Beach Nov 2016


November 10, 2016

Volume 47, Issue 14

Considering A Major Remodeling Project?

Architectural Design & Remodeling Seminar

This informative seminar will help you learn:

• Functioning designs to make the best of your living space.

• Choosing a contractor: What to look for and how to hire.

• Exploration of materials, from granite to quartz to more!

Join us on


November12 th

at 10:00 am

November 10, 2016

Volume 47, Issue 14


18 Blood and treasure by Kevin Cody

Former Commander of U.S. Middle East Forces General David Petraeus

gets tough questions from his Beach City audience during his

Distinguished Speaker Series talk.

26 A couple of longboarders by Mike Purpus

His turns are fluid and on rail like Nat Young’s cutback, circa 1966.

She has an equally graceful style, but with a feminine touch.

Together, Kris Hall and Taylor stone are arguably the South Bay’s best

longboard couple.

28 Il canto Italiani by Richard Foss

Chef Michaelangelo Aliaga’s pastas and sausages and co-owner

Lou Giovanetti’s voice make Primo Italia worthy of its name.

30 Love and loss by Mark McDermott

The Bisignano family lost their 22 year old son Jonathan in April. In the

six months since, Jonathan’s life, the family’s faith and the community’s

embrace have given the family lessons in the persistence of love.

36 Hitting her stride by Randy Angel

Mira Costa’s Elizabeth Melia Chittenden proves ballet and running fast

are transferable skills.

8 Calendar

14 Best of Manhattan Beach

16 Drunk health

22 PTN Halloween gala at Depot

24 Beach Gift Guide



Jonathan Bisignano.

Photo courtesy of the

Bisignano family

40 Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk

42 Girls night out

44 Spyder Scare and Tear

46 Gudmundsson paddleout

47 Home Services


PUBLISHER Kevin Cody, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Richard Budman, EDITORS Mark McDermott, Randy Angel, David Mendez,


Ray Vidal and Brad Jacobson, CALENDAR Judy Rae, DISPLAY SALES Adrienne Slaughter, Tamar Gillotti, Amy Berg, and Shelley



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. The Easy Reader/Redondo Beach Hometown News

is a legally adjudicated newspaper and the official newspaper for the city of 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.

n Mailing Address P.O. Box 427, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 Phone (310) 372-4611 Fax (424) 212-6780

n Website Email

n Classified Advertising see the Classified Ad Section. Phone 310.372.4611 x102. Email

n Fictitious Name Statements (DBA's) can be filed at the office during regular business hours. Phone 310.372.4611 x101.

6 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016



Friday, November 11

Toast to our Vets

South Bay Customs host the 8th Annual Toast Our Vets benefit concert, featuring

Mara and the Big Rockstars, Less Than 6, and the return of Jared Young. $35.

8 p.m. Proceeds benefit Team RWB and the Vet Hunters Project, combating veteran

homelessness. 115 Penn St., El Segundo. For more info visit vets2016.

Hermosa Vet candle ceremony

The 22nd Annual Hermosa Beach Veteran’s Day Commemoration and Candlelight

Ceremony will be held at the Veterans Sundial at 5 p.m. Hermosa Beach

Community Center. Pier Ave., and Pacific Coast Hwy. For more info call


Redondo Veterans Memorial ceremony

Members of the United States Armed Forces will be honored at the Veteran’s

Memorial at City Hall. 1 p.m. 415 Diamond St, Redondo Beach.

Manhattan Beach Veterans ceremony

The 19th Annual Manhattan Beach Veterans Day Multi-Generation ceremony

will be held at the Veteran’s Monument. 11 a.m. Valley Drive and 15th Street.

For more information call (310) 802-5448

Hold’em or Fold’em

The 2nd Annual Texas Hold ’em Tournament will benefit the PEF and The

PVPAR Scholarship fund. Taco truck, blackjack tables, casino lounge, lots of raffle

prizes, music and bar. 5 - 10 p.m. South Coast Botanic Gardens, 26300 Crenshaw

Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula. Reserve: call (310) 377-4873 or email

Nantucket Crossing



Saturday, November 12

Studio (902)54

The 2nd Annual Hermosa

Beach Historical Society Dancing

through the Decades Fundraiser

moves to the ‘70s. Studio (902)54

is theme. 7 - 11 p.m. Hermosa

Beach Museum, 710 Pier Ave. For

tickets call (310) 318-9421 or visit



Art of Adult

Coloring Books

Cancer Support Community

Redondo Beach offers a stress reduction

workshop led by cancer

survivor Lynde Hartman. Participants

will relate back to a childhood

pastime and discover the

many benefits of coloring books. Health advantages include exercising fine motor

skills and training the brain to focus and center the mind. Supplies will be provided.

Advance registration required by calling (310) 376-3550 or visit the website


Hocus pocus

The Hermosa Beach Second Story Theatre presents “Hollywood Stars of

Magic.” It's a cast of performers like no other. All ages. Different show every

month. Every 2nd Saturday. 2 p.m. 710 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach. For tickets information

call (310) 971-5335 or (323) 761-9473. Email:

Sunday, November 13

Benoit up close

David Benoit performs an intimate

concert at the Asia

America Symphony Association

dinner, to be held at the Palos

Verdes Golf Club. Cocktails 5

p.m. Dinner and Performance 6

p.m. 3301 Via Campesina,

Palos Verdes Estates. For tickets

or for more information or call (310)


Growing up digital

Girl Scout Troop 3645 hosts a

free screening of the acclaimed

documentary, "Screenagers:

Growing Up in the Digital Age". 3 - 5 p.m. O'Donnell Hall, American Martyrs

Calendar cont. on page 12






867 Silver Spur Road (next to Bristol Farms),

Rolling Hills Estates


8 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016


Many people who have had Crystal Bed Sessions report the following:

• Feeling more energized

• Clearer thoughts and better focus


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12:00 PM to 6: 00 PM

Closed on Sunday

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• Feeling of deep relaxation

• Balance of the chakras

• Feeling less stressed

• A deeper spiritual understanding

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20% OFF


Calendar cont. from page 8

Church, 624 15th Street, Manhattan

Beach. The screening is open to all members

of the community, but especially middle

schoolers and up (age 11+). Register

for the screening at screenagersmovie.


Monday, November 14

Manhattan’s Stonehenge

Light Gate is a laminated glass sculpture

that will creates rich and varied light effects

tonight at precisely 4:45 p.m. when

the sun aligns with the gate’s keyhole.

This only happens on January 27 and November

14. For more information contact

the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation

Department at (310) 802-5448.

FEATURED PROPERTIES by Bill Ruane 310.877.2374

Wednesday, November 16

Econ conference

Shade owner Michael Zislis, Terranea president Teri

Haack, Realtor Rick Edler and Manhattan Beach

Community Development Director Marisa Lundstedt

will be among the speakers at the Manhattan Chamber’s

annual South Bay Economic Forum. $50. 7:30 to

10 a.m. 1601 N. Valley Dr, Manhattan Beach. For tickets


A day at the Getty

Woman’s Club of Hermosa Beach presents a day at

the Getty Center fundraiser. Proceeds benefit the

club’s philanthropic community services. The bus will

board between 9:15 - 9:50 a.m. at the Hermosa Beach

Community Center, 715 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach.

Bus departs at 10 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m. For tickets contact Leslie at (310)

798-4961 or email:

Friday, November 18

Volleyball hits

1996 Olympic silver medalist Mike Dodd and his

longtime domestic tour partner Tim Dodd will be honored

at the California Beach Volleyball Association induction

ceremony. This year’s inductees are




Photo by Brad Jacobson

Photo by Bo Bridges





and fellow




Youngs, Fred

Zuelich and

John Featherstone.

7 p.m. $10. Available at Boccato’s

Groceries, Spyder Surf and at

the door. Hermosa Beach Theatre,

710 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach.


