Topangans Rally for Peace
By Dan Mazur
Rush hour commuters who found their drive through the Canyon delayed on Friday evening, November 1, can blame it on the Bush administration's aggressive foreign policy. Beginning at 4 p.m. that afternoon, over 200 Topangans lined the shoulder of the Boulevard, waving signs and chanting in a spirited protest against a possible war with Iraq.
PHOTO BY KATIE DALSEMER
Topangans join a new Topanga Peace Alliance to demonstrate for peace in front of Pine Tree Circle on November 1.
The rally, which began on a slightly gray and cold afternoon and continued until well after dark, was followed by a forum on issues of war and peace at the Topanga Elementary School auditorium.
The line of protesters stretched from the corner of Old Topanga to Hidden Treasures. It was a real Topanga happening, albeit one sparked by global concerns. There were musical instruments, colorful costumes and hula-hoops. Whole families turned out to express their opinions to the passing motorists with signs that ranged from Vietnam-era favorites--"War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things," to the Gulf War's "No Blood For Oil" and the latest anti-Bush sentiments --"We Need Regime Change--Here in the U.S."
The event was organized by the newly-formed Topanga Peace Alliance. Inspired by the large peace march in Westwood on September 26, a small group of Topangans began meeting in early October to discuss what could be done on a community level to protest the Bush administration's war intentions. The plans came together very quickly.
"A group of us got together with similar interests, being opposed to the resolution that was passed," said Topanga Peace Alliance member Connie Whalley, referring to the Senate and Congressional resolutions granting President Bush authority to use military force in Iraq.
Information was passed by word of mouth and e-mails, and flyers were printed, resulting in the well-attended rally and forum, three weeks later.
Woody Hastings, another of the protest planners, said the rally filled a need among Topangans who feel strongly about the direction the administration has been headed, but have not had an opportunity to stand up and be counted.
"I think it's really important that the big rallies take place in the big cities," said Hastings. "But it's at least equally important that every community organize and put on a showing....We have people that would be put in harm's way in a war for oil.
"There's an REM song, 'Stand in the Place Where You Are,' that keeps coming to mind," he said.
Many of the protesters voiced the feeling that anti-war opinions are being ignored--or even repressed--in the current political environment.
"Anyone who has a dissenting opinion against the ruling elite has been forced into an isolated corner and filled with fear," said two-year Topanga resident Robert Thaler. "The status quo now is, 'Are you for us, or are you against us?' and that is called 1933 Munich, that is not America. There's been no debate, no dialogue."
Thaler stood holding one end of an enormous American flag. Another Peace Alliance member, Susan Lovell McLaughlin, who held the other end of the flag, said there shouldn't be any conflict for Americans between patriotism and criticism of the militaristic tendencies of our current political leaders.
"The symbols of America and language of patriotism have been co-opted by the Right," she said. "That belongs to all of us. We're taking it back."
Despite rally organizers' bullhorned pleas to "Stay behind the white line," there were the occasional bursts of over-enthusiasm--a woman running out into traffic lanes to hand out leaflets to cars or a man leaning out into the street, banging a pair of cymbals together.
The approving honks of passing motorists were fairly constant, although one protester felt supporters were in the minority.
"I'm looking in the windows of everyone driving by and I would say a good 90 percent are ignoring us," said Tori Radman of San Clemente. She was hiking at the State Park earlier in the day, heard about the rally and decided to join in.
"I've been kind of wondering where all the protesters are, and I thought, 'Great, I found some!'" Surveying the attitudes of passing commuters, she counted: "Support, ignore, ignore, ignore, support, very hesitant support, ignore...."
Police cars and motorcycles passed frequently, but the event appeared to create no objections from law enforcement.
"I was really pleasantly surprised that so many CHP guys drove by and just...drove by," said Hastings.
The Canyon supplied its own guardian of the public good, in the person of "The Queer Superhero for Peace," a leather-masked, yellow-caped crusader, whose secret identity was revealed to be Topangan Amber Katherine. Katherine came with several other women from the Creekside Wellness Dojo. She said that speaking out for peace in the current U.S. climate takes some courage.
