Archive for the ‘idyllwild’ Category

Op Art Ceramics at Quiet Creek Gallery Saturday

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Op Art Vessels

This afternoon, Saturday, July 7, Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery in Idyllwild will host one of the final receptions of award-winning porcelain ceramicist Leslie Thompson of Ojai.

After three decades of decorating her ceramics with designs influenced by Op Art and pattern weaving from Native American and Amish cultures, Leslie will ‘retire’ from painting and focus on fine pattern weaving.

“We are privileged to host one of Leslie’s final ceramics exhibitions, featuring recent and  finally carved masterpieces,” said Mike Ahern from the Quiet Creek Gallery. “They are truly heirloom pieces.”

The intricate patterns on these hand-crafted “vessels” resemble patterns found on Native American blankets or wall hangings. What Indians have created with a needle and thread, Leslie has managed with a brush and paint. Each pattern creates an optical illusion, making her pots look multi-dimensional.

Op art works are abstract, with many popular pieces made in only black and white. When you look at them, there is an impression of movement, vibrations, swelling, warping and even “hidden” images. Some of the designs in Leslie’s work can look like an aerial view of a staircase, or the texture of a pine cone, depending upon the viewer’s perspective.

According to various web sites, Op Art was derived from the constructivist practices of the German Bauhaus School which stressed the relationship between form and function. Some better-known artists associated with the Op Art style include Julian Stanczak, Victor Vasalery, John McHale and Arnold Schmidt.

Leslie paints optical illusions onto her pots

To her credit, Leslie has won awards from all over the world, including Europe. She has shown in 30 galleries, but now has limited them to a select few, including Wellfleet, Massachusettes; Sedona, Arizona; Sausalito, California and Idyllwild.

“Leslie’s pieces are one-of-a-kind, last-of-a-kind, and will be collectable over time,” Mike added.

Mike said that he first met Leslie three years ago when she was staying at the Quiet Creek Inn and taking a Navajo weaving class at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Since then, Mike has been featuring her pottery at the Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery.

“Leslie has been doing this challenging work for several decades and feels that it is appropriate to retire this media of her art,” Mike explained. “It has indeed put demands on her hands, wrists, eyes over the years, and now she’s ready to focus on her other chosen medium–weaving.”

There will be a champagne reception for Leslie Thompson’s work on Saturday, July 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery, located at 54300 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Casey Abrams’ Album Release Set for June 26

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Casey Abrams latest album will be released Tuesday. Banner art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“American Idol” heartthrob Casey Abrams’ first self-titled album is set for release on Tuesday, June 26. Already several web sites have showcased his entire album, including the Hollywood Reporter and Amazon.

Not to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn’t heard the album yet, I’ll speak in general terms. Casey is singing about his life in real time. About living the simple life, falling in and out of love, longing and not changing his personality in spite of fame.

One fan said on the MJS big blog site, that he’d surely buy Casey’s album for it’s great music, but the themes of rejection and longing for the unattainable reminded him too much of his own “loser teenage years.” Yet, “Hit the Road Jack,” a duet with Haley Reinhart, was well worth the album price (Amazon presale: $9.99).

Most of the upbeat, Bob Marley-type tunes, were likely written by Casey because they are clever. You’re tapping and singing along, dancing along even, and then he throws a few zingers that shows he has a soul or at least lived a few lifetimes already.

The three tunes that I can mention (because Casey has already released them as singles on You Tube) are “Get Out,” “Simple Life” and “Stuck in London.”

“Simple Life” (studio version) could be about living his high school years in Idyllwild. Casey sings about unplugging his laptop, cell phone and TV, and enjoying the simple life. He injects a bit of humor by stating that he should never had dumped that hand-me-down from dad (Ira Abrams from the Idyllwild Arts Film Department). What was Ira’s hand-me-down–clothes, a Cadillac or a musical instrument? Casey never says.

His “Get Out” lyrics are heartbreaking, even though they are sung in an upbeat way: “Lately, I’ve been going crazy/ cuz I want you, baby/but you don’t/ so get out, get out, get out, get out of my heart!/

So sometime over the past year or so Casey fell in love. Ten to one it’s not Haley, because she’s just as busy as he is promoting singles and scheduling public appearances. Could it be Bianca King, the young actress from The Philippines who was hell bent on meeting Casey during the “American Idol Live” tour? She turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass (see Idyllwild Me post, “Casey’s Expanding Fan Base,” dated Jan. 15, 2012).

