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Marlan Warren is a free-lance publicist who promotes entertainers and book authors (Roadmap Communications and Book Publicity by Marlan, respectively). She is also a film maker (Roadmap Productions), Reiki Master/Teacher (Light Hands Reiki Studio and Institute), Screenwriter, Novelist, PhotoJournalist, Tai Chi practitioner. 


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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What in the world is going on with the Senior Lunch Program in Chinatown (Golden Dragon)?

Manager of Chinatown Senior Lunches
Full disclosure: Yes, I am a baby boomer. And that entitles me to almost-free ($2.00) lunches at designated locations in L.A. I usually divide my attendance (about once or twice a week) between the lunch offerings at the Griffith Park Recreation Center and the Saint Barnabas Senior Center in Hollywood. Often, lunchtime conversation will wander to the topic of "Has anyone tried the lunch program in Chinatown?" A lot of people, regardless of race, color or creed, really like Chinese food, and we agree that it would be a nice change from the rather boring and bland "mystery meat" plus bread plus canned vegetable plus lettuce that shows up on these occasions. Yesterday was a particularly trying lunch experience for me in Griffith Park, due to the fact that the rice pudding from Friday showed up again Monday, and it made me sick. So I vowed to go to Chinatown today and see if it was possible for me to sign up down there.

According to a website that features a list of "Senior Nutrition Programs" in the Los Angeles area, the Chinatown lunches and the ones available at a Korean restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. are "partnerships" with the Saint Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS). I'm not sure if that accounts for the miserable experience I had when I ventured into Chinatown's Golden Dragon at 10:20 a.m. today.

On the SBSS website's list (http://www.sbssla.org/meal-sites/), it merely states that lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. But in Griffith Park, we are warned that the "numbers" get handed out starting at 10:30 a.m. Then lunch is served at Noon. The rhyme and reason for this seems to hint that folks just have nothing better to do than hang out at a senior center for 1.5 hours every morning.

So I assumed that the 11:30 a.m. Chinatown lunchtime meant they started handing out numbers at 10:30 a.m.

At Griffith Park and also Hollywood (the Santa Monica Blvd. location), attendees arrive, sign in (they have to be signed up first if they are new), receive a button with a number on it, and place their "donation" of $2.00 (seniors) or $4.00 (non-seniors) into a box. Procedure varies from there: Griffith Park has a large room with round tables and many rooms plus a veranda where one might escape the madding crowd if socializing isn't their thing. Folks line up when a bell rings (the more infirm are served first where they are already seated at tables), in no particular order (despite the numbers) for cafeteria-style service. At the senior center on Santa Monica Boulevard, attendees sit at the tables and are actually served full plates of food.

So anyway, I walk to the back of the Golden Dragon Restaurant to find what appears to be utter chaos. Crowds of people are kind of pushing against each other like hurricane victims in a shelter. They kind of surround this woman whom I was told is the "manager" (see photo above) and she is somehow directing them to do something, but I'm not sure what. No English is spoken.

The man in front of me (and not part of the shoving crowd) had a clipboard where he was signing in. Eventually, I was directed to a table behind me where a woman sat handing out numbers on slips of paper. A number of people stood talking to her or sat at her table with her. The mood was frantic and disorganized.

So I asked her for a number.

"You need sit down over there. Wait for manager." She pointed to a nearby empty table, which was some distance away from the action. I sat down.

I waited.

Nothing seemed to be edging me towards registration. I asked when I could sign up. She finally said:

"You wait. 11 o'clock!"
Number Ticket Lady

So here is what I'm not understanding:

Why doesn't it explain these details on the available website information? Here's the link:

Here's what it says:

St. Barnabas Senior Services offers delicious, hot meals to adults 60+ at 14 congregate meal sites. Low-income older adults dine for free with a suggested donation available. In addition to a nutritious lunch, diners have the opportunity to socialize with each other. Morrison, Golden Dragon Restaurant and Keungama Tofu House are partners for our meal sites. Click each icon on the map to learn more about our sites. Meal sites in orange designate SBSS Senior Centers. 
 I'm sorry, guys. But I think I've discovered what the "BS" in SBSS stands for!

I sat there for a few minutes, watching streams of Asian senior citizens come through the back door to the parking lot--some in wheelchairs, pushing walkers.