"The reason I call myself a 'queer superhero,'" she said, "is that right now you have to be willing to transgress the norms to be against the war. Right now our consent for war is being manufactured. It's not normal to be against the war."
Topanga Peace Alliance member Kathleen Hernandez, who teaches at the Shenandoah Elementary School and formerly ran the Topanga Co-op Preschool, related her anti-war convictions to the ethics of her profession.
"As an educator I'm always telling children to 'use their words,' and work things out in a non-violent way, and then we go and bomb places," she said. "I'm for the rule of law and working it out through the United Nations. I'd like to see our teacher's union get involved with this, because it's fundamental to what we teach kids."
As darkness fell, the crowd--which some estimated at 250 at its peak--thinned somewhat, but there were still over a hundred people lining the Boulevard at 6 p.m.
Fourth-grader Andrew Wiltse walked the line, announcing through a bullhorn that the rally would be moving to the elementary school in 20 minutes. But word soon spread that a TV crew from Channel 7 was coming to cover the protest, and Andrew quickly revised his announcement: "Never mind about the school, a TV camera is coming!"
Green glow sticks were produced and Rick Ellis, Jamie Papish and friends jammed on drums to keep the energy going, as the protest continued in darkness. Later, reports came that the news crew wasn't going to show.
Afterwards, about a hundred people gathered at the school auditorium for an anti-war forum with guests from various peace organizations, and performances by Topanga musicians.
The speakers included Frank Dorrel, author of the book, "Addicted to War;" Bob McCloskey and Linda Tobach, activists who were part of a delegation to Iraq led by Ramsey Clark in January 2000; Mark Scully, a Vietnam veteran from Veterans for Peace; Jonathan Parfrey from Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Candace Carnicelli from the Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence.
McCloskey and Tobach presented a disturbing slide show of conditions in Iraq at the time of their visit. Gulf War attacks on Iraq's water and health care system they said, have led to devastating results.
According to McCloskey and Tobach, U.N. sanctions in place since the Gulf War have caused the deaths of 500,000 children by prohibiting import of needed medical, and construction supplies because of supposed "dual-use" military applications.
"The Gulf War wasn't a war, it was a cowardly rout," said McCloskey, reminding the audience of continued bombing of Iraq by the U.S. since the war supposedly ended.
McCloskey and Tobach said their delegation to Iraq brought $2.5 million worth of medical supplies. Their goal is to get the sanctions lifted, as well as to prevent another war.
"Iraq poses no threat," said McCloskey. "The biological and chemical weapons they got were from the West. Iraq doesn't have the capability to pose a threat to anybody. This is about oil. This is about power. This is about U.S. hegemony around the world and the plans Cheney and Bush have for the future."
He also argued that Iraq's ouster of nuclear and chemical-weapons inspectors in 1998 was actually part of a Clinton administration "wag the dog" strategy.
Seventeen inspectors were asked by Iraq to leave, McCloskey said, because it was discovered that there were CIA agents among them. Then, at the behest of the Clinton administration, all 70 inspectors were recalled so that we could begin the bombing of Operation Desert Fox.
Jonathan Parfrey of Physicians for Social Responsibility explained his organization's concern about nuclear proliferation. America, he said, is now undermining non-proliferation. The "Bush doctrine," which allows for pre-emptive strikes against potential threats, includes contingency plans for nuclear attacks against countries that do not possess, nor are likely to develop, nuclear weapons, he said.
"When we read about North Korea violating [the non-proliferation] treaty," he said, "we have to ask ourselves 'Is the U.S. abiding by that treaty?' And the answer is no."
Ultimately, said Palfrey, working for peace comes down to "enlightened self-interest."
"If we become such a bastard in the world, we will reap what we have sewn," he said.
Topangan Mark Scully of Veterans for Peace provided a personal view of war. He told the story of his own accidental order of an attack that killed 17 friendly soldiers in Vietnam. Ultimately, he said, he realized that it didn't matter whether they were friendly or not.
"They were just dead," he said.
Scully challenged the common view that there are "good" and "bad" wars --World War II was a "good" war, Vietnam a "bad" war. But he said he accepted the distinction if it encouraged more people to oppose a new war against Iraq.
