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Sunday, September 14, 2014

FALL IN LOVE WITH THAILAND IN L.A.: 22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day, Sun. 9/21 11AM-5PM


Event: Thai Cultural Day
When: Sun., 9/21  11a.m.-5p.m. (Monks Alms Offering Ceremony starts 8:30 a.m.)
Where: Barnsdall Art Park 
Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , Los Angeles, CA 90027
(West of Vermont on South side) - Red Line Metro
More Info & Map for Free Kaiser Parking:

When I asked a Thai American friend who does not live near L.A's Thai Town if he plans to go to the 22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day at Barnsdall Art Park on Sun., Sep. 21, he said, "Sounds interesting, I could maybe take my son. He doesn't know much about Thai culture." 

When I showed the poster to my Thai neighbor who could not read the English, my attempts to explain failed. She seemed to get that it had something to do with Thailand, but she looked relieved when our conversation ended. 

In fact, Thai Cultural Day is a cross-cultural event that welcomes anyone who would like to participate. Thai Town resident and businessman, Carl Percival--a London-born American is one of the many Angelenos who volunteer year after year. "I visited Thailand years ago," Percival said. "And I fell in love with the art." Percival moved to Thai Town to reap the benefits of Thai culture without a passport. "The people are warm and friendly...the food is terrific...and the art is just beautiful."

Carl Percival with the banner he made for 2014

Percival, who only gives his age as "you wouldn't believe it," is one of the festival's most enthusiastic promoters and organizers, as well as its Chief Decorator. Here are some photos of his meticulous craftsmanship featured at past festivals. They will be on display once again for all to enjoy. 

The front entrance of Barnsdall Art Park (a multi-arts facility public park donated to L.A. by the Barnsdall family) is quite nice, but it doesn't usually look like this:

No Thai Cultural Day would be complete without a Spirit House, and Percival enjoys building them. 

The origins of the spirit house are older than the Buddhist religion practiced in Thailand. They originate from the practice of animism, which is the very ancient belief that spirits, or souls, reside not only in humans, but in animals, plants, mountains, rivers and other inanimate objects. Thai people believe that the spirit of the land must be appeased through offerings made to the spirits who reside in the spirit house.

If all you know about Thailand, you learned from watching The King and I or getting a Thai massage, or ordering delicious curries off a menu, then you are in for a multi-layered treat. Thai Cultural Day is not restricted in any way. People of all walks of life, cultures and religions are welcome. 

"It's a free fun-time day on the grassy hill that was given to the citizens of Los Angeles by the Barnsdall family," said Percival.

The activities are listed below. Some take place outside in booths and on a stage. Others will happen inside the Barnsdall (200+ seat) Theater.

Before the family and artistic events begin, there is an "Food and Alms Offering Ceremony" for Thai Buddhist monks who arrive at 8 a.m. and offer a gratitude prayer. Donations are not required. And just as you don't have to be Jewish to love Kosher rye bread, you don't have to be Buddhist to come to the ceremony.

Here's the info from the Thai Cultural Center website at You can also follow them and the "22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day" on Faeebook.

Thai Community Arts and Cultural Center
 “To preserve and promote Thai culture”

22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day
Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , Los Angeles, CA 90027

Admission & Parking
     -Free Admission and Free Parking
      (Limited spaces at Barnsdall Art Park)
     -Local Line #2, #180, #181
     -Kaiser Parking Structure at
       1549 Edgemont St., Los Angeles, CA 90027      
Parking Map:
     -Metro Station (Red Line): Sunset & Vermont

Cultural Activities
     -Thai Massage
     -Thai Antiques, Thai Art & Craft, Thai Silk
     -Cultural Demonstrations by E-san Association
     -Thai Kickboxing
     -Children's Activities
     -Thai Painting Exhibit/Demonstration

Other Booths and Activities
     -Preserve America Anniversary
     -California Telephone Access Program
     -Thai Town Rotary Club
     -Asian Pacific Health Care Venture
     -Thai American Chamber of Commerce of California
     -Tourism Authority of Thailand

Planned Program

Thai Traditional Dancing & Music

And Thai bands:

Costume Contests:

Ice Sculpture:

Thai Kickboxing:

And last, but certainly not at all least, Thai carvings from Carl Percival's Thai Wood Carving Collection will be exhibited. Here's a couple of samples of what you'll see:

LEFT: An intricate teak carving of the face of Buddha surrounded by teak candleholders, some eggs of different Thai hard woods and teak flowers.