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch with Casey banner outside Cafe Aroma. Art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

Why I guessed Bianca is because Casey sings a lot about eating mangoes in a mango tree in “Stuck in London.” Well, mangoes grow naturally in The Philippines, and he was visiting there for a couple of days. But is that long enough to fall in love?

Ira Abrams is careful not to give too much away about his son’s personal life. But he admitted that many young Filipinos are crazy about Casey.

“Did you know they hang banners from buildings with quotes from Casey?” Ira said outside Fairway a few weeks ago. “Some quotes are mundane like ‘I sometimes watch TV.'”

Whether Casey is singing about Bianca is nobody’s business. But it sure makes the song more interesting if we know the juicy details. Remember when “You’re So Vain” was released by Carly Simon in 1972? Well, her self-absorbed lover wasn’t husband James Taylor, but Warren Beatty, the actor from “Shampoo” and “Reds.” (Wikipedia stated there was “much speculation” about three men, including Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte and Warren Beatty).

However, all that speculation may have helped “You’re So Vain” reach no. 72 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time” chart. So, to help boost Casey’s record sales, someone needs to find out if Bianca has eaten mangoes in trees before.

Casey with Caleb Hensinger at an Idyllwild Arts film event.

Probably the only song that Casey didn’t write in this latest album is the tune popularized by Ray Charles. “Hit the Road Jack” is a spanky little duet with Haley Reinhart. You’ve got to admit it, those two have chemistry. He’s classy, and she’s brassy. He growls, and her voice has range.

But he’s a great jazz musician and could actually make it in the movies, if he wanted to. And singing duets with Haley has boosted her popularity since he took her under his wing in “American Idol’s” Season 10.

This is not the first duet for Casey and Haley. So far, they’ve sung “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Moanin,” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

It’s not Casey’s first album either. Casey released “Like a Mirror,” in 2005 and “Oh, You Kid!” in 2010. He probably funded the first two, while Concord is taking credit for this one.

You can purchase all three of Casey’s albums on Amazon. Or you can sample “Oh, You Kid!” on Casey’s web site, www.caseyabrams.com.

“Give him a Grammy already,” said another Casey fan after reviewing his album. “I love every song on this album!”

To preview some of Casey’s hit singles, visit You Tube at www.youtube.com or go directly to Amazon, and buy the album for $9.99.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Banners of Casey Abrams by Marcia E. Gawecki are now on display at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.

 

A View of the Highland Fire from Hemet

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Smoke from the Highland Fire reached Hemet

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At the Target shopping center in Hemet, people were talking excitedly in groups, looking up at the smoke coming from the Highland Fire which began Saturday night, June 16.

According to news reports, the Highland Fire, which is beyond the Banning side of the mountain in Beaumont, reached 2,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., and was 10 percent contained.

An air tanker flew onto Hemet Field, which was on the other side of the Target store.

“I’ve seen the air tanker come in and land three times,” said Wayne Parker, an Idyllwild Arts van driver.

He had been there for about 20 minutes, waiting on ESL students to come out of Target.

“There must be water tanks with hoses on Hemet Field,” Wayne said. “But I can’t see over the store, which is blocking my view.”

The tanker took off and headed back towards the fire. Red and orange flames could be seen from the distance.

“The tanker’s doing a number on that fire,” Wayne added. “It’ll probably be contained by the time we reach Idyllwild.”

This crew from Mountain Center had just returned from fighting a blaze in Palm Springs

The ESL students, from China and Korea, were on their way home from a field trip to a fun park in Temecula. They were concerned about the smoke, but when they got to Hemet, they could see that the fire was a long distance from Idyllwild and relaxed a bit.

“I’m not afraid,” said William, an ESL student from China who is studying film.

Currently, nine of them are taking makeup classes at the academy for 8 weeks. However, today was a fun day, away from their studies.

Charles Schlacks, an Idyllwild resident, who returned from a film event in Orange, said the smoke from the Highland fire could be seen as far as Riverside.

“I was on the 215, and could see the smoke from there,” Charles said.

Wind was a big factor in other blazes around Idyllwild Saturday night.

At the Shell Station in Valle Vista, a fire crew from Mountain Center (BDF 56) was filling up and cleaning their windows. They looked tired, but said they weren’t returning from the Highland Blaze.

The brush fire they had been battling in Palm Springs was about five acres.

“Wind was a big factor today,” said one of the firefighters.

When asked about the Highland Fire, the firefighter said they had heard about it, but didn’t know why they hadn’t been called to assist.