1510 E. Maple Avenue

El Segundo

• 5 Beds • 4.5 Baths

• 3,015 Square Feet

• Lot: 6,556 Square Feet

• 2.5 Car Garage • Pool

12 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016


414 W. Walnut Avenue

El Segundo

• 4 Beds

• 4 Baths

• 2,943 Square Feet

• 1,000 sf Second Story Private Deck

Saturday, November 19

Kings rink at King Harbor

The LA Kings outdoor ice skating

rink opens today in King Harbor. Private

parties available, through January

8. For more details call (877)

234-8425 or visit

239 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo

Beach. Bt

each charity


Meistrell Local Legend Award


hortly after acquiring Manhattan Beach Toyota and moving to

Manhattan Beach from Newport Beach in 2008, Darrell Sperber

became such a familiar face around town that Manhattan Beach

Councilman Richard Montgomery began to call Sperber the “Mayor of

Manhattan.” “He joined Rotary and Manhattan Beach Leadership. He

helped with the fireworks show and the Beach Cities Toy drive,” Montgomery

recalled at the Best of Manhattan Beach awards dinner last

month at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. Sperber died in January, 2015,

at age 68, just a few months after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Sperber was honored posthumously at the dinner with the 2016 Bob

Meistrell Local Legend Award. The award was accepted by his son

Bradley. The annual Best of Manhattan Awards were established by

the Chamber of Commerce three years ago to recognize businesses that

have made exceptional contributions to the community.

1. Small and Mighty awardees Barry and

Kathy Fisher of Grow Produce.

2. Richard Foss, MB Post affiliate, emcee

Mary Beth McDade and Michael Simms.

3. Richard Montgomery, Bradley Sperber

and Mary Beth McDade. Sperber accepted

the Bob Meistrell Local Legend award on behalf

of his father Darrell.

4. Nicole Fitzgerald, Manny Serrano and

wife Bree Noble.

5. Home Sweet Home awardee Susan

Kaminski with 2015 recipient David Currie

and Mary Beth McDade.


6. Neptunian Woman's Club members with

the Enhancing Manhattan Beach Award.

7. Beach Cities Health District's Lauren

Nakano, Tiana Rideout, Jacqueline Sun and

Cristan Higa.

8. Idris Al-Oboudi with Pete Moffett and

wife Gwen.

9. Accepting the Best of Manhattan Beach

Award is Skechers president Michael Greenberg

(center), with Robin Curren and Jennifer

Clay of Skechers, evening chair Jill Brunkhardt

and KTLA anchor and evening emcee

Mary Beth McDade.


2 3

4 5





14 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

each health


a needed buzz kill


ints for Prostates” was like the Comedy Channel hit “Drunk History,” except that the speakers

were sober. But the the guests may have had a slight buzz on thanks to the craft beer from King

Harbor Brewing, Hop Saint and Strand Brewing. In exchange for the free beer, the 200 graying

guests, endured buzz killing talks about prostate cancer. The evening was part of the Miracle of Living

series hosted by Torrance Memorial and the newly opened Redondo Beach Shade Hotel.

According to Torrance Memorial urologist Tim Lesser, one in six men will be diagnosed with

prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. One

man in 39 will die of prostate cancer. Contrary to headlines of a few years ago, treatment versus non

treatment is not a six of one, half dozen of the other proposition. Those headlines were based on

flawed studies, Lesser said. More stringent studies have found that treatment reduces deaths from

prostate cancer by 40 percent.

To further encourage men to get tested, South Bay Mo Bros founder Sandy Goodman asked guest

to grow a mustache during Movember. “When people ask why you grew a mustache, you tell them,

‘It’s to raise prostate cancer awareness,’” he said. His seven year old group was the nation’s top Movember

fundraiser last year. For more about his group, visit



1. Curtis Mann, Strand Brewing’s Rich Marcello, Dr. David

Wallace and Norm Mann.

2. Louie LeRoy, King Harbor Brewing’s Tom Dunbabin and

Torrance Memorial’s Ann O’Brien

3. Hop Saint’s Johnny “Spoons” Dice.

4. Dr. Tim Lesser, Sandy Duncan, Dr. David Wallace, Jackie

Glass, Dr. Wade Nishimoto and Scott Donnelly.

5. Sandy Duncan (center) and team South Bay Mo Bro.

6. Don Shaw, Tom Dunbabin and Jett Wilson.



3 4



16 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016


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since you were a child.

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Former U.S. Middle East Commander

David Petraeus

expresses optimism for Iraq in an

otherwise cautionary talk

During a reception for General David Petraeus,

hosted by Torrance Memorial

Medical Center in the Manhattan Beach

Shade Hotel patio on October 25, Milo Basic

asked the general, “Why did we go into the Middle

East after 9-11? Think of all the suffering

there now. In your opinion, would we be better

off if we hadn’t.”

Basic is the Croatian-born father-in-law of

Shade Hotel owner Michael Zislis.

Petraeus broke the uncomfortable silence that

followed the bold question by acknowledging,

“That’s a legitimate question.”

He prefaced his answer first by observing,

“The question presumes we had a choice.”

Then he recounted the events of the Arab

Spring that destabilized Muslim countries, from

Africa to the Middle East.

“If Egyptian President Mubarak had been able

to stick around, we might have been less hasty

in declaring his time was over. But there were

not thousands, but millions demonstrating for his

overthrow in Tahrir Square in Cairo.”

“Mubarak was a mentor and father figure to

me when I was a major stationed in the Middle

East, 25 years earlier. One day he put his hand

on my knee and said, ‘General, listen to the Arab

Street. Never forget the Arab Street.’”

Petraeus said he wished Mubarak had followed

his own advice.

“In Tunisia, there was no saving President Ben

Ali [after a fruit vendor set himself on fire, triggering

the Tunisian revolution]. In Libya, we

helped the opposition take down Gaddafi. And

certainly, our invasion of Iraq took out Saddam

Hussein. But he was the personification of a

kleptocrat and I don’t think he would have lasted

much longer.”

Finally, Petraeus responded to Basic’s question.

“In all honesty, I don’t second guess the decision.

The worst thing for a military leader, especially

one who has written more letters than I

care to remember to mothers and fathers, would

be to give an opinion, one way or another. I think

it would be inappropriate. Our focus now should

be on how to make the future as good as possible.”

Petraeus was less reticent in discussing President

Barack Obama’s controversial decision to

withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2011. Petraeus

had been named Commander of U.S.

Forces in the Middle East by President George

W. Bush in 2007 and served in that post until

being named Director of the CIA by President

Obama in 2011.

The subject came up when Vietnam veteran

and former Manhattan Beach councilman Bob

Holmes asked Petraeus what lessons he had

learned from Vietnam. Petraeus’ doctoral dissertation

was on Vietnam.

Petraeus answered, “I took from that experience

how a military commander should give advice

to a president. In my view, the advice




in the



by Kevin Cody

Photos by Deidre Davidson/Torrance Memorial Medical Center

General David Petraeus addresses guests at the Torrance Memorial Medical Center reception

prior to his Distinguished Speaker Series talk.

18 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Joe Hohm, Bob Holmes, General Petraeus, Russ Lesser and Rich Lucy.

General David Petraeus and Milo Basic.

should be based on facts on the ground, but informed

by the issues a president has to deal with.

I’m focused on the Middle East, he’s focused on

the whole world. Coalition politics, domestic politics,

Congressional politics, budgetary constraints

– these issues may not be material to war

decisions, but can’t be divorced from it.”

“During the final [2011] meeting on the drawdown

of forces in Afghanistan, the president

went around the room and elicited support from

everyone, until he came to me. I said, ‘Mr. President,

with all due respect (not always the most

sincere words, Petraeus interjected, eliciting

laughter from his listeners), I said a year ago, and

again last week, based on the facts on the ground,

and informed by the issues you have to deal with,

I think the drawdown is too aggressive. The facts

have not changed in the last week, so my recommendation

remains the same.’”

“If you ever want to feel the oxygen go out of

the situation room in the West Wing, try that,” he


Petraeus was peppered with ‘What if’ questions

both during the reception and the talk he gave

later that evening to Distinguished Speaker subscribers

at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts


(He deflected questions about his extramarital

affair and mishandling of classified information,

which led to a misdemeanor plea and his dismissal

as CIA director, by saying, “I won’t address

painful, personal topics, such as Why Army

can’t beat Navy,” again eliciting laughter.

