Archive for November, 2011

No Recourse for Hemet/Valle Vista Marijuana Dispensary

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Next time you're at the Shell Station in Valle Vista, check out the activity across the street at the medical marijuana dispensary

The legitimate medical marijuana dispensary, located at 44518 Florida Avenue (across from the Shell Station at Lincoln Avenue) in Hemet/Valle Vista, has a tremendous amount of activity at all hours of the day and night.

Cars drive up and park and within 30 seconds, they take off again. It happens at 6 a.m. as well as 8 p.m. Is all this activity legal? Are all of them sick with legitimate green cards so they can buy marijuana? We hardly think so, but an officer from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said tonight (Nov. 28) there’s little that can be done about it.

The dispensary's address is 44518 Florida Avenue in Valle Vista

“The police are aware of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the area, and they monitor them all of the time,” said the officer answering the non-emergency line. “But they can’t see everyone’s green cards, so there’s little that can be done about it.”

We voiced our concerns about the dispensary’s close proximity to teens and children in that neighborhood. The Shell Station also has lots of local traffic. What if students were able to walk in to the Valle Vista Medical Marijuana dispensary and purchase bags and get back on the bus? (Conveniently, a RTA bus stop is located just outside the premises!)

There's lots of activity there, day and night

“The police cannot do anything about potential situations,” explained the officer. “They cannot bust a business on ‘what ifs.”

She suggested that perhaps everyone we’ve seen frequenting the place had legitimate green cards (which are cards prescribed by their doctors).

“They’re really easy to get,” she said. “It could be that everyone you’ve seen come and go over there legitimately has them.”

So there’s nothing that can be done about a medical marijuana dispensary gone bad? During any given day, when you fill up at the Shell Station, look across the street to see how many cars pull up and leave from there. If our 5-minute projection is correct, they may have more than 500 customers a day!

What if that dispensary wasn’t reporting that much business on its books? Is that enough reason for the police to raid them?

An RTA bus stop is conveniently located just outside the premises

“The only way an officer could investigate that medical marijuana dispensary is if someone said they were able to buy marijuana there without a green card,” the officer said. “We would need actual information.”

But who would admit to that? The person buying marijuana without a green card would be arrested on the spot! They’d be in just as much trouble as the dispensary! (Unless they brokered a plea bargain, but that only happens on TV crime dramas!)

Our tip came from a teenager who lives in Idyllwild. He casually pointed to the dispensary as we drove by in the car.

“You can buy marijuana there,” he said.

We wish he would have added, “Without a green card.”

If this marijuana dispensary is legitimate and popular as all get-out, then why not put a sign out front? There’s a large blank white sign in the parking lot left over from when it was called a tire shop six months ago. Why not put the business name in bold letters: Valle Vista Medical Marijuana Dispensary? Underneath they could brag about their popularity like McDonald’s does: “Over 1 billion customers served.” That way, everything would be above board. Parents in the neighborhood and church goers would all know, as well as the junkies, and then let the chips fall where they may.

The officer suggested that anyone concerned about illegal drug activity at the Valle Vista Medical Marijuana Dispensary contact the Riverside County Drug Activity Tip Line at (951) 955-6384. All tips can be anonymous, but if you leave your name and phone number, then an officer will contact you for followup information.

We left the tip line information about the Valle Vista dispensary, along with the editor’s name and phone number on their answering machine. We’ll see if we get a return call.

In the meantime, there’s a dispensary at the bottom of the Hill (about 15 miles from Idyllwild) where almost anyone can buy marijuana. Unless there’s proof of illegal activity, it will continue to service the area well.

To contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s 24-hour non-emergency line, (800) 950-2444.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Valle Vista Marijuana Dispensory?

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

 

The address to this popular building in Valle Vista is clearly marked on the front.