“Maybe we’ll be called later on,” he said, as he put away the squeegee.

According to news reports, as many as 300 firefighters are are battling the blaze, including ground crews, helicopters and air tankers.

He laughed when someone asked if the Highland Blaze would be contained soon.

Smoke caused a haze over the setting sun. Mountain view of Hemet. Photo by William Liu.

“Not likely,” he said.

Driving up the hill towards Idyllwild, the smoke was casting an eerie haze over the setting sun. Several motorists had pulled over in one of the pullouts to take pictures.

Firefighters are expected to work though the night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

UCLA Bruins Head for College World Series

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

A fan mugs it up in front of the UCLA bruin on campus

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s too bad that the LA Times doesn’t cover college baseball.

The UCLA Bruins have made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, and if they win tonight, they’re headed for the College World Series.

So Bruins fans are forced to follow their team by other means, such as streaming on UCLA’s web site (www.uclabruins.com) or Bruins Nation, a blog site that’s manic about all UCLA sports (www.bruinsnation.com). And since the Bruins have made it this far, tickets are hard to come by. Forget finding them  on eBay.

So that left one Bruins fan from Idyllwild with only one thing left to do: Go to the game and stand outside the fence.

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe Internet (and a UCLA Chemistry major), went to the Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium in Westwood. Since 1981, UCLA has called Jackie Robinson its home stadium.

“It was the best time I’ve had all year,” exclaimed Jeffrey. “The place was packed, and everyone I met was talking UCLA baseball. There was a definite electricity in the air.”

UCLA Bruins fan Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Monster art by Marcia Gawecki

Since Jackie Robinson Stadium, with only 1500 seats, is located on the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration, many of the fans at Friday’s game against TCU were military veterans.

“I think Jackie Robinson must’ve made it a provision that veterans get tickets to see the games,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey took his camcorder along with him and captured the game. But he also got some candid interviews with veterans he met standing outside the fence.

Jeffrey plans to post the interviews on his Green Cafe web site (www.greencafe.com), and show before his Movie Night on Friday at 7 p.m. in Idyllwild.

“I fought in Vietnam, and was proud to serve my country,” one vet said. “Now I have cancer, but I’m not down about it. I just take it day by day”

Then he broke into a wide smile and said, “But tomorrow, I got a ticket to the game!”

Jeffrey met another veteran who has been a Bruins baseball fan for years. Even before the team was hot, he would watch them every Tuesday night.

UCLA campus

“It used to be that you could get any seat in the stadium,” he said. “Now, it’s not so easy.”

As Bruins baseball fans, the lack of tickets didn’t matter. They came to see the game.

“I could have paid $25 to stand behind Center Field looking through a peep hole,” Jeffrey said, but he found a better place standing with about 25 others on the grass looking over Home Plate.

LA police officers would drive by occasionally, calling out for scores, and cheering when they were ahead. Jeffrey, who was double parked, only got a smile from one of the officers who asked about his truck.

“I just wanted to see the game,” Jeffrey said, avoiding a ticket.

He met several others, including professors and former college baseball players, all hanging outside the fence.

“Their play-by-play was better than any announcer,” Jeffrey said, marveling at how much the fans knew about the players and the game.

“They were using terms that I didn’t even know of,” he added.

Dennis Wohlman, the uncle of Bruins outfielder, Beau Amaral, lives in Idyllwild, so Jeffrey took a video of Beau at bat.

“Beau got out, but his hits allowed another player to steal second,” Jeffrey said.

The Bruins beat TCU 6-2.

Before the Bruins made it to the Super Regionals, the only way Dennis could have watched his nephew play was to go to the game and watch outside the fence like Jeffrey did. But now, the Super Regionals are televised.

“Just our rotten luck, the Bruins are playing tonight, opposite the Stanley Cup Finals,” Jeffrey said with a groan.

Yet, the LA Times has covered all of those hockey games.

If the UCLA Bruins win tonight against TCU, then they’ll go to the College World Series in Omaha. If not, then they play again on Sunday.

“Next to Cornhusker home games, the College World Series is one of the biggest events of the year in Omaha,” said Jeffrey.

Of course, College World Series tickets are impossible to get too. But, the games will likely be televised. And the daily newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, will cover the games. So UCLA Bruins fans can follow their team to victory across the country.

However, if the LA Times had covered Bruins baseball, then maybe Jeffrey would not have made it to the game. He would have missed the camaraderie and a chance to clear his head from business for one afternoon.