(He also declined to discuss the current presidential

election, except to dismiss, without naming

Trump, “the suggestion in the presidential

campaign that [our intervention in Iraq] is a grab

for oil.” “The oil is in the south, not in the northern

area controlled by the Islamic State,” he said.

He added, “We could have bought 100 years of

oil with what we’ve spent in Iraq.”)

Former Manhattan Beach councilman Russ

Lesser asked Petraeus at the reception, “Had we

kept 10,000 troops in Iraq, would ISIS be there


“That’s a fantastic question,” Petraeus said. “As

then director of the CIA, I thought keeping

10,000 troops there would have been the correct

course of action. But the answer is not as clear as

you might think, given how Iraqi Prime Minister

Maliki upended everything we had done.”

During his Distinguished Speaker address, Petraeus

expanded on his answer.

He described Maliki’s arrest of Sunnis in his

administration and Maliki’s use of force against

protesters as “predictable, but a tragic undoing of

what we sacrificed for.”

The U.S sacrifice he referred to was the 2007

“surge,” which he led.

“When Ambassador Crocker and I arrived in

Baghdad, we were summoned by Maliki’s national

security advisor. Just 45 days earlier, President

Bush and Maliki had agreed to a strategy

that was 180 degrees different from mine. They

wanted U.S. military out of the cities. We were

going back into the cities. They wanted detainees

released. We weren’t going to release detainees

because there was no rehabilitation program.

They wanted to dial back nighttime activities. We

were going to double them. There was nothing in

their program about reconciliation.

“I told the national security advisor to tell Maliki

that if he disagreed with my policies, he could

tell that to our president the next day on the

scheduled teleconference. But if he did, I’d be on

the next plane back to Washington D.C.

“The next day Maliki didn’t mention it. I had

25,000 U.S. troops, 250 helicopters and the authority

of an occupying commander and was not

reticent to exercise that authority. We drove down

violence by 85 percent.

“Some three and a half years later, after our

withdrawal, Maliki went after Sunni leaders because

he was worried about his Shiite base in the

upcoming election. The Sunni area then became

fertile grounds for extremism.

“Before we went to Iraq [in 2003], I’d been in

Craig Leach, Judy Leach, David Petraeus, Judith Gassner, Michael Zislis and

Mark Lurie, M.D.

Ty Bobbit, Nadine Bobbit, David Petraeus, Lenore Levine, Mary Jo Unatin, Song

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Bosnia, Haiti and Kuwait and had a sense of the magnitude of the undertaking.

I meekly asked my superiors for details on what would happen

after we took down the [Hussein] regime. I was told, ‘Dave. You get us to

Baghdad, we’ll take it from there.’ When we liberated Najaf, the Shiites’

holiest city, without putting a bullet in a single mosque, I called my bosses

and said, ‘The good news is we own Najaf. The bad news is we own Najaf.

What do we do with it?’”

“I was told, ‘We’re still getting organized.’”

Petraeus’ own grim and controversial assessment at the time was disclosed

by Washington Post reporter Rick Atkinson.

“I made the mistake of having a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter

in the back of my Humvee,” Petraeus confessed to the Distinguished

Speaker audience.

Petraeus asked Atkinson, just six days into the battle for Baghdad “Tell

me how this ends?” And then he answered his own question, “Eight years

and eight divisions.” He was quoting what General Matthew Ridgway told

President Dwight Eisenhower when asked what it would take to win a war

in Vietnam.

Petraeus said he foresees a similar problem in the current effort to push

ISIS out of Mosul. He called it the “battle after the battle.”

“Mosul was my home for four years. It was a city of two million people.

Now it has one and a half million. The campaign for Mosul is a textbook

design on how to circle a city and take it down.

“ISIS are dead men walking and they know it. They are deserting and

they execute their deserters. The Iraqi government needs to clear every

building and leave people in them or the enemy will fill in from behind.”

“But the real battle is not defeating the ISIS. That will happen. The real

battle will be the battle after the battle – the struggle for power and resources

between the area’s Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, the Turkmen Shiites

and Sunnis, the Christians, the Kurds and the tribes.”

“My advice is endless patience, fierce determination and an occasional

demonstration of the full range of emotions,” Petraeus said in a rare expression

of his own emotions.

“I’m not one in favor of breaking up Iraq into Sunnistan, Shiitestan, Kurdistan…

Look at Syria,” he said.

Instead, he offered a surprisingly hopeful outcome.

“Iraq is developing in a heartening way. It needs to make the most of its

extraordinary blessings. It has one of the world’s three or four largest oil

reserves. With its two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, it is the only

Arab country with water. South of Baghdad is very fertile.”

Petraeus summed up his Distinguished Speakers talk by relating five lessons

he learned in his nearly two decades in the Middle East.

“These are points I would have loved to see debated by the candidates

in the current presidential campaign,” he noted.

“One, the ungoverned spaces in the Middle East and Africa will be exploited

by Islamic extremists.”

“Two, Las Vegas rules don’t apply. What happens doesn’t stay there. It

creates a spewing of violence and instability and a tsunami of refugees.

The Chernobyl meltdown that is Syria has displaced half of its 20 million


“Third, the U.S. has to lead. We have five times the assets of all of our

allies, aggregated. But that doesn’t mean we go it alone. Churchill said the

only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting against them.

“We need Islamic allies. Muslim hate speech is absolutely counterproductive

in this effort.”

“Fourth, we must craft a comprehensive campaign. We can’t drone fight,

or Delta Force fight our way out of this problem.”

In another allusion to the presidential campaign, he said, to applause

from the audience, “I’m hugely in favor of carpet bombing if the enemy

arrays itself as a carpet in the desert, away from civilian populations, in

which case, bring in the B52s.”

The fifth and final lesson reflected his belief in “facts on the ground” assessments.

“We are engaged in a generational struggle, not one of a few years or

even decades. Even if we put a stake through the heart of ISIS in Mosul,

we will not put a stake through the heart of the ideologists, who will continue

the combat in cyberspace. We must contest the activities that go on

there as well”

“How do we measure a sustainable strategy?” the general asked.

“The two measures are blood and treasure.” B

20 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Phil Pavesi, Michael Zislis, Jerome Unatin, M.D., Mike Philbin and Van Honeycutt.

Barbara and Mark Lurie, M.D. and Dave and Song Klein.

Nina Wratschko, Sally Eberhard, Shintia Lynch, Marshall Varon,

David Petraeus, Mary Jo Unatin and Jerome Unatin, M.D.

Charlotte, Greg and Russ Lesser

with General Petraeus.

November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 21

each charity



For the 21st year, the Depot’s Michael Shafer hosted the Pediatric

Therapy Network’s Halloween Ball. The benefit was cochaired

by Suzanne Hadley and Toyota’s Tracy Underwood. In

addition to dinner from Chef Shafer, the afternoon included a

silent auction, raffle prizes and a live auction. “For the past 20

years, Pediatric Therapy Network has been helping children with

special needs exceed expectations and reach their greatest potential,”

Underwood said

For more information visit


1. Dorothy Yost with volunteers Nicole Conant,

Sabrina Price and Phaedra Pruett.

2. Client and former Junior Ambassador

Brandon Tanioka with PTN’s Ryan Sakaguchi.

3. Cecilia Geronimo with Torrance City

Councilmember Mike Griffiths.

4. Easy Reader’s Adrienne Slaughter with

Jason D’eath and Cassidy Francis.

5. Pediatric Therapy Network’s Board members

Tom Gosney, Christian Maeder, David

Lim and Aidy Maeder.

6. Michael Limas, Linda James, Shauna with

son, PTN client Paul, and Dan Valenzuela.

7. Assemblyman David Hadley and wife

Suzanne with Lomita Mayor Pro-tem Mark


8. Dain and Noelle Kirkpatrick with Ashley

Springer and Grant Sellers.

9. Charlene Nishimura with PTN CEO and

founding director Terri Nishimura with Shirley

Pe and Leslie Cortez

10. Julie Knabe, Steve Napolitano, Terri

Nishimura, Supervisor Don Knabe, The

Depot’s Michael Shafer and Penny Wirsing.

