Vol. 2, Issue 4
What’s Up With Me?
In the latest episode of “NewsRap Local with Justin Chapman,” I conduct an exit interview with retiring Rose Bowl Stadium CEO and General Manager Darryl Dunn. Watch the episode here.
I will be one of the questioners during a Pasadena City Council candidates’ forum tentatively scheduled for May 12. The forum is co-sponsored by the Pasadena Star-News, the Pasadena Community Coalition, and “NewsRap Local with Justin Chapman.” Learn more on Monday at pasadenastarnews.com/debate2022.
Read my latest articles in Pasadena Now: one on a new documentary about local revolutionary activist Michael Zinzun, who dedicated his life to fighting police brutality and other causes, and the other on iconic journalist Bob Woodward’s talk at the Pasadena Distinguished Speaker Series about Watergate, Trump, journalism, and more.
Stories to Keep an Eye On:
International: Looks like this war in Ukraine is going to be a long grind. It’s amazing what Ukraine has already been able to do: protect the capital, beat back the Russians, and essentially humiliate Putin. His original plan completely backfired and united the West, which he thought was fractured. Now he’s changed tactics and says he was going for eastern and southern Ukraine only all along. But if/once he’s successful there, will that be enough? They’re still mumbling about nuclear weapons. While it feels like it’s in a lull right now, this could escalate very quickly.
National: Why is Elon Musk really buying Twitter, and is it really worth what he’ll have to put up for it? Tesla stock has plummeted since the deal was announced, and Twitter shares have also dropped below the price he committed to. He says it’s about “free speech,” but hearing him talk about content moderation issues on social platforms, it sounds like he hasn’t really thought through the complexities that await him. Are we heading for a time where Trump is back on Twitter, political violence is ginned up, shootings are livestreamed, and vulnerable people are bullied and targeted? Good times.
California: Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District said it may ban all outdoor watering this September if drought conditions don’t improve. We really are headed for a “Waterworld” situation, aren’t we? Where conflict will ignite over water and air, and climate refugees will flee California.
Local: Interim Pasadena Police Chief Cheryl Moody, the first Black woman to occupy the post, has announced her retirement after the four months allotted to her before Jason Clawson takes over as interim chief. The city is still looking for a permanent replacement, and many in the community were upset that a time limit was placed on Moody’s tenure, but not Clawson’s, who is white. The reason for the unusual arrangement was that interim City Manager Cynthia Kurtz wanted her permanent replacement to be able to select their own permanent chief.
Here are some recommendations for great books I’ve read recently:
Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons—George Pendle
This book takes a deep dive into the fascinating world of Jack Parsons, the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who was into the occult/black magick/sex magick. He was a disciple of Aleister Crowley, who called himself the Beast 666 (Parsons called himself the Antichrist at one point). After World War II, Parsons’ wife and money were stolen by none other than L. Ron Hubbard, future founder of Scientology. In 1952, Parsons died in a mysterious explosion in his home lab in a mansion on South Orange Grove Avenue, known as “Millionaire’s Row”—just one block away from where I write this. Also check out Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by John Carter for more of the occult stuff.
Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket—Fraser MacDonald
This book looks at another JPL co-founder and its first director, Frank Malina, a friend of Parsons. He was a Communist working on military-funded rocket research at an inopportune time: right after World War II when the Cold War began to take hold between the Soviet Union and the West. As you can imagine, the FBI was all over him, aided by some surprising informants: such as Jack Parsons himself.
Spotlight on My Past Stories
Back when LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva began his shrievalty in 2018, I interviewed him for the Pasadena Weekly. At that point, he was still a darling of the left, having pledged to kick ICE agents out of county jails. Oh, how times have changed. Now we have a deputy-gang-denying, press-hating, propagandhist, vaccine-resistant sheriff. My article and interview at the time had already identified some red flags. But no one saw his recent behavior coming, such as implying that an LA Times reporter who legitimately covered a cover-up (of footage of a deputy kneeling on a handcuffed inmate’s head for three minutes in the San Fernando Courthouse in March 2021, which Villanueva knew about) was under investigation, a huge breach of the public trust. The LA Times Editorial Board wrote that “Villanueva’s attempt to intimidate a Times reporter is a gaslighting assault on the press. Criminally investigating a journalist for doing her job is a shocking assault on constitutionally protected press freedoms and aligns Villanueva with any number of tin-pot dictators and power-hungry functionaries who abuse their power to retaliate against reporters for critical coverage. It would be merely pathetic were it not for the enormous power Villanueva has at his disposal. LA County voters chose this sheriff in 2018 in part because they were seduced into backing a supposedly liberal Democrat over the Republican incumbent. He has now swung far to the right to appeal to voters who might somehow believe he is the answer to the crime and homelessness that grew on his watch. But regardless of changing politics or ideology, the constant is Villanueva’s paranoia and misuse of his authority. He is a stain on self-government—one that voters have in their power to wash away.” Ouch. He is up for re-election this year.
More About MEMAH Board Members
Barbara Freund, Ph.D.: “In Fall 2010, a year into my tenure as Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Pasadena City College, I was visited by the founder of Men Educating Men About Health (MEMAH), Jim Morris. If you've had the pleasure of meeting Jim, you know that his passion for the mission of MEMAH is infectious and the message certainly resonated with me. It was only natural that a partnership between our community-serving organizations would be established that day, resulting in the 2011 "Get Healthy Pasadena" event (and annually thereafter) at Pasadena City College. The event not only served the Pasadena community, but also provided our health science students in the dental and medical assisting programs a wonderful opportunity to participate in service learning. Not long after, I joined MEMAH’s Advisory Board. Although I retired from the Dean’s position, I am honored to remain a part of MEMAH.”
Carlos Sanchez, RDH, MPH: “I am the Associate Professor of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Southern California. Nearly a decade ago, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC was invited to participate as dental providers at a community outreach health fair event in Pasadena that was being sponsored by MEMAH. It was my first exposure to MEMAH and one that would eventually have an instant appeal and impact on my life. At the time, I knew very little about MEMAH. However, that changed when I met its charismatic founder and executive director, Mr. Jim Morris. We instantly hit it off given our shared philosophies on ‘giving back’ to our communities. After years of working with one another on various projects and events, I was asked to join the organization as a board member, a role that I am proud of because of MEMAH’s philanthropic and service-oriented mission. Amongst other accomplishments, MEMAH has been an impactful organization that has provided numerous health-related screenings and resources to countless individuals. Its Board of Directors is comprised of like-minded professionals who believe in helping those less fortunate and ultimately bettering humanity.”
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