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    Pacific Beach artist turns seasoned surfboards into precious paintings
    by VICTORIA DAVIS
    Nov 16, 2019 | 8525 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Pacific Beach native JohnMichael Becker is a surfboard street artist.
    Pacific Beach native JohnMichael Becker is a surfboard street artist.
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    The kitchen, an art studio. The street, a gallery. At least, that’s the case for JohnMichael (Mike) Becker, a Pacific Beach native, and surfboard street artist. “It’s a lot more intimate working outside where people can watch,” said Mike, who makes a business out of taking old, unusable surfboards and turning them into works of art. “People are more likely to come up to you and ask about what you’re working on and why.” While his most common workspace is on the north side, anyone cruising along La Jolla Cove will likely catch a glimpse of Mike hard at work, taking acrylic paints to board and creating scenes of sailboats in the sunset, sharks coasting near the shores and sea turtles gliding above coral reefs. Mike often takes requests on the spot from passerby-turned-customers, as well as lets his younger audiences help with painting the coral reefs. “I’ll let the kids grab the brush and dab a little on the reefs and they get super excited,” said Mike, who was also recruited last year to paint the mural on the side of Ohana Café on Pearl Street. “My nephews and nieces have done parts of my paintings as well.” Mike, who typically charges between $500 and $700 for his boards depending on size, has also been brought a handful of snapped boards. For one, he turned the board’s break into a massive shark bite. “The great whites have been out here since I was a kid,” said Mike. “They’re residents. That’s why I paint them as well.” Mike, age 59, also paints more abstract and unconventional scenes on boards, such as Eddie Van Halen with his Frankenstrat above an exploding a volcano. Mike’s artistic inspirations stem not only from growing up in Pacific Beach during the ’60s and ’70s – swimming with the bat rays in Mission Bay at Crown Point – but also derives from Mike and his wife Julie Becker living in the Hawaii countryside for 20 years, “embraced by the islands, the people and the ‘Aloha’ culture.” “He has always looked for different things to paint on, like shells and old picture frames,” said Julie. “When Mike started doing surfboards, that’s when things went crazy. Everyone wanted one. But I can’t say I’m surprised because he’s been an amazing artist from the beginning.” Mike, who has been “doodling in the books” since Crown Point Jr. Elementary, added, “I used to give everything I made away as gifts to people. It was Julie who inspired me to turn this into a business.” When Mike and Julie moved back to Pacific Beach four years ago to be closer to family, Mike was quick to turn his home on Pacific Beach Drive into both an art studio and a place friends, family and perfect strangers could come to purchase painted boards, shells, motorcycle helmets, and picture frames. Mike puts his painted surfboards out on the front lawn with a window sign that reads, ‘Surf art for sale.’” Anyone is also welcome to walk through the house and into the back yard where mike sands and primes the boards before painting. “We live right next to a stop sign and so people have to stop their cars anyway,” said Julie, an artist herself who creates leather purses made from cowboy boots and denim pockets, all hand-sewn with dental floss. “I’ve seen people just sitting in their cars looking over here. We’ve even gotten visits from park rangers who just want to watch Mike work.” Mike added, “If I can create a little window that people can look in for a few seconds a day, if not longer, and the painting eases whoever is looking at it, then I’m doing my job. If you look at my work and it makes your heart smile, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do here.”
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    Rickaroons are naturally delicious energy bars made in Pacific Beach
    by VICTORIA DAVIS
    Nov 15, 2019 | 6887 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Chocolate Blonde, with dark chocolate and coconut, is Rickaroons’ bestseller.
    Chocolate Blonde, with dark chocolate and coconut, is Rickaroons’ bestseller.
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    Rickaroons were created by Rick LeBeau.
    Rickaroons were created by Rick LeBeau.