11. RamFunkshus members, Tim Kobzo,

Sean Wiggins, Vinnie Suzuki, David Page,

Trent Stroh and Barry Reynolds, entertained

the guests.


2 3 4 5

6 7


9 10


22 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Frohe Weihnachten

Germany is known for delicious

marzipan, lebkuchen and chocolate


Get a FREE German Chocolate Advent

calendar for every $25 spent at the

Alpine Market!

Alpine Village

833 West Torrance Blvd, Torrance

(310) 327-4384

Shop Truly Hermosa

This Holiday Season!

The Magic of Mova

Luxurious, eco-friendly

globes that channel energy

from ambient light and

the earth’s magnetic field

to rotate continuously on

their own.

Nantucket Crossing

867 Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills Estates

(310) 377-7201

The gift of fond memories

A Gift of Beauty

Purchase a gift certificate at Celibre Medical Laser Dermatology

in November or December and receive 10%

off the value.


23211 Hawthorne Blvd., Second Floor, Torrance

(800) 689-1571.

Classic Elegance by

Daniel Wellington

A sophisticated timepiece that

adds confidence and attitude

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Starting at $195

Stars & Stripes

1107 Van Ness Ave, Torrance

(310) 320-3207

Find that perfect gift at the Hermosa Beach

Holiday Sidewalk Festival - Saturday & Sunday,

November 19-20 from 11am to 6pm.

Hermosa Beach Chamber

This holiday season give a gift that will

kindle fond memories for that someone

special. Vintage and Antique – Jewelry,

Art, Silver, China, Pottery, Toys, Furniture,

Clothes, accessories and more.

Stars Antique Market

526 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach

(310) 318-2800

Give the Gift of

Authentic Italian Cooking

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24 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 25


by Mike Purpus

Local surf photographer

Anthony Renna and Hall

are both young and

feed off each other.

Renna has

captured many

epic shots of Hall.

Photo by Anthony Renna

Kris Hall and Taylor Stone sync in and out of the water

El Segundo High senior Taylor Stone started surfing just two years ago,

out of necessity. “Kris spends so much time in the water it was the

only way to have fun with him,” Stone said of her boyfriend Kris Hall.

Hall began surfing when he was two, on a Boogie Board at Pine Trees on

the Big Island of Hawaii.

“My dad was over there teaching special education for three years. It was

the perfect place to learn,” Hall said. “My dad is still a special ed teacher

in Compton.”

Today Stone and Hall are arguably the best longboard couple in the South

Bay. His surf style combines elements of Phil Edwards jazzy gestures and

local longboarder Shawn O’Brien’s precision noseriding. His turns are fluid

and on rail like Nat Young’s cutback, circa 1966.

She has an equally graceful style, but with a feminine touch. Her first

two steps to the nose are as pretty as they come.

Stone is one of the El Segundo High surf team’s top surfers. She finished

third in the International Surf Festival contest this past summer.

Hall was a standout on the Redondo High surf team and last winter finished

second twice, behind Dave Schaefer, in South Bay Boardriders Club


“My dad is my major surfing influence. His idols were ‘60s icons like Phil

Edwards,” Hall said. “I used to ride his old longboards and got teased by

the shortboarders out in the line-up.”

When Hall was 16, he couldn’t afford a new short board, so he shaped

and glassed one, with help from Redondo surf coach Frank Payne.

“I still ride that board when the waves are fun,” Hall said. “The second

board I shaped was a 9-foot-2 that I made for Taylor. I call the shape ‘My

Scarlet Begonia.”

Today, when not attending El Camino or working at ET Surf, Hall shapes,

under his label Flower Surfboards, at Mangiagli Manufacturing (the South

Bay’s oldest surfboard manufacturer) in the old Rick Surfboards booth.

“I’m constantly inspired by South Bay surfboard manufacturers like Bing

Copeland, Hap Jacobs and Rick Stoner, who put Hermosa Beach on the

map,” he said, “I also dig the shapes Phil Edwards did for Hobie Surfboards.

And I admire Dan Cobley (Danc Surfboards) for his versatility and work

ethic, Robin Kegel (Gato Heroi, Creme Surfboards) for his outside of the

box designs and Gene Cooper (Cooperfish) for his craftsmanship.”

“I get the pleasure of having a bay right next to Kris,” Cobley said. “It’s

been a thrill watching his shapes progress.” Flower Surfboards have become

particularly popular among young, local longboarders.

Hall and Stone call the Hermosa Pier their home break but love surfing

all the South Bay beach and reef breaks on big swells. Malibu is their favorite

surf spot because the wave offers long nose rides to the pier.

“We hate the crowds but still manage to get a few good ones to ourselves

every time we surf Malibu,” Stone said.

“One Malibu morning, we got a perfect session in six-foot waves with

only 10 other surfers out,” Hall said.

They also love Mexico’s K-38 and always have fun sharing the playful

waves at San Onofre. Earlier this year, Hall was supposed to leave his lady’s

side for a few months to chase waves up to Canada. But that plan was

halted when he found an original, two-owner ‘62 Ford Econoline. Trip

money became car money.

“It was my dream car as a kid,” Hall said. “Now, I get to restore it the

way I imagined it.”

With his ability on the front half of his surfboard, it is easy to assume

Hall strictly loves nose antics. But he said he prefers a meaty tube over anything

and considers barrel dodging a mortal sin.

“It’s the hardest thing to do on a longboard,” he said. “Switching stance

in the middle of a cutback is a close second.”

Hall and Stone are sponsored by Birdwell Beach Britches and Nine Plus

Wetsuits. For more about Flower Surfboards visit or

@flowersurfboards. B

26 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Kris Hall in his favorite

place on the wave.

Photo by Anthony Renna

Taylor Stone and Kris Hall share a wave at the Hermosa pier.

Photo by Pegi Stone

Kris Hall at work.

Photo by Anthony Renna

November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 27




by Richard Foss

Primo Italia chef Michaelangelo Aliaga. Photo by Brad Jacobson

Chef Aliaga’s in-house pastas and sausages and co-owner Lou Giovanetti’s voice make for magical meals

Almost every restaurant would like to be an “everyday “ place, somewhere

you might go on a whim when nothing in the refrigerator

calls to you. Not all can manage this, of course. Some have too high

a price point or too formal an atmosphere, and others feature a cuisine so

arcane or confrontational that you may appreciate it occasionally.

The cuisine that is right there at the top when it comes to impulse dining

is Italian. Think of how much money you’d have if you had one penny for

every time anyone in the world said, “I don’t feel like cooking, let’s go out

for pizza.” It’s comfort food even if you didn’t grow up with it, but restaurants

still make a statement about whether they’re special occasion only

with their decisions about ambiance and price point.

The new Primo Italia made an interesting choice in this regard. It looks

like a high-ticket restaurant, complete with a bar full of exotic bottles and

a grand piano in the corner. But just about every entree is below twenty

bucks. We had a large party to celebrate a birthday, so had a chance to order

an array of starters and entrees from across the spectrum.

The cooking by chef Michaelangelo Aliaga is authentic, rustic Italian with

pastas and sausages made in-house. So among our starters, we selected

grilled sausage with roasted bell peppers. I don’t usually order this because

I can make it at home, but that fresh sausage makes a heap of difference.

The texture is lighter, the garlic flavor fresher because it hasn’t oxidized

over time, and it is in every way superior. The sausage had been grilled and

sliced into eight thick coins rather than being sautéed with the peppers, so

there were different flavors to savor.

Our other starters were mussels in broth, grilled octopus, bruschetta, and

an arcane pasta called testaroli with pesto sauce. Testaroli is rarely seen in

restaurants because it is time-consuming to make. A thin batter is poured

into a very hot pan, then another pan is put on top of it very briefly. The

resulting pancake of pasta is then slashed into pieces and briefly boiled and

the result has a slightly rubbery exterior and spongy crepe-like interior. If

you expect standard pasta you may find this texture weird, but give it a

chance – it’s like nothing else and it grows on you. The pesto sauce was on

the light side rather than a basil and garlic bomb, so you still taste the good

olive oil and wheat flavor.