"If you're here because you believe in good and bad wars and that Iraq is a bad war, that's good," he said. "If you're here because you believe all wars are bad, that's even better."
When the Topanga audience cheered that remark, Scully cracked, "God, I love preaching to the choir."
Scully rejected our local democratic representatives defense of voting in favor of Bush's military resolution in Congress.
"When I hear our new congressman saying he voted for that war amendment so that we could send a message so we don't have to go to war--excuse me, but that's a lot of s***."
Interspersed among the speakers were musical performances. Inara George opened the evening with a soulful, a capella "America the Beautiful." Gabe Brody sang two original songs, blending humor and a serious political message. Local teen band Tinkle roused the crowd with three rocking numbers, including a cover of "Chain of Fools."
Wally High evoked memories of peace movements past, with his warm, acoustic renditions of "Blowin' in the Wind," "Teach Your Children Well" and "Woodstock."
Topanga Peace Alliance members were pleased with the event. Hastings says the organization can interface with other groups that have greater resources.
"Although we're responding to this acute crisis, we intend to remain indefinitely, and be a place for people to turn locally to engage in peace advocacy activities," said Hastings.
At the forum, the Topanga Peace Alliance's "Statement in Support of Peace" was distributed for signatures.
The Alliance is planning to hold another, larger forum sometime in mid-February. For information about the Topanga Peace Alliance, call (310) 455-2497.
(Fanfare) Topanga Decision 2002
By Susan Chasen
If Topanga ran the circus, the November 5 election would have come out much
the same, with the exception of Proposition 52, the election-day voter
registration initiative, which would have passed. However, there are many
other interesting numbers to be found among Topanga1s five main precincts,
reflecting Topanga1s overwhelmingly Democratic-voting preference as well as
a willingness to vote Green, especially when Republicans are not expected to
In the governor's race, Topanga1s support for Gov. Gray Davis drew 57.4
percent of the votes cast among the top four candidates on the ballot.
Countywide he received 55.9 percent and statewide 47.5. Perhaps the truly
remarkable number in the governor1s race though is the 17 percent vote that
went to Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. He received 282 votes out of
1,638 votes cast in Topanga. Statewide, Camejo received 5.2 percent and in
L.A. County, 4.3 percent.
Poor Bill Simon, the hapless Republican gubernatorial candidate, did only
slightly better than Camejo, receiving 21.6 percent in Topanga with 353
The Libertarian Gary Copeland received 63 votes.
In two Topanga precincts, Camejo surpassed Simon, drawing 22 percent to
Simon's 12 percent in Fernwood and 21 percent to Simon1s 14 percent in upper
Topanga neighborhoods south of Viewridge--including Glenview, Santa Maria,
the Mesa, Greenleaf and Henry Ridge.
The Viewridge and Summit Pointe precinct was the only competitive race for
the Republican slate. Though the Republicans still lost every race but one
there, Simon drew 46 percent to Davis1 47 percent. Camejo received 5.7
percent. In the race for state Controller, Democrat Steve Westly and
Republican Tom McClintock tied in Viewridge-Summit Pointe.
The Green Party, offering its first full slate of candidates for statewide
offices, did well consistently in Topanga. Donna Warren, Green candidate for
lieutenant governor, received 10 percent of the vote. Democrat Cruz
Bustamante won with 61.9 percent. Republican Bruce McPherson got 25
Three out of Topanga's five precincts cast more votes for Green candidates
than for the Republican in virtually every race. The Democrats, of course,
did much better here than across their districts or statewide.
Democrat incumbent Congressman Henry Waxman defeated Republican Tony Goss
with 81.2 percent of Topanga1s vote compared to 70.3 percent received
throughout his district.
Democrat Assemblymember Fran Pavley was re-elected with 77.2 percent of
Topanga1s vote. Republican opponent Michael Wissot received 18.4 percent and
Libertarian Brian 3Max2 Kelly got 4.4 percent. District-wide, Pavley
received 61.7 percent and Wissot, 34.7 percent.