“After the game, we were all best buddies, cheering and giving High Fives,” Jeffrey said. “No one wanted to leave. They just wanted to linger for awhile.”

But he’ll likely get season tickets for Bruins baseball next year.

“Where else can you watch a game for under $10, and with hot dogs only costing a buck,” Jeffrey said.

Bruins vs. TCU at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 tonight.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Abandoned Graffitied Van Was Stolen

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The abandoned van in Valle Vista turned out to be stolen

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Not often when you report an abandoned vehicle to the police, do you get to hear the end of the story.

In this case, the white Ford van was stolen. It now sits parked outside Idyllwild Garage, waiting on the insurance company to make its report before returning it to its owners.

However, in my attempt to be a good citizen, I may have implicated myself in the crime. You see, my fingerprints are all over the driver’s side handle.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed the white van parked in the pullout near Valle Vista. It’s a popular pullout because it’s close to the bridge and the creek, and oftentimes people go there in the summer to cool off.

Days later, I was going down the hill again and noticed the same van parked there. This time, I was concerned. Mostly because it was after the weekend, and it hadn’t moved.

Was the guy on an extended fishing trip, or did something happen to him?

In my short stint as a newspaper reporter (Idyllwild crime was my beat), I learned to notice inconsistencies. I once called a sheriff’s deputy about an abandoned truck in Valle Vista. (My editor thought it may have been associated with illegal dumping at the time). As it turned out, the truck’s owner was an out-of-work musician who hung himself in a nearby tree. He had even left a note in the truck.

The police blotter only mentioned the abandoned vehicle.

So knowing that, I got the license plate number and the number of the nearby mile marker, and reported the abandoned van to the police. They took down my information, and said they’d send an officer out to investigate.

I laughed with the dispatch operator about the driver being on a long fishing trip. I didn’t mention any hunches about dead bodies.

Three days later, I passed the same van again, but this time it had graffiti tagged all over it. On one side, they used profanity. It was no longer a nuisance vehicle, but an eyesore. I called the police again.

But this time, they directed me to Code Enforcement. I guess any abandoned vehicle that had been damaged, was now their problem. I gave the same story, and the officer said he’d open a file and get right on it.

Same van turned up at Idyllwild Garage

On May 21, I got tired of waiting on the police to tow the vehicle, and stopped to take pictures. It had “Infamous” written on the hood and rear.

Thinking about the abandoned vehicle/suicide in Valle Vista, I tried the door handle. After all, there could be a dead body inside.

It opened.

Inside, the van smelled of cigarette smoke, and the ashtray was overflowing with butts. There were clothes all over the back from a laundry basket.  The graffiti taggers must’ve rummaged through them looking for money or valuables. However, they overlooked a Gucci makeup bag.

I was glad that there was no corpses, or anyone hurt inside.

I tried to take a picture of the inside, for what reason I don’t know, but my flash didn’t go off. My camera said that I needed to replace the batteries.

“Just as well,” I thought to myself. “There’s no body, or anyone who needs my help, so now I’m trespassing.”

That was the end of the story, until today when I saw the van parked outside Idyllwild Garage.

My fingerprints were left on the door handle

I spoke to one of the mechanics, telling my good citizen story.

“Funny that it would end up here in Idyllwild,” I said.

“It was stolen,” he said. “The insurance company is on its way over to investigate.”

The owners were not from Idyllwild, he added.

Then I started to sweat. My fingerprints were left on the door handle. Should I turn myself in, and confess nosiness? Are my fingerprints impeding the sheriff’s investigation?

I decided to lay low and wait until the police come to me. Surely, they have records of me reporting the abandoned vehicle twice in one week. When you report anything to the police, you always have to give your name and phone number.

But I’m worried that I’ll get busted for stealing the van.  I’ve seen too many Film Noir movies to know that anyone’s luck can change on a dime. A good deed can land you in the clinker, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Palm Springs Film Noir Fest Opens Tonight

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor, actress June Lockhart and Charles Schlacks at the 2010 Film Noir Festival

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The 12th Annual Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival opens tonight (May 10) at the Camelot Theater in Palm Springs.

A small band of loyal film noir movie buffs from Idyllwild will attend the 3-day film festival dedicated to B-movies. Among them are Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe, who hosts a weekly movie night in Idyllwild, and his friend, Charles Schlacks, Jr., who has attended each year since its inception in 2000.

Their idea of heaven is sitting in a movie theater watching four films each day.

“Most of the movies shown at the festival have never been seen by the public before,” said Jeffrey, an alum of UCLA, whose film department helps restore old films, including many Film Noirs.