The octopus was tasty but very misleadingly described. If you expect just

the usual tentacles on a plate with a little garnish, you will think the wrong

28 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

item was delivered. The octopus here is one element of a dish that includes

potatoes, olives, and vegetables, served atop thick slices of red and green

heirloom tomatoes. It’s a well composed salad of hot and cold vegetables

with a fine balance of robust flavors, but people who would like it might

not order it and some people who order it won’t like it. I could have enjoyed

it as an entrée, because there were enough flavors that I could have

just kept eating.

There was nothing conceptually unusual about the bruschetta, though

the fact that they used housemade fresh bread elevated it a few notches.

One slice was topped with tomato slices and herbs, the others with musky

wild mushrooms and a garlicky artichoke heart mix. The mussels were

also exactly what they were supposed to be, a healthy amount of shellfish

in a broth that had some bell pepper and spice, with some more of that

good grilled bread.

We ordered two salads as an intermezzo, a fennel and orange with greens

and red onion and a peach and burrata with balsamic vinegar and olive

oil. Crisp raw fennel is delightful in salads and the orange brought out the

gentle anise-like sharpness. My only quibble is that I would have liked the

fennel pieces a little thinner or smaller so it would be easier to get a mix

of flavors. The peach and burrata salad was polarizing, with some people

at our table liking it as it was and others wishing the balsamic had been

on the side so they could have the exquisitely fresh, creamy cheese and

fruit by themselves. While I was in the former camp I understand the sentiment.

During the brief wait between courses, we enjoyed music by the very

good pianist, who was joined on Broadway standards by crooning co-owner

Lou Giovanetti. Lou is a constant presence and table-hops to say hello to

friends and be sure the service is working, and though his singing is superb

not all staff members have their act together, yet. At both our table and a

neighboring booth silverware was cleared with one course and not brought

with the next one, and the timing on refilling waters and other details was

not well synchronized. It’s a new operation so things will probably smooth

out soon, but for now there is room for improvement.

For entrees, we ordered lasagna, spaghetti carbonara, pappardelle with

wild boar, and veal saltimbocca with sage. Saltimbocca is Italian for “jump

in your mouth,” one of the most poetic food names ever, and this dish delivered.

It’s simple, thinly sliced meat rolled around sage leaves, wrapped

with prosciutto, fried and topped with white wine sauce, but when done

right the salty meats, lemon, and herb is superb. It was served with mashed

potatoes and broccolini, and despite my early fears about petite entrees it

was a fine full meal.

The three pastas all hit the spot, too.The lasagna was a particularly big

hit with everyone who tried it. It’s not the usual heavy, starchy brick of

carbs drenched in sauce. The noodles are thin and the delicate béchamel

sauce and cheese are used moderately. Let your expectations go and enjoy

this, because it’s a winner.

This brings me to the only place where Primo Italia is out of balance:

the wine list. All the pastas we ordered were under $20, and the saltimbocca

is one of the most expensive items at $28, which makes it odd that

the wine list has no bottles under $38 and escalates steadily from there.

Those bottles are superb quality, but there are some very good Italian, Argentine,

and Californian wines that would go well with this food and could

be sold for less. If Primo Italia aspires to be an everyday joy, they might

want to add a few more modest bottles to the list.

We had filled up on our appetizers and mains but had to try some

desserts around the table in honor of the birthday. We tried the tiramisu,

cannoli, bread pudding, and cheesecake. All were good but the cheesecake

was the standout, made with a rich and flavorful cheese rather than the

usual bland stuff. The topping of sliced, toasted almonds and strawberry

sauce with fresh berries made this a must-try item, and whetted my appetite

to sample more.

So, is Primo Italia the restaurant that you can stop into on a whim? It’s

still a work in progress, but the outline is clear. They deliver high end food

at medium prices in a classy environment. You wouldn’t feel right there

in shorts and a T-shirt (though I presume they’d serve you), but if you want

to treat yourself just a bit, it’s worth the drive to Hillside Village.

Primo Italia is at 24590 Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance. Open daily 5

p.m., close 10 p.m. Mon-Thur; midnight Fri-Sun. Full bar, parking in lot, some

vegetarian items. Food menu at, phone 310-378-4288. B

November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 29

JJonathan Bisignano during his days at Palos Verdes High School. Photo courtesy the Bisignano family

onathan Bisignano was two years old and ready to see the world.

His family was living in South Redondo at the time, and

Jonathan was playing by himself in the backyard. Then he wasn’t.

His mother Angela Bisignano looked outside and her son was

nowhere to be found. Panic set in. He’d found a way to climb the

backyard fence.

“He decided he was going to go someplace, exploring,” Angela

recalled. “I could not find that boy.”

He figured out how to climb through a neighbor’s gate, as well.

Nearly an hour later, his mother found Jonathan calmly playing

on a backyard swingset a half block away.

In coming years, Gerard and Angela Bisignano would come to

admire, occasionally fear, and generally expect the unending surprises

that came with their first child’s blithely bold disposition.

“My wife was concerned he had a bone problem because he

kept breaking bones,” Gerard said. “It was skateboarding, soccer,

snowboarding...jumping off a slide when he was three. When he

was four he broke a collarbone.”

“By the time he was 16, he’d broken seven or eight bones. Because

he was charging.”

Even as a fourth grade Boy Scout, or Webelo, he managed to

push to the very edge.

“We were in the Santa Monica Mountains, and there was this

How faith and community helped the Bisignano family survive the loss of their son Jonathan,

and the lessons in love his life imparted

30 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

one huge mountain,” Angela said. “He ran to the top of it, and

there was a 500-foot drop. He runs to it; he's the first one up there.

I'm shaking down below. ‘What are you doing? Stop! That is what

he would do.’”

Jonathan charged through his childhood, an electric presence

wherever he went. Hunter Riley, who would become one of his

closest friends, remembers when Jonathan arrived at Palos Verdes

Intermediate School. They were both in eighth grade. The Bisignanos

had just moved from Redondo to Palos Verdes and nobody

at school knew the new kid. But few failed to notice him. He was

almost impossible to miss, with his long black skater boy hair,

wolf-like, piercing blue eyes and buoyant, mischievous presence.

“The first thing me and my buddies, we didn’t like this good

looking guy getting all the attention from the girls,” Riley said,

laughing. “Our first reaction was to punk him a little bit. We tried

to hate him, but we couldn’t. He became a part of our friends circle.”

Another member of that circle, Arian Savar, recalled how the

girls were curious about Jonathan while the guys kept a cool distance.

“I’ve always been a direct, straightforward person, so I just

walked right over to him and introduced myself,” Savar said. “I

wanted to know, ‘Is he one of us?’ To be honest, it turned out he

The Bisignano family, from left, Jonathan, Angela, Gerard, and David.

Photo courtesy the Bisignano family

was something quite more. He looked me in the

eye and shook my hand.”

Thus began a friendship that would have all the

usual “shenanigans,” as Savar said, that teenage

boys get up to together — the sports, misadventures,

girl chasing, and epic hangouts of the

bumpy, exuberant years of high school.

But comradery with Jonathan had another

level. He was somebody who found deeper ways

to connect, both with friends and family and the

world at large.

“We would talk about God, family, our community,

our country, what it all means, and what our

place is in it,” Savar said.

“We’d have conversations about metaphysics

and the newest information on consciousness research

all the way, basically, to what happens

after you die,” Riley said. “That was something

he researched, especially after high school. He

was always exploring.”

He played some football early in high school,

but then grabbed hold of the idea that the school

needed a rugby team. So he put one together with

his friends.

“He didn't just play football, he had to play

rugby, with no pads,” his mother, Angela, said.

“He couldn't just run and do hurdles, no, he had

to be the pole vaulter — like he would always be

going for the thing that would make me be on my

knees praying, ‘Oh Lord what is he doing now?’”

Jonathan also had an ability to learn on the fly,

and to do so with an almost maddening ease.

