Monday, June 11, 2018

THE SALTWATER KIDS



By: Roger & Nancy Hoffman



Roger and Nancy Hoffman are a husband and wife writing-and-illustration team who have just joined Reader Publishing. In the first of a planned series of Saltwater Kids books, they’ll introduce you to twins Art and Minnie, their dog Pepper, and life aboard a houseboat in Florida. But, before you read about the adventures of Art and Minnie, you’ll want to meet Roger and Nancy. We think you’re going to like Roger and Nancy – and The Saltwater Kids. Read more about the Hoffmans.

 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Henry Eats, Mom Weeps



By: Carmela Cunningham


My husband George and our pup Henry have been planning my Mother’s Day celebration for weeks. And being the guys they are, they couldn’t keep it secret. We were going to garden all day and then get me a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in a pointy cone that night. It’s my very most favorite way to celebrate any holiday, and I was looking forward to it.

But Mother’s Day didn’t turn out that way out all.

We had a BBQ for a bunch of old friends and their children on Saturday, and the menu included, among a other things, pork ribs and corn on the cob. I had put a little trash can outside for people to dump their trash after they ate, and around 5:30 that evening, I went by and noticed the trash was knocked over. I picked it up, but didn’t think much more of it, until around 10 o’clock that night. That’s when Henry started retching, vomiting, and pooping. By 5:30 in the morning, I could see corn coming out of both ends of him and realized that he had dumped the trash and helped himself.

We rushed him to the […]


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Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Piano Came Home



By: Carmela Cunningham


Today I picked up my mother’s piano.

It had been sitting at my brother-in-law’s house in the Arizona desert for the previous five years. Before that it had moved from one person’s house or storage shed to another since my mother died 18 years ago.

I grew up with that piano in the house although I never played it. I wanted to play it, but for one reason or another, I never had the opportunity to take lessons.

I dusted and polished that piano about a million times growing up. I sat and picked at it now and again, but I never learned to play. Now in retirement – that part of life where we get to do everything we always wanted to do but never had time for – I have decided to learn to play.

I’ve been told by a woman who has made her living playing pianos and organs and even writing compositions, that I’m too old to learn – that I’ll never play well. Williametta is a tiny, straight-forward old lady, who says what’s on her mind.

“Well, I really want to learn,” I told her. “My age means that I’ll practice more and think […]


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Thursday, June 30, 2016

MY WIFE: THE RELUCTANT HEALER



By: George Lee Cunningham


My wife Carmela would make a great nurse, even though she would hate it.

She hates hospitals, she hates all the messy blood and ooze, and most of all she hates sick people. Even with her own husband, after a couple of days, her patience wears thin. It’s like are you going to get better now, or are you just going to keep laying around, moaning about how bad you feel?

I will tell you this. The answer to that question is not sarcasm: Oh I think I will lay around for a few more days, coughing and throwing up and moaning about how bad I feel. The correct answer is to stop feeling sorry for yourself, start moving your butt, and start feeling better.

The truth is that the tough-love school of nursing works. Pretty soon, you are feeling better, if for no other reason than you want to get strong enough to slap her dirty rotten face before you die. Of course, I exaggerate, but only a little.

When push comes to shove, Carmela rises to the occasion. She does what is required, whatever that is, however disgusting, nasty, and scary it may be. It’s […]


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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GOOD-BYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE



By: George Lee Cunningham


It seems that former L.A. Undersheriff Paul Tanaka is about to get a taste of his own medicine. Tanaka was convicted earlier this month of conspiracy and attempting to thwart a federal investigation into prisoner abuse in Los Angeles County jails. He could end up spending up to 15 years in jail. His boss Sheriff Lee Baca is getting off with a 6-month sentence after agreeing to plead guilty to lying to the feds during an investigation of civil rights violations at the county jail.

Both sentences are richly deserved.

Tanaka has also had to step down in his other role as Mayor of Gardena. Both Baca and Tanaka will still receive pensions for their years of service, but the taint on their names will remain. Unfortunately, some of that taint will also remain on the thousands of good deputies and police officers out there who do not abuse prisoners and who treat with respect the people who live in the communities that the police are sworn to protect.

