Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Goodbye to Cafe Cinema Regulars

September 28, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This Friday night, Sept. 30, Cafe Cinema in Idyllwild is saying goodbye to two beloved movie regulars, Will Waddell and his wife, Lori Alexander. Since they will be moving to Santa Monica soon, Jeffrey Taylor asked them to pick the movie.

As you may know, Lori is an accomplished composer and musician, and Will is a beloved biology teacher at Idyllwild Arts. They chose two cinedues, “Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” from Israel, and “Sex Among Other Things,” a short created by Idyllwild Arts students featuring Will as a sex ed teacher and Casey Abrams, our “American Idol” heartthrob,  as one of the students.

“Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” is a coming-of-age comedy that centers on a 16-year-old-boy, Shlomi. He takes care of his relatives, including his brother, mother and grandfather. He is a tremendous cook who can handle a lot of household chores.

However, things change for Shlomi when his school principal discovers that he is a genius. To get the proper education he needs, Shlomi must change schools. Yet, this genius is reluctant because of his mad crush on the girl next door.

Will can empathazine with Shlomi because he was in a similar situation in his youth.

“I had a mad crush on a girl in middle school,” Will recalled. “And before I could make a move, I got the news that my family was moving. I didn’t want to go.”

Oftentimes, teachers and students at Idyllwild Arts Academy are asked to try out for short movie roles. As a biology teacher, Will was a natural actor who delivered  his lines with deadpan accuracy.

“It was really fun being in a comedy,” Will had said. “As long as it didn’t take away from my class time, I was game.”

(from L) Casey Abrams with Caleb H. from Idyllwild Arts, also appears in Friday's movie, "Sex Among Other Things"

Any seasoned actor could tell you that comedy is difficult. If the timing or actor’s expressions are off, then everything falls flat. Yet, Will was a natural humorist, the students who worked on the movie had said.


In “Sex Among Other Things,” Will used a life-sized skeleton to discuss the clinical aspects of human copulation to students in the class.

“The director allowed me to ad lib my lines a lot,” Will said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have to do another take.”

Casey Abrams fans can catch his early comedy talent in “Sex Among Other Things.” Casey is a natural cut-up, but he also can show a serious side. In “18 Minutes,” Casey played a young boy dealing with a father who was slipping into insanity (played by local Chris Pennock).

“I knew Casey had talent way back then,” said Jeffrey Taylor, before Casey made it big on Season 10 of “American Idol.”

Jeffrey had shown “Sex Among Other Things” years ago at Cafe Cinema when it came out for the first time.

Come see the full-lenght comedy,”Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” and the short, “Sex Among Other Things” this Friday night at the new Cafe Cinema located at 53290 Deerfoot Lane in Idyllwild. For more information, visit

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


‘Welcome Home Casey’ Block Party

September 22, 2011

Cafe Aroma will be hosting a "Welcome Home, Casey" block party this Sunday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

What’s next for Casey Abrams, the “American Idol” heartthrob from Idyllwild? Will he be making a jazz record? Performing again with Jack Black? Going on tour with his jazz band? Hosting “Saturday Night Live?”

Never mind all that! First, we’re gonna party! Café Aroma is hosting a “Welcome Home, Casey” block party in Idyllwild this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. t o 7 p.m. in front of the restaurant. They’re serving up Casey-named pasta and drink specials. The stage is set for a Casey jazz jam session and there will be booths promoting his charities.

Casey will be there, of course. Probably all jet lagged from his last “American Idol Live” gig in The Philippines. His ears will still be ringing from performing practically every night for the entire summer. He might be a little giddy about coming home.

Yep, our own “Nature Boy” is finally coming home.

Like most folks in this tiny town, I watched him move through the ranks on Season 10 of “American Idol” every Wednesday and Thursday nights. we’d gather before the TV, with chips, pizza and wine glasses in hand, and talk about his chances, how he did last week, and what we think he should do to win.

But you could hear a pin drop when he’d be performing. Sometimes we’d forgot to breathe. Then we’d all talk at once:

“Didn’t he sound great?”

“I think they trimmed his beard.”

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch in front of a Casey banner by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“He’s so much better than the other contestants. He’s a true musician with talent.”

“No one in America knew he could play the bass, but we all knew years ago.”

“What will they make him sing next week?

Then we’d vote 50 or 100 times until our fingers would turn blue, and go home happy. Our local boy was making us proud. We weren’t expecting him to just make the “Top 10,” we wanted him to win the darn thing. Making it to No. 6 was quite the feat, though. It was probably a lot harder than we’ll ever know.