“He picked up rugby really quickly,” Riley said.

“He was a smaller guy, but he was tough. He really

got into rugby. He was 5’7’’, a buck thirty,

maybe forty. But he was an animal.”

“He was very hands on,” Riley said. “Back

when we met, it was skateboarding, then he got

into the surfing thing, playing piano, playing guitar.

He didn’t even let a lot of people know he

played piano, I think he was a little embarrassed...And

he was weirdly good at everything

he tried.”

Jonathan was an exceptional student. He

dreamt of going to USC, and lived that dream. In

college, he met the girl of his dreams, a beautiful

doe-eyed journalism student named Casey

Tamkin, with whom he began to plan a life beyond

college. Last spring, he was preparing to

graduate with a degree in international relations

and economics and pursue a career in investment

banking. With typical, methodical avidness, he’d

applied with 100 firms, and was advancing in the

multilevel hiring process that the highest level financial

firms require. Instead of doing the usual

fraternity brother spring break to Cabo, he flew

with a friend to Japan simply to better know how

that corner of the world worked.

His parents noticed that after his return he was

experiencing unusual weariness, beyond normal

jet lag. But he kept charging: a weekend in Vegas

with his fraternity brothers, then a weekend in

the desert with his girlfriend at the Coachella

music festival. The couple drove back together

Monday morning, April 18, and made plans to

meet for dinner that night.

He then went to his apartment and took a nap

from which he never woke up.

At the time of his passing, at the age of 22, the

circumstances — a college kid who’d been at a

music festival — led to a widespread assumption

he’d experienced an overdose. The USC Daily

Trojan reported “accidental overdose” as the

likely cause of death. Initially, due to the news

report, his father accepted the assumption, despite

the fact that it seemed entirely out of character

for Jonathan and no drugs were found near

his son.

“He went to Coachella, it ended on Sunday and

he partied all night long like kids do, into the next

days, probably took something somewhere along

the way he shouldn't have, he wasn't sure how

powerful it was, whatever, and then finally made

it home after maybe 48 hours up and just faded,”

Gerard said. “That was the assumption.”

But the truth was he'd done nothing of the

kind. He and Casey left the festival’s final show

and grabbed some food. Far from partying, he’d

dutifully waited an hour-and-a-half in line with

her just so she could have the noodles she

wanted. Afterwards, they went back to their

condo rental for a good night's sleep.

The next night, his heart simply gave out.

“There is just a moment,” his father said later,

“where the number of beats that God has allowed

to you comes to an end.”

His family had a history of congenital heart failure.

Angela’s father experienced four heart attacks

and died of the final one, at the age of 54.

But those who knew Jonathan best saw something

beyond a genetic condition. They saw a

young man who lived as if each day could be his

last, a friend, son, and brother gone far too soon,

but one who left behind lessons in love and living

for those left in the wake of the startlingly beautiful

and bold swath he cut on his way through

this life.

“Jon, you were taken from us far too soon,” his

girlfriend, Casey, said at his memorial, standing

near his casket. “But you taught me that life isn’t

measured by the the breaths we take. It is measured

by what we do with the moments we are

given. In just 22 years, you lived a fuller life than

someone who could have lived to be 100.”

Life love

Jonathan Chase Bisignano was born May 24,


“Twenty-five hours of labor,” Angela said.

“Jonathan took his sweet time coming out the

birth canal. In hindsight, it was probably a prelude

for coming attractions. Jonathan was determined

to do things his way.”

Jon cont. on page 32

November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 31

Jon cont. from page 31

“The first time I saw him I fell in

love, deep, deep love,” she said. “He

became in that moment my beautiful

boy. Honestly, the most beautiful

baby I had ever seen. It wasn’t

for another four years that I would

know my second beautiful boy.”

Angela, a clinical psychologist,

put her career on hold to give as

much attention as possible to her

two boys. This was indicative of the

approach the Bisignanos took with

their family. They lived deliberately.

Gerard, a successful real estate

agent, was elected to the Redondo

Beach City Council when Jonathan

was four.

“I thought, ‘I want to show my

family that being involved, getting

out there, is an important part of

life,” he said. “If we didn’t have children

at the time, I never would

have run.”

Pastor Dan Bradford of Kings

Harbor Church, who baptized

Jonathan at Seaside Lagoon and officiated

at his funeral at Green Hills

Memorial Park, said he admired the

intentionality with which Bisignanos

conducted their lives.

“I can tell you, both are movers

and shakers, but not for sake of

being movers and shakers,” Bradford

said. “They are genuinely invested

in everything they put their

hands and hearts to.”

The fact the boys were given Old

Testament names, the youngest as

the man who would be king and

the oldest as his deepest friend and

protector, was likewise a considered


“Jonathan's name means gift

from God,” Angela said. “When we

were trying to figure out a second

name for our youngest, there is a

story in the Bible that talks about

how the souls of Jonathan and

David were knit together. We loved

the idea that the souls of our boys

would be knit together. And they

were so close. It was precious.”

As the family looked through

photographs after Jonathan’s passing,

they noticed something striking

about the photos that contained

both brothers.

“There are literally no photos of

my brother where he doesn’t have

his arm around me,” said David. “I

look at those photos and I realize

how much he loved me. So that’s

pretty cool.”

“I don’t recall Jonathan ever saying

anything mean spirited about

his brother, he loved him so much,”

Angela said. “I was really proud

that I raised a son who cared so

much about his brother; that really

warmed my heart.”

Growing up, David said, his

brother was larger than life. Everyone

seemed to know him.

“It was strange for me,” David

said. “I don’t know why, but it’s like

my brother was famous. I felt like I

was the brother of a celebrity. He

just had a huge impact.”

“I was always the kid who had

the coolest big bro,” he said. “Everything

my brother did was the

coolest, that’s just how it was, and

every story I told was about my

brother. ‘Well, my brother…’ Now

it’s awkward. I can’t use those stories.”

Early on, their age difference

meant that Jonathan rarely hung

out with David. But David, who is

now 18, remembers the exact moment

that changed. He was 11 or

12. He and his brother were supposed

to be going to church.

Jonathan drove.

“You know what? Let’s go do

something fun,” he told his little


They went and got burritos at

Phanny’s in Redondo Beach.

“In my mind, I’m 11, doing something

against the rules — it’s not really

what I did yet,” David recalled.

“That was kind of the breaking of

the barrier.”

After Jonathan went away to college,

he didn’t come home often.

But once, when he was in high

school, David got a call from

Jonathan. He was coming to pick

Jonathan and his girlfriend, Casey Tamkins, whom he met at USC in 2014. His

family believe he’d found the love of his life. Photo courtesy Casey Tamkins

him up from school.

“Man,” David said. “It’s 10:30.”

“He said, ‘I’m comg to pick you

up.’ I just left class, and that was it.”

Jonathan had a gift for brotherhood

beyond his family. Throughout

his life, other boys congregated

around him.

“He was a gatherer,” Gerard said.

“We would wake up on Saturday

mornings and there would be five

or six kids here sleeping on the


Savar was one of those kids. He

recalled “a rough patch” when he

stayed for a while at the Bisignano


“Jon provided a safe haven in so

many ways, not just words, wisdom,

comradery, and hugs, but he

sheltered me at times when I

needed it,” he said. “The family was

amazing. They’d see me on the

couch, ‘Okay, good morning.’ Three

days go by, the weekend passes, I

wake up on the couch and they

never gave me a hard time. They

just made sure my head was in the

right place, that I knew hard times

come and go.”

Once when he was staying with

the Bisignanos, the family had plans

to go to Palm Springs to celebrate

Jonathan’s and his grandfather

Flavio’s birthdays. Jonathan asked

Savar to come along; Savar declined,

telling his friend he didn’t

want his heavy mood to dampen

the occasion.

“No,” Jonathan said. “You are

going with me.”

The Bisignanos, realizing their

son needed a vehicle large enough

to haul his constant crew, had purchased

a GMC Denali. It would become

an iconic car among his high

school friends. Jonathan and Savar

drove through the desert in the Denali.

