative Care
Month and celebrates the
lives loved ones no longer
with us. The evening features
a reading of names
and a performance by the
San Pedro Ballet.
Individuals can sponsor a
light on the hospice tree
with a donation of any
amount. Torrance Memorial
Medical Center’s Hoffman
Health Conference Center,
3330 Lomita Blvd, Torrance.
For more information and
to RSVP, call Torrance
Memorial Home Health &
Hospice at (310) 517-4694.
A Violet Society
Jacquie Eisenhut of South
Coast African Violet Society
(SCAVS) will present
"African Violets 101." 2 to 4
p.m. Plants available for
purchase. Admission is free
with paid entrance to South
Coast Botanic Garden. For
more information, contact
Jacquie Eisenhut at
j a c e i s 9 0 5 @ g m a i l . c o m .
South Coast Botanic
Garden, 26300 Crenshaw
Blvd., Palos Verdes
Small Biz Expo
2nd Annual United Small
Community Expo will feature
over 50 local businesses
and political leaders
David Hadley, Torrance
Mayor Patrick J. Furey.
Free. Noon to 7 p.m.
Torrance Cultural Arts
For Class & Event Schedule
Elf with Pearl Earring after Vermeer by Margaret Lindsey
HO HO HO HOLIDAY
& Our First Anniversary
(YOU ARE INVITED)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 5-8pm
Wine & Holiday Goodies
Handmade Gift Ornaments
All Original Artwork
The Perfect Gift
for the Holidays
1815 W. 213th St., #135
Torrance CA 90501
THE LUXURY OF BEAUTY IN
YOUR OWN HOME
WE COME TO YOU!
MAKE UP ~ $50.00
BLOW OUTS ~ $60.00
A DOLL UP ~ $90.00
*INQUIRE ABOUT SPECIAL EVENTS
BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY
10 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
S O U T H B A Y
Center Toyota Meeting Hall, 3330
Civic Center Drive. For additional
information, go to usba.club or contact
Aurelio Mattucci at
email@example.com or (310) 742-5754.
Vball Hall of Fame
The 5th annual Beach Volleyball
Hall of Fame induction ceremony
will honor Ricci Luyties, Lisa Arce
Zimmerman (pictured above),
Nancy Cohen Fredgant and Jon
Hastings. Andy Fishburn, Hall of
Fame class of 2003 will also be recognized
along the California Beach
Volleyball Association’s top ranked
players and the CBVA Cal Cup
Youth State Champions. Fans and
players from all generations are
invited. Food and beverages available
for purchase. 7 p.m. at
Hermosa Beach Community
Center, 710 Pier Avenue, Hermosa
Beach. For information email
A friend for sale
Hermosa Beach Friends of the
Library Book Sale. 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
1309 Bard Street, Hermosa Beach.
(310) 376-7493 hbfol.org.
South Bay Camera Club meetings
are free to anyone is interested in
photography. 7 p.m. Torrance
Airport Administration Building
meeting room, 3301 Airport Drive,
Torrance. For more information,
contact Harry Korn, (805) 340-
3197, or visit sbccphoto.org. B
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 11
Halloween is an understandably favorite
holiday for a sport whose athletes are
known for refusing to grow up. The annual
Halloween Spyder Surf Scare and Tear contest
at the Manhattan Beach pier judges
entries as much for their costumes as for
their surfing. – Eddie Solt
Photos by Steve Gaffney
1. Cash Cherry throws the iron cross as the devil.
2. The Wizard of Oz crew Allison Atkinson as the
scarecrow, Tamara Lentz as Dorothy, Sarah Foley
as the Wicked Witch of the West, Melissa Alves
as the Cowardly Lion, and Daine Silva as a peacock.
3. Green Goblin Jani Lange gobbles up a tasty
4. Flying Nun Lance Nelson wins the Male
Zombies (High School) division.
5. The Cowardly Lion Melissa Alves gets up the
courage to taunt Scarecrow Allison Atkinson.
6. Gru pushes his minion into an uncertain breaker.
7. The contest attracted a graveyard of scary
8. Pink Lady Megan Seth wins the middle school
14 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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YOUR LOCAL REAL ESTATE CONNECTION
Gary Vitti at the Laker training center in El Segundo. Photo by Pete Henze
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti recalls the highpoints and the heartbreaks of caring
for the physical and psychological health of eight NBA championship teams
by Paul Teetor
Gary Vitti took one glance at Tarik
Black’s lipstick-red short-shorts and
rendered an instant fashion judgment.
“That’s not a good look for you,” the 5-foot-
9 Lakers trainer said to the 6-foot-9 power
forward whose ice-covered knees and even –
gasp! – his thighs were clearly visible as he
strolled through the training room at the
team’s El Segundo training facility.
It took a moment for Black to get the thrust
of Vitti’s towel-snapping humor, but when
Vitti smirked at him it finally registered: in
the modern era of baggy-is-better, there was
something kind of, well ….effeminate…
about Black’s old-school basketball shorts.
“Hey, man, I’m secure in my manhood,”
Black replied, trying to contain his laughter.
Black, an important part of the Lakers
uncertain future after a promising rookie season,
continued through the training room as
Vitti delivered his final verdict: “I still say
that’s not a good look for you.”
Vitti turned his attention to an important
part of the Lakers championship past: 88-
year-old Bill Bertka, who had a cut on his
arm and needed it bandaged. “This happens
all the time. At my age the skin gets easily
cut,” the former assistant coach and current
special consultant explained. “Gary always
fixes me up.”
After Vitti finished his repair job, Bertka
asked to speak with him privately about a
personal matter. The two men went off by
themselves to the nearby practice court
where only a few players like Xavier Henry
and Roy Hibbert were still working on their
games. The headliners, like prize rookie
D’Angelo Russell and second-year flashes
Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, had
already headed over to the Clippers practice
facility in Playa Vista for full court runs with
their Staples Center co-tenants.
When Vitti returned to the training room
after 10 minutes huddling with Bertka, he
started work on an important part of the
Lakers present: the 7-foot-2 center Hibbert. A
former two-time All-Star who regressed last
season, Hibbert was traded here by the
Indiana Pacers for practically nothing – a
2019 second round draft pick – after team
president Larry Bird said Hibbert would no
longer be a starter despite his $15.5 million
18 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Vitti helping Derek Fisher off the court. Fisher, now the New York Knicks head coach, won five
titles and ensured his place in Lakers history with his walk-off game winning shot with .04 seconds
left against the Spurs in the 2004 playoffs. Courtesy Gary Vitti collection
salary. Hibbert, who needed some calluses
shaved off his feet, stretched out his long,
lean frame on a training table. Then he laid
down a towel where the shaved skin would
soon be dropping.
“There were some guys on my old team
who would cut their nails and just leave
them on the floor for someone else to pick
up,” he confided. “I was taught at
Georgetown to always lay down a towel.”
Vitti, 61, has a map-of-Italy face that used
to be framed by a shaggy head of curly hair
and a bushy, totally ‘80s-mustache. Now he
rocks a shaved head and gray goatee that
makes him look like a mashup of Bruce
Willis and Billy Joel, with a New-York-meets-
SoCal accent and a tender/tough guy personality
Vitti has been a part of eight NBA championship
teams and 12 NBA finalists, more
than any trainer in NBA history. As he used
a callus cutter, a scalpel and then a rasp on
Hibbert’s size-17 left foot, his right hand
sported one of his eight championship rings:
1987, when the Lakers beat their arch rivals
the Boston Celtics. “That’s the year my
daughter Rachel was born,” he said. “I wear
it in her honor.”
Hibbert responded: “I got her beat – I was
born in 1986.”
Hibbert’s off-hand comment on this
September morning underscored Vitti’s
incredible longevity and his new reality: after
31 years tending to the physical pains and
psychic problems of everyone from Magic
Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, the longtime
Manhattan Beach resident is starting his
32nd and last season as the Laker’s full-time
Moments later Hibbert thanked him for
the repair job and ambled off to the showers.
“Some players need to be pushed, and
some players need a lot of stroking,” Vitti
confided. “Roy needs a lot of stroking. He can
do great things if we can build his confidence
One more job for his to-do list.