Of the 12-movie line-up that includes “Cry Danger,” “I Love Trouble,” “Shield for Murder” and “The Big Heat,” Charles has only seen “The Big Heat” before. He’s 81 years old.

Both men were good friends with the festival’s originator, Arthur Lyons, a former city councilman who wrote mystery novels and loved Film Noir. Wearing a cap and white shoes, Arthur often looked like he stepped out of one of the movies from the 1940s. However, he was only 62 when he died in 2008.

Since then, Alan Rhode has taken over his mantle, and continued the festival.

Arthur came to Jeff’s movie night to show a rare film noir and promote his book about film noir, “Death on the Cheap.”

Some of the attractions of the Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival is that movie goers can mingle with movie stars. After many of the movies, Alan interviews one of the stars to get the “inside scoop” of what it was like back then. Most of the stars are in their 80s, but are still smart and lively.

For more information, visit Green Cafe’s web site at www.greencafe.com or the Arthur Lyons’ site, www.arthurlyonsfilmnoir.com.

Tickets are still available at the Camelot Theater before each showing.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Willy’s Not Going to Show Off His Abs

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Willy Latzo and wife Ramona in workout attire

 

By Marcia E Gawecki

Willy Latzo, the 4-time Mixed Marshall Arts (MMA) Champion who now owns Idyllwild Fitness Center, isn’t going to take off his shirt.

Not now, and not this summer.

“You’ll always see me in workout sweats,” Willy said, as he was handing out flyers. “If you want to see my abs, come to one of my fights.”

OK, that just crushed my perceptions of bodybuilders, boxers and MMA champs.

Go to Venice Beach and all the bodybuilders have their shirts off. They want you to see their muscles. They want you to ooh and ahh, and maybe touch them. It’s all part of the game. Even California’s former governor showed off his sculpted abs for the media.

Willy is not going to show you his, but his wife will.

In the flyer promoting free classes with the $40 membership, Willy points to photos of his wife, Ramona, in a tank top working on her biceps.

“It’s OK for Ramona to show off her muscles because she’s a woman,” Willy explained. “But men get jealous of each other.”

OK, so Willy, who owns a fitness center, where showing off a muscular body would be an asset, is being coy. Or is he being sly as a fox?

“Even outside, you’ll always see me in sweats,” he said.

Guess it’s like the old Poker rule: “Always have more than you’re showing.”

Or just let others sing your praises.

Willy is never going to take off his shirt

Jeffrey Taylor, from Green Cafe Internet, has been working out with Willy for the past two months. He’s lost about 25 pounds, mostly from sweating from Willy’s workouts. He said that he’s not trying to build muscle, but wants a cardiovascular workout.

“I’m not seeing much improvement,” Willy told Jeffrey recently. “So I’m going to double your workouts.”

Jeffrey began to sweat. Up until now, the workouts have been challenging. They included hanging from ceiling straps, while pulling his legs up to his chest. Professional gymnasts only did those kind of feats.

Now Jeffrey is building endurance by running on a Stair Master.

“During our regular workouts, I climbed 104 flights of stairs,” Jeffrey said. “That’s like going to the top of the Empire State Building.”

A younger weight lifter at Idyllwild Fitness collapsed after walking 50 flights on the Stair Master. Jeffrey didn’t miss a beat.

“I told him that I could do double that,” he said. “I must be building endurance. I’m twice his age.”

To further build endurance, Jeffrey takes the Tuesday Salsa Cardio workouts.

“Jeffrey doesn’t like the new instructor,” Willy teased. “She makes him work!”

“You might like the Salsa Cardio or the Yoga classes,” Willy said to me. “But forget about Boot Camp or even the Kids MMA. They’re all taught by me, and they’re too tough for you right now.”

Why would I bother? He’s not going to take his shirt off.

Ramona is the only lucky one. Perhaps she can slip me a photo sometime?

Idyllwild Fitness Center, 54423 Village Center Drive (below Mountain Harvest Market in Strawberry Plaza). Call (951) 659-5000. Monthly memberships, including classes, are only $40. Drop-in day rate: $15. Hours: Monday –  Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m – 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Apr 26, 2012 @ 0:09

Glass Fixer Knows About Film Crashes

Friday, April 6th, 2012

A cracked windshield can obstruct a driver's view

By Marcia E. Gawecki

In 2005, Doug Shelby, owner of Shelby Auto Glass in Hemet, got a call from one of the film students at Idyllwild Arts. The teenager was thinking of putting a car crash in his short film, and he wanted to know about breaking windshield glass.

