May 27, 2018

From the Editor: Thank You, Topanga!



From the Editor: Thank You, Topanga!

We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: To be at the receiving end of the generosity, talent and support from this community during our first-ever subscription drive makes us, to say the least, profoundly humble and grateful to serve the people who make Topanga the extraordinary place it is.

It is because of all who participated by subscribing, providing incentive items and volunteering ideas and time that the drive and the Grand Bonus Gala event was as successful as it was.

To that end we want to give a shout-out to our subscribers, long-term and new, to say a special thanks and express our hopes that you will continue to enjoy and value the efforts of your community newspaper, now in its 38th year, and its staff who chronicles the experiences of the Topanga lifestyle.

To the artists, businesses, entrepreneurs and volunteers behind the scenes who made the impossible possible and so much fun, we are going to name names, albeit at great risk of leaving someone out. We’re sure you’ll let us know so we can thank you properly.

First, kudos go to artist David Anson Russo who started it all with a casual visit to the Messenger office. It was he who suggested a treasure hunt that evolved into the Treasure Chest filled with items from the community. It was he who found a wood shipping crate and enlisted artist Clare Brown to magically transform it into our Treasure Chest. After that, it was up to us to carry it forward by spreading the word.

That is when amazing things started to happen. A casual conversation with Joni Siegel, owner of Puremedy healing salve, inspired her to walk into our office carrying a box of 100 jars. “Let me know if you need more,” she said. Our jaws dropped.

Mere mention of what was still an idea to the Mountain Mermaid’s Bill Buerge brought his response: “Sure, we can offer a one-night stay.” Really? And so it went and when word officially went out, they often came to us.

When it came down to the crunch of holding the final event, the Topanga Community Club stepped forward and offered the space. TCC Events Manager Bonnie Morgan suggested we do a joint event that would also promote its Short & Sweet Survey to formulate new improvement projects for 2014 suggested by the community. That worked really well and people are invited to complete the survey and join the planning teams.

Roger Pugliese contributed to Morgan’s display for the event depicting highlights of the Messenger’s 37 years. Janek Dombrowa reproduced original issue covers into oversized posters that everyone could read on the wall.

The event itself was joyful as guests wandered into the hall beautifully decorated by TCC Treasurer Gabrielle Lamirand.

Susan Lovell on guitar and Janet Crouch Shulman on cello set the tone with songs from Lovell’s CD, “Topanga Anthem,” with thanks to Tom Mitchell who volunteered his time and expertise to get the sound just right for them and for The Family Dog, a band scheduled to play later.

Soon enough, it was time for the Grand Bonus Drawing. Anticipation grew and hopes raised as the first names were called. Excited recipients rushed to claim their items. For those who couldn’t attend, everyone applauded.


There were some outstanding items that drew everyone’s attention. Artist Nancy Williams’ framed watercolor painting, “Road to Paradise,” was coveted by us all. We lived with it in the Messenger office for weeks and were sorry to see it go but happy for Claire and Bryan Chapman who took it home. An exquisite six-tile mural, “Catalina Bird,” was donated by Bob Harris of Malibu Ceramic Works who also threw in a box of Malibu tiles that were part of the Thank You Bonuses just for subscribing. Theatricum Botanicum donated two adult passes to four plays of the 2014 summer season plus two tickets to one play. Rebecca and James Catterall offered a weekend stay in their Pine Mountain cabin and Rebecca added one of her ceramic pie plates as a second item. Topanga Pet Resort threw in with two free nights of boarding and training for someone’s lucky dog, as well as two fun days of Doggy Day Care at the resort for another lucky winner. Lynda Pasco would be the one to enjoy Mountain Mermaid’s one-night stay at this historic Topanga venue. The Topanga Historical Society donated its book, “The Topanga Story: Expanded Edition," another coveted prize.

Topanga’s authors chipped in with autographed copies of their books: Famed columnist Al Martinez with his book of essays, “Ashes in the Rain;” Lamar Hawkins (aka Lara Parker) with copies of her “Dark Shadows” novels; and poet Philip Daughtry with his first novel, “Night Ride with Dahlia.”

Artists gave freely of their talent: Rebecca Andrews donated a beautiful, multi-colored hand-crocheted purse. Robyn Feeley arranged a pet portrait with Stacy Sledge, who actually traded ­her win of a lifetime subscription to the Topanga Messenger with Gabrielle Lamirand, who will be leaving the Canyon next year. Robin Becker went all out and donated six unframed prints of her work and a beautiful framed painting for Mary Murphy to take home. Artist/Photographer Pamela Leeds gave a tryptich of photos in a black matte, glazed wood frame. The Doolin family’s Topanga Art Tile donated lovely 6” x 6” decorative tiles.

Topanga Messenger photographers also did their bit. Katie Dalsemer reproduced one of her classic nature photographs on metal; and Tony Verebes provided a portrait session.

Among the many healers in Topanga, Greg Friedman, Ph.D. offered Life Coaching sessions; and Dianne Porchia of Porchia's Wish offered a series of stress reduction sessions for teens.

New businesses introduced themselves, among them, Bird's Nest Salon (free haircut and style) and Heyoka Hideout (One item of Native American jewelry); sort-of-new Pebbles (20% discount); and The Computer Doctor ($20 discount on computer repair), a member of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce.

Among the businesses who have been here for us for years were: Tax preparation expert Barbara Allen (review of one year’s tax return); Canyon Car Service (One car ride to or from the airport); Feed and Seed (44-pound bag of Canidae dog food); Flowers in the Canyon ($20 gift certificate toward a bouquet); hillbillyhip vintage wear ($20 discount); Language Magazine (One-year subscription); Topanga Home Grown ($25 gift certificate); Topanga Lumber(Down vest).

You are less likely to know our entrepreneurs but they are people who live here and provide specialized products or services that reflect their talents and philosophies. Among them are: Dogley DoRight Dog Training (3 training sessions); Elizabeth Golden’s company, Golden Earth (aromatherapy body wash, lotion, chakra oils and perfumes); Topanga architect Janek Dombrowa of JTD Architects (free design and permit consultation for a build or remodel); Randy Chance Music School (one-hour music lesson); Sarah Priest Staging (Home staging consultation); Joni Siegel of Puremedy (healing salves); Topanga Mac (Computer home training and tune-up).

For food lovers, these Topanga stalwarts stepped up to the plate, so to speak: Patrice Winter’s The Angel in Your Kitchen (custom-made chocolate cake); Pat Burke's Topanga Grill (breakfast or lunch for two); Topanga Fresh Market, who also brought in subscriptions (free juice to subscribers); Waterlily Café (complimentary coffee or tea, any size).

Even our non-profit and civic organizations pitched in. Joanna Gunst’s ­“Serving Topanga” (One single space/inside ad in the March Issue); Topanga Historical Society (“The Topanga Story: Expanded Edition" of Topanga’s history); Topanga Town Council (Complimentary Premium Business Directory listing upgrade on, and a second item of a 2014 Resident Family Access card).

Thank you all.


As Brian Chapman and his band, The Family Dog, set up, old friends and new faces lingered at tables in conversation still relishing the potluck feast and, now, the band that would play us out to the end of the day.

A glorious roseate sunset drew everyone’s attention until the clouds turned gray and the sun dipped behind the mountains. Some people quietly left while others helped to clean up in the kitchen. For most of the afternoon, Ellie Carroll washed dishes, happy to do her part, for which we were all grateful. As the day wound down, families and their kids stayed to put chairs and tables away and help with the cleanup.

All was as it had been before the event, except for the memories that left with us as the key turned in the lock and we walked away.

Thank you, Topanga.