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
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
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.
14 Best of Manhattan Beach
16 Drunk health
22 PTN Halloween gala at Depot
24 Beach Gift Guide
ON THE COVER
Photo courtesy of the
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,
and Ryan McDonald, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Bondo Wyszpolski, DINING EDITOR Richard Foss, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS
Ray Vidal and Brad Jacobson, CALENDAR Judy Rae, DISPLAY SALES Adrienne Slaughter, Tamar Gillotti, Amy Berg, and Shelley
Crawford, CLASSIFIEDS Teri Marin, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA Hermosawave.net, GRAPHIC DESIGNER Tim Teebken,
FRONT DESK Judy Rae
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 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
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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
S O U T H B AY
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
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
Your ONE-STOP SHOP For All YOUR
GIFT GIVING AND STATIONERY NEEDS
Saturday, November 12
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
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
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: email@example.com.
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
AASymphony.org or call (310)
Growing up digital
Girl Scout Troop 3645 hosts a
free screening of the acclaimed
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
CRYSTAL BED THERAPY
Many people who have had Crystal Bed Sessions report the following:
• Feeling more energized
• Clearer thoughts and better focus
STARS & STRIPES
Open Mondays through Saturdays
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
901 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Suite 106
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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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Womansclubofhermosabeach.org.
Friday, November 18
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
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
• 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
• 4 Beds
• 4 Baths
• 2,943 Square Feet
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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 LAKings.com/HolidayIce.
239 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo
SPERBER MEMORY HONORED WITH
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.
PHOTOS BY KEVIN CODY
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
8. Idris Al-Oboudi with Pete Moffett and
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.
14 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
“PINTS FOR PROSTATES”
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 southbaymobros.com.
DEIDRE DAVIDSON/TORRANCE MEMORIAL
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.
16 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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Former U.S. Middle East Commander
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
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
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  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
Cho Klein and David Klein
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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
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
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
HALLOWEEN BALL FOR
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,”
For more information visit PediatricTherapyNetwork.org.
PHOTOS BY ADRIENNE SLAUGHTER
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
2 3 4 5
22 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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Purchase a gift certificate at Celibre Medical Laser Dermatology
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Find that perfect gift at the Hermosa Beach
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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.
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526 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach
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24 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 25
A couple of LONGBOARDERS
by Mike Purpus
Local surf photographer
Anthony Renna and Hall
are both young and
feed off each other.
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
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
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 flowersurfboards.com or
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 eatprimo.com, 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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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.”
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
“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
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
“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
“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.
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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.”
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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Jonathan Bisignano abroad in the Greek Isles. An avid traveler, he traversed Europe,
much of Central America, and spent his last spring break in Japan. Photo
courtesy the Bisignano family
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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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
“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
Chittenden said she doesn’t know
where she gets her athletic genes
from although her parents, David
and Camille, and younger siblings
“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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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 37
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,
could be competing
field of 100-200
on the track,
there is a much
As much as
it was on
the track where
she has experienced
as a runner.
At the CIF-SS
on May 27
race needing a
time of 10:35 to
qualify for the
last lap, I knew
it would be
tough to make
the time,” Chittenden
the 200m mark
I had 40 seconds
to make it
then a thought
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
at Mira Costa
and then run at
you to run for
for her. I hate
to let her
down. I’m almost
run for another
coach when I
get to college.
It will be so
“Also, when I
was a sophomore,
but was a very
who is now
New York University.
who I am
plans to compete
but has yet to
decide on a
She has visited
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
Robert T. Downs, Sharon A. Bryan* ** + ++, Christopher M. Moore* ** + ++, Rebecca L.T. Schroff** + ++, Jan T. Inoue*
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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 39
Raises $1.6 million
n 2009, the first year of the Skechers Pier to
Pier Friendship Walk, 1,700 walkers turned
out and $220,000 was raised. The walk has
built on that success with each succeeding year.
Last year $1.4 million was raised. Last month,
during the 2016 Friendship Walk, over 12,000
walkers packed The Strand, from the Manhattan
Beach pier to the Hermosa Beach Pier, helping to
raise $1.6 million. The walkers were cheered on
by sports and entertainment celebrities, including
former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, fitness
trainer Denise Austin, model Camila Alves,
“Dancing with Stars” host Brooke Burke-Charvet,
Jordyn Jones and boxing legend Sugar Ray
Leonard. Proceeds will benefit the Friendship
Foundation, which provides peer mentors for special
needs kids and to South Bay school district
education foundations. For more about the
Friendship Foundation, visit WeGotFriends.com.
PHOTOS BY BRAD JACOBSON
1. Rabbi Yossi Mintz of the Friendship Foundation.
2. Denise and Katie Austin and "Best Friends
Whenever's" Ben and Matt Royer.
3. Christie Gibel of “LA Little Women.”
4. Tommy Lasorda and Skechers' president
5. Over 12,000 walkers came out to support
the Friendship Foundation and local schools.
6. Ian Ziering, of Beverly Hills 90210, and
7. Dancer Ava Cota.
8. Over 12,000 supporters marched from the
Manhattan Pier to the Hermosa Pier and back.
9. Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard and
“Dancing With Stars” host Brooke Burke-
10. "True Blood's" Jacob Hopkins.
11. Michael Greenberg and Sugar Ray
40 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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SCARE AND TEAR
at haunted pier
he Scare and Tear was founded in 2005 by
Charlie Ninegar to honor Mira Costa High
schoolmate Adam Frand, who died from
cardiac arrest. Spyder Surf has continued the contest,
which awards points for costumes and performance.
“It’s the most photogenic surf contest
of the year,” said Spyder Surf’s Master of Horror
Richard “The Ripper” O’Reilly.
1. Elsa from Frozen (Tamara Lentz). Photo by
2. Scary Clown (Scott Rusher). Photo by Steve
3. Gladiator (Dave Schaefer). Photo by Steve
4. Batman (Myles Gaffney). Photo by Steve
5. Flash Gordon (Joey Samuelian) battles
Spiderman (Chris Mosley). Photo by Steve
6. Not a crook. Photo by Mike Balzer
7. The Crazy Chicken (Cash Cherry). Photo
by Brad Jacobson
8. Skeleton (Kyle Gaffney). Photo by Brad
9. The Black Swan (Kyra Williams). Photo by
10. Where’s Waldo (Shane Balzer). Photo by
11. Spider Woman (Olivia Lusby). Photo by
44 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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attorney. A graduate of the University of California,
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November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 45
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
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
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
46 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • November 10, 2016
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WEATHER TOUCH UPS
Simply Tiles Design Center
Fine Ceramics, Natural Stone, Hardwoods, Cabinetry, Faucetry.
Kitchen & Bathrooms Specialist.
3968 Pacific Coast Hwy., Torrance • (310) 373-7781 • www.simplytiles.com
November 10, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 47