 

 

 

 

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The brown building with white trim looked just like any other doctor’s or dentist’s office in Hemet/Valle Vista. Only that this one, across from the Shell Station on the corner of Florida and Lincoln Avenues, had a lot of activity.

In fact, in the five minutes it took to fill up my car, four cars had come and gone. And one heavy set guy, who gassed up at the Shell Station, had walked over there and returned within those few minutes.

What was going on here? Was this a crack house?

I’ve lived down the street from drug houses in Chicago and Idyllwild. The drug dealers in Chicago had it down to an art. Cars would stop in the street and honk, and they would run out in their neon green shirts to serve them. At any drug house, there’s always a lot of activity and no one sticks around for long for fear of getting caught. I also used to cover crime for the Idyllwild Town Crier, and had once interviewed a potential drug dealer in Garner Valley. So I’m naturally suspicious.

Several months back, this brown building used to be a tire shop. But it wasn’t open for long. Now, there is only a blank white sign, but the address, 44518, is clearly marked on the front of the building in 12-inch letters. A crack house wouldn’t be so obvious.

There's a lot of suspicious activity at this location

“That’s where you can buy marijuana,” said a teenage boy from Idyllwild who was riding in my car as we passed the place one afternoon.

I didn’t think much about it then, but wondered how he could be so casual about those things with an adult. But each time that I filled up my car at the Shell Station, it nagged at me. There was way too  much activity going on over there for my comfort level.

This time, I decided to take pictures as proof. Except on my camera, there’s no time marker. In one of my pictures, a guy in a blue hoodie, looked up and saw me. I pretended to be messing around with my camera, just taking odd shots to get it to work again. Always take a picture of your foot. (That’s an old street photographer’s trick).

On the way up the hill, I called 911. After all, that hoodie guy could be a drug dealer who had already memorized my plates and told his friends. I could be dead by morning and no one would know why!

The CHP operator transferred me to the Hemet Sherrifs’ Department, saying that I was “reporting suspicious activity.”

I told the dispatch operator what I knew, including the remark from the Idyllwild teen whose mother lives in Hemet. They took my phone number and said that they would send someone out to investigate.

‘Better take your guns,’ I prayed silently. ‘There’s going to be a shootout. No one gives up their drugs that easily.’

The building at 44518 Florida, is a legal marijuana dispensary

Within a few minutes, a Hemet police officer called me back.

“That’s a marijuana dispensary,” she said. “It’s legal.”

She said it had been operating for about a year now, and fellow officers have checked them all out for validity.

“That’s where people can go when a doctor prescribes them marijuana,” she said.

I thanked her and hung up. It must be like the medical marijuana places in Venice Beach that attract so much attention with tourists. That explains why this nondescript building in Valle Vista, with a huge address, has so much activity.

I ran a quick check for “marijuana dispensaries” on Google, but the 44518 Florida address didn’t show up. However, another one in Hemet and more in Palm Springs, Beaumont, Perris, Murrieta and Riverside, appeared.

Yet, I remain on guard. Could a medical marijuana place go bad?

“Yes, they closed the one in Menifee,” said Peggy, who lives in Menifee. “They were dispensing medical marijuana, but also selling it illegally on the side. Some citizen’s group shut them down.”

Could that be what’s happening in Valle Vista? Are they legally and illegally selling marijuana at the same time?

If everything was above board, then why do their customers only stay for two seconds? That’s the behavior of someone who doesn’t want to get caught, not a cancer patient who wants to feel a little better.

This marijuana dispensary is too close to my favorite Shell Station for comfort. If there’s a police shootout and one of the bullets hits a gas truck or tank, then everything could blow sky high!  Yep, I’ve seen it on TV! With my luck, I would be gassing up on pump number 7.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Fall Dance Concert Opens Tonight

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Delaney's dramatic pose graces the promotional posters. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Fall Dance Concert will open at the IAF Theater on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

There will be approximately nine dance numbers, including modern, jazz and classical pieces. One unusual ballet piece, choreographed by staff member Jonathan Sharp, has a modern twist.