Topanga's election-day turnout was 1,722, out of 3,590 registered voters, or
48 percent. Topanga1s middle precinct, north of the center and including
Entrada and Highvale neighborhoods, gets the prize for highest turnout, with
52.7 percent of its registered voters casting ballots. Next came Fernwood
with 50.3 percent and then Old Canyon with 49.9 percent. Countywide the
turnout was 42.6 percent. Topanga's primary turnout last March was 24.8
Topanga's voting record on the Propositions generally paralleled the
statewide outcome with the exception of Proposition 52. Election-day voter
registration passed here 53.8 percent to 46.2 percent. It was defeated in
both the county and state by 8.6 and 5.4 percentage points respectively.
Among the five statewide Propositions that passed, Propositions 46, 47 and
50 added $19.2 billion in new interest debt to $18.59 billion in new bond
debt. Topanga's support for the Propositions was stronger than in the county
or state in every instance.
Topanga's favorite Proposition was Proposition 50, the $3.44 billion water-
quality bond which was controversial because of allegations that it was
political payback to numerous large California real-estate developers, who
were major backers of the measure and whose threatened developments stand to
be bought out now by taxpayers through these bonds. Topangans voted 1,220
to 440 in favor of the initiative.
Proposition 48, which eliminates municipal courts, was also popular,
receiving 1,192 votes. Fewer votes were cast on Proposition 48, but support
came to 80 percent of the votes cast.
Locally, county Measure B to finance trauma centers and the Los Angeles
Unified School District1s Measure K which provides $3.35 billion for local
schools were also popular, receiving 77 percent support with 1,224 votes and
70 percent support with 1,139 votes respectively.
Topanga voting results available on the internet at http://lavote.net
unfortunately appear to exclude precincts in Top O1 Topanga, Lower Topanga
and upper Tuna and Saddle Peak areas. They also mistakenly include a sixth
precinct, Sunset Mesa, but these numbers have been deleted from this report.
Message from Michael: Outfitters is Open for Business
By Kathie Gibboney
Besides surfing the perfect wave, Michael Anapol has always had another
dreamÜto have a business here in Topanga where he has made his home since
1994. His first attempt was to rent a small outdoor space on Topanga Canyon
Boulevard, next to what, at that time, was an ice-cream store. On a very
cold December weekend, he and his enchanted wife attempted to sell something
they called "psychic socks." Don't ask. They maybe broke even.
His next venture was operating a small restaurant on the grounds of
Theatricum Botanicum called the What You Will Caf. A few people knew about
it and, on some wonderful summer Friday nights, he served dinner under the
stars. But the summer ended and so did the caf.
In the meantime Michael worked locally at Willows, then Chaparral and
finally Abuelitas. While he was happy working for these establishments and
serving friends in Topanga, it was not like having his own business.
Though he tended to grumble quite a bit, especially at his enchanted wife,
some benevolent power in the universe, one Steve Carlson, helped realize his
While annoying Leslie Carlson and Jane Hoover, the patient owners of Topanga
Homegrown, Michael ran by an idea for a vacated retail space in Pine Tree
Circle. He suggested a sportswear and surf/skate shop. A week later the
phone rang. Michael Anapol now had a business addressÜTopanga Far Outfitters
at 120 South Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Far Outfitters carries surfing and skateboarding supplies and sport clothes,
drawing on Topanga residents for merchandise such as Jeff Shafer owner of
Agave Jeans; Isaac Nichelson, co-owner of and designer for Shivatech and
Livity; Randall Ott, owner of sobord gear, as well as other brands such as
Blundstone and Kiwi footwear, Oakley and Von Dutch. The adventurous can
select surfboards shaped by world-renowned artisan Dick Brewer; skateboards
and something more radical called a "carve board."
"This place is cool!" announced fourth-grader Cameron McLeod, giving the
store his official approval.
"The support from the community has been great," says Michael. "If we do as
well as everyone says we will, someday my son Riley may be able to get his own trumpet."
Check it out between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Thanks to the Carlson family,
Michael and his colorful assistant Brendon O1Halloran are there at your
service when not carveboarding down the Canyon. For more information call