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    From whole-wheat to gluten-free, to totally flourless, Pacific Beach’s energy bar company Rickaroons has spent six years trying to perfect an all-natural macaroon recipe that still tastes all good. “You don’t have to convince someone to eat an apple because it’s gluten-free,” said Grant LeBeau, son of Rickaroons creator Rick LeBeau, and co-founder of the company. “It’s the same for us. Rickaroons have ingredients that happen to be gluten-free. “We’re not an imitation of another product. We didn’t try to reverse engineer bread by putting in 50 filler ingredients to get to a bread-like product. Rickaroons are just naturally gluten-free and naturally delicious.” Rickaroons officially began business in 2013 when Grant and Rick began selling their energy bars — made with shredded coconut, coconut palm nectar, cocoa beans, dark chocolate chips, sunflower lecithin, and blended almonds — at local farmers markets. But the original “Rickaroon” was created 12 years before when Rick set out to make a gluten-free cookie for his girlfriend, who at the time was battling multiple sclerosis. “This was back before we had all these gluten-free options and the doctor said she had to cut out gluten from her diet,” said Grant, who was in middle school at the time. “She told my dad, ‘If you love me, you’ll make me a chocolate chip cookie that I can eat.’” Rick — who was also a vegan triathlete — had a cookie business with his girlfriend called “Ultimate Naturals.” The two shared a love for baked goods and his girlfriend’s request for a wheatless cookie became the foundation of Rick’s Rickaroons. Though Ultimate Naturals was not able to be sustained through the 2008 recession, Rick says he, “never stopped improving the recipe for Rickaroons.” “I would make them as often as I would run out, which was usually every couple of weeks,” said Rick. “And I always had the intention of starting up the cookie company again.” In 2012, Rick and Grant joined forces after Grant graduated from college and collaborated with Grant’s sisters, Stevie and Christina Schweighart to help oversee sales, marketing, graphic design, and accounting. Rick, the team’s only baker, began coming up with new flavors like Megaroons, with chia seeds and cacao nibs, Mocha, with dark chocolate espresso, Peanut Butter Protein with peanut butter, pumpkin seed protein and dark chocolate, as well as Mint To Be. “That one’s my favorite,” said Grant. “It’s our answer to a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie. But our Chocolate Blonde with dark chocolate and coconut, that’s been the best seller since day one.” “I love them all,” added Rick. “Whichever one I’m eating is my favorite.” The Chocolate Blonde, originally called “The Origaroon” was the prototype Rick gave to his girlfriend as her own, custom-made chocolate chip cookie. While she was able to see Rickaroons gain speed up until 2015, Rick’s girlfriend eventually passed away. Rick and Grant make sure Rickaroons stays connected to its roots, participating in fundraisers such as the Susan G. Koman: Race for the Cure, San Diego County Credit Union Walk MS, and Walk MS: San Diego. Rickaroons is also available at more locations than just on Amazon or the company website. Megaroons, Mint To Bes, and Mochas can all be found at Jimbo’s Naturally!, Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market, Juice Kaboose, and Cardiff Seaside Market. Each box of Rickaroons holds 12 cookies and is priced at $25. Currently, Rickaroons is also working on a nut-free and chocolate-free line of cookies. “It’s funny how there are so many different groups of people that end up gravitating naturally towards Rickaroons,” said Grant. “We’ve had women tell us that we were their food-of-choice during pregnancy and for breast-feeding because our cookies are higher in plant fat and lower in sugar. So, it’s fun hearing who we end up being supported by and who we end up working for.” Grant added: “Like it says on our site, this all starting for ‘love for a strong woman and a healthy lifestyle.’ We’re excited to continue to share our family’s recipe and mission to feed the world in a way that’s good for the planet, good for their bodies and good for their taste buds.” Are Rickaroons a dessert or a healthy snack? Both. Rickaroons were created by Rick LeBeau as a clean-burning energy food for pre or post workouts. Since LeBeau is both a lifelong health-conscious athlete and a lifelong dessert connoisseur, Rickaroons turned out to be a delicious dessert as well. So eat Rickaroons any time of day and feel good about the dietary choice you've made. For more information, visit rickaroons.com.
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    Veterans gather on Mount Soledad to celebrate Veterans Day
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Nov 13, 2019 | 31016 views | 1 1 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The San Diego Salute Formation Team airplanes performed a “fleur de lis” flight maneuver at the event for the first time. DON BALCH / VILLAGE NEWS
    The San Diego Salute Formation Team airplanes performed a “fleur de lis” flight maneuver at the event for the first time. DON BALCH / VILLAGE NEWS
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    Military planes painted the sky overhead, the Marine Band San Diego played patriotic tunes, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot presented the colors and a true American hero was honored at the traditional Mount Soledad Veterans Day ceremony Monday, Nov. 11.