One time while still performing on “American Idol,” Casey paid a visit to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he graduated from the jazz department a couple of years ago.

“Casey told us that he could have gone farther in the ‘American Idol’ competition if he would have performed more pop songs,” said several students from Idyllwild Arts after his visit. “But he wanted to stay true to his jazz roots.”

“I heard him sing ‘Nature Boy’ during his senior jazz recital,” said Cheyenne, a dance major at Idyllwild Arts. “The place was packed. He was really a popular guy. It was standing room only.”

Casey had performed “Nature Boy” in Idyllwild first, where Nature reigns supreme. Yep, Casey was singing for America about Idyllwild!

“I came to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program because I heard it was good,” said one 14-year-old voice major with braces from San Francisco. “But I was also hoping that I could meet Casey.”

Casey Abrams jamming with Caleb at an Idylwild Arts event

Casey left a talented Idyllwild Arts graduate, and is returning on Sunday a famous person. Try Googling his name these days and a million articles turn up! On “American Idol,” he sang a duet with Jack Black and kissed JayLo! He’s met all kinds of famous producers, directors, musicians and artists along the way.

“I saw Casey at Forever 21 (clothing store) in New York this summer,” said Tierra, a musical theater major. “He was buying the zipped-up natural clothes that he always wears.”

But Tierra didn’t say hi because Casey was with a friend and seemed preoccupied. He probably would have welcomed seeing a familiar face though.

“Casey emailed me and asked me to come to his show in New York,” Cheyenne added. “He said that he could even get me free tickets, but I couldn’t go.”

On Sunday, Marshall Hawkins, his Idyllwild Arts jazz teacher and mentor, will get Casey onstage to perform with Seahawk Mojo, his band that’s bringing jazz to area grade schools.

“That’s his bass, I can tell by the markings,” Marshall said while looking at a picture of Casey performing “Nature Boy” on “American Idol.” Of course, Marshall won’t be treating Casey any different now that he’s famous.

“Before I met you, I didn’t even know how to talk to another musician,” Casey wrote in a text message to Marshall during the Town Jazz event in Idyllwild this summer. Now we heard that Casey would often help out the musicians in the “American Idol” band.

On Sunday afternoon, Casey will pose for pictures, answer 1 million questions about his “American Idol” experience, and talk about his future plans. But probably the only thing he’ll want to do is play on the familiar Café Aroma stage with his bass. Just a (now world famous) hometown boy playing the jazz that he loves.

Glad you’re home, Casey. All I’m hoping for is a snapshot of you standing next to my huge, hand-painted Casey banner that’s hanging on Café Aroma’s deck! (Your mom promised to buy it!)  Look for more Casey-inspired art inside Cafe Aroma by local artists.

The “Welcome Home Casey” block party will be held this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. outside Café Aroma, located at 54750 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:03







Idyllwild Home Tour Held Saturday

September 16, 2011

Artists will be showcasing their work on the IAHS grounds on Saturday during the 11th Annual Home Tour.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“I think it’s the best mix of houses we’ve had yet,” said Bob Smith, board member, Idyllwild Area Historical Society (IAHS).

He was speaking about the 11th Annual Idyllwild Home Tour that runs this Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are five homes on this latest tour, including three modern homes and two cabins built in the 1930s.

“All of the homes are located in Idyllwild and are compacted pretty close together,” Bob said. “In the past, we’ve had homes in Fern Valley to Pine Cove and all points in between.”

The home tour is a self-guided one, in which attendees pick up maps when they purchase their tickets ($20 each) in the center of Idyllwild by the tree monument.

“People tell us our home tour is the best they’ve ever seen,” Bob said. “I think what sets us apart is that we train our docents and spend time with the homeowners beforehand.”

Collage of five homes on the tour. Photos by John Drake.

It all starts with their “scout,” Nanci Killingsworth, a board member, who has a way with people, and selects the best lineup of homes, Bob said. Oftentimes, she walks her dogs past homes of interest, and then talks to the homeowners about being on the tour.

Yet, the outside often doesn’t tell the entire story. For example, one of the modern homes on the tour, located on Forest Knoll, is simple on the outside, yet inside, it’s structurally and decoratively impressive.

“It’s also a little quirky,” Bob said, of the home built by the homeowner. (Names are not revealed for privacy, yet most of the homeowners will be around on Saturday.) “One hallway really goes anywhere. It’s basically a gallery showing the work of local artists.”