Whatever needs to be done
There will never be a statue of Vitti outside
Staples Center to go alongside the statues of
Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal
and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Even former
Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, who
invented much of the vocabulary that defines
modern basketball – “Slam Dunk!” “Air Ball”
“No harm, no foul” – has a statue.
But in his own behind-the-scenes way Vitti
was just as much a part of the overwhelming
success of the ‘80s Showtime dynasty, the
Shaq-Kobe three-peat teams of 2000-2002,
and the Kobe-Pau-Lamar championship
teams of 2009-2010. Anyone who thinks all a
trainer does is tape ankles before the game,
rush out to the court when a player goes
down and pick up the used towels after the
game doesn’t understand that Vitti is always
on call even when he’s home, works seven
days a week during the season and five days
a week during the off-season.
A pro basketball team is like a big, boisterous
family and the eight month season is like
an endless cross-country journey in the family
SUV. In such a claustrophobic environment
personal chemistry – or personal conflict
– can help a team excel or break a team
apart. Think of the coaches as the stern,
demanding parents and the trainer as the
good-guy uncle along for the ride. His unofficial
job description includes court jester,
fashion judge, psychiatrist, confidant, father
confessor, peacemaker, diplomat, dietician,
strength trainer, traveling secretary, plumber,
electrician and even car mechanic.
“Basically, my job is whatever needs to be
done at a given moment,” Vitti said. “A couple
of years ago we had an assistant coach
from another country who came to practice
with license plates for his car. So I went out
to the parking lot and put the plates on his
For this season, and for at least two more
years when he will serve as a special consultant
while the team moves into a new El
Segundo training center around the corner
from its current one, Vitti is one of the
team’s few remaining links to its championship
“The Lakers will never be the same
without him,” said Joyce Sharman,
widow of Bill Sharman, the former
Lakers coach and general manager.
“Through all those different coaches and
players he was the glue that held it all
It’s been a long, strange trip for the
son of two Italian immigrants. By the
time he was 30, his destiny appeared set.
He would be a college professor in a laidback,
small-city atmosphere. But instead,
Vitti with Lakers General Manager Jerry West
during the mid 1980's. After a Hall of Fame
career as a high-scoring guard who played lockdown
defense, West turned out to be the best
talent evaluator in NBA history while constructing
two championship teams – the 1980's
Showtime dynasty that won five titles and the
Shaq-Kobe teams that won three straight titles
from 2000-2002. Courtesy Gary Vitti collection
20 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Vitti and Magic Johnson after Johnson retired from the Lakers. Shortly before Vitti broke the news to the team that Magic was infected with the HIV/AIDS
virus Magic told him that he was going to beat the virus and was going to do something great with it. 24 years later he is still functioning at a high level
and has dedicated himself to AIDS education around the world. Courtesy Gary Vitti collection
thanks to an out-of-the-blue phone call, he
ended up as a trainer to the biggest stars of
the most important sports franchise in
America’s most glam city.
“Just think of all the different personalities
he’s had to deal with,” said Guy Gabriele,
owner of Love & Salt Restaurant in
Manhattan Beach and one of Vitti’s best
friends. “Players, coaches, even management
– there were some very entitled people that
he was able to deal with because he could
find a balance between their different personalities
and move forward. He’s a sensitive
guy, a healer, but he can also be blunt without
hurting people. He’s a perfectionist and a
Vitti just shook his head when asked about
“I can’t believe it’s been 31 years,” he said.
“When I started in 1984 it was coach Pat
Riley, assistant coach Bertka and me. Pat
used to have a saying: 12 plus 2 plus 1 – 12
players, two coaches and me. Fifteen people
in the trenches against all the peripheral distractions.
Now there are 15 players, nine
coaches, and I have five assistants on my
20 magic words
It was a job Vitti didn’t seek out but a job
he couldn’t turn down.
In the summer of 1984 Vitti was on track
to become a tenured professor at the
University of Portland after spending two
years setting up its sports medicine program.
Then one August day he got a call from
Lakers coach Pat Riley asking if he would like
to interview for the job of Lakers trainer.
A New York Knicks fan from his early days
growing up in Stamford, Connecticut, Vitti
couldn’t help but be intrigued. He had spent
1981 and 1982 as an assistant trainer with the
Utah Jazz, so he had some idea of the relentless
grind – constant travel, personality conflicts
and the media always critiquing your
job performance – of the traveling circus that
is NBA life. He also knew that the Lakers
were an NBA flagship franchise.
With a master’s degree in sports medicine
from the University of Utah tucked in his
back pocket, Vitti was on the leading edge of
the medical, nutritional and fitness revolutions
gaining momentum in the early 1980s.
The NBA is a word-of-mouth league, with a
lot of cross-pollination as players, coaches
and executives move from team to team each
off-season. So when Riley started asking
around about young up-and-comers who
might be a good replacement for retiring
trainer Jack Curran, Bertka suggested Vitti.
Next thing Vitti knew he was flying to LA for
When he arrived at LAX, the legend and
the logo – general manager Jerry West – was
there to drive him to the Fabulous Forum in
Inglewood, where he met for six hours with
West and Riley. They discussed everything
from the need for better nutrition to how to
get players to start weight training – most
players resisted it, believing it would hurt
their shooting touch – to their overall life
Despite agreement on many topics, Vitti
was still leaning towards staying as a college
professor in charge of his own sports medicine
program until Riley spoke twenty magic
words: “You can do everything you want to
do and you can do it with the greatest athletes
in the world.”
Beat the heat
Vitti arrived in LA at a pivotal point in
Lakers history. A year after being swept by
Philadelphia in the 1983 NBA Finals, they
had lost a grueling, seven-game finals to
Larry Bird and the Celtics. It was the eighth
time they had lost to the Celtics in the finals
without a single victory. Despite having three
future Hall of Famers in Magic, Kareem and
James Worthy, as well as a stellar supporting
cast featuring current Lakers coach Byron
Scott and Manhattan Beach’s own Kurt
Rambis, the Lakers couldn’t seem to get over
the Celtics hurdle.
“There was a real feeling around the team
that if they didn’t win it all the next season,
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 21
Vitti goofing around with Shaquille O'Neal. They had a lot of laughs together when Shaq
was playing the clown and the prankster, but there were times they clashed when Vitti felt
Shaq didn't work hard enough to maximize his potential. "Shaq could have been the most
dominant player ever, but it was more important to me than it was to him," Vitti said. "But
I love the big guy and always will. He was a lot of fun to be around." Courtesy Gary Vitti
the team would be broken up,” Vitti recalled.
But the Lakers did break through in the 1985 finals, beating Boston in a
rugged six-game series that shattered the Celtics curse and served as Vitti’s
first real introduction to Lakers fans as a can-do problem solver who was
more than a traditional tape-‘em-up-and-rub-‘em-down trainer.
The Celtics, led by their arrogant, cigar-chomping coach-turned-generalmanager
Red Auerbach, were notorious for creating uncomfortable conditions
in the visitors’ locker room at the old Boston Garden: too cold during
the winter and too hot during the playoffs of May and June. An embittered
Riley felt the Celtic’s locker room tricks had contributed to the 1984 Finals
loss, when their locker room felt like a steam bath. So Vitti proposed a solution
for the 1985 Finals: the Lakers would bring their own air conditioners
into the locker room and create the temperature they wanted. It worked, and
Riley was quick to publicly give Vitti credit.
“It was an idea I got from watching the New York Giants football team the
year before when I saw them using these big cooling units
on the sidelines,” Vitti recalled. “I put it in the back of my
mind. When we got to the finals again, I called the company
and they showed up at the Boston Garden with
these giant coolers that we set up in the locker room.”
And there was a bonus: the first time Vitti plugged them
in, it blew out half the Garden’s electrical system. “They
complained that we were using too much power. I told
them to go to hell.”
The Lakers beat the Celtics again in the 1987 finals and
beat the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 finals. So three of
Vitti’s first four seasons were capped off by Lakers championships.
At that point, although his LA profile was
growing, he was still relatively anonymous nationally.
That was soon to change.