RIGHT: Top - a buffalo neck adornment, teak buffalo neck bell and a teak window. Middle - a large teak tray for making sticky rice, a teak celestial dancer, and a teak gold panning dish. Front - some Teak roof decorations and a Teak Tray.

More will be revealed in this year's festival program where you will find an entertaining article by Percival. So come on down and get cultured the Thai way!


Project Partners:
     Dept. of Cultural Affairs
     Team Thailand
     Thai Community Development Center
     Clean & Green
     Rotary Club of Thai Town
     Thai Association of Southern California
     Alliance for California Traditional Arts 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Barcham Books will kick off summer reading with "A Model Murder": Kindle Giveaway (7/1): "In strip clubs and law firms, no one can hear you scream."

Summary: On July 1, Barcham Books will gift summer readers with a free one-day-only Kindle download of Book 1 in th Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy, A Model Murder, riding on the law firm/strip club murder mystery’s June KDP success (over 4200 international downloads).

Title: A Model Murder (Book 1)
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy
Author: Celia Conrad
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Barcham Books
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2011
Paperback Pages: 341
ISBN-13: 978-0954623326
E-Book: Kindle

"He told me he was used to getting what he wanted."—A Model Murder

On July 1, Barcham Books will kick off summer beach reading with a one-day e-book giveaway of A Model Murder through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program.

"We're still in awe of the success of the first giveaway in early June," said British author Celia Conrad. "Almost 4300 downloads in three days exceeded expectations to say the least."

A Model Murder features the murder of a young Australian model moonlighting as a stripper in London, and the harassed-at-work woman lawyer who sets out to bring the murderer to justice.

"A Model Murder draws uncomfortable parallels between strip clubs 
and law firms where Neanderthals still roam the earth."
—Dancing in the Experience Lane, Open Salon

The story taps into darker truths that are taboo to talk about in polite society,” said Jane Hall at Barcham Books. “That’s why we decided to go with the marketing tag line: In strip clubs and law firms, no one can hear you scream.

After A Model Murder was released in 2011, real life incidents echoed its plot points, said Conrad: "Last April, a stripper was found murdered after work in Atlanta. And last year there was a gender discrimination lawsuit brought against a prominent American law firm by its women lawyers."

Hall gave KDP a big thumbs-up. “It would be nice if the numbers were dollars,” she said. “But we are pleased with the visibility and attention the giveaways stimulate."

Celia Conrad
Conrad toiled as a lawyer in London law firms and dabbled in modeling. “The novel is autobiographical in parts,” she said. “The legal profession is still male dominated despite what we are told about more women qualifying or reaching top jobs.” While modeling, Conrad met a young model who was working in a “hostess club” to supplement her income. Years later, those experiences found their way into A Model Murder.

“While researching, I went to clubs and spoke to women who worked there,” said Conrad. “They told me they had to generate money by being nice, but how ‘nice’ came from the top. Some women felt pressured, others did not, depending on the boss."

Conrad's then-agent Paul Marsh at the Marsh Agency encouraged her to write a crime fiction series about her legal experiences. The second book, Wilful Murder, takes Alicia to Australia amid a slew of murdered relatives over an inheritance. The third, Murder in Hand, leads the Anglo-Italian heroine into the dark underbelly of corruption in Sicily.

"Sadly, Paul passed away before A Model Murder was published. Then I lost my mother not long after, so the books never had a proper launch amid all the turmoil,” said Conrad. “Before he died, Paul had read all the books and was really happy with them. He believed Alicia is a great character—she is a tough little cookie—and deserved to find her audience. That endorsement has always pushed me on.”