The same homeowner designed a bathroom around her tub, which looks more like a sculpture, Bob said.

Weeks before the event, volunteers from the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, talked to the homeowners to find out the all of the unique details. Then they train their docents, five stationed at every home, to speak with authority about them.

Some of the things they’ll mention about the 1930s cabin on Cedar Street is that it was the home of former Idyllwild Postmasters George and Sara Hannahs.

The IAHS has hosted a home tour for the past 11 years, featuring 55 unique houses.

The Hannahs came to Idyllwild in 1889 and built “Camp Idyllwilde,” Bob explained. It was around the time of the Sherman lumber barons.

“Idyllwild was spelled a little different back then,” he said.

After awhile, they sold the camp and started a store at the bridge crossing (which is now the opening to the Idyllwild Arts Academy). They sold goods to campers coming up the road from Hemet. George named the area “Renetta,” after his son, and it became the first postmaster. However, when it was clear that a sanitarium and hotel would be forthcoming, George gave up the business.

“Yet, he helped built the road to Idyllwild at Mountain Center that we use now,” Bob said. “It was a more gentle road than Keen Camp Summit.”

Later, in 1901, George opened another post office (near where the Idyllwild Fire Station is now) and renamed it “Idyllwild,” and served as its postmaster off and on until 1937.

The 1930s classic cabin was built when Sara retired. It has two bedrooms and a nice porch.

“I can just see her hobnobbing on the porch,” Bob said. “She knew everybody in town.”

It’s as authentic as it was back then with some tiny remodeling done to the kitchen, Bob said. It also has some pocket windows that slide sideways into the wall, and a river rock fireplace.

The last house on the left on Double View by Inspiration Point, looks like a two-story San Francisco house from the outside, but has incredible views.

“You can see as far as the ocean,” Bob said.

He expects about 400 people to attend the home tour on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The forecast for Idyllwild that day will be mild temperatures in the mid-70s. There will be local musicians playing at every home, with refreshments and artists on the grounds at the historical society.

Shirl Reid is directing the Home Tour this year, assisted by Carolyn Hall and Charlotte Groty.  All are members of the IAHS Board of Directors.

Tickets are $20, and proceeds go to the general fund for the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, to help preserve and share our San Jacinto history. For more information, contact Carolyn Hall at (951) 317-4613.

Copyright 2100 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.



My 9/11 Bummer Birthday in Chile

September 7, 2011

My Chilean ID card

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s nearly impossible to watch the news these days without hearing about the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the day in which Al-Qaeda crashed our planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Philadelphia.

Some of the stories focus on the brave firefighters, their now-grown children, or near-misses, like the U.S. Navy petty officer from Escondido who left the Pentagon only seconds before the plane crash.

For me, the 10th Anniversary brings back guilt mixed with some joy. You see, 9/11 is my birthday, and I spent it in Santiago, Chile, the first week of a one-year stint as an English instructor.

That morning, I turned on the TV, and started getting ready for work. I had a one-bedroom apartment in Santiago, near the school. Then I saw the Twin Towers burning and my blood ran cold. The Chilean newscaster was standing below the scene, explaining what had just happened. At this point, my Spanish was marginal, but I did my best to translate. Who caused this? No one seemed to know.

Just as she was explaining about the plane crash, the second plane hit. Dear God, I saw it live on Chilean TV! It was such a surreal moment! Then the guy from the news desk asked her about the second plane, and she had no idea what just had happened. They spent a long time trying to figure that out.

I sat on the bed and felt sick. Another teacher called to say there wouldn’t be any classes that day. Then, as the story unfolded, they mentioned the plane crash at the Pentagon, where my sister, Laura, a Marine, was stationed. Again, there was a lot of confusion in the news.

I tried calling home, at $10 dollars a minute, but the lines were busy for hours. Later, I learned that no one could get through, not even online. My sister could have been dead, for all I knew. I cried, talked with other teachers, and waited. Days later, an email came from my mom. Laura had been taking a class in another city, away from the Pentagon. She was OK.

Chilean caribineros (police) often used water cannons to disperse student demonstrations like this one at Plaza Italia

This year, with the death of Osama bin Laden, Laura mentioned the Pentagon. She said that the devastation was inexplicable. The plane had hit the wing where many U.S. Army officers had worked. Hundreds had died, and she knew many of them. Like other survivors, it was difficult for her to talk about it. How could we, who weren’t there, possibly understand? It was like explaining combat to a baby.

