Remembering Van Halen’s 1975 Performance at GCC

Photo courtesy Mary Garson
Eddie Van Halen, pictured performing at age 20 in Glendale Community College’s quad during a free midday concert for students in the fall of 1975, was regarded as one of the greatest guitarists ever before his death last week at 65. David Lee Roth, Van Halen’s lead singer, has his back to the guitarist.

The death last week of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen conjured up memories from former Glendale Community College students of the band Van Halen, which had a memorable 1975 performance in the school’s quad before attaining superstardom.
Eddie Van Halen, who died of throat cancer at age 65, was the master guitarist who teamed with his drummer-brother Alex to create Van Halen, one of the era’s most influential and memorable “hair bands.” Lead singer David Lee Roth and bass player Michael Anthony were other members of the band’s 1970s lineup. (Sammy Hagar replaced Roth as lead singer in the 1980s.)
They went on to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world, particularly after the release of their chart-topping album “1984.” The band pumped out hits such as “Panama,” “Jump,” “Jamie’s Cryin’” and “Hot for Teacher.”

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Local Student Honored by Chick-fil-A

Melissa Minassian

Melissa Minassian, who graduated from Crescenta Valley High School three months ago, was recently honored by Chick-fil-A of Pasadena with the restaurant’s Community Student Award.
Minassian, who is currently attending Glendale Community College, was awarded $250 for books and supplies during her freshman year of college as well as a catered Chick-fil-A meal for 10 people.
“Melissa has not only displayed outstanding academic achievements, but she also embodies the aptitude of a servant heart,” said Adaobi Gwacham, owner of the Chick-fil-A Pasadena location. “I believe she will be an exemplary leader of the future and it is a privilege to honor her.”

Racism Panel Depicts ‘Painful Reality’ of City History

Acknowledgment, the group assembled by the city contended, is a strong first step for a community to address a past marred by racism and other prejudice.
However, as the panel tasked with discussing the past and present state of racism in our society and communities emphasized, it will take more than that to truly heal from prior transgressions, even though the people of today might not have had anything to do with them.
“This is a really painful and difficult reality that I think, of course, has to be acknowledged,” said Safiya Noble, one of three panelists brought together for Thursday’s “Racism: Past and Present” discussion sponsored by the city government. “There are so many ways in which these practices remain about who belongs and who doesn’t belong, like the way we don’t need the signs but we have the customs that exist.”

Noble and her peers were brought onto the virtual panel — a sign of our coronavirus-affected times, which themselves have had an outsize impact on black Los Angeles County residents — as part of the city’s commitment to facing its past-but-not-forgotten racial discrimination, whether formal or passive. That engagement was prompted by protests and advocacy that crystallized in May, when George Floyd, a black man, died while in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Locally, Glendale’s past reputation as a sundown town — in which black men and women faced potential violence if they remained within city limits after work hours — re-entered the public conversation, as did the fact that the American Nazi Party maintained its West Coast headquarters here for a couple of decades and that a prominent Ku Klux Klan leader lived and purveyed his rhetoric here.
“With respect to sundown towns and communities that have this tortured history, certainly acknowledging that is a first step. Apologizing for it is another step,” said panelist Hannibal Johnson, a lawyer and historian with expertise on the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a white mob attacked a black district and its residents and businesses. “I guess the really meddlesome part is the atonement, making reparations, making amends: What do we do to repair the damage imposed by those systems? Acknowledgement is not enough. Apology is not enough. You need all three steps.”
Panelist Gary Keyes, an author of local history books who previously taught at Glendale Community College, said Glendale police officers were actively enforcing a sundown town mentality as recently as the 1960s. That mentality was something he said he personally observed when, as a teacher at Crescenta Valley High School, he would drive along Foothill Boulevard through La Cañada Flintridge and see scores of black men and women waiting at bus stops.
On occasion, he said, he would see local law enforcement stopping black motorists to redirect them as they journeyed to what were then African-American communities, such as Pacoima or Altadena.
“That’s where it gets really ridiculous,” Keyes said. “Some sundown cities did not allow African-Americans in the community at all, and therefore if you were going someplace you would have to detour around town.”
Noble, a UCLA professor specializing in technological and data redlining, outlined that the difference between “not racist” and “anti-racist” is that the former is a passive stance whereas the latter describes people who “actively work” to dismantle institutional racist practices. “Not racist” white people’s acknowledgment of the inherent social benefits they are afforded is not enough, she said. Noble also pushed back against the “half-and-half” designation she said she sometimes gets because her mother is white and her father black.
“Of course this is completely absurd because no place in my life have I been misunderstood or misclassified as a white person,” she said. “Every dimension of modern life is governed by racial categories …We live in systems, and it doesn’t matter if you signed up for the system or not. It doesn’t matter if you declare yourself to be not racist. You’re still a beneficiary to long-term, systemic racism.”
Johnson, pointing out that the Tulsa riot remains an obscure part of the nation’s history, said enhancing education and curriculum represented a strong first move in the right direction. Indeed, as moderator Steven Nelson quipped, the harrowing opening scene of the 2019 HBO miniseries “Watchmen” has been for many the first exposure to the tragedy.
“What we are taught in our schools really feeds into systemic and structural racism that exists,” Johnson said. “We are too often taught a sanitized version of history that is exclusive of people of color and exclusive of what I call ‘hard history.’
“That’s something that people don’t forget,” he added, referring to the riot, “and it takes years and years and years of ‘affirmative action,’ if you will, to even begin to bridge the divide between the races. One concrete step, I would say, is for the community to take a look at curriculum, particularly history. There are a number of opportunities for just the ordinary citizen to make a real difference. We’re all represented by somebody on a school board. That’s influence.”
Keyes added that in 1920 the KKK hosted a major rally, which included a cross burning, that began at Verdugo Park, and that the organization would frequently participate in the city’s parades in that era. He added that the “last gasp” for overt white racism may have occurred in the 1970s, when an industrial park planned for the south side that would have pushed out the area’s Mexican community was ultimately shot down.
“I believe Glendale has made a sincere effort to change its past,” he said, having earlier noted: “People don’t always know their history and people should always look for the dark side of American history, because if we don’t know anything about our past, we can’t do anything about it in the future.”

Obituary: Christopher Michael Erskine IV

Christopher Michael Erskine IV

Christopher Michael Erskine IV, a resident of La Cañada Flintridge for 23 years, died in a traffic accident early Sunday while returning home from work on the 215 Freeway near San Bernardino. He was 32.
An avid outdoorsman, photographer and a lover of L.A. sports teams, Christopher attended Palm Crest Elementary, La Cañada High School and Glendale Community College.
He worked as an assistant for production companies in various capacities, including as a production assistant for the NFL Network. At the time of his death, he was a delivery man for nursing homes and elder-care facilities around Southern California.
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CAP Offers Scholarships to Local Students

The Cañada Auxiliary of Professionals of Assistance League of Flintridge, known as CAP, is offering $2,000 scholarships for a two-year or occupational program to further the education of La Cañada Flintridge area students.
To qualify for the scholarship, the applicants must attend a school in the La Cañada Flintridge area, or Verdugo Hills High School, Crescenta Valley High School, Pasadena City College or Glendale Community College.
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