The hardest job
The hardest job Vitti ever performed for the Lakers was
telling the team that Magic Johnson had been infected
with the HIV/AIDS virus. That soul-sapping ordeal set the
stage for him to be a central player in an iconic medical
moment, part of America’s gradual, growing understanding
of the facts and fallacies of the emerging AIDS epidemic.
It started during the pre-season 1991 exhibition schedule,
four months after the Lakers had lost to the Chicago
Bulls in the NBA Finals. West called Vitti and told him to
have Magic return to LA, but didn’t offer any explanation.
Vitti was troubled by the request and asked Magic if he
knew what was going on. Magic had no idea. While
Magic, whom Vitti calls Earv, short for his first name,
Earvin, was flying back to LA, Vitti says it suddenly hit
“I was turning it over and over in my mind, and finally
the lightbulb went on,” he recalled. “I knew Earv was sexually
promiscuous, and I knew he was being given a physical
exam by the insurance company. We didn’t test for
HIV, but they did.”
Vitti confirmed his hunch in a phone call from Lakers
team Doctor Michael Mellman, who called him at
Magic’s request. For the next two weeks only seven people
knew about Johnson’s diagnosis: Magic, his wife
Cookie, his agent Lon Rosen, West, Dr. Mellman, team
owner Jerry Buss, and Vitti.
For two weeks they wrestled with how to handle the
devastating news. “I’m still doing my job, but I’m walking
around in a daze. I was thinking of it as a death sentence
for Earv,” Vitti recalled, his voice cracking. “In our first
conversation I told him I was having a tough time with it.
But he said that when God gave him this disease he gave
it to the right person. He said he was going to beat it, and
was going to do something great with it.”
The first problem: how to inform all the women Magic
had had contact with. He didn’t know half their names or
where they lived. Many of them were NBA groupies who
threw themselves at him when the Lakers passed through
their cities. Others were walking, talking LA stereotypes:
aspiring actresses, models or whatevers. He didn’t have
established relationships with most of them and it was the
pre cell-phone era so there was no digital trail to follow.
Finally, their only ethical course of action became clear:
they would have to tell the world and, by extension, all
those women who needed to know.
First, at an emotional team gathering in the Forum Vitti
informed the other players. Then Magic came in,
addressed the team as a group and walked around the
room to say goodbye to each player individually.
22 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Assistant coach Bill Bertka, head coach Pat Riley and Gary Vitti during Vitti's first season, 1984-85. Riley, who led the Lakers
to four NBA championships, hired Vitti and taught him much about leadership and molding champions. Bertka, now 88, still
works for the Lakers as a special consultant to the general manager. Courtesy Gary Vitti collection
“He gave each of them a big hug and whispered
something in their ear,” Vitti recalled.
“Magic had a way of saying whatever you
needed to hear to make you feel better. He
could read people really well.”
Assistant Coach Bertka was known as the
most stoic of the Lakers coaches and players.
But when Johnson approached Bertka his
knees buckled and Magic had to hold him up
to prevent him from falling to the floor.
“When I saw Bertka start to collapse that
made me emotional too,” Vitti recalled. Vitti,
who had already had his first post-HIV conversation
with Magic several days prior, was
the last man that Magic approached. “I said
‘It’s okay, brother, we’ve already done this,’”
he recalled. “He said ‘Yeah, but it doesn’t
make it any easier.’”
Then Magic went upstairs and held a press
conference that was beamed around the
Believing in Magic
Magic and the team had decided it would
be best for him to retire and focus on his
medical treatment. But with the disease
under control a year later he attempted a
comeback for the 1992-93 season. That’s
when shock and sympathy morphed into
fear and ignorance.
Several players, most prominently Karl
Malone of the Jazz, publicly questioned
Magic’s decision to return. Malone worried
aloud that he could become infected if Magic
spilled blood on the court or even sprayed
him with his sweat.
During one of the first exhibition games,
Magic suffered a small cut on his forearm, little
more than a fingernail scratch. What
would normally have been a non-event suddenly
turned into highlight material for
Sports Center: Magic came out of the game
and when Vitti saw how small the scratch
was he took out a cotton swab and left his
medical gloves in his pocket. By then Vitti
had researched the HIV virus and knew a lot
more than he had a year earlier.
“I made a decision that I didn’t need the
gloves,” Vitti recalled. “I thought that if I put
the gloves on I was sending a mixed message.”
“Gary instinctively did the right thing,”
said another of his closest friends, Petros
Benekos, owner of Petros restaurant in
Manhattan Beach. “He didn’t have to consult
In that single, silent act Vitti communicated
to the world what we now know: the virus
can’t be transmitted by surface cuts or
scratches and that other players were not
endangered by playing with or against Magic.
The budding player revolt against Magic’s
return soon died down and was buried in
that year’s All Star game, when he was
named MVP after scoring 25 points with 9
assists and 5 rebounds.
Vitti has worked with dozens of champions
and plenty of Hall-of Famers, each with their
own unique blend of talent, work ethic and
personality traits. But to this day he considers
Johnson the most special human being he
has ever been around.
“He said he would do something great with
it, and he has,” Vitti said. “Not only is he a
big success with his business interests, but
he’s shown people you can live a productive
life with the virus and he’s helped educate
people about it.”
Stuck in the middle
The Lakers training room walls are
adorned with framed photos of players,
including Kobe and Shaq, winning and celebrating
many of the Lakers’ 16 NBA championships.
But there are also reminders of the
short cuts some athletes take for the sake of
sports glory: two prominently posted lists of
supplements banned by the NBA. One list is
put out by the NBA Commissioner’s office
and the other by the NBA Players
Each lists dozens of performance enhancing
drugs and recreational drugs. But there’s
one intoxicant not listed that can be equally
as dangerous: success. Especially the kind of
repeated success the Lakers have consistently
enjoyed until recently, when they bottomed
out last season with the worst record
– 21-61 – in franchise history. The finger
pointing and blame gaming that can affect
losing teams is nothing compared to the credit
mongering and ego one-upmanship that
can erupt on winning teams.
“Defeat is an orphan,” Vitti said, “but winning
has many fathers.”
Shaq and Kobe both joined the Lakers in
the summer of 1996, Shaq as a $120 million
free agent from Orlando and Kobe as a 17-
year-old phenom straight out of high school.
Over the next four seasons the Lakers didn’t
come close to a championship and there
were few reports of discord and dissension
between the two superstars. But Vitti says it
was simmering just beneath the surface, as
Kobe resisted Shaq’s efforts to take him
under his wing.
“If Michael Jordan was there instead of
Shaq, I think Kobe would have gone under
his wing willingly, but he didn’t have the
respect for Shaq that he had for Jordan,” Vitti
The media reports of growing friction
started as soon as the Lakers began
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 23
winning titles again in 2000. By the time the Lakers lost the NBA
finals to the Detroit Pistons in 2004, the well-documented Kobe-Shaq
feud had gotten so toxic that the role players were forced to choose
one side or the other, according to recent statements by former Laker
shooting guard Kareem Rush.
Even Kobe and Shaq, in a podcast last month, said they now regret
having been unable to get along. Management had to trade Shaq in
the summer of 2004 to prevent Kobe from leaving as a free agent.
In his book “The Last Season,” a diary of the 2003-04 season, former
Lakers coach Phil Jackson wrote that the feud had gotten so
intense that Shaq refused to let Vitti tape his ankles because he perceived
Vitti to be on Kobe’s side.
Vitti insists that Jackson was exaggerating Shaq’s no-taping edict,
which didn’t last long. “It was a love-hate relationship with Shaq and
me,” he said. “The conflict was real, but it was also playful. That’s
how Shaq was.”
Vitti readily admits that he clashed repeatedly with Shaq over his
spotty work ethic, best exemplified by the incident when Shaq put
off toe surgery during the summer of 2002. He told the press that he
was injured on company time and would have his surgery and subsequent
recovery on company time. As a result the Lakers got off to
an 11-19 start without Shaq and never fully recovered, failing in their
attempt at a four-peat.
“Shaq and I feuded because I held his feet to the fire and told him
he needed to work harder,” Vitti said. “Shaq could have been the
most dominant basketball player ever. But it was more important to
me than it was to him. He even told me that he didn’t care about
being the most dominant. He’d rather have fun.”