Laura added that it took a long time for the Pentagon to become fully functional again. At that time, Laura was writing for some generals, an incredibly stressful job that was just made worse by the crash. She wrote from a remote location for months.

She said that she was lucky, but felt guilty because she wasn’t there when the plane hit.

As for me and the rest of my family, we are thankful that she was spared.

“None of them deserved to die,” Laura said flatly. “I’m glad Osama bin Laden is dead.”

That’s when my old guilt rushed back in. I couldn’t understand her satisfaction. He was an old man who died without a gun in his hand. Yet, my version of 9/11 and hers were worlds apart. Bin Laden’s life replaced all of her fallen camarades who didn’t deserve to die.

I wasn’t there. I didn’t watch the aftermath of that horrific day, how everything unfolded, how the nation healed itself, and became stronger. I missed all the stories of sadness, victory and triumph. I wasn’t there, and even now, the guilt still rises up in my throat.

The author at Vina del Mar, Chile.

The other weird part of 9/11, or Sept. 11, is that it’s an unpopular day in Chile too. It was the day that General Pinochet overthrew the Allende government and dictated for 20 years. Even though Chile had a president and been a democracy for 10 years, many student demonstrators protested against Pinochet’s freedom. On the evening of Sept. 11, they set cars on fire and broke store windows. The Chilean government responded with tanks equipped with water cannons.

“I don’t think it’s a good night to go out and celebrate your birthday,” my friend said.

I agreed. It was a dark time to be in Santiago, Chile.

On Sept. 12, I had to teach classes. I remember getting on the subway and feeling like people were looking at me. You see, I have dark hair and eyes, and could easily pass for a Chilean, as long as I didn’t open my mouth. But Chileans were giving up their seats to me on two different trains. Perhaps I had an aura of sadness about me.

In my classes, my Chilean students, mostly businessmen and women, all wanted to know if I knew of anyone who had worked at the Twin Towers. At that time, I didn’t know my sister’s fate, and when I mentioned her, tears welled up in my eyes. Everyone got pretty quiet, and it was hard to teach.

“Come home right away!” my brother Mark wrote to me that week. “It’s not safe there!”

I instinctively knew that anywhere but the United States would be a safe place to be. I didn’t even think about packing up and heading home. I had given up too much to get there. At home, I would be lost.

The Chilean media did their best to recount the events. Yet, weeks later, the U.S. Embassy asked them to quit showing the Twin Towers plane crash. It would make sense if it related to a news story about 9/11, but they would show the crash at every turn.

For example, an upstart Chilean tennis player was supposed to go to a tournament in the United States, but couldn’t because of the crash, so they showed the guy hitting a few balls, and the Twin Towers crash about four times. It was gratuitous and unnecessary and painful to watch.

Now that the 10th Anniversary will arrive in a few days, along with another birthday, I’m headed to Solvang, about two hours from LA. It’s the wine-tasting town made popular in the movie, “Sideways.” I plan to be far away from any TV, newspapers and 9/11 memorials.

I will drink good wine, toast to my sister’s good fortune and hope this horror never happens again.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


Marshall Hawkins Known as Casey’s Mentor

September 5, 2011

Marshall Hawkins mentor relationship with Casey Abrams will appear in a future issue of Down Beat magazine.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The text message from Casey Abrams came while Marshall Hawkins was performing the bass onstage Sunday night during his Town Jazz event in Idyllwild. Casey, the local “American Idol” heart throb, was thousands of miles away performing with “American Idol Live.”

“I got the picture,” Marshall said later. “It was taken a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

Marshall, who helped start the successful Jazz in the Pines event 18 years ago, brought two nights of jazz music to Idyllwild locals and jazz lovers during his first-ever Town Jazz event Aug. 27-28.

Marshall heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy and has played with the likes of Miles Davis. With more than 200 in attendance each night, Marshall plans to host the event next year.

Proceeds went to his charity, Seahawk MOJO, which brings jazz to the grade schools in Idyllwild, Hemet and San Diego.

Marshall didn’t say what Casey’s text message was about, but his mother, Pam Pierce, who lives in Idyllwild, didn’t mind sharing it:

“First of all, I miss you and your crazy classes. And second, you are the reason I got into music on a new and much different level. I would have no idea how to even TALK to another musician–you gave me the language, the knowledge of chord structure, all the possibilities of the bass line, and most importantly, the love I have for jazz.