    Hosted by the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Association (MSNVM), this year’s ceremony’s special plaque honoree was senior chief petty officer Kenton Stacy and his family. A U.S. Navy volunteer, Kenton chose to be in one of the military’s most dangerous occupational specialties, an explosive ordinance disposal technician. After more than 50 combat missions, Stacy was severely injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in 2017 in Syria. 

    Kenton has received numerous awards for his distinguished valor, including a Purple Heart, two Bronze Star medals and three Navy Achievement medals. In 2010, he was named USO Sailor of the Year.

    Veterans Day on Nov. 11 traces its roots back to World War I, which ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the armistice with Germany went into effect ending the war to end all wars. Originally known as Armistice Day, the U.S. federal holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. 

    Distinct from Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May honoring those who’ve died in military service, Veterans Day honors all who’ve served, living and deceased, in all U.S. armed services.

    Stacy’s plaque will join more than 5,200 others enshrined on the walls surrounding the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial at 6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive South. Honorees include U.S. presidents, 12 Medal of Honor recipients, generals and celebrity veterans.

    Congress members Scott Peters and Susan Davis presented a proclamation honoring Stacy. Mayor Kevin Faulconer also spoke, noting “the military is in San Diego’s DNA. Today is about coming together as a community to honor these heroes for their lifetime of patriotism and courage serving our nation.” 

    Of the Mt. Soledad memorial, Faulconer said, “It is a special place for all San Diegans. It’s the only memorial in the United States that honors veterans both living and deceased from the Revolutionary War to the war on terror.” 

    Of memorial plaques, Faulconer said, “They put a face to the names of our heroes and captures a moment in time for that veteran, reminding us of their great commitment to our country.”

    Master of ceremonies Marc Bailey quoted immediate past San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman in noting, “Leadership is a shared responsibility. That’s what you have represented up here on every single one of these plaques, and every one of our veterans who’ve ever served this nation. Each and every one is a leader.”

    Sgt. Neil O’Connell, USMC Ret. and president of MSNVM, thanked those assembled for “supporting us in every endeavor.”

    “We should especially thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said O’Connell, who added Wi-Fi is now available at the memorial, “for eventually having a virtual tour created here to give stories about each and every veteran. We also have created an endowment so that this memorial will remain funded  … to teach our youngsters and our citizens about the sacrifices of our veterans preserving their legacy.”

    Keynote speaker was Capt. Oscar Rojas, Commodore Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One. 

    The ceremony was capped by a performance by the San Diego Salute Formation Team.

    Asked what it means to be a vet and the significance of Veterans Day, Brian T. Grana said, "Vets are thanked profusely for our service on Veterans Day. For me, and in reality, I like thanking the citizens who allowed me to serve and wear the cloth of our great nation. 

    "When thanked, I typically respond with: 'Thank you for paying my salary and being the type of American citizen worth fighting for.' The first part often elicits a chuckle; the second part, a pregnant pause and an 'I will try harder.'"

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    Juliet Gallus
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    November 15, 2019
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    Padres Pedal the Cause helps La Jolla hospitals and doctors fight cancer
    by VICTORIA DAVIS
    Nov 13, 2019 | 2657 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Padres Pedal the Cause will host races this Saturday, Nov. 16. COURTESY PHOTO
    Padres Pedal the Cause will host races this Saturday, Nov. 16. COURTESY PHOTO
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    One day, six races and more than 2,700 participants. Padres Pedal the Cause is a hope-giving, cancer-research-funding event that’s taken place at San Diego’s Petco Park (100 Park Blvd.) every year since 2013. In the last six years, Padres Pedal has raised more than $10 million, with 100% being donated to local research centers like Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, and children’s hospitals like Rady’s in Serra Mesa, all in an effort to end cancer once and for all.