Standing in the training room, he recounted how some days he
could hear Shaq’s giant footsteps coming around the corner before
he even saw him, and how he could tell by the intensity of the footsteps
if it was going to be a rough day with the big fella.
“He’d come in and say go tell Phil I’m not practicing today,” he
recalled. “I would say, I’m not doing that. You tell him. If you can’t
practice because you’re hurt, then you should have been in here an
hour ago for treatment and then it’s my job to tell Phil. But if you
don’t want to practice because you just don’t feel like it, then you tell
One time it got so bad that Shaq said he wasn’t going to talk to Vitti
for two weeks – and followed through on it. Instead he wrote out
three broad responses on a white board – none of which can be
repeated in a family newspaper. When Vitti spoke to him he would
hold up one, two or three fingers to indicate the appropriate
Benekos said he was not surprised that Vitti clashed with Shaq.
“You may not like it, but Gary will always tell you the truth and
give it to you straight,” Benekos said. “I really admire that about
But even as Vitti recounts these Shaq anecdotes, he can’t help but
laugh and remember the sheer fun of being around Shaq the giant
clown and X-rated prankster.
“Shaq had this thing about being part of law enforcement. He actually
went to a police academy and got a badge,” Vitti said. “Every day
he would come in, he’d throw me up against the wall and frisk me.
It was hilarious.”
Players on other teams were awestruck by Shaq’s size, he said.
“They’d come up to me before the game and say, ‘Come on, man,
how much does he really weigh?’ One guy says, ‘I know he’s 400
pounds, you guys just don’t want to put it out there,’” Vitti said. “But
I don’t think he was ever more than 358.”
Eleven years after Shaq left the Lakers for Miami, Vitti insists he
loves the big lug like a little brother and that they have long since
reconciled and hugged it out. He even keeps a pair of Shaq’s size 22
sneakers and a picture of he and Shaq clowning around in his
house’s memorabilia room.
Any friction, he says, was caused by his frustration that Shaq didn’t
work hard enough to maximize his potential.
It was business, not personal.
Just doing his job.
On the other hand, Kobe was so maniacal about working out and
trying to maximize his potential that Vitti often had to rein him in.
“There’s one guy I’m trying to hold back, and one guy I’m trying
to push harder,” he said. “And I’m stuck in the middle.”
Memories not for sale
There are many reasons Vitti loves living in Manhattan Beach and
has been here his entire 31 years as the Lakers’ trainer. One is the
small-town atmosphere. Recognizable as he is from 31 years of Laker
telecasts, he can walk downtown for lunch or jog on The Strand
without being bothered by the locals.
Another reason he loves living here is the 10-minute commute to
his office in El Segundo. He usually takes his 1982 Alfa Romeo
Spider and once in awhile his Harley Davidson fat boy.
The beach house he lives in blends in nicely with the other houses
in his upscale American Martyrs neighborhood. Over the years he
has added some personal touches. He built a beautiful terrace with
spectacular views of the ocean, less than a quarter mile away. Inside,
in the main family room on the second floor, are photos of his wife
Marta (his first wife, Christine, mother of his two children, died last
year), photos of his parents Mario and Sylvia, both 94, and photos of
his two daughters Rachel, 28, and Emilia, 24. The photos are complemented
by artwork from all over Italy, where he visits family
Many people keep scrapbooks of the highlights of their personal
and professional lives. Vitti’s life and career have been so full of
highlights that his scrapbook takes up the entire third floor of the
house. You walk up a spiral staircase to a breathtaking room full of
sports memorabilia that would bring quite a haul at an auction
house. But these memories are not for sale.
It starts with the signed Lakers game jerseys from all the greats he
has worked with, each one inscribed with heartfelt thanks for Vitti’s
physical care and faithful friendship. Typical is the one from Kobe:
“To my man Gary. From 17 to 27 your guidance helped mold me as
a pro. Couldn’t have done it without you. Love you Bro.”
There are shoes from Larry Bird, a clipboard from Pat Riley and a
white board used by San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich at an All
Star game. But it’s not just basketball that dominates this room: there
are pictures of Vitti with Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali and
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He has made a careful
study of what makes champions of all kinds tick.
As he guides a visitor around the room, a pensive Vitti admits that
while the championships and the glory moments – Magic’s junior,
junior sky hook to beat the Celtics, Derek Fisher’s .04 shot to beat
the Spurs, Robert Horry’s pick-up-a-loose-ball-and drain a threepointer
to beat the Kings – will all stay with him forever, what he
will really miss are the relationships and the camaraderie, the silly
locker room moments like the exchange with Tarik Black about his
girly short shorts, the crazy, X-rated sign language Shaq invented to
communicate with a deaf intern and the time a decade or so ago
when he jokingly threatened to write a book about his years with the
“I told the players if I ever get fired, I’m going to write a book and
you’re all going to be in it. It will cost you $100,000 each to stay out
of it,” he recalled. “Robert Horry looked at me for several seconds
before he laughed and said, ‘Shit, I could have you killed for $5,000.’”
He admits he is a bit scared and nervous about finding something
new to do that could possibly replace the thrill – and the 24/7 stress
– of tending to the wants and needs, the problems and the pain of so
many players, coaches and staff.
“Both my parents are 94 and in pretty good shape,” he said. “So
based on their life span I figure I still have a third of my life left to
live. That means I have 30 years to figure out what I’m going to do
One more job for his to-do list.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org follow: @paulteetor. B
24 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 27
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 29
“We need to understand that
the terrorist war cannot be won
in a few months. It is a war of
generations.” – Ehud Barak
“In one word,
In two words, not good.”
“When Moses was being
led out of Egypt he told
God he wanted to go to
Canada, but God though
he said Canaan.”
by Kevin Cody
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned of the new world
order like an Old Testament prophet, but one with a sense of humor
when he addressed Distinguished Speaker subscribers last month at
the Redondo Performing Arts Center.
“We are experiencing a political quake unprecedented since the end
of World War I, 100 years ago,” he began. “We’ve seen the Arab Spring
turn into the Islamic Winter. Nation states are disintegrating. Centuries
old conflicts have come back to life. We’ve gone from a two-polar to a
one-polar to a no-pole at all geo political system. Even the most powerful
players – the U.S., Russia, China – can’t tackle major issues on their
“In one word, everything’s good. In two words, not good.”
By the end of his nearly two hour talk, despite terrifying observations
about terrorism, the U.S.’s decline, Russia’s rise and Western missteps
in the Middle East, Barak, if not the audience, still retained both
hope and a sense of humor.
During the Q and A, he described his feelings about the Iran nuclear
agreement as “mixed. It’s like when your mother-in-law drives your
new BMW over a cliff.”
Political correctness was not one of his concerns. Bafak is Israel’s
most highly decorated soldier and a classically trained pianist. He
served as Israel’s Minister of Defense, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 1999, he defeated Benjamin Netanyahu to become Prime Minister.
When Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009, Barak was named
Deputy Prime Minister.
He holds a degree in physics from the University of Jerusalem and a
masters in engineering from Stanford.
Nor, for a person rumored to have ambitions of re-entering political
life, was he reluctant to name names.
“When she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said Putin reminded
her of Hitler. I’ve known Putin since his first day in the Kremlin and
he never reminded me of Hitler. He’s more of a Bismarck. He understands
politics. He has two feet on the ground. He’s ready to act to
make Russia once again a great power in the world arena,” Burak said.
Though he generally described President Obama favorably, he also
said of the president's position on Syria, “I don’t recommend big powers
drawing ‘red lines.’ But once you draw them, particularly in the
Middle East, you stand behind it.”
“The United States is still the world’s mightiest military, economic
and diplomatic power. It is a moral beacon, where the rest of the world
is supposed to go, in terms of human rights.
“But there is a strong perception that America is weak and getting
weaker. It is a subjective, not objective perception. But that doesn’t
matter. These days perception works as reality.”
Speaking of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Barak said, “He has developed
a mindset that is pessimistic, passive and anxious. The nature of
pessimism is it gives birth to prophecies that are self-fulfilling.”
The criticism of his country’s leader wasn’t personal, he made clear.
