When I was growing up in Orinda, Calif., my wrestling coach was one of the select men who helped mold me. I thought he was awesome. He was strong and silent, yet still a tremendous motivator. In high school when I was outed as gay, and then harassed mercilessly, he was a source of great support. We used to ride to the meets together in his little red pickup and we would talk about the world as he had seen it. He was well traveled and very intelligent, but a bit of a snob at times.

One of the things that he used to say about people who had no class or intelligence was that “all their taste is in their mouth.” It took me awhile to figure that one out, but when I did, I adopted it and loved it.

Living in Santa Monica we have the opportunity to be exposed to many wonderful things that can expand our culture and our tastes. This past weekend was a culture vulture weekend for me. And it looks like this summer is going to be a very busy season of events.

Friday night I was attending Live From Loews: California Classics where I dined on some awesome sushi rolls and delicious appetizers like walnut shrimp and taquitos that were not overcooked and had actual flavor. The pool deck was smoking hot with Kobe beef sliders that were done the way you want them. The best/worst part of the night was the desert station with cinnamon roll sundaes that were beyond addicting. I’ll be spending some quality time with a treadmill thanks to the two I had.

The live music provided by the John Brown Band showed why they are named one of the best bands in the South Bay; the classic rock favorites and California dreamin’ surf tunes had people singing along and dancing.

This event was a definite winner and I look forward to the next Friday night Live in May.

But culture in southern California goes beyond just food. We have amazing opportunities all around us to expand our hearts and minds. On Saturday night I had the good fortune to attend a spoken word event at Antioch University which featured my friend In-Q. I wrote about him a couple of years back. He’s this local boy who is also a national name in the hip-hop/poetry/spoken word world.

Saturday he was performing with Jaha Zainabu, BessKepp, and Gina Loring at Antioch on the anniversary of the riots that were sparked by the beating of Rodney King. It was an amazing experience to be in a room with about two dozen other people listening to these artists share their words and life experiences. Jaha did an opening piece about life in her community and the in-fighting of the black community and how it is destroying lives; while at the same time poignantly presenting the strength of those who continue to live their lives despite the pain. She was astounding.

BessKepp is an educator and a poet who rocked the house with his pieces of life and kids. It’s easy to see why he produces an open mic in Pomona called A Mic and Dim Lights.

Gina Loring is a recent graduate of Antioch’s Fine Arts program and with her newly minted master’s degree she was doing that school proud with her poetry that spoke of Michael Jackson and his pain, to socio-political commentary.

My friend In-Q did not disappoint me. I met him about three years ago and was mightily impressed with him then and he has done nothing but improve. His style is David Mamet on speed, with the vocal variety of Rich Little. He climbs on stage like your hip younger brother, seemingly a bashful boy, he stands with his hands in his pants pockets and starts to speak. His first words slide out smoothly and slowly, languishing at a conversational pace, and then they build into a rapid fire crescendo of emotionality, as he seamlessly slips from male to female characters, from old to young and black to white. It was a stupendous example of characterization, memorization and presentation. He is clearly going to be a much bigger star than he already is.

Life in southern California is as varied and invigorating as you want it to be. With a multitude of events at our disposal there’s no excuse for us to have “all our taste in our mouths.”



David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969.


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