“I’m so excited that I’ll be in Jonathan’s piece,” exclaimed Simian, a new dancer.

Originally from Mississippi, Simian earned a scholarship to attend the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program this past summer, and Jonathan recruited him for the academic year. In general, there are about five female dancers to every male dancer.

Simian explained that Jonathan’s ballet number is about cuisine, but also a love triangle.

“It’s about a pot, a potholder and a spatula,” Simian explained.

“It’s really funny,” another dancer said. “You should see Simian jump!”

Simian said that in one number, he leaps across the stage. A feat that not many dancers can achieve, I’m sure.

Gerard, a graduating senior, will be in three ballet numbers.

“It’s good practice for me,” Gerard said. “I’m looking forward to the show. It’s going to be great!”

Ellen Rosa, head of the Dance Department at Idyllwild Arts, is just back from maternity leave and looking sharp. In her absence, Jonathan Sharp was acting director.

Ballet dancers during student choreography last year.

Last week, Ellen said practice was going well, and the dancer on the poster was Delaney, a senior.

The Fall Dance Concert opens tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theater (in the Bowman Building) on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The show runs Thursday and Friday nights. All concerts are free and open to the public, but arrive early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Nov 16, 2011 @ 16:47

 

Askim’s New Music Composition Revealed

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Viola Master Class with Ms. Kozasa. (from L) Sirayah, Alex, Ayane Kozasa, Kathy and Howard

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday, Nov. 8th afternoon concert at Stephens Recital Hall was limited to just a select few. Among those in attendance were student composers, poets, and musicians, along with a few teachers. What they were about to hear was a New Music composition by Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ award-winning music director and composer-in-residence. Not only were they going to hear a brand-new piece, but also the viola player was a winner.

“This viola piece called, ‘Inner Voices,’ was written for the Primrose International Viola Competition in Austin last year, but the winner is here tonight to play it for us,” said Peter Askim, and then introduced Ayane Kozasa, a senior music student at Curtis Institute of  Music in Philadelphia.

“There were viola players from all over the country playing this piece, which was a required piece,” Peter explained. “Everyone had to learn it at the same amount of time, and Ayane won the prize for the best performance. And in a minute, you’ll see why.”

Peter handed out a few scores of “Inner Voices” for those who wanted to follow along, as Ms. Kozasa walked to the front of the room. She was a pretty woman in a black shift dress, and boots that matched the snow outside. Her hair was cut short, perhaps so that it wouldn’t interfere with her instrument.

Looking around, I learned quickly the best way to listen to New Music compositions, was to close your eyes. To my right, Peter had his eyes closed and was leaning forward slightly. To my left, Andrew Leeson, an Creative Writing instructor, also closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. Across the room, Idyllwild Arts Headmaster Brian Cohen (who also plays the viola) had his eyes closed.

Ms. Kozasa shows Alex how to dance while playing his piece as Brian Cohen looks on.

I wasn’t sure why these guys were closing their eyes when there was a pretty coed onstage, but I guessed it was “all about the music” at this point.

From a past experience of listening to a New Music Concert at the Los Angeles Philharmonic last year, I knew that it wasn’t going to be like any standard music. It’s as if the composers crumpled it up and threw it out the window.

(from R) Peter Askim introduces Aane Kozasa to headmaster Brian Cohen

When the conductor started the New Music Concert at the LA Phil, I thought all of the musicians were still warming up. The piece had an unsettled, frenetic feeling about it.

“When are they going to start playing?” I asked the student next to me in the balcony. “Shh, they’re playing,” was my answer.

Now, sitting in Stephens Recital Hall listening to Peter’s  “Inner Voices,” I knew to expect the unexpected.

I breathed in slowly, resisting the urge to close my eyes and decided to focus on the young woman’s viola and bow.