Celia Conrad |
Facebook | Celia Conrad Author | 

Publicist | Book Publicity by Marlan | Marlan Warren  |

Thursday, May 29, 2014

ZUMBATHON IN ARLETA, CA / FRI. 5/30/14 Tomorrow Evening! Only $10 for a Worthy Cause


Details on this Zumbathon Benefit were not available at Press Time, but I understand the $10 goes to a great cause and you can dance the night away with Z-U-M-B-A-A-AH and wonderful Zumba instructors such as Dennis Guzman (featured elsewhere on this blog).  Great poster too!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Nothing can explain the feeling...": Muay Thai Fighter Ariana Gomez Victorious!

They came out fighting: Ariana (L) and Aileen (R)
Photo by © Melody De Leon 
My previous post celebrated the women and men of the Muay Thai Academy of America in North Hollywood, focusing attention on the two students who fought in last night's Girls Night Out Thai Boxing matches: Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez and Aileen "The Marchine" Maquiraya. At the time of this posting, I don't have the details about the outcome of Maquiraya's fight (except for some stunning photos by Erica De Leon).

In her own words, here's the Pink Lady's victorious Facebook post today (SHE WON!):

Aileen "Pink Lady" Gomez and Troy Fisher
Photo by © Erica De Leon
"Nothing can explain the feeling I had stepping back into the ring yesterday and waking up this morning knowing I left everything in there. Sometimes we learn more from our falls than from our triumphs; it helps to value everything more. My opponent and I came to fight and I think it was evident in there. Thank you to those that didn't stop believing in me even after I wasn't at my best. Only a few know what was wrong last year, but that's why this fight just meant so much to me and after a year of not fighting and being on an emotional roller coaster, I finally feel like I found myself again."

Pink Lady: "I left everything in there." Photo by © Erica de Leon

"Everyone sees the win in the ring but all the work is put in months before and is a team effort. I couldn't have done it without God, the support of my parents, my bro, my coach and godfather Troy Fisher, conditioning coach Matt B, my cornermen Damon Bolder and Gabriel Saekson, and Muay Thai Academy for their support and all their girls for helping us push ourselves in sparring, Mr Julio Trana for doing my wraps, my team, friends, supporters, fans and I can't forget my sponsor Team TSN for keeping me strong and healthy along the way! This one was for me, my Family and my MTA family. We did it!

Falling down is part of life... Getting back up is living."

Congratulations to Ariana! So inspiring!  #AileenGomezwins

And Congratulations to Aileen! You look so fierce in these photos that you are every inch a winner. #AileenMaquirayaMuayThaifighter

Below are a couple of the many gorgeous photos taken by Erica De Leon of Vivar Photography. She has honed her craft as a skillful action photographer by shooting her fellow fighters. See her story in the previous post.


Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya
Photo by © Erica De Leon

Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya
Photo by © Erica De Leon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Muay Thai Boxing changed my entire life": Saturday Night's All Right for Girls Muay Thai Fighting (4/19 at 7pm) Hollywood Park Casino

Ever watched a Thai Boxing match between two women?

This Saturday night you will get your chance at 7pm when two beautiful young women--Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez and Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya--climb into the ring to practice their ferocious martial art known as Muay Thai (aka "Thai Boxing") during the Dennis Warner and In Sync Productions-sponsored "Girls Night Out" event at Hollywood Park Casino, 3883 W. Century Boulevard, Inglewood CA 90303.

Ariana and Aileen are both students at the Muay Thai Academy of America (MTAA) founded by Kru Puk who trains adults and children in North Hollywood. They will not be fighting each other.

"The Machine" will be making her amateur debut, and "The Pink Lady" will return to the ring after losing a championship belt. Ariana has been training hard for months to prepare for 3.3 min. rounds. 

"For me this fight is not about redemption," said Ariana, who also has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and teaches 3rd Grade. "I love this sport and yes, this fight is super important for me on a different level than my past fights, but the reason is not to 'redeem myself.' It's much more than that. It's a journey I've been through especially this last year. It's about all the work I have put in. It's about inspiring, about empowerment."

