Community Theater for the Community


I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews.

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next.

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went.

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT!

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine…


… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show.


Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived!


There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance.

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy!


Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm





by Jennifer Caldwell

Frenchie from Doggy and the City

Let’s face it. Doggy peeps can get plenty stressed when it comes to the well being of our furry/hairy friends. One challenge every working person faces is making sure our friends can relieve themselves when nature calls without making a mess in our homes. The day I became less of an unemployed actor and more of a day job-ee, I found myself in quite a pickle. Although my little Mo was never going to pee on the floor, I hated to think of him in a painful position for any amount of time.


Friends offered to help – from near and far; some paid, some unpaid; with some I bartered. Each one worked out for a while but, in the end, I couldn’t rely on that method to be sure that my little friend wouldn’t be hurting to do his business. Dog walkers and doggy day care can run into hundreds of dollars a month; and with dog