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Malibu Surfside News 041218

18 | April 12, 2018 |

18 | April 12, 2018 | Malibu surfside news Life & arts Author pens fiction novels inspired by ‘old Malibu’ Kateri Wozny Freelance Reporter When Gretchen Van Lente reflects on her days of living in Malibu on Point Dume during the 1970s to 2000, she recalls that nature ruled the roost. Van Lente “It was like a grassy planet and it wasn’t incorporated,” Van Lente recalled. “There were not many mansions or palm trees, the cliffside had a lot of space. Movie stars would come because it was remote and a lot of the people were folksy and neighborly.” Van Lente said that once the early 1980s came, mansions started being built. She had moved to the scenic city from her hometown of Muskegon, Mich., when she was 24 years old with aspirations of becoming a writer. “As a kid growing up poor, I discovered that I needed to be an artist, so I picked up a pen and pencil and decided that’s what I needed to do,” Van Lente said. “Nothing stood in my way.” Van Lente, the ninth out of 10 children, said the first thing she wrote were pages of resentment against her brothers and sisters, which she joked was a “thick book.” She later took a piece of scrap paper and wrote a story about a Jewish boy she never met and mailed it to The Atlantic Monthly. “They replied back on a piece of scrap paper and said that maybe someday I would meet a Jewish boy,” Van Lente said. Her mother chuckled, but it wasn’t funny to Van Lente at the time. Then, years later while she was attending community college, the publication awarded her fourth place in creative writing and gave her a certificate of merit for poetry. While finding her creative edge in Malibu, Van Lente wrote book reviews and performed interviews with authors. She also received her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Syracuse University and took courses through the University of California – Los Angeles’ Creative Writing Program. As a student, she received an award from PEN America Los Angeles. Van Lente cites writers such as Shakespeare, Flannery O’Connor and George Saunders as her inspirations. “No one will ever handle language like [Shakespeare] did,” Van Lente said. “Flannery was so funny and an absurdist, while George found no limits to what he could describe. He had a wide imagination and an amazing work ethic.” In 2000, Van Lente left Malibu to teach creative writing at Florida Gulf Coast University. “I would tell my students to find their own voice and help bring out the best in what they wrote,” Van Lente said. “They were already good storytellers.” After writing and publishing short stories for various publications throughout the years, Van Lente began publishing books with Malibu as a setting. She now resides in Portland, Ore. “I finally had some distance to write about my experiences and used ‘old Malibu’ as a setting for literary horror,” Van Lente said. She said that many of these horror stories appear in a 261-page collection called “She-Thing and Other Righteous Tales,” which was published this February. “I use composites to write about all the fascinating people I have met over the years and beyond that,” Van Lente said. “The stories are highly fictionalized.” Then, last month, Van Please see Author, 22 Comedy, juggling duo brings talents to Smothers stage Submitted by Pepperdine University The Passing Zone brings its award-winning combination of comedy, dexterity, danger and hilarity to Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts. Tickets, starting at $17 for adults, $15 for youth 17 and under, and $10 for fulltime Pepperdine students, are available now by calling (310) 506-4522 or visiting The Passing Zone, comprised of Owen Morse and Jon Wee, is one of the most successful and sought-after comedy acts working today. Morse and Wee met in 1986 at a juggling convention while they were both in college, and instantly knew they were destined to be a team. Two weeks after their first performance together they won the silver medal at the International Jugglers’ Association Teams Competition. The next year they won the gold. That recognition earned an invitation to appear at the renowned Comedy and Magic Club in Los Angeles, where on their first night they were approached by a talent scout from “The Tonight Show” and booked for their first national television appearance in September 1990. Their first feature film was “The Addams Family Movie,” in which Morse and Wee doubled for Gomez (Raul Julia) and Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) in the climactic Mamushka dagger-passing scene. This was followed by an appearance in the award-winning comedy documentary, “The Aristocrats.” The Passing Zone’s first London appearance was in the Royal Variety Performance at the Dominion Theatre, performing for Prince Charles and sharing the bill with Tony Bennett and Riverdance. The Passing Zone has also performed at the White House. Morse and Wee are known as much for their comedy as their juggling skills. They were featured twice on the gala stage at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and have opened for comedians George Carlin, Bob Newhart, Bob Hope, and Penn & Teller. Television appearances have included “Comic Strip Live,” “An Evening at The Improv,” “MADtv,” “Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular,” “Steve Harvey’s Big Time Challenge,” the “Miss America Pageant,” Seasons The Passing Zone When: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 22 Where: Pepperdine University Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu For tickets, which cost $17 for adults, $15 for youth 17 and under, and $10 for Pepperdine students, call (310) 506-4522 or visit arts. 1 and 11 of “America’s Got Talent,” and regular returns to NBC’s “Today.” Morse and Wee were also commentators on ESPN for their coverage of the World Juggling Federation competitions. The group has received numerous awards and recognitions. They are the first juggling duo to ever The Passing Zone will bring hilarity and dexterity to Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre on Sunday, April 22. Photo Submitted pass 11 clubs, and hold five Guinness