Photos by Deidre Davidson (Davidsonfoto.com)
“I know from experience, Netanyahu’s not a chickenshit. He was a
young lieutenant of mine in 1972 when I led the raid on the hijacked
Sabena airline. It landed at Lod Airport with 100 passengers and explosive
detonators deployed all over the cabin. The terrorists were
demanding that 300 prisoners be released. I was disguised as a maintenance
man in white overalls when we stormed the plane. Within 90
seconds, the shooting was over. We killed the hijackers, just one passenger
died and just one of our officers was wounded – shot by us. That
was Lt. Benjamin Netanyahu.”
“He was lucky we only wounded him,” Barak quipped. Black humor
punctuated his talk.
He added, “Terrorists never landed another hijacked airline in Israel.
But terrorism didn’t stop. A few months later 11 Israeli athletes were
massacred at the Munich Olympics.”
Barak traced his world view to when he was a 22-year-old Sayeret
Matkal commando leading his first raid against terrorists.
“If you told me then that 50 years later terrorism would still be a
challenge for the whole world, I would not have believed it. But we
need to face the reality. Either we defeat terrorism or we don’t. There
is no in between. We must understand that and be ready for the challenge.”
“Terrorism has a unique attribute. It’s a common challenge for all.
The U.S. learned that on 9/11. Russians learned it in Moscow.
“I had a conversation with Putin after Chechen Islamics terrorists
took 850 hostages in the Dubrovka Theater in 2002. Putin’s response
resembled our responses. He sent in 100 Russian special forces.
“I visited southwest Kunming China a year ago. Just a few weeks previous,
28 civilians were massacred at the railway station by knife
wielding, extremist Muslims who came from a Chinese desert province
1,500 miles away.”
“In the past two weeks in Jerusalem, a new wave of terrorists, using
kitchen knives and screwdrivers, have killed nine and wounded dozens
of Israelis. It’s a tough situation that no one would accept. A primary
contract of government is to provide safety in the streets. I can tell you
bluntly, Israel will never capitulate to terrorism, period.”
That declaration elicited loud, spontaneous audience applause.
“Compared to other world issues – reefs in the South China Seas,
Crimea and Ukraine – radical Muslim terrorism should be the highest
“Though it’s not easy to achieve, we need strong leadership and
cooperation among nations, at the highest level.
“At the operational level, we need to be open minded and free of
dogma and conventional wisdom. We need to focus on what could happen
and respond within seconds to threats.”
Following the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Bck September
Palestinians at the Munich Olympics in 1972, Prime Minister Golda
Meir ordered that the terrorists be hunted down and executed, Barak
“When your allies sit behind closed
doors and ask, Can the Americans
be relied on, they will turn to the last
region the Americans played a role
in, the Middle East.”
“There is a strong perception that
America is weak and getting weaker.
It is a subjective, not objective
perception. But that doesn’t matter.
These days perception works
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 31
“Meir was raised in Milwaukee. I think it
was the Milwaukee weather that made her so
tough,” Barak said.
“I found myself, in 1973, heading up a
squad assigned to kill Black September leaders
holed up in a luxury apartment in Beirut.
We arrived looking like a few boys and girls,
laughing. I sent my squad into the building
and I waited on the street outside with a
stocky blond. I was a brunette. A bodyguard
in a car across the street suspected something
was up. He opened his car door, pulled out a
pistol and began to walk toward us. I still
remember the shock in his eyes when he saw
two young ladies open their jackets and pull
out Uzis. He jumped back in his car and we
hit his horn and woke up the whole street.
“We killed three PLO leaders and nine or
10 of their bodyguards who showed up in two
Land Rovers. Within 30 minutes, we were
swimming out in front of our hotel to our
“But terrorism didn’t stop.”
Barak described the terrorists as a loosely
connected, poorly equipped organization
with strong, ideologically motivation.
“They have half a dozen forces in Syria, the
Houthi in Yemen, Boko Haram in Nigeria,
AQIM in Algeria, Hamas and Al Qaeda. They
are a resilient, tough opponent.
“Isis is only 30,000, mostly former Iraqi soldiers
riding around in Toyota pick-ups. They
don’t have a single jet fighter squadron,
attack helicopter or artillery battalion. They
flourish because no one fights them head on.
“In Kobani, Syria, on the Turkish border,
Isis was stopped by 17-year-old Pashtun boys
and girls with World War II machine guns.
However, they failed to receive strong assistance
from any international organization.
“This fight with Isis should be ended with
intensive, overwhelming force. Every week
they remain on their feet they create a huge
attraction for other Muslims.
“We need to understand that the terrorist
war cannot be won in a few months. It is a
war of generations. It will be a long struggle
with hopeful and painful moments.
“Many innocent civilians will lose their
lives. But we will win this war.
“Am I an optimist or a pessimist? I like what
Winston Churchill said. The difference
between an optimist and a pessimist is a pessimist
sees difficulty in opportunity and an
optimist sees opportunity in difficulty.”
Barak ended his talk by paraphrasing
Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“The greatest risk in fighting terrorism is
the unwillingness to take risks.”
On the Iraqi nuclear agreement
The agreement reminds me of what
they say about second marriages. It’s a
triumph of hope over experience.
Precedents don’t support hope and we have
had six precedents involving nuclear
weapons facilities in the past 35 years.
Two were successfully resolved – South
Africa and Libya.
Two were blocked by surgical attacks – Iraq
in 1981 and Syria in 2007.
Two defied the world, despite nuclear
inspection agreements – Korea and Pakistan.
I remember 30 years ago meeting every
quarter with CIA chief Bill Casey in Langley,
“I can tell you bluntly, Israel will
never capitulate to terrorism, period.”
Virginia. He mumbled in an accent I couldn’t
understand. I suspect it was deliberate. So I
have no memory of the conversations. But the
subject was always the same. How many centrifuges
does Korea have? How much
enriched uranium? What are their motivations
for wanting to be a nuclear power?
Years later, with the Clinton administration
I looked at satellite photos of North Korea and
then the question was, What will happen if
we bomb them? What happens to the plutonium
and the 100,000 people living downstream
of the reactor?
In Pakistan, to cut a long story short,
Reagan was not soft. But the way his administration
tried to convince Pakistan to give up
its nuclear program was to give Pakistan 75 F-
16 Falcon Jets, because they were afraid of
India. Now those F-16s carry nuclear
weapons. And Pakistan is trying to develop
small, battlefield nukes.
The agreements with North Korea and
Pakistan looked good, but the outcomes were
not what was planned.
That’s why we are worried about Iran. I
have a strong feeling, not in the first few
years, but down the line, they might decided
to break the agreement.
And if they do, any second rate dictator
may decide, if Iran is allowed to develop
nuclear weapons, so should we.
We need to define what is an agreement
violation, what establishes the need to bring
the military back to the table.
I think, at this junction, that the U.S.
administration understands that America
should equip Israel with the tools to carry out
an independent operation against Iran if,
down the street, both governments agree Iran
is trying to move toward nuclear weapons.
Barak on Israel today and tomorrow
Israel is a microcosm of the world.
We’re at the meeting point of a clash of
civilizations. We’re in the eye of the storm,
with the Muslim world spinning around us.
Israel is like a villa in the jungle. Inside is
comfortable. Once you step outside your door
the law of the jungle prevails.
Isis, however dangerous it is, is not the real
threat to Israel’s safety. The real threat is the
Arabs waiting to take out their knives against
us. Do you believe the Syrians and Iranians
hate us any less than the Palestinians. They
probably hate us more because at least the
Palestinians know us.
I used to joke with American presidents,
We wanted so deeply to have Canadians as
our neighbor, but you got them instead.
When Moses was being led out of Egypt he
told God he wanted to go to Canada, but God
though he said Canaan. Some claim Moses
The good news is that Israel is the most
powerful country from Benghazi to Tehran.
And we will remain the strongest for the foreseeable
future, militarily and economically. If
we keep up good relations with the U.S.
By no means should Israel be pessimistic or
anxious. This is not 1938 or 1947. Zionism is
the most successful nation project of the 20th
We have two lakes and one is dead. The
other, the Sea of Galilee, is where young Jews
learn to swim and one of them learned to
walk on water and became very famous.