Doug doesn’t remember who it was, but likely it could have been Alexis Echavarria, who won the “Audience Choice Award” for “18 Minutes,” a short film about the last 18 minutes of sunlight on earth.

The 16-year-old student died before the screening at ShortFest 2009 in Palm Springs, but a student award has been set up in his name.

In one of the scenes in “18 Minutes,” a young couple pauses on the street for a moment to kiss, while another car hits them head on. The teenage girl goes through the windshield, while the teenage boy survives. A dramatic scene ensues, showing the boy picking her up and cradling her in his arms, just moments before the world ends.

“I don’t think a head-on collision at low speeds, with one car parked would cause someone to go through the windshield,” said Doug. “Windshields are too tough now.”

In 'The Vow,' a woman goes through the windshield and gets amnesia

Doug explained that most car windshields are made of two panes of glass with a thin layer of plastic in between. That combination of glass and plastic is super strong, and makes it hard for anything to go through it, especially a person.

“You would have to be traveling about 90 mph straight into a brick wall to go through the windshield,” Doug said.

But teenage filmmakers are not the only ones who don’t get the windshield thing right.

A few weeks ago, Doug and his wife, Debi, went to see “The Vow,” a true love story about a married couple who get into a car crash. It’s the same premise. The two park momentarily at a stop sign to kiss, and then are rear-ended by a 14-wheeler. The woman, played by Rachael McAdams, goes through the windshield and survives, but gets amnesia.

“I leaned over and said to my wife, ‘That would never happen,'” Doug said.

Too bad director Michael Sucsy didn’t have Doug on the set to advise them about the realities of windshield glass.

Doug just shrugged and said, “That’s Hollywood!”

Many windshields crack in Idyllwild due to the weather

Shelby Glass is located at the bottom of the hill in Valle Vista/Hemet. Doug’s son works in their mobile unit that services Idyllwild businesses, including Idyllwild Arts.

“Shelby Glass is the best,” said Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation at Idyllwild Arts. “We’ve used them for years because they’re reasonable and they come up to us for no extra charge.”

Shelby’s free mobile service covers Idyllwild, Beaumont, Banning, Hemet, and San Jacinto, among other cities.

For more information on Shelby Glass, contact (888) 298-7125, (951) 927-9810 or visit shelbyautoglass.com. The shop is located at 45457 Hwy. 74 in Hemet.

And to view Alexis Echavarria’s ’18 Minutes,’ visit www.alexisechavarria.com. (Video takes some time to download, so please be patient).

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Neighbors Help Combat Idyllwild Crime

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Having a large dog helps keep crime at bay

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Due diligence is what will help Idyllwild in its latest crime spree. In a Town Hall meeting held at the Idyllwild School on Saturday, March 24, about 100 townspeople were there to express their fears and find some answers. Some of my neighbors were there.

It’s not important that I didn’t go to the meeting. What is important is that I know my neighbors. And that I talk to them about what’s going on in the neighborhood when they’re out walking their dogs. Or we’re helping each other shovel our driveways.

That kind of neighborhood diligence will help combat crime. Two years ago, we all banded together to shut down a drug house at the end of our street.

Some enterprising renter decided to open up a drug house and supply the neighborhood with pot and other drugs. New cars started lining the streets, but most would only stay for a few minutes. Odd people would walk by in the middle of the day, not waving or looking you in the eye.

Then the drama started. Cuss words coming out of the mouths of grown women. And fights over money. The cops were there a lot, and finally they made her move out. Guess they got to the landlord (who was out of state). The last time I saw her, she was carrying a puppy in her hand along Hwy. 243, showing it to drivers trying to sell it.

The moral of this story is not how to combat a drug house in your neighborhood, but how you and your neighbors can band together to stop crime. During that time, we would all talk to each other about what we saw, and heard. Some reported her to the police for disturbing the noise ordinance, while others called Code Enforcement for all of the junk in the yard.

I should have been on high alert when I read in the Town Crier that my neighbor had reported break-ins in part-time homes around her. I’m only 10 houses away.

“I don’t have anything to steal,” I’d laugh and say. Except I’d cry if anyone took my MacBook.

Unoccupied homes are open invitations for robbers

Then my neighbor from Los Angeles told me that some thieves broke into a neighbor’s house while she was at home! The woman was disabled, so they just kept robbing her! That neighbor is a credible source, so I believe him. He’s in his 70s and worked in insurance investigations.