    In total, the event funds 53 local cancer research projects, five of which are clinical trials.

    “We’ve had more and more participants join in each year and this year’s event will definitely be one of our biggest,” said Anne Marbarger, executive director of Padres Pedal. “To know that we’re an organization that’s providing hope for these families by funding research that’s actually going towards making sure kids in the future don’t get cancer or at least have better treatment options, that’s super meaningful.”

    Padres Pedal hosts races this Saturday, Nov. 16, ranging from 5K running events to 25, 55, 88 and even 100-mile bike rides over the Coronado Bay Bridge and through Coronado’s Silver Strand State Beach. And local doctors, in addition to cancer in-patient families, are also breaking out their bikes to join the cause.

    “I have seen cancer take the lives of many individuals over my professional career, including my dad and one of my best friends,” said Paul Dougherty, a La Jolla-based dentist at his own clinic, Dougherty Dental. “So, it was a no-brainer to get involved.”

    Dougherty has been an avid bike rider for the last 20 years, beginning with his first mission-focused raced with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training national cycling event in 1999. Dougherty says he got “hooked” on the mission and began focusing his attention on local efforts to fight fatal diseases. When Bill Koman, a cyclist and two-time lymphoma survivor, brought his Pedal the Cause event from St. Louis to San Diego in 2013, Dougherty jumped at the chance to join.

    “It has always been a positive experience for me to ride side by side with a team of people all working towards a common goal to fight this disease,” said Dougherty, who rides with Team Beaumont in Padres Pedal’s 100-mile race, The Century. “The money raised at Padres Pedal is really making a difference in the trenches battling cancer, and I’m seeing positive outcomes more today than ever before.”

    One of those positive outcomes is Padres Pedal’s focus on empowering kids who want to get outside the hospital and be active, either by participating in the kids bike race “Super Hero Kids Challenge,” or by one of these “SuperKids” being sponsored by a Padres Pedal team. One of the children in the SuperKids program is 4-year-old Savannah Schwartz, a Rady’s brain cancer patient and daughter of Jonathan Schwartz, cycling team captain of the WD-40 bike team in Padres Pedal.

    “Padres Pedal has been a big support system for us by changing our perspective about life and about people,” said Schwartz, whose daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. “You never fully understand what resilience is until you see a child go through something like this. The pain they endure through treatment is astronomical, but my daughter has always done it with a smile and that smile has given us a lot of strength.”

    “My team last year supported a 5-year-old boy named Ryker who was being treated at Rady’s,” added Dougherty, who just last spring diagnosed one of his patients with oral cancer. “Seeing him fight the battles of trying to beat his disease was very impactful for each of us as a team and significant in why we need funds to find a cure.”

    To register for Padres Pedal the Cause events, visit mygopedal.org. Check-in begins at 4:30 a.m. and events last from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. when the park closes. Lunch and bar services are provided and there’s a finish-line festival with live music at the end of the races.