What came out of her instrument was frenetic, and intense. Like someone running through the snow, but at a very fast pace. Maybe the person was running from the police? Who knows? But he was definitely running for his life.

Then I realized that it wasn’t likely an urban setting, but perhaps in Idyllwild. I imagined a person running through the forest. Since there aren’t any bears in these parts, perhaps the person was running from himself?

Then, after the intense part ended, the mood changed, and everything slowed down dramatically. Again, I thought of nature, and how everything seems calm after a rainstorm.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kozasa was putting on a nice performance for the audience who still had their eyes open. She moved across the stage, often times arching her bow as if it were a spear. Then she’d play the queer high notes with such delicacy that her bow barely touched the strings.

During “Inner Voices,” there were many long pauses, in which I was tempted to clap before it was over. Yet, I resisted, and succommed to the tension of the piece, which ended with more of a light “pop” than a razor-sharp dramatic ending. That was rather nice.

“That’s amazing world-class playing,” Peter said, as he stood, clapping for Ms. Kozasa.

“Peter is the master of negative space,” Andrew exclaimed.

When Peter heard that comment repeated later on, he laughed.

Ms. Kozasa works with Howard on his piece

Ms. Kozasa said that it wasn’t a difficult piece to play, once she broke it down into sections.

Peter asked her to explain to the audience how she would approach playing a new piece such as this one.

“Well, I’d look at the bigger sections at first,” she said. “And then try and figure out the character of each part. It’s harder when its free form.”

Peter said that oftentimes, the students think about the fingerings and trying to get the rhythm right, but they have a hard time finding out the meaning of the piece.

Ms. Kozasa said that she tries to find out what the composer is trying to say within the fingerings of the piece. Whenever possible, she also researches other music from the same composer to help with the meaning.

Afterward, Peter said that he finished “Inner Voices” about this time last year, but it had nothing to do with nature or the weather in Idyllwild.

“I finished it in the winter, but started it in the summer,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the seasons.”

So much for my interpretation of a man running through the snow.

For the next hour, Ms. Kozasa held a Master Class in which sh worked with four viola players, including Howard, Alex, Kathy and Syriah. Each played a short piece for her, in which she gave input and suggestions. More often than not, Ms. Kozasa suggested the students become more physical and aggressive in their performances.

Ms. Kozasa makes suggestions to Kathy

For example, when Alex played a slow, Bach piece, Ms. Kozasa stated that it was a dance, and suggested that Alex take a few dance steps.

What?! Dance while he was playing? I tried to imagine what was going through that young man’s head!

“This piece is really about dances back then,” she said. “And the third step is really suspended in mid-air. Try and step while you play. Here, let me show you.”

And then she played the same song, but exaggerated the steps to an unknown dance as she moved across the stage.

Alex, likely eager to please, played the piece again, and moved as best he could to the ancient dance.

“That’s beautiful,” she exclaimed as he finished. “It feels more like a dance in which your whole body is moving to the music. Now, try and put character into each step. Don’t be afraid of making a huge dip.”

After all of the students had played, Peter and Ms. Kozasa stuck around at Stephens to record the piece. He said to look for it soon on iTunes.

For more information and to see a video of Ms. Kozasa at the June 5th Primrose Competition, visit www.peteraskim.com.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Nov 11, 2011 @ 1:28

 

 

 

 

The Monster’s Daughter Visits Idyllwild

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

For more information, contact Jeffrey Taylor at (951) 659-6000

Dance Students Prepare for “The Nutcracker”

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

(from L) Idyllwild Arts dance students Ricardo, Maddy, Gina and Mauricio prepare to dance in "The Nutcracker" with the Inland Pacific Ballet

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For many of us, “The Nutcracker” was our first introduction into the magical world of ballet. The Nutcracker prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy, flowers, snowflakes, dolls and soldiers–every fantasy came alive through dance.