The sad truth is that we also share in some of the blame. The sheriff is an elected official, and collectively we elected him to office in 1998 and then re-elected […]


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

PORT TOWN REDUX



By: George Lee Cunningham


Former Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Doris Topsy-Elvord is not happy with us. She doesn’t think her service on the harbor board from March 2003 to June 2008 was sufficiently recognized in Port Town, the history book the Port of Long Beach commissioned us to write in 2013.

Ms. Topsy-Elvord has taken her case to port commissioners, gotten coverage of her issues on the front and editorial pages of the Press-Telegram newspaper, and even threatened to hire an attorney.

It was not a mistake that we left Ms. Topsy-Elvord and other commissioners out of Port Town, at least by name. From the beginning, we knew that the last chapters would be the most challenging. There are several points in the writing of such a history – especially a history that has been commissioned by the entity being written about – that present challenges. We were assured at the beginning of the project that the port desired an authentic history, not one colored by the political sensibilities or politics of the present day.

That is a lot of trust to place on authors and a lot of responsibility. We were determined to live up to that trust.

In doing an extensive […]


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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Port Town Signing



By: Carmela Cunningham



 

We finished writing Port Town on Halloween of 2014, but there is a huge difference in completing a manuscript and holding the finished product in your hand. The editing and design folks at the Port of Long Beach did an incredible job of putting together the commemorative copy of the book with leatherette cover and cooper-gilded pages. We spent a recent afternoon, signing the books for special presentations. The book – Port Town, How the People of Long Beach Built, Defended, and Profited from Their Harbor – is available in both printed soft-cover on Amazon.com. A limited number of the commemorative copies are available for sale at the Long Beach Historic Society.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Be Motivated, but Don’t Take Notes



By: George Lee Cunningham


I’ve always enjoyed motivational speakers. As a kid growing up in the South, I loved listening to those early masters of motivation – the Southern evangelists. They would strut around the stage, waving their arms, and praising the Lord. And you couldn’t help but be moved.

I didn’t actually buy into their message – which almost always ended up as “send me money to do God’s work”– but I loved to listen to them and watch the audience. The people in attendance, many of them quite poor, would be transfixed, throwing their hands in the air, shouting out hallelujahs, and then digging in their pockets to fill the collection plate.

Sophisticated urban people – people who we would refer to back in those old days as a bunch of damn Yankees – would vilify these evangelists as charlatans and scoundrels, especially after one of them would get caught cheating on his wife or being involved in shady business deals

My feelings about them were less damning. The poor people who filled the collection plates got their money’s worth. They would leave the service emotionally cleansed, their troubles put into perspective, and their faith renewed. And if the preacher didn’t […]


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Surrounded by Talent



By: George Lee Cunningham


Carmela and I have always known that we are surrounded by talent – regular folks with the ability to translate the world around them into images or sounds. Yet, we’re always surprised and delighted when we discover one of those people hidden in plain sight, standing right next to us.

Our latest surprise was a friend, Chris Berry who works at the Port of Long Beach by day, but in his other persona is a member of a four-piece old-time blues and jug band called “Sausage Grinder.” We caught the group at a former 1920s speakeasy on Sunset near Hollywood called El Cid. Frankly, they were terrific. The other folks there thought so too, giving the band an enthusiastic reception and long applause at the end of their set.

People like Chris and his pals are all around us. They have regular jobs and they practice their art for the joy of it. When they earn a bit of cash on the side, it’s a nice little monetary perk for doing what they love.

And, that’s what makes it so special.

George and Carmela Cunningham’s new book, Port Town, is due out in June.  Read about it


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Friday, May 1, 2015

THE THREE-DAY RULE



By: George Lee Cunningham


The worst of the violence seems to be over in Baltimore. That doesn’t mean the issue is dead or the problems are solved. It doesn’t even mean that the protests and demonstrations over the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray won’t continue. But the rioting and looting seem to be done. At least for now.

It’s just that the three-day rule has kicked in. No matter how angry, how pumped up on adrenaline, or how much the media covers the story – after three days everybody needs some sleep. A riot is like a party in that respect. You go to a wild party, then you wake up afterward, a little groggy and a little hung over, and the wild party is a bad memory.

It doesn’t mean that an injustice wasn’t perpetrated or that the outrage is without warrant. It doesn’t mean that the police finally brought things under control or that the burners and looters involved were not opportunistic thugs. It just means that people got tired and went home.

Now is the time to uncover the truth about what happened to Freddie Gray, to answer the questions raised, learn from the mistakes made, and take […]


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