We wish them both a great evening of fun and healthy competition!

Ariana Gomez (aka "Pink Lady") (Photo by Erica De Leon)
Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya with sparring trophy.

Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez (Photo by Erica De Leon)

Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya

The following is a photo essay to celebrate MTAA and the wonderfully strong people who make it happen. It's so common to read about victims of domestic violence, bullying, or worse in Los Angeles and everywhere. I'm happy to post this good news about strong women and men practicing a martial arts whose foundation, according to Puk, is based on "respect." Muay Thai Academy of America is located at 11024 Vanowen Street, North Hollywood, CA 91605.

All photos are by photographer, Erica De Leon, copyright protected. Here is her story:

"MTA changed my life from a depressed, lonely, and afraid girl to a more independent, outgoing, confident woman," said Erica. "MTAA became my family, teaching me more than a sport. It taught me respect for myself and others. Unity, loyalty, and help one another. I started shooting Ariana Gomez's training and fights, and through this, photography became my passion and work (Vivar Photography). Muay Thai changed my entire life."

Trainer Troy Fisher (L) with Damon Bolder (R)

Troy Fisher trains fighters at MTAA. He has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and teaches kids twice a week in that martial art.

Barry Hawkins

Melody De Leon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Colombian-born L.A. Zumba instructor Dennis Guzman will reappear on Mundo Fox's "Viva" 4/14: "I want to be where the dance is!"

Dennis Guzman (Right)

#bestlazumba    #dennisgfitness

Viewers tuning in to watch Zumba instructor, Dennis Guzman, perform on the Zumba fitness segment of the Los Angeles Mundo Fox community news show, "Viva" (Channel 22), Mon., April 14 at 8 a.m., will be watching this Colombian-born American fulfill his passion to celebrate the music and dance of his culture. Guzman, who first danced on the show when it aired March 24, has developed a strong following since arriving on the L.A. dance scene two years ago from New York.

“I want to be where The Dance is,” said Guzman. “New York is a Dance Capitol. It’s very soulful. L.A. is the flip side with its focus on the commercial.” A dancer since he could walk, Guzman grew up in New York where he trained in hip-hop, modern and jazz before being hired by Carnival Cruise Lines to perform in their extravaganza revues. Four years, five contracts and 10 shows later, he was ready for a change of pace.

When he experienced his first Zumba class in L.A., Guzman knew he had come home: “I said, ‘OMG. This is an exercise invented by a Colombian!’” At the recent Zumba Conference L.A., Guzman witnessed Zumba founder Beto Perez perform, and afterward posted on his Dennis G Fitness Facebook page:

“Que persona je Beto. So proud my fellow Colombian created this fitness program that put food on the table for me...He is truly amazing.” Perez took the “R” from the Colombian “rumba” (meaning “party”) and replaced it with a “Z” to form his own fitness dance brand in the 90s.

”It’s a fitness party,” said Guzman, whose classes are citywide in L.A. Students range from a grandmother who wants to keep in shape to Puerto Rican actress and former Miss Universe, Dayanara Torres.

“The best thing you can do after or before work is exercise your body,” said Guzman. With his quick smile and supportive attitude, he tends to focus more on his students’ achievements than his own, but his Facebook page reveals over 600 followers, mucho videos starring Guzman’s hot moves and cheering student comments such as “Dennis Guzman eres incomparable!”

“His enthusiasm is contagious,” said a student who identified herself as “Cheryl” after one of Guzman’s “Lunchtime Zumba” classes at the Weddington Recreation Center where Guzman is employed by the City of North Hollywood. “You cannot have a bad day after dancing here.”

"It's an honor to be invited back," said Guzman about his upcoming TV appearance on the "Viva" Zumba segment which is led by instructor Alex Collins. "I really appreciate this opportunity."

As a licensed Zumba instructor, Guzman knows well the benefits of Zumba: "It's a great cardio workout that really tones the legs, and trains students in Latin forms of dance." The popular instructor is also certified in Group Resistance full body toning, Pilates Mat, and WSI Swimming, Aqua Fit, Spinning and Boot Camp. He has taught dance to children and teens, and choreographed quinceaneras. His B.A. is in Communications from University of Tampa.