I needed that cheerleader/friend in my life growing up. You are amazing. We’ll definitely work together in the future.”

Casey Abrams (with Caleb Hensinger, Idyllwild Arts) has credited Marshall for his love of jazz music. Photo credit: ME Gawecki.

Marshall said that Casey would have been performing with him onstage at Town Jazz had he not been committed to “American Idol Live.”

“Casey is part of Seahawk MOJO,” Marshall said. “He’s part of our jazz orchestra. When Casey’s done with his commitment to ‘American Idol,” we’re going to perform together for the kids in the grade schools.”

When Casey was competing on the 10th Season of “American Idol,” he credited Marshall as being his mentor.

“He mentioned it several times on national TV,” said Pam, who was taking tickets Sunday night for Town Jazz.

Sometime in the future, a national magazine will feature a story on Marshall and Casey’s close relationship.

“I’m not going to tell you what’s in the article,” Marshall chided after a Tuesday night jazz set at Cafe Aroma. “I don’t want to spoil it.”

Carl L. Hager, a freelance writer who has written about Casey before, said he plans to show his article to different magazine publishers with jazz listeners in their readership.

“It is possible Down Beat could eventually publish it, or it might end up with Esquire or GQ or Rolling Stone, that hasn’t yet been determined,” Carl wrote in a recent email.

Commemorative Town Jazz T-shirts are still available for $15 each along with full-color posters at The Spruce Moose. All proceeds go to Seahawk MOJO.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 5, 2011 @ 18:21


Labor Day Art Fair in Mountain Center

September 3, 2011

Dore's Art Garden in Mountain Center will be hosting an Art Fair on Sunday, Sept. 4

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Labor Day Weekend in Idyllwild is known for its hundreds of yard sales. People come from all around to get great year-end deals on furniture, electronics, collectibles and housewares.

Mountain Community Patrol and Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) are among the local community groups hosting sales this weekend.

However, on the way up to Idyllwild, visitors can stop by the Labor Day Art Fair at Dore’s Mountain Metals in Mountain Center for a fun-filled day of art, crafts, music, theater and food.

Metal sculptor Dore Capitani and his wife, Trish Tuley, a photographer, are hosting the annual event on Sunday, Sept. 4. Doors open at 7:30 a.m.

Art from 30 local artists are for sale like this Billie Holiday painting by Marcia E. Gawecki

Dore said that he’s expecting more than 30 artists who will showcase their work, including paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings, crafts and more.

“There’s still room for more artists,” Dore said on Saturday. “You really don’t need to bring an umbrella because it’s shady under the trees. Just bring a table and your art.”

Besides fine art, the Labor Day weekend event will feature live theater, writer’s recitals and music performances.

“Folks from the Isis Theater and Inlandia will be performing, and Tricia Pilkington will be playing music,” Dore said.

Moreover, the Idyllwild Writers will read original works from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The writers from the group include: Richard Mozeleski, Myra Dutton, David Calvin Gogerty, Jean Waggoner, Joy Sikorski, Don Lenik, Emily Heebner-Young, Joan Koerper and Christina Lee Nordella.

Nature’s Wisdom, a health food restaurant in Idyllwild, will be offering food and drink.

Teresa Brouwer, the town librarian, showed her button art at Dore's two years ago

Ten percent of all sale proceeds will go to benefit ARF, Dore said.

Teresa Brouwer, the librarian at the Idyllwild Library, showed her button crafts at the Labor Day Art Fair two years ago. Teresa creates small framed collages with buttons and antique lace.

“It was a great time being outside under the oak trees talking with the other artists,” Teresa said. “A lot of people stopped by.”

Teresa said that she sold several of her pieces, and netted more than $25. She can’t show this year because she’s going to her daughter’s wedding shower.

“Everyone should go, it’s really a great time,” Teresa said.

Besides the art booths, visitors can see many of Dore’s metal sculptures on the sprawling nine acres.

Sculptor Dore Capitani is hosting the event. See many of his large sculptures on the nine acres of art garden.

The Labor Day Art Fair at Dore’s Mountain Metals is easy to find. Just look for Dore’s crash sculpture with the “Ouch!” sign just beyond the curve on the right at 28815 Hwy. 243.

There’s ample parking and no cover charge, but 10 percent of the sale proceeds go to benefit the Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) of Idyllwild.

For more information, call Dore at (951) 659-0791.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.