I look so young that I only recently found out that nobody at the senior centers thinks I qualify in the $2.00 category. (May it always be thus!) So my blonde hair and my youthful appearance wasn't helping matters at this Chinatown location. As I sat assessing my chances, the odds for me getting registered and fed were looking dismal.

Needless to say, the hostility towards me was intense, but I spent years in Chinatown learning Tai Chi and becoming friends with some Chinese who lived there (and some Vietnamese). Most have passed on now. They were kind and wonderful to me. However, when it comes to being a stranger in C-Town, I am no stranger to the often brusque manners...so that was the least of my concerns today.

What concerns me more is that this seemingly elitist procedure (if one could call this mess a "procedure") does not appear to welcome newcomers or have any place for them (maybe a Chinese person might fare better than I as a newbie, but I have no way of really knowing, given the hoards of probably "registered" attendees pouring through the door).

I might have been jumping to a conclusion that there would not be any number left for me at 11 a.m., but maybe not?

At any rate, I will be notifying the City of Los Angeles, Department of Aging, and St. Barnabas of my experience and concerns.

I do believe people who think Chinatown is an option for their senior lunch under this program should be warned and told the truth about what to expect. If you are not Chinese, and have not been coming regularly...forget it.

Meal Listings on the SBSS website: http://www.sbssla.org/meal-sites/

Email Address for Contacting Department of Aging (Umbrella under which all this falls):

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The Poem of YES

Gave up
Air pressure like an anvil
Forcing me to stop
Lie on floor
Wondering if my heart would stop
Cat there
Why go on?
If you can't stand the Heat...
Then what?
A show of hands, please.
Who fucking knows?
Just lying there
Pretending it was good for me.
Then it came to me
After how long I don't know
And I saw
My Week
had too many
No, you can't do that.
No, I should do that.
No, we don't want that.
No, because she hates us.
No, because we hate him.
No, because I'm afraid of you.
No, because I just

Then I remembered a text from my friend
sent from his favorite place on Earth:
"I am always happiest when I am here..."
And I felt what it feels like to feel free.
Even just for a moment.
Because you feel loved.
And you are giving love.
You are wanted. And you are glad to be wanted.

I thought, "I need to write this down."

I got up.
Outside rain.
Sun shining.
So so hot still.
But wet.

And the lady across the street
Watering her lawn.

But I made it back.
And I am not afraid anymore.

Marlan Warren, August 2017, Los Angeles, California

Monday, August 14, 2017

#WonderWoman Poem By Carolyn Howard-Johnson: "My Woman-of-Steel Brand"

My mother Trudy Warren 8 months pregnant right after Hurricane Donna, Ft. Myers, FL
Perhaps I am remiss in not posting current national events and my relation to them as they happen. A couple weeks ago, I posted this poem by the extraordinary California poet, Carolyn Howard-Johnson about her inner "Wonder Woman." Now with Hurricane Irma bearing down on my hometown of Ft. Myers, I can't help but recall this picture my father took of my mother hauling away the multitude of fallen branches from the banyan tree we shared with our neighbors' yard. Eight months pregnant with my brother Monty. Mom played the piano the whole time the hurricane raged around our 2-story clapboard house. The tin roof blew off our neighbors' home behind ours. And they came into our house for protection during the calm of the Eye.

A toast to all Wonder Women everywhere. May your praises always be sung for your beautiful warrior spirits and loving ways.

You Think You Know Me Well

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I am Wonder Woman. You may have known 

me so long you remember
my original star-studded skirt
a la 1942 or still sigh over that skirt metamorphosed
to a bias-cut bikini singing
a patriot’s song to the female derrière
That would have been the same time 
it became hard to tell if I was born
to empower little girls or to mesmerize 
boys--the big ones and the small.
If that’s what you think
when you hear my name,
you’ve clearly not internalized
the idea of cruel waxing demanded by today’s
experts on grooming. (You should know
I didn’t do that. Somehow I was never convinced. 
Tights were another matter. I wore
them proudly--my woman-of-steel
brand-- lasso-wielding woman,
woman who bounced bullets
from magic cuffs, woman who didn’t need
D-cup implants
spilling out of her lamé bustier. 

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