“I'm so grateful Zumba was created because of how it fits my culture, dance training and personality,” said Guzman, who recently featured a dance class tribute to Rio during Carnival Week. “My hope is to continue empowering people through dance fitness. One love!”

Want more info? For class schedules, more photos, videos and Facebook Page:

Dennis Guzman | Dennis G Fitness | mailto:denguz26@gmail
YouTube: Dennis Guzman Zumba

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Publicity with Soul

My Book Publicity by Marlan is now in its second year and taking off. What I offer authors is a bit out of the ordinary, as I tailor each book launch and marketing plan according to genre, target audience, budget, and do not push authors toward "e-mail blasts" which send out SPAM-like e-mails to media asking for an interview, etc. I have gotten much faster results with an e-mail that is more personal in tone, indicating that we have heard or seen a particular program, and offering valid reasons why the author would make a great guest/interview subject.

I'm always on the lookout for new ways to spread the word through book clubs, libraries, special interest groups, social networking sites, institutions, museums, bookstore events, and pass on recommendations for awards to authors whose books could win big.

I've been fortunate to receive nonfiction and fiction books with themes of "Healing." We are at that point in time that pushes us to heal or die.

As the major publishers struggle or fold, self-publishing has lost much of its former stigma. The same goes for "small press" publications which had less opportunity for "reach" as they do now, thanks to the Internet.

I think of myself more as an "artist" than a "publicist." It's important for me to approach each project as if it were a production or a blank canvas.

To check out my book publicity blog which doubles as an Author's Showcase, please visit: And if you have any questions, please contact me at memoircity at gmail. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Best Zumba Class for $5 (North Hollywood) IMO: Dennis G Fitness

Dennis Guzman (Photo  © Erica Deleon)

Dennis Guzman is an amazing Zumba instructor who teaches all over Los Angeles, but my favorite venue is $5/class (yes!) at the North Weddington Recreation Center (Mon.-Wed.-Fri. @ 12:15-1:15pm). It's difficult to find Zumba teachers with solid dance training. Too many think it's enough to shake their booty, and there's little technique supporting their moves (and yours if you are following them). Dennis is not only creative with the choreography of his Zumba (a gratifying mix of aerobics, Latin dance, and jazz), but his effervescent encouraging-self is contagious.

He calls it "Join the Party" Zumba, and it's easy to see why. You should always dance like nobody's watching, but Dennis makes you feel like you are having a great time at a fun dance party.

A huge bargain on every level. Zumba on, Dennis!

For more info, check out

Or just search for "DennisGFitness" to get his complete schedule and updates.

North Weddington Recreation Center (Toluca Lake/North Hollywood, CA)
10844 Acama Street (Lankershim Exit off Hollywood 101 - North of the 101)
North Hollywood, CA 91602
(818) 506-1467

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Judith Fein, Author of "The Spoon from Minkowitz": "Finding roots is the solution for a rootless life."

           A Bittersweet Deep Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands
Author: Judith Fein
Photographer:  Paul Ross
ISBN:     978-0-9884019-3-8
Pub. Date: Jan. 5, 2014
Paperback  & All E-Formats      Pages: 243      Price:     $18.95
Publicist: Marlan Warren   E-Mail: roadmap.girl at hotmail

Summary :  Author Judith Fein embarks on a quest to call on ancestors and urges us to do the same in The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Deep Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands.

Interview with Judith Fein, Author of The Spoon from Minkowitz -
A Bittersweet Deep Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands:
 Finding roots is the solution for a rootless life.”