They are connected by the River Jordan,
which is really just a creek. And so we had to
develop one of the most advanced agricultural
system in the world. We produce all we
need with two percent of our workforce.
We had enemies from day one. In the 67
years since the establishment of Israel, we
have had seven wars and two intifadas. So we
had to develop fighters. We were under an
arms embargo by the U.S. in the 1950s and by
France until the mid 1960s. So we produced
what others wouldn’t sell us. That became
the seeds of Israel becoming a ‘start-up
nation.’ We have more start-ups per capita
than any corner of the earth except Silicon
The Shekel is one of the world’s strongest
We’ve taken in one million Russian immigrants.
They represent 15 percent of our population
and have change Israel forever. They
enter the sciences at a higher rate than the
rest of our population. We now have more
philharmonics, more chess grand masters and
more ballet teachers than anywhere else in
the world. One in four soldiers is named
I said to Putin, Let us take another million.
I’ll find a babushka for each one.
We are at the turning point of a second
industrial revolution, based on robotics, nano
technologies and life sciences. These are the
engines that will change productivity, the
keys to our future goals. These keys are held
by the U.S., Israel and Western Europe and
not by China or Russia. That is the reason for
my long term optimism.
But we must be cautious and not fall into
the trap of hubris, not sit on our laurels, not
32 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
One state or two?
The idea of a one state solution, of two people living together is
utopian. We must put a wedge on the slippery slope toward a one
state solution, which has a high probability of leading to another
Belfast or Bosnia. Between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean
Sea, an area the size of New Jersey, there are eight million Israelis and
five million Palestinians.
In the one state solution, if Muslims can’t vote we won’t have a
democracy and if they can vote we won’t have a Zionist state when
Muslims become the majority.
The two state solution is imperative for Israel’s identify, not just for
We should draw a line so there is a solid Jewish majority for generations
to come and leave the opportunity on the other side of the line
for the Palestinians to develop their own state.
We would not be doing it for them. We would be acting in our own
It will not be easy. The Palestinians are not easy to work with.
But let me tell you a story.
In 1978, Prime Minister Begin went to Camp David to meet with
President Carter and Egyptian President Sadat. Three weeks before the
meeting, 70 percent of the Israeli public was against giving up the Sinai
Peninsula for peace. After the meeting 70 percent were in favor of it.
The public is like play dough. If there is leadership, the public can
I’m confident Israel can be moved, despite the recent shift to the
right. I think there is a dormant majority who would vote for an agreement
that makes the delineation I described, if they see a partner on
the other side.
Even on the Palestinian side, something similar could happen.
But the diplomacy is not easy. Each side worries that the media will
find out what’s happening and they will lose their power base before
an agreement can be reached.
Diplomacy needs to operate on two levels – public diplomacy and
underneath the surface.
Successful negotiations have always been this way. Meetings with
Sadat aides began before Begin came to power. Despite Moshe Dyan
swearing he never spoke to (Egyptian General Mohamed Ahmed
Fareed) Al-Tuhami, he convinced Sadat to fly to Jerusalem. There were
many meetings with King Hussein before peace with Jordan was
announced. The Oslo agreement started in the woods of Scandinavia,
long before Rabin and Arafat met in Paris.
We must find a way to negotiate beneath the surface and then push
a Palestinian agreement to the surface at the right moment, with the
support of the U.S or the U.N.
If that does not work, I would take unilateral steps to block the one
Why the Middle East matters
I’ve heard it from Hillary Clinton. America should pivot to the
east as the U.S. becomes more energy independent.
What you will see when you turn to the east won’t be a physical
clash. The U.S. and China have a symbiotic relationship in their
currencies. But the Chinese will keep cutting into your vital interests.
When your allies sit behind closed doors and ask, Can the Americans
be relied on, they will turn to the last region the Americans played a
role in, the Middle East.
That’s why what happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria are
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a sense of elation.
Strategists wrote about the end of history. Two major systems clashed,
capitalism and socialism. One won, the other was defeated. Everyone
will see the light and join capitalism and history will end.
We’ve learned that’s not the case.
We’ve learned we need to be respective of others’ points of view.
Some are not as demonic as Americans tend to believe. Think of
Singapore, South Korea, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Hungary – nations
led by autocrats, far from our systems, but still successful in moving
their nations forward, driven by national pride.
As long as they are effective in improving their people’s opportunities
and standard of living they will enjoy favorable support.
We need to learn there is more than one way. B
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 33
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34 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 35
True Food server Juia Cost.
Photos by Brad Jacoson (CivicCouch.com)
True to the trend
True Food Kitchen brings farm-to-table dining mainstream
by Richard Foss
Ihave had an ongoing argument with a friend
about which dining trends are fads and which
are permanent. Our most recent point of contention
was over farm-to-table style dining. He
opined that now that chain restaurants are adopting
seasonal dining, hipsters and trend leaders will
move on to something else. I argued that once you
get used to eating fresh, healthy food, you don’t
want to go backward. He shot back that not everybody
can dine that way because large operations
couldn’t possibly do it well.
And there it rested, because I didn’t have an
example of a large franchise operation that had
taken that theme and run with it. I do now that I
have dined at True Food Kitchen at The Point in El
Segundo. The focus on modern ideas about eating
is overt, and reflects the philosophy of co-owner
and diet guru Andrew Weill and his partners
restaurateur Sam Fox and Executive Chef Michael
Stebner. Click the “about” tab on their website and
the first three sentences mention nutrients, the
anti-inflammatory diet, and healthy living. They
also mention flavor, which I found reassuring.
The restaurant is a cross between corporate and
quirky. The big, high-ceilinged space is softened
with wood paneling and tubs of herbs on wheels
by the front door. Whether those herbs are actually
used in the cooking here or merely symbolic,
they’re a statement of purpose. The menu is large-
ly vegetarian or vegan and offers many
gluten-free items, but hearty meat and fish
dishes are here, too. Many ethnic traditions
are represented along with original creations,
making this a snapshot of contemporary
We started with a caramelized onion tart True Food’s inside out quinoa burger.
and a “kale and avocado dip” that we expected
to be guacamole by another name. I only
ordered the latter because it listed grapefruit
and roasted poblano chilies among the ingredients and I was trying to imagine how
those would go together. Guacamole usually contains lemon or lime and often some
anaheim chilies. The substitutions made a subtle difference. It was tarter and tangier
than typical guac, with the finely chopped kale adding just a hint of texture and
I wouldn’t have ordered the onion tart based on the name, which suggests a simple
flatbread with cheese and onion, but the description mentioned smoked garlic
and figs with the caramelized onion, gorgonzola and herbs. The flavor balance was
surprising, the garlic and onions almost as sweet as the chopped figs. It’s a must-have
item if you like roasted garlic in any form.
True Food Kitchen has an interesting selection of beverages, both alcoholic and otherwise.
The section called Natural Refreshers includes juice blends that are designed
with the flavor balance of a good cocktail. The Medicine Man contained tart sea
buckthorn juice along with pomegranate, honey, black tea and soda – sweet, astringent
and sour flavors all in balance. It made me want to try more from that list. The
fig and pomegranate mule with ginger honey and the sangria were also delightful and
the cherry bourbon sour is something I’m going to try to recreate. Floating Pinot Noir
on top of a bourbon-based cocktail isn’t standard practice, but it certainly works.
For main courses we selected Moroccan-style chicken, braised bison short rib, a
spicy tuna wrap and a daily special of grilled rainbow trout with broccoflower.
36 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Rainbow trout are relatively thin fish and can dry out when even slightly
overcooked. Sautéing this one might have been a better option. It
wasn’t bad, but lacked the moist succulence you can get from perfectly
The ahi wrap wasn’t highly spiced but had sharp flavors thanks to the
radish, mint, and sesame that accompanied the mild wasabi aioli. Most
spicy tuna sandwiches stick with neutral lettuces or spinach, which
adds texture but not much flavor. This approach was much more interesting.