“Jon was one of those people you

could be in a car with for hours and

you are constantly entertained,

never a moment of boredom,” Savar

said. “If there is a quiet point, it’s

because you are contemplating

something you just talked about.

Car rides always went fast.”

Savar didn’t want to talk about

what was bothering him.

“After we get back, dude,” he

said. “Not now.”

“We are not going anywhere with

something weighing on your mind,”

Jonathan replied. “Dude, you know

me. You better tell me.”

And so they talked. And laughed.

And sat and thought, staring out at

the stark landscape, Savar’s troubles

dissipating with each passing


“We pull into Palm Springs, get

out of the car smiling and laughing,”

Savar said. “All worries were

completely wiped out, gone — not

dormant, but resolved.”

They arrived to Flavio Bisignano

holding court over drinks at the

pool patio, regaling the boys with

tales from his 90 years of living.

Hours later, as they made their way

to their hotel room, Savar paused

and nearly broke down.

“There’s so much suffering and

conflict in my life,” he told

Jonathan. “I just can’t see going on

90 years, another 70 years of life.

32 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

It’s just too much.”

Jonathan looked his friend in the

eye. “You have to, man,” he said. “If

we are old men, telling stories to

our kids and grandkids, we are

going to look back and be grateful

we got to live this long life. You

aren’t going anywhere without me.”

Riley said there was a dark time

during his high school years that

he’s not sure he would have made

it through had it not been for

Jonathan’s relentlessly caring presence.

Unlike most of his other

friends, Riley wasn’t a partier.

Jonathan, with his ebullient conviviality,

was extremely social. Yet

he would make sure he and Riley

also had quiet time together.

“He was the only person I could

talk to about some things,” Riley

said. “At that age, most people, even

friends, are very surface level. We’d

something wrong with you.”

He had a perpetual smile on his

face, a distinctive high-pitched

laugh that his friends loved to

mimic, and an ability to never take

himself too seriously.

“That was one of the things I took

away from Jon the most: his ability

to not care about other people’s

judgement,” Riley said. “That was

the biggest thing. He was goofy,

such a dork, he could be so embarrassing,

but he just wouldn’t care.”

His penchant for helping those

around him rings a bell for friends

of Angela.

“She’s always lived with purpose

and intention, and she’s a great help

to other women, helping them discover

their gifts and live life to the

fullest,” said friend Carol Anderson

Junara. “She’s a great communicator

of love.”

Jonathan and David Bisignano. Photo courtesy the Bisignano family

have these strong, deep, meaningful

conversations….No matter what his

situation was, he was always able to

be positive, always able to give you

his full attention.”

As Jonathan once told Riley, if

one of his buddies was going

through a hard time, then he was,

too. He also had an extremely unusual

characteristic for a teenager:

he didn’t particularly care what

anyone thought of him.

“It’s hard to explain, but there

was no problem with him,” Savar

said. “He never let anything stick to

him, or define him, or ruin his day.

That was something that left a mark

on me, in so many ways. He was

like a pillar. If somebody was angry,

he’d be like, ‘Screw it. Let that guy

be angry. You can be better than

that. Let’s skate, go bomb the hill,

go get a milkshake.’ Always that

positive influence.”

“He was just such a good guy, no

bullshit, so straightforward. If you

didn’t like Jon, there was probably

On Mother’s Day this year, three

weeks after Jonathan’s passing, another

of his friends left a note for

Angela. Handwritten, on pink stationery,

the writer shared with Angela

that his relationship with his

own mother had gotten better “just

by hearing Jon talk about your relationship

with him.”

“It’s so rare for a mother to be so

close to their children, and the example

Jon’s shown has made me

strive to be a better son,” he wrote.

“You’ve raised him to be someone

I’ve trusted more than anyone else

in my life….Although you are not

my own mother, I appreciate you as

if you were because of the impact

you’ve had on my life through Jon.”

Love life

It was Tuesday night, March 12,

2014, in the dormitories at USC.

Freshman Casey Tamkin was

Jon cont. on page 34

November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 33

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Jon cont. from page 33

bored. She called her friend at the

Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity to see

if there was anything going on.

They were playing beer pong, he

said. Come on over.

She and another girl walked to

the fraternity. When she arrived

and found her friend, she saw a

blue-eyed boy sitting watchfully on

the steps of the house’s atrium.

“Eyes so blue they just stop you,”

Tamkin later recalled. “They are the

first thing you see when you walk

into a room.”

She asked her friend who the boy

was, and he told her Jonathan was

his big brother at the fraternity.

“You didn’t tell me you had a really

cute big brother,” she told him.


She and Jonathan ended up talking,

and then taking a walk together

to a campus bar to have a drink. He

told her she had the most beautiful

eyes. Though flattered, she scoffed

at him.

“Are you okay? My eyes are

brown,” she said.

He gave her his phone number

but she later realized it was missing

a digit. She assumed it was on purpose

and she’d never talk to him

again. But weeks later, in Cabo for

spring break, she ran into him on

the beach. They ended up hanging

out for the next four days. When

she got back to USC, she thought,

“You know what, I’m just going to

text him.” He came over that night

to do homework with her, and they

worked and talked, the beginning of

a conversation that would be ongoing

until the day he died a little

more than two years later. They fell

seamlessly and deeply into love.

Her first impression had been

that Jonathan, with his good looks

and cool swagger, puffed out chest

and perfect posture, was “such a

frat boy.” But he turned out to be

anything but. He was broadly curious,

unconventional in how he

thought and the intensity with

which he lived. He was absolutely

full of love, both for the world and

for the people he shared his life

with, and completely unafraid to

show it.

“Being in college, the guys are all,

‘Yeah, hook up with a hot girl,’”

Tamkin said. “Jon was so different,

so kind, so unlike anyone I ever

met. He just wanted to hang out

and talk and get to know you. We

just hit it off the moment we met.”

“What was so special is he really

lived every day like it was his last,”

she said. “That is something I take

away as a lesson from him. He was

so full of life. The last weekend we

spent together, he was dancing in

the desert, having the time of his

life, nonstop, go, go, go.”

Next month: love, loss, lessons, and

the embrace of community. B

34 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 35




by Randy Angel

Mira Costa’s Melia Chittenden, center in yellow jersey, maintains her focus on the grueling Palos Verdes cross country course. Photo by Ray Vidal

Mira Costa distance runner Elizabeth Melia Chittenden has her sights set on reaching the podium twice at State meets

One might find it difficult to relate ballet to distance running, but the

correlation has worked for Mira Costa senior Elizabeth Melia Chittenden.

Chittenden, who goes by Melia, has become the latest in a long list of

standout distance runners produced at Mira Costa.

The defending Bay League 3200-meter champion and favorite to win the

cross country crown attributes her success to her ability to focus, a trait she

feels comes from her 10 years as a ballet dancer.

“I began ballet when I was five years old,” Chittenden said. “In ballet,

every little thing has to be perfect. I remember staring in the mirror while

standing on my toes willing myself not to fall. I use that same focus in racing,

fixing my eyes on the shoulder of the girl ahead of me.”

Mira Costa’s girls cross country coach Renee Williams-Smith has seen

many accomplished runners throughout her career that included the former

Mustang being named the Brooks 2014 Inspiring Coach of the Year. Yet she

sees something special in Chittenden.

“She has a laser-like focus when she is racing,” Williams-Smith said. ”She

is able to be ‘in the zone’ like no other athlete that I have coached while


Having only run in the Grandview 5K as a kid, Chittenden officially became

a runner during her first year of high school.

“After 10 years of ballet, I wanted to try different things that Mira Costa

had to offer,” Chittenden recalled “I went out for track my freshman year

as a high jumper. We had break for a week before finals and I was looking

for something to do so I asked my biology teacher Roberto Calderon, who

is the track and cross country coach, if I could work out with the girls cross

country team. I soon fell in love with the sport.”

Mira Costa’s girls cross country team is ranked No. 5 in CIF-Southern

Section Division 2 and will begin its quest for a CIF title and qualification

for the State Championship Meet at the CIF Prelims on Saturday, November

12 at Riverside Golf Club. Finals will be held the following Saturday at the

same venue.