 I heard the Eastern European ancestors of many people like me
 calling out. “Remember us. Don’t forget us. Our story needs
 to be heard. Write our story. Write your story."
—Judith Fein, The Spoon from Minkowitz

     Judith Fein is a travel journalist’s travel journalist. She has globe-trotted unencumbered by maps and prior research from Mog Mog to Vanuatu. By her own account, she has swum with Beluga whales, consulted with a Zulu sangoma in South Africa, and eaten porcupine in Vietnam (“not with relish”). In 2011, when Fein and her photojournalist husband Paul Ross visited Tunisia during the Arab Spring, the French-speaking American Fein found herself on the radio, speaking to Tunisians about Democracy. Her popular book Life Is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel depicts highlights from her decades of soul-searching adventure, which include a road trip with a Maori tribe on their way to reunite with their European roots. However, for Fein—whose motto is “I live to leave” —a big chunk of travel-mystery was still left uncracked: her own ancestral roots.

     Fein’s new book, The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Deep Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands, takes us with her on the trip she finally made in 2012 to the shtetl her maternal grandmother left behind in an obscure Ukrainian village known as Minkowitz.

     The Spoon from Minkowitz came out in January 2014, and has already garnered stellar reviews. Catharine Hamm, Travel Editor of the Los Angeles Times, found The Spoon from Minkowitz “as tense as a thriller and as tender as a love story. Judith Fein’s…quest to connect the dots of her life will have readers laughing, crying and, most of all, cheering her on.” Bill Tammeus, co-author of They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust called the book “compelling” in its ability to “move beyond the borders of Judaism and even beyond Holocaust history to a universal story of love.”

     We had the opportunity to catch Judith Fein for a moment when she is not in perpetual motion to talk about the deeper meanings of genealogy as explored in this book.

For those who have not yet read your book, what is “the spoon from Minkowitz”?

My grandmother was from a Russian village called Minkowitz. And that, plus five other facts, were all I could ever get out of her about where she was from and why she left. She spoke mainly Yiddish, so maybe that was a reason. My mother told me virtually nothing, no matter how much I begged when I was growing up. So then I meet my husband Paul, and we’re immediately attracted. But here’s the kicker: when I ask Paul to ask his parents about their ancestral roots, it turns out his father’s family came from…Minkowitz.

Okay. So the “spoon.” When Paul told his parents we were getting married, his father offered us the only thing left from his parents’ shtetl in Minkowitz”: a soup spoon they brought with them to America.  I treasured it because it made our ancient connection so real to me. We made a place of honor for it under the chupa  (Jewish wedding canopy) on a satin pillow.

What impressed me about your search was that it wasn’t a matter of buying a plane ticket to Minkowitz. You practically “feel your way” through Russia. The same is true in the stories you told in Life Is a Trip. Would you call your process “right brain”?

First of all, there are no planes to Minkowitz. And yes, “right brain.” I call it “following the arrows.” It’s about keeping eyes and ears open. If you trust you will end up in the right place, and if it’s meant to be, you will get there. One friend says I don’t seem to be traveling as much as channeling. She’s dubbed me “The Human Travel Channel.”

This book is like Jewish version of Roots, the Alex Haley book that traces his African American family history. It also reminds me of Safran Foer’s  Everything Is Illuminated, especially when you and Paul are in that stifling car where the driver refuses to roll down the windows in blistering heat. If I were a Hollywood producer, how would you pitch The Spoon from Minkowitz to me?

I’d say it’s a kind of Everything Is Illuminated meets Life Is a Trip.

If there is a link between The Spoon from Minkowitz and Life Is a Trip, what is it?

In Life Is a Trip, I take readers to l4 exotic climes where they experience new and different ways of dealing with life issues—everything from love to death to ambition to family tension. In The Spoon from Minkowitz, I take readers into the land of their ancestors, and into the depths of their own souls. 

Why is connecting to our ancestors so important?

Finding your roots can be the solution to a rootless life. In my book, I talk about roots travel, talking to grandma, digging deep into family roots to find  out who you are and where you come from. Ours is a rare culture that doesn't honor and connect to our ancestors. Everywhere I have traveled, I've experienced ancestor worship, ancestor ceremonies, ancestor altars, ancestor honorings.  It is time to bring this powerful awareness to our shores--with humor, heart, and information.  

What’s next for Judith Fein?

What’s  next for me is also what’s next for The Spoon from Minkowitz. The critical response to the book has been wonderful, and I am planning ancestor events and talks in various cities.

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