It was served with a simple sweet potato and onion hash and a
kale and parmesan salad, which made a light, healthy, well-proportioned
The bison and chicken were both heftier portions, but with well-considered
flavors and accompaniments. The flavors on the first plate were
of fall and winter, with roasted fennel and multicolored carrots alongside
swiss chard, mashed cauliflower and the meat itself. The portion
of protein looked small at first but was very satisfying. This was a rare
preparation where you could taste the difference between bison and
beef. There isn’t a huge difference, but bison is richer and slightly
sweeter – and a lot better for you thanks to a lower fat content. This
preparation keeps it from drying out on a grill and is highly recommended.
The surprising thing about the Moroccan chicken was how faithfully
the traditional flavors were executed. The bird had been crusted with
spices and served over a mix of spinach, garbanzos, fig and olive with
chermoula sauce, made from both fresh and pickled lemon, herbs, oil,
garlic, and cumin. When done right it’s a magnificent and complex
sauce with sweet, salty, and tart elements. They aced it here.
For dessert our server recommended a flourless chocolate cake and a
cranberry-almond cake, both comfort foods. More adventurous desserts
were offered, such as a chia seed pudding with banana and coconut,
but we trusted her recommendation and were satisfied with the result.
True Food Kitchen delivered on their promise of contemporary, fresh
food in the farm-to-table tradition. Their menu changes regularly and is
consciously oriented around fresh, healthy foods. The chef may not be
hitting the farmers markets every few days and creating the menu
around those selections, but the exuberant use of seasonal produce
shows that someone is excited by natural flavors and this kitchen can
execute their recipes. The fact that these meals come from an assembly
line operation rather than a boutique kitchen is a reason for celebration.
It proves that excellence is achievable on a large scale.
True Food Kitchen is at 860 S. Sepulveda in El Segundo, in The Pointe
center. Open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. -
10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.. Parking in lot.
Many vegetarian/vegan selections, full bar, corkage $15, patio dining.
Wheelchair access good. Reservations accepted. Menu at
TrueFoodKitchen.com, (310) 469-7725. B
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 37
R E A L T O R S
FIXERS AND TEAR DOWNS
tickets and prizes
38 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 39
by David Mendez
Chris Paludi seems incredibly tense. Model UN; and he is constantly thinking.
Every movement the 17-year-old It makes sense that his favorite author is
makes while sitting in the plush chairs David Foster Wallace, the celebrated writer
of Catalina Coffee Company, from leaning
forward to taking a drink from his Nalgene
water bottle, seems to take a great deal of
“Yeah…I’m pretty high strung,” he said.
Paludi is a senior at Redondo Union High
School and likely one of the busiest students
both on and off campus. He’s the student
who gained fame on the back of his thousand-page-plus
tome “Infinite Jest,” and held
onto it as a writer of thoughtful, funny, soulaching
prose. As with Wallace, Paludi is
incredibly self-aware — and just a bit intense.
“I do a fair amount with my time, and I’m
taking more things on in my senior year,
which is burning me out,” he said. Paludi
member of Redondo Unified School said that most people think of their high
District’s Board of Education, for the second
year in a row; he’s the opinion editor for
Redondo Union’s award-winning High Tide
student newspaper; he’s taking a full load of
Advanced Placement classes; he’s active with
the school’s Student Body; he participates in
school experience in one of two ways: that it
is its own experience that has to be lived
through for its own sake; or that it is a means
to an end that has to be packed with as much
extracurricular experience as possible in
order to get into college.
40 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Chris Paludi on campus.
Photo by David Mendez
Redondo Union student school
board member Chris Paludi
focuses inward while looking
toward both his and RUHS’s future
“The people who think that aren’t wrong
— that’s the way it’s set up,” he said. “In that
sense, I definitely hindered myself going forward
with those first two years of high
school; I could’ve had an entirely different
Those first two years were marred by introversion
and depression. Though help was
offered to him, he said he maneuvered
around it. “I think that when someone experiences
that intensity of emotion, that intense
sadness, introspection is inevitable — the
approach to me was to think about it, rather
than through rebellion, or taking up punk
music, or any of the cliches of raging against
the world,” he said.
So, he delved inward and, to an extent, that
began to work for him. He identified what he
felt was holding him back, tried to find answers to his issues.
He also cites Wallace’s “This Is Water” commencement speech,
given to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class, as a major influence
on his worldview -- so much so that he’s written it, over and over
again, on his arm...in Latin.
The address focuses on the themes of community empathy and
conscious awareness of the world, which struck a chord with Paludi,
who said he was affected by those sentiments more than anything
he’d previously read, other than Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”
“I appreciate the value of being conscious and realizing that everyone
around me is an individual with their own life, doing the best
they can to achieve happiness — that the world isn’t mine and that
it doesn’t exist to serve me, but that we’re all trying to do the best
for ourselves,” he said.
Here, he pauses, introspection taking over again, worrying that
he’s coming off as “holier than thou.”
“I have to admit that I’m a little pretentious — but I think I’m
allowed to have a few character flaws,” he said.
The turning point of his high school career came when he began
joining student clubs, getting involved with campus organizations
and creating relationships. “That’s when Redondo became a home
for me. I was proud to be a Sea Hawk, whereas freshman year, I
wished I was anywhere else,” he said.
Now, he believes that the level of involvement a student has on
campus has a direct relation to their quality of life in school and that
a student with roots will find his or her place.
Redondo Beach, he’s found through his work in the school and the
community, is good grounds for those roots. Though he’s not without
concerns for the area’s future.
“This city is a tremendous place for people to live and kids to grow,
but I think that enrollment at the high school might be an issue if we
continue to be a destination district — which we will be... “We have
to take a hard look at our future and plan ahead a little bit. Voters
have been tremendously generous with voting in bonds and we need
to repay that trust by making sure there’s a future for our kids where
everyone has a seat and everyone has the same level of care and
attention that they have now.”
It should be no surprise that Paludi has considered a future in politics.
He’s taken numerous trips to the State Capitol with local organizations
and he’s worked with State Senator Ben Allen’s office as an
intern. He’s also watches White House Press Sessions on C-SPAN.
“But I don’t know if I could be a representative — so many elected
officials seem like they’re unhappy, or not themselves. They seem
forced…I know that I will never run for office as anyone other than
myself,” he said. “I would rather lose an election as myself than win
it as some of my advisors tell me to be.”
But that’s in the far distance. Before that comes college. His primary
concern is finding a school that that is affordable.
“My family is by no means wealthy, so I want to leave them in a
position where they can send my brother (Colin, a freshman at
RUHS) to college as well. Even if I get into fantastic schools, I don’t
want to preclude him from any opportunities,” he said. Once there,
he’s considering English language and literature, journalism, or public
Right now, he’s concerned about making sure his relationships
hold together, even with the glut of work on his plate.
“I’m worried that I can’t give 100 percent to everything I’m committed
to,” Paludi admitted. “I’ve been through hell, and I’m still
here, which means that burning out, at worst, means I’m not getting
a lot of sleep.”
But if a lack of sleep is all he has to deal with, he’s fine with that.
“I take every day reasonably seriously — simultaneously whimsically,
but also seriously. I want to enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.
“Days are finite, and there is a day where there will be no more days.
I don’t believe in wasting time and I believe that, whether I’m doing
nothing, or a lot of something, I should try to make sure that I’m
doing my best to make sure it’s time well spent.” B
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 41
PUMPKIN RACE CELEBRATED
quarter of a century ago Karl Rogers sent a pumpkin
down Longfellow Avenue on a skateoard and a
tradition was born. The tradition became so popular
that in 2007, the City of Manhattan Beach took over
the event. This year’s 25th Anniversary Pumpkin Race
brought back together the race’s founding organizers
Rogers, John Holliday and Michael Aaker.
Photos by Caroline Anderson
1. Two seasoned competitors with their feline entry.
2. Councilmember Wayne Powell with his trophy.
3. Manhattan Beach Police Officer Robert Cochran
puts the department’s pumpkin on the line.
4. The infamous Cheater Pumpkin.
5. The Manhattan Beach Police Department
celebrates its win with the referees.
6. Pumpkin Races’ founding fathers John Holliday,
Karl Rogers and Michael Aaker.
7. A contestant with his pumpkin.
8. Kevin Clark with the winning pumpkin, Brainiac.
9. LA Car Guy’s Mike Sullivan, MB Parks and Rec
Department’s Idris Al-Oboudi, and fourth place
winners Jeff Gill and Kristen Carter with their
pumpkin Donald Trumpkin.