World Records and 18 gold medals from the IJA. They are also recipients of IJA’s Award of Excellence, given to only 13 acts worldwide since the organization’s inception. In their newest show, “The Passing Zone Saves the World,” Morse and Wee attempt to take on the troubles of life through power of infectious laughter and the thrill of dangerous stunts involving a stun gun, chainsaws, ping-pong balls and more. Life & Arts Malibu surfside news | April 12, 2018 | 19 Zimmer has an eye, a vision for art in Malibu Barbara Burke Freelance Reporter She’s an advocate for arts in Malibu, serving on the Malibu Cultural Arts Commission and as executive producer of the Concert on the Bluffs. She’s an animal lover and an animal rights advocate. She’s a mother of three. She’s a writer. She’s an entrepreneur. In short, Malibu’s Suzanne Zimmer is a delightful dynamo who strives to create a better, artistically rich Malibu. “I grew up in Malibu at the Colony,” Zimmer said. “My dad, Harold Keith, was the chair of the California Arts Council and he would always take us to the theater when we were children. The arts were part of my life from my early childhood.” Today, Zimmer cares about Malibu and how its residents interact with art on a daily basis. “We need to create a mechanism for artistic expression to be displayed,” she said. “We need to find places and an opportunity for public arts expression.” To that end, she championed the Public Arts ordinance. The ordinance, she explains, “provides and requires public art or an in-lieu contribution by developers to the Cultural Arts fund.” “Our goals for the Malibu Arts Commission are to provide beautiful works of art that community members can enjoy throughout Malibu,” she said. “We want to promote, support, encourage and facilitate “This very creative place is unique in the world. The arts, animals and the environment all make Malibu very special. We all need to keep it that way.” Suzanne Zimmer — Malibu Cultural Arts Commission member first-rate artistic expression and experiences in Malibu.” Before serving on the Malibu Arts Commission, Zimmer served as a member of Malibu View Protection Task Force from 2008-2009, and she was a member of the Library Task Force from the fall of 2011 to April, 2012. In her application to serve on the commission, Zimmer wrote that she wants “to support the cultural arts by forming a strong partnership between the cultural arts and community leaders, businesses and residents.” Zimmer is delighted with the success of the first two Concerts on the Bluffs, an event she believes helps to achieve that aspiration. “The first year, we had about 700 people attend. That was really a proof of concept effort,” she said. “Last year, it burgeoned to between 1,800 and 1,900 attendees, according to City staff.” The Concert on the Bluffs showcases worldclass arts performances and benefits arts education in Malibu. “Last year, we raised $36,000 for arts education in the public schools,” Zimmer said. “Clearly, the community wants these types of events and it also benefits from them.” Although the next Concert on the Bluffs is not yet scheduled, Zimmer said that she and others have big hopes and plans for the event. “It is important to have events like the Concert on the Bluffs where people can gather and enjoy spectacular programming,” she said. “Our vision for the next concert is to include jazz dance, ethnic dance and world music. We have discussed possibly having the concert in two parts, with an event in the earlier part of the day and then an evening program. We hope to host world-class performers and to have many live performances on the stage.” Stay tuned for more information, as Zimmer and others are actively working on planning the next event. Further, Zimmer and others would like Malibu to have a Performing Arts Center that would serve as a permanent cultural arts center, a space for the creation of all types of artistic expression. “I think the community would be very supportive of that,” Zimmer said. “Of course, it would take a comprehensive effort on many fronts, from both the public sector organizations, as well as from private donations.” An author, a baker, a jam maker Although art is a huge part of Zimmer’s life, she has other interests. She is currently working on a novel that explores a complicated lifelong relationship between two sisters and, when it is completed, she hopes to go on a book tour. “My novel is at times comical and touching,” she said. “At other times, it is raw and painful.” Zimmer also thoroughly enjoys working in her Malibu orchard, and she enjoys baking pies and making jams from the orchard’s fruits. “My orchard on Point Dume is in a microclimate and we grow apples, oranges, figs, lemons, guavas, berries, grapefruit and avocado,” Zimmer said. “For many years, I’ve submitted pies to the Pie Festival and I have often won blue ribbons. Working with the soil, harvesting the fruit, and making my jams are all terrific culinary activities, and they keep one close to the Earth.” And so, Happy the Golden Jam was born. The jams are made in Malibu with held from chef Gilles Dirat, who previously served as the head chef of The Bistro, The Bistro Garden and Mistral in Beverly Hills. Suzanne Zimmer holds a poster for Concert on the Bluffs. Chris Ward Malibuites can buy the jams at P.C. Greens or Vintage Grocers. There’s orange marmalade, sweet and tart; vegan lemon curd, tasty and terrific; and apple cinnamon, which tastes just like pie. A portion of the profits from the jam sales are donated to homeless animal shelters to assist in funding medical treatment and care for the animals. “We adopted a dog named Hope from the Lancaster Animal Shelter on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and our Golden Retriever was named Happy,” Zimmer said. “That’s how the company got its name.” Being happy and hopeful are integral to Zimmer’s outlook on life. “I grew up here in Malibu and it really matters to me,” she said. “When you grow up here on the beaches, you have a unique relationship with the sea. This very creative place is unique in the world. The arts, animals and the environment all make Malibu very special. We all need to keep it that way.”