“Our cross country team finished 9th in State last year and we want to

improve on that,” said Chittenden, who placed 11th with a time of 18 minutes,

1 second. “I’d like to place in the top five and am hoping to run a 17:30

this year.”

On a 3-mile course, Chittenden owns the state’s 15th fastest time for girls

this season at 16:56.77 with her 2nd-place finish at the Cool Breeze Invitational

on September 3.

The following week, Mira Costa won the Division 2 senior team championship

at the Laguna Hills Invitational.

Chittenden’s strategy is not to take an early lead, saving her energy to

pass runners in the last mile or so.

Winning a Bay League individual championship (finals were held November

3) is among the goals set by Chittenden this season after placing

second to Palos Verdes senior Jacquelyn Smith in 2015.

“Winning the Bay League title would be incredible,” Chittenden said. “I

learned a lot racing against Jacquelyn. This is my senior year and I’ve

worked so hard that a league championship would validate my efforts.”

Her coach is confident in her ability to do so.

36 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

“While Melia is naturally talented,

she has an amazing work

ethic,” Williams-Smith said. “She

challenges herself everyday on

every workout. I think the girls on

the team see this and aspire to it.

She really doesn’t take her talent for

granted and has decided to get the

most out of running. She is a very

driven person. She is driven in her

academics and everything else that

she does.”

Mira Costa’s cross country season

“unofficially” began in August,

when the programs from Mira

Costa and Palos Verdes high schools

train for a week in Mammoth.

“The Mammoth Camp is a highlight

of every summer,” Chittenden

said. “Although I enjoy family vacations,

I always look forward to

going to Mammoth. The altitude

and strenuous runs make for great

training. You learn mental toughness

you don’t know you had. The

bonding aspect is tremendous. Our

team is really close by the time the

season starts.”

It was during this year’s trip to

Mammoth that the high school runners

had the opportunity to meet

Meb Keflezighi, who was preparing

for his final training run before

heading to Rio de Janeiro for the

Olympic Games.

“Meb told us to focus on setting

goals we know we can reach then

increase them,” Chittenden said.

“He started with the goal of being

the fastest on his team, then fastest

in the league, then state, region and

so on. He later became an Olympic

medalist and was an inspiration to

listen to.”

Chittenden said she doesn’t know

where she gets her athletic genes

from although her parents, David

and Camille, and younger siblings

also run.

“My mother began running

marathons but not until she was in

her mid-to-late 30s,” Melia said.

“I’m happy that (siblings) Cara and

Cy are running at Mira Costa and

even Anna, who is in 6th grade,

runs for Manhattan Beach Middle


Williams-Smith said it is a rarity

to have three kids from the same

family on varsity at the same time.

“Cara is the only freshman on our

varsity squad and has been a varsity

scorer since her second race of the

season,” Williams-Smith said. ”Cy is

one of our super sophomore boys

Chittenden cont. on page 38

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Chittenden cont. from page 37

and is also on the varsity squad.”

Melia feels cross country has

made her a better distance runner

during the spring track and field


“Cross country translates well to

the track season,” Chittenden said.

“It’s a combination of physical and

mental toughness. It builds a strong

foundation for endurance. We average

running 40-50 miles per week,

much less than

in track. Mentally,

in cross

country you

could be competing

with a

field of 100-200

runners while

on the track,

there is a much

smaller number

of competitors.”

As much as

Chittenden enjoys

cross country,

it was on

the track where

she has experienced

her most

memorable moments

as a runner.

At the CIF-SS

Masters Meet

on May 27

Chittenden was

competing in

the 3200-meter

race needing a

time of 10:35 to

qualify for the

State Championships.

“During the

last lap, I knew

it would be

tough to make

the time,” Chittenden

said. “At

the 200m mark

I had 40 seconds

to make it

then a thought

entered my

mind. I said to

myself ‘Oh well,

the prom is the

same day as State so it won’t be so

bad.’ Suddenly, I sprinted the fastest

I ever have in my life. I looked at

the clock and saw my time was

10:32. I started crying.”

A few weeks earlier at the Bay

League championships, Chittenden

experience a magical moment with

teammate Alexis Johnson.

Senior Melia Chittenden won the first

Bay League cross country meet outdistancing

the nearest runner by more

than 11 seconds. Photo by Ray Vidal

“Alexis was trying to break 11

minutes and we were pushing each

other throughout the race,” Chittenden

recalled. “She finished second

at 10:59 just behind my 10:57.”

Chittenden said Williams-Smith

has been a major influence on her,

not just on the track but in life.

“Coach Renee is the best coach

I’ve ever had,” Chittenden said.

“She is such an inspiration being the

first girl to run

cross country

at Mira Costa

and then run at

Kansas State.

She teaches

you to run for

yourself and

for her. I hate

to let her

down. I’m almost

afraid to

run for another

coach when I

get to college.

It will be so


“Also, when I

was a sophomore,

I admired


Brunstein, She

wasn’t our

fastest runner

but was a very

intense, determined


who is now

running for

New York University.


helped shape

who I am



plans to compete

in college

but has yet to

decide on a

school, weighing

her many


She has visited


and Northwestern

and has offers

to visit the

University of Pennsylvania and UC


“I plan to run in college but the

school has to have a top academic

program and a program where I

can study abroad,” Chittenden explained.

“I want to experience

everything I can in college.”

Boasting a weighted GPA of 4.2,

38 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Chittenden plans to study International

Relations and possibly Political


“I want to travel and I look forward

to interacting with and helping

people,” she added.

Chittenden has been preparing

for her college career for years. She

has been involved with the Model

United Nations program at Mira

Costa since she was a freshman

and every Wednesday, she volunteers

at the Shared Bread program

at First United Methodist Church

in Redondo Beach.

“We feed the homeless and I get

to talk to many interesting people,”

Chittenden said. “Whether you’re

doing dishes, serving the food or

getting a chance to eat with those

less fortunate, it’s a very rewarding


While her life off the race course

seems equally as fast-paced, Chittenden

still finds time to sit down

and play the piano, something she

has done since she was seven years

old. But she is happiest when her

legs are moving.

“I really enjoy running,” Chittenden

said. “I like to be outside and

whether it’s on the Green Belt,

Strand or a hill in Palos Verdes, I

get the feeling of being free.” B

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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 39

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9 10


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10 11

44 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016

Michael Burstein is a probate and estate planning

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each people


Paul Gudmundsson

Fellow lifeguards remembered Paul Gudmundsson with a

beach memorial and paddleout on November 2 in Hermosa

Beach, where he grew up and raised his family. Gudmundsson

became a Los Angeles County Lifeguard in 1972. He subsequently

became a pharmacist, but remained a recurrent (part time)

lifeguard. In 1974, 1976 and 1980 he paddled for the winning Taplin

Bell team and in 1976 his name was added to the bell as a doryman.

His son Shaun and daughter Alexandra both joined him as lifeguards.

He lifeguarded through the past summer and was thought to be

in good health when he died suddenly on October 9. He was 62.

“The weekend before he passed away, Paul went for a beach run,

talked about surfing with me, went for a couple dips in the ocean,

had a bodysurfing competition with Marilyn (his wife) after splashing

her, and searched for sand crabs and made drip castles for his

granddaughter,” his son Shaun said.

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be sent to

the Junior Lifeguard Trust Fund at LACOLA Trust, 524 Garnet

Street, #B, Redondo Beach, CA. 90277.

1. LAFD Chief Deputy Anthony Whittle comforts Gudmundsson’s

wife Marilyn after presenting her with the American Flag. Photo by

Cameron Chacker

2. Susie Cunningham. Photo by Joel Gitelson

3. Mourners throw water following the

scattering of ashes. Photo by Cameron


4. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Olsby

with the memorial American Flag. Photo by

Cameron Chacker

5. Lifeguard Association president John

Greger presents the traditional Bronze Savage

statue to Gudmundsson’s wife Marilyn. Photo

by Joel Gitelson

6. Son Shaun Gudmundsson. Photo by Joel


7. Remebering Paul. Photo by Cameron 3






6 7

46 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016


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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 47

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