10. Fourth place winner Jeff Gill of Culver City with
42 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 43
SKECHERS FRIENDSHIP WALK
Event raises $1.4 million
n 2009, the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship
Walk attracted 1,700 walkers and raised
$220,000. From that auspicious start, the walk
swelled this year to 12,757 walkers who helped
raise $1.4 million. Proceeds will go to the
Friendship Circle, which provides peer mentors
for special needs kids and to the South Bay school
district education foundations.
1. Former “Dancing
with the Stars” co-host
2. Manhattan Beach
Mayor Mark Burton
Greenburg with a
3. Fitness celebrity
Denise Austin has
been a supporter of
the walk since its
founding seven years
4. The El Segundo
is one of the walk’s
5. Skechers president
volunteered to escort
special needs students
to classes when he
was a student.
6. “To be a champ
you have to believe in
yourself when no one
else will,” recalled
Sugar Ray Robinson,
one of the greatest
boxers of all time.
7. Clipper cheerleaders
have plenty to
cheer about this year.
8. Former Dodger’s
9. Over 12,000
people participated in
Photos by Brad Jacobson (CivicCouch.com)
44 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
Kimberly Davidson, Collaborative Center of Southern California
Helping families with kinder, gentler divorces
by Robb Fulcher
nspired by her own divorce experience, Kimberly Davidson has devoted
herself to guiding families through kinder, gentler, courtroom-free divorces,
designed to meet the needs of each spouse while protecting the interests
of their children.
Davidson, based in the South Bay with clients in Los Angeles and Orange
counties, steers clear of the courtroom entirely, serving as a neutral mediator
in divorces, and guiding clients through “collaborative practice” divorces. “I
had a 3-year-old daughter, 25 years ago, when I found myself in a divorce I
was not expecting,” Davidson said.
At the time, she had a master’s degree in counseling and planned to get
a Ph.D., but she changed course to take up the law.
“There were so few resources for families going through divorce. I had a
transformative experience. I thought I would do something different, work
with people in a different way,” she said.
“There had to be a better way to do divorce,” she said.
As her daughter entered kindergarten, Davidson entered law school, taking
classes at night and finishing in four years.
She began working as a family law attorney, and 15 years ago she opened
her own practice. She began serving as a neutral mediator, helping spouses
and their separate lawyers work out divorce agreements.
Then she learned about a method of divorce that had spread from the
Midwest to Northern California – Collaborative Practice, in which spouses
negotiate in four-way meetings, with their attorneys present, and pledge not
to go to court.
Davidson estimates that about 95 percent of her clients successfully complete
divorce mediation, and 80 to 85 percent successfully complete collaborative
In either method, a couple must trust each other enough to see a non-litigated
divorce as a possibility.
“In my personal opinion, families
going through divorce do not
belong in the legal system. It’s really
about families, and continuing relationships,
and how to co-parent.
We want to help solve problems,
not create more of them,” she said.
“Traditional adversarial divorce is
like a tug-of-war. If you tug and pull
and get what you want, eventually
you’ll lose something else.”
Mediation is more difficult when
there is “a real imbalance of power
in the relationship,” whether financial
or psychological. In those
cases, the less powerful partner can
feel more protected going the collaborative
route. Either way,
Davidson urges clients to get support
from professionals such as
divorce coaches, child specialists and divorce financial planners. With that in
mind, she and family therapist Jon Kramer created the Collaborative Center
of Southern California, which brings together in one space at their Hermosa
Beach offices, those professionals that support a non-litigation approach.
Sometimes, she said, a couple will avoid divorce after consulting with
experts. If the problems are financial, for instance, a post-nuptial agreement
might iron them out.
“Divorce is one aspect of what we do,” Davidson said.
Kimberly Davidson, Attorney | 2200 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 312, Hermosa Beach | 310-374-2025, email@example.com
November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 45
FRESH BROTHERS GIVES ITS
BEST TO MANHATTAN BEACH
resh Brothers brother Adam Goldberg credited his
“mentor” Michael Greenberg of Skechers, his “fixer”
restaurateur Michael Zislis and the broader community
of Manhattan Beach for the meteoric success of his family’s
pizza company. Goldberg’s thankyous came during his
acceptance of the “Best of Manhattan” award last month
during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Best Of dinner
at the Manhattan Beach Marriott.
The evening’s Bob Meistrell Local Legend Award was presented
to Judy and John Peetze for their work with this
year’s Special Olympics. The two formed a committee that
hosted Special Olympians from Hungary and Nepal.
Other 2014 Best Of Manhattan awardees were:
Leadership Manhattan Beach for Business Bringing MB
Together; Wilshire Bank’s David Curry for Home Sweet
Home, which recognizes leaders in real estate, mortgages
and wealth management; the Manhattan Beach Education
Foundation for Enhancing MB; Two Guns Espresso for Small
and Mighty; Manhattan Beach Post for Branding MB; The
Strand House for Dine MB; and the Manhattan Village Mall
for Pay It Forward. – Kevin Cody 3
1. Wilshire Bank’s David
Curry, recipient of the for
Home Sweet Home
2. Best Of nominees
Jason and Alison Shanks
of Nikau Kai Waterman
3. Manhattan Education
director Farnaz Golshani
accepts the Enhancing
Manhattan Beach Award.
4. Chamber Executive
5. Pay It Forward award
recipients Liz Griggs,
Monica Frey and Valerie
James of the Manhattan
Village Mall with emcee
Jill Brunkhardt of Chevron.
6. Chef David Lefevre
(on crutches) and his MB
Post crew received the
Best of Manhattan
7. Michael Zislis and the
crew from Strand House
with the Dine Manhattan
Beach Award. Presenter
Susan Burden of the
Beach Cities Health
District is left.
8. Judy and John Peetz
(center, with award) with
fellow their Special
9. Best of Manhattan
award recipients Scott
and Adam Goldberg and
Adam's wife Debbie.
10. Two Guns Andrew
“Stan” Stanisich and
Craig Oram with Mayor
46 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 47
Chase Gaffney, 9, sets up a bottom turn.
Kenny Brechtelsbauer gets
the air of the day and later
the wipe out of the day.
Billy Atkins shows why he was
presented the Pure Surfing
Experience Award, presented to
the surfer who best embodied
the spirit of contest namesake
Contest director Jeff Miller insists it’s all about fun, if
pulling into shallow closeouts is your idea of fun.
Family line up
Father-son team wins
Jimmy Miller Fiesta contest
by Kevin Cody
waves, 74 degree
water and 80 degree
air made for a dramatic 10th
Anniversary Jimmy Miller
Surf Fiesta at 42nd Street in
Manhattan Beach on Sunday,
Over 200 surfers competed
on 32 five-member, handicapped
teams — some more
handicapped than others.
Father and son duos Matt
and Keiran Walls and Chris
and Shane Mosley, along with Charlotte Sabina tempts fate.
ringer Ben Ruby out-endured
the 31 other teams in the nine-hour-long, single eliminations competition
to claim first place.
Nearly half of the surfers were under 16. The most impressive was
Finley Murphy, who took home the Best Grommet award and a
Sector 9 skateboard.
Mira Costa twins Ben and Miles Choromanski received the Modom
Surf Accessories Best Performance by a Family Award. The two
advanced to the finals on a
team that was led by Dave
Schaefer and included Kevin
Cody and Jon Scalabrini.
The award carrying the
most bragging rights, the Spy
Optics Best Wipeout Award
went to Kenny Brechtelsbauer,
who also pulled off
the biggest air of the day..
The Curley family won the
ET Surfboard Beach Lounger
Award for their color coordinated
swim suits and
umbrellas and Dayton Silva
won the Spyder Surf Best
Maneuver for a big slash on a giant wave.
Charlotte Sabina won the Trilogy Best Female award and Billy
Atkinson won the Pure Surfing Experience Award for best exemplifying
the spirit of Jimmy Miller, in whose memory the Jimmy Miller
Foundation was established.
Proceeds benefited the Jimmy Miller Foundation. For more information
visit JimmyMillerFoundation.org. B
48 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 49
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50 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 12, 2015
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November 12, 2015 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 51