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    Lomaland remembered – artistic legacy exhibition opens in Balboa Park
    by Karen Scanlon and Eric DuVall
    Nov 13, 2019 | 1670 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The circular Temple of Peace and diamond-shaped Raja Yoga Academy (with colorful glass domes) are centered in this 1910 aerial view of Lomaland estate. At lower right are dormitories called group homes. Note some 45,000 trees planted through the school’s Forestry Department.  (Postcard courtesy of Kathy Blavatt.)
    The circular Temple of Peace and diamond-shaped Raja Yoga Academy (with colorful glass domes) are centered in this 1910 aerial view of Lomaland estate. At lower right are dormitories called group homes. Note some 45,000 trees planted through the school’s Forestry Department. (Postcard courtesy of Kathy Blavatt.)
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    Two historically recognizable entrances welcomed people at Lomaland. Shown is the Roman Gate in 1901. Note the beautiful buildings and plantings beyond. Another entryway was known as The Egyptian Gate. (Image courtesy of The Theosophical Society, Pasadena.)
    Two historically recognizable entrances welcomed people at Lomaland. Shown is the Roman Gate in 1901. Note the beautiful buildings and plantings beyond. Another entryway was known as The Egyptian Gate. (Image courtesy of The Theosophical Society, Pasadena.)
    slideshow
    High on the crest of Point Loma peninsula stand few remnants of Katherine Tingley’s curious musings, though her cultural benefaction is forever embedded in San Diego’s history. Welcome to Lomaland! A public exhibition by San Diego History Center, titled “The Path of the Mystic: Art and Theosophy at Lomaland,” opened Oct. 18 and runs through April 19, 2020 in Balboa Park. The exhibit features artwork, objects (including doors from Lomaland’s Temple of Peace), photographs and archival documents that bring to life Tingley’s unlikely Utopian experiment. In 1897, the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society purchased 500 acres that bordered the northern edge of Point Loma’s military reservation. Dr. Lorin Wood’s sanitarium (a three-story wellness/hotel amenity) called Point Loma House, a few tents, and little else stood on this property. Here, humanitarian visionary Madame Tingley, as she was called, intended to create an international community of free thinkers. It would be dedicated to the study of the arts, sciences, philosophical and religious traditions from around the globe, and the wisdom of the ages. The theosophist establishment Tingley imagined, the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity, took root but changes would come. To her credit, the Raja Yoga Academy, renamed Raja Yoga College, became one of the more highly regarded educational institutions in the country. Raja Yoga (an ancient term meaning “kingly union”) Academy began in the early 1900s with five students and 98 residents. By this time, Point Loma House had been transformed into Tingley’s Raja Yoga Academy, bearing several aquamarine-colored glass domes. Interestingly, Madame Tingley “brought in quite a number of Cuban children,” according to Iverson L. Harris, one of those first students. Tingley, a social worker before migrating from New York, had made Cuban connections through relief work with soldiers after the Spanish-American War. Within two years, the student population grew to 100 and by the 1920s, ranging from 300 to 600, representing 20 nationalities. There were also 100 or so students attending from San Diego, plus thousands of curiosity-seekers visiting Lomaland annually. Iverson Harris, schoolboy in 1899, served as final administrator of Lomaland, and last to leave in June 1942.“The institution was wonderfully situated… one of the most beautiful in the world, and the only one like it.” Further: “We went on the rocks financially after the Depression and Madame Tingley’s death in 1929. Her personal estate was appraised at some $378,000. But before it was settled during the Depression, it had shrunk to $65,000 and that wasn’t nearly enough to pay off all her creditors. We were in terrible straits… Taxes had gone up enormously. Then the coup de grace came in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. The military came over and put gun-emplacements on our western slope.” Over the years, theosophists’ property switched hands several times. Today, Point Loma Nazarene University is a caretaker of remaining original structures: Cabrillo Hall, Tingley’s headquarters-residence building, and the 1901 Greek Amphitheater. The university is publically accessible. Through the gate and to the right stands another Lomaland original: Mieras Hall, once the 1901 beautiful, domed residence built by baseball magnate and visionary Albert G. Spalding. Go see it for fun! Katherine Tingley was driven by her belief that children should be educated properly; she held deep concern for alleviating suffering and promoting brotherhood. By hiring workers to erect her institution in 1900, she eased San Diego’s economic slump. Today, we recognize a grander scale of her moral code and worth.
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    Karen S.
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    November 14, 2019
    The Theosophical Society Pasadena has been gracious to share a dozen or more photographs. You can see more of these images in a book called "Point Loma", an Images of America series title by Arcadia Publishing. See more of Eric's Lomaland work within its pages.
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