This holiday season, dance students from the Idyllwild Arts Academy will be performing “The Nutcracker” with the Inland Pacific Ballet Company. The four teenagers, Gina, Madison, Mauricio and Ricardo, tried out in September and were accepted to perform.

“We got to audition because of Jonathan,” said Mauricio, a post-graduate dance student who had performed in “The Nutcracker” in Mexico.

Jonathan Sharp is the acting head of the Dance Department at Idyllwild Arts, and a professional dancer with the Inland Pacific Ballet Company. He also teaches ballet at their academy.

“I thought it would be a good experience for the Idyllwild Arts students to dance along with professional dancers in the company,” said Jonathan, who will be among them.

Twice a week until early December, the four dance students practice along with other students from the Inland Pacific Ballet Academy in Montclair. There, they take two classes, which last about three hours each.

In their Saturday class, they were learning how maneuver a Chinese Dragon.

Wait a minute! I don’t remember a Chinese Dragon appearing in “The Nutcracker” of my youth.

“There are many different versions of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Mauricio explained. “In this one, they have a Chinese Dragon.”

Th red, yellow and black Chinese Dragon, made of wire and material, had a large head, winged ears and a laughing mouth. A tall dancer was selected as the leader who would maneuver the dragon’s head. Behind him, the dragon stretched another 25 feet, held up by seven other dancers with sticks, including the guy handling the tail.

In this class, the instructor was teaching them how to throw their sections of the dragon over their heads, while they jumped over to the other side. These movements made the dragon move. However, each dancer had to be quick  and not step ahead or pull too hard on the dragon.

If they did everything right, the dragon looked like it was moving seamlessly across the stage.

“Nice feet!” the instructor yelled to Gina and Ricardo as they ran along with the other dancers. They had to exaggerate their “happy feet,” which looked like a straight-legged run.

Gina dances a modern piece during an Idyllwild Arts Student Choreography event last year

After a couple of times in which the teacher switched out the dancers, she brought them around her and gave a pep talk about the culture and dance.

“Remember, you are the dragon,” she said to them. “You are one with it.”

When the dancers laughed nervously at this comment, the instructor emphasized that they will always be visible to the audience.

“We can see your every move onstage,” she warned. “And all of the looks on your faces.”

Once the dance students got all got the twirling motions and jumping motions down, the instructor added “The Nutcracker” music to make it authentic.

At one point, the instructor showed Mauricio how to maneuver the dragon’s tail. She made slow, sweeping motions, like someone in a flag corps would do.

“I understand what she was expecting out of me,” Mauricio said. “But the other girls were pulling the dragon every which way!”

At times, the instructor would call the dance class over to look at her laptop of the Inland Ballet Company’s “Nutcracker” performance from 2010.

Although the Idyllwild Arts students are not getting paid for the nine “Nutcracker” performances held at the Bridges Auditorium and the Lewis Family Playhouse in Montclair from Dec. 3 to Dec. 18, Gina said they were fortunate.

“At least we don’t have to pay $300 to $400 dollars to be part of the production,” she said.

The dance students from the Inland Pacific Ballet Academy have to pay that amount to cover costs of their extra classes, costumes and various production costs.

Although the practice schedule is hectic and the Idyllwild Arts students must travel nearly two hours each way twice a week, they all agreed that it was worth it.

“It’s going to be really exciting to dance along with professional dancers,” Mauricio exclaimed.

Maddy, a National Honor Student and president of the senior class, made the most of her time in the school van by doing her homework.

“This is better than in my dorm room because there’s no distractions,” she said.

Looking ahead, Gina also thought it would look good on her resume when she applied for colleges.

The public performances for “The Nutcracker” by the Inland Pacific Ballet Company will be held from Dec. 3 to Dec. 8, with mostly 1 p.m. performances at the Bridges Auditorium and Lewis Family Playhouse in Montclair.

For more information, call (909) 482-1590 or visit www.ipballet.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Nov 1, 2011 @ 18:33