The in-home invasion, he said, was near McMahon (where Marion View Drive turns into Double View). My guess is that the thugs are targeting homes close to the highway. Just one turn and they’d be on Hwy. 243 and out of town.

My brother was a loss prevention officer for JC Penneys in Omaha. Too many times, he said, he would get pepper sprayed in the face by robbers. They would pack things into suitcases or bags and put them by the doors. Then they’d rush out to a waiting car and speed away. In pursuit, my brother would get sprayed–all for minimum wage.

But that lesson taught me that robbers want a clean getaway. They want the fastest way out of town. So if you live along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild, it’s time to be diligent. Lock your doors, and report strange activity to the police.

Mountain Top Liquor was robbed at gunpoint a few weeks back. Richard, the clerk on duty at the time, said the guy knew what he was doing.

“He held the gun straight in my face and didn’t waver,” Richard said. “Either he’d done this before, or he had military training.”

Then the robber took off on foot behind the Fort, likely to a waiting car. Richard said the guy must’ve known someone locally because he knew where to park and get away quickly.

“Lock your doors,” Richard warned me. “There are people out there without ethics, and you have to protect yourself.”

I’ve been careless about locking my front and back doors at the same time. I also forget to lock my car, but secretly I hope that one would get stolen.

Streets like Marion View and McMahon are close to Hwy 243

However, I wasn’t expecting a knock in the night.

It was around 10:30 p.m., and I figured my boyfriend forgot his key. The bedroom is upstairs, so it took me a few minutes to open the door. By then, no one was there, but a station wagon was parked just beyond the driveway. I could see its frame in the moonlight.

I flicked the porch light and waved. But the car sped off. It wasn’t my boyfriend’s friends dropping him off. Was it someone just lost, looking for another house? Or were would-be thieves checking me out?

I noticed that the window was open a crack (for fresh air), but it could’ve easily been pried open. My car, covered in snow, was parked across the street because I have a slanted driveway and its easier to get out in the snow. The porch lights were on, but maybe they were wondering if anyone was at home?

Keep in mind when they knocked, no dog barked, because I don’t have one. But my boyfriend has a viscious cat that I wouldn’t think twice about letting out if anyone forces their way in. And they’re lucky I don’t have a gun.

Many women I've met at the Legion in Idyllwild pack guns

The home invaders are lucky that that invalid woman didn’t have a gun. Many people up here have guns, and I’m not just talking about Tracy Filippi, the bug guy.

Women have guns in their homes and in their cars. I’ve talked to a lot of them at the American Legion. These women are senior citizens, but many of them have also served in the military and know how to use a gun. They wouldn’t think twice about shooting anyone who forces their way into their homes.

My guess is the crime spree for homes and businesses along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild will continue until someone gets shot. And then it won’t be like taking candy from a baby anymore.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

MMA Champ to Focus on Idyllwild Youth

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Willy is a 4-time MMA Champ. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Idyllwild Fitness Center reopened three weeks ago. The new owner, Willy Latzo, is a four-time mixed martial arts world champion, who bought the gym for two reasons: To help him train for his next fight, and to help the young people of Idyllwild.

If you Google Willy Latzo, a million hits turn up. A self described, “Champion of the Hearts,” Willy also has many fight videos on You Tube. He is the European Champion in Muay Thai Boxing and a German champion in boxing. in 2000, he retired undefeated with 268 fights.

He said that fighting allowed him to travel the world, and see the better part of life. He has a trainer, and agent, and lots of people who work for him. He’s owned many gyms before, including in Berlin, where he’s from, and in Los Angeles.

Yet, Willy ended up in Idyllwild. Why?

“It was time to buy a gym, and we looked at Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and New Jersey,” and, surprisingly, Idyllwild came up, and we thought, ‘That’s brilliant!'” Willy said, from his office with only one muscle poster on the wall.

At 6 foot, 2 inches, and 255 pounds, Willy is a formidable force. Although he was wearing a sweatshirt and pants, it was hard to see his muscles. Granted, it’s wintertime in Idyllwild, but it was surprising how bundled up he was, and how little he wanted to talk about himself, his championships, his lifestyle, and physique.

“This gym is not about making money,” Willy began. “It’s about potential.”

He knows Hulk Hogan and other famous celebrities personally and wants to bring them to Idyllwild. He wants to help generate some excitement about fitness for the teenagers of Idyllwild.

“It’s too early yet,” Willy said. “We just opened up this month, but in the Spring, I’d like to start working on some events that focus on youth and fitness.”

He said that he’s met a lot of teenagers who are hanging in the streets with nothing to do.

“Some have come in here smelling of vodka,” Willy said. “I’m not here to judge, but who is taking care of the youth?”

“We need to help and show courage,” Willy added. “We should not look away.”

As a father of two teenagers, he knows how challenging it can be. He has a son who is 15 years old and a daughter who is 13 years old.

But he believes that fitness and fighting helped him develop character growing up in Berlin.

His parents are originally from Turkey, and moved to Germany for a better life. Both were nurses who worked hard, sometimes 16 to 20 hours a day.  However, his father died at age 49 of cancer.

“I think he was heartbroken because he couldn’t go home,” Willy said. “He never returned to Turkey.”

Willy started fighting at age six, and learned quickly. He was teaching his first karate class at age 9. His lessons lead him to fights all over the world.

Willy and wife Ramona at their Idyllwild Opening. Photo Jeffrey Taylor.

“I think I was born to fight,” he said.

During the discussion, he pointed out that fighters aren’t angry. They don’t hate their opponents. Mixed martial arts is a sport like any other. It’s about training, strategy, and outwitting your opponent.

“The kids ask me, ‘Isn’t it violent?” Willy said. “It’s not violent. You need to honor your enemy.”

Yet, over the years, Willy has seen the underside of the sport. The drug abuse, and the pressure of sponsors. You find out that your opponents are fighting for the love of money, and not the sport.

“And then one day, you wake up in a hotel room, and you don’t know your own name,” he said.

At age 40, Willy is not delusional about his career as a fighter. He has broken every bone in his body and his nose 16 times. He can’t feel any sensation in his legs anymore. It’s not because he’s been kicked too much, but he wanted to deaden the nerves there. In an ancient method, he used a rolling pin to force his nerves away from the bones.

“It’s great for fighting, but bad in your personal life,” Willy said.

In Idyllwild, he feels closer to the universe. He and his wife, Ramona, love it here. The other night, he walked home in the light of the full moon and was rejuvenated.

He spoke about Lin Long, a woman from China, who lived in the woods for 10 years after she was banished from her town. She developed her own fierce fighting style from the animals.

He said when he went to Japan, he was the chosen student.

“I am the grand master,” Willy stated.

He is looking for another student to learn his martial arts secrets from him. But it wasn’t clear if it would be a boy or girl.

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Background art by Marcia Gawecki.

“He or she will come to me,” Willy said.

He also spoke of his belief in Zen Buddhism, and how a worm could be his grandmother, so he must be careful where he steps in the woods.

All in all, Willy is a champion. His experience as a personal trainer has already shaped one local into a true believer.

“In just three weeks, I can see definition in my chest,” said Jeffrey Taylor, of Green Cafe Internet.

Like many people who work behind a desk, Jeffrey was putting on weight because he couldn’t ride his bicycle in the snow. Willy started focusing on his stomach.

“For most men, that’s the weakest part,” Willy said.

After an hour workout, Jeffrey would complain that it hurt to laugh. But he kept with it, and soon he started to see an improvement.

“I looked in the mirror, and I’m starting to see a six pack,” Jeffrey said with a grin.

He’s not talking about beer, but abdominal muscles that stick out when you’re in great shape.

Yet, Jeffrey is quick to point out that Idyllwild Fitness is not geared for bodybuilders.

In Idyllwild, Willy feels closer to the universe

“I’m not trying to build muscle,” he said. “I just want to get back into shape.”

Besides toning, Willy talks to Jeffrey about his diet.

“He said no more chips, wine and pasta,” Jeffrey said.

For variety, Jeffrey couples his workouts with salsa aerobics, which is also offered at the gym on Tuesday nights.

As for the young people of Idyllwild, many think it’s cool that we have a MMA Champ living among us.

David, who has lived in Idyllwild his entire life, said that he met Willy when he first arrived.

“He knows karate, and is tough, but very spiritual too,” David said. “He’s looking for his next student.”

At least six teenagers are really glad that Idyllwild Fitness reopened its doors. They work for Willy and get to see him on a regular basis.

Idyllwild Fitness offers fitness machines, free weights, a sauna, along with aerobics classes to suit your lifestyle. Monthly individual rates are $40, but funfight, Willy’s high energy workouts with the punching bag, are more.

For more information, call (951) 659-5000 or visit www.idyllwildfitnesscenter.com. Idyllwild Fitness Center is located in Strawberry Creek Shopping Center, just below Mountain Harvest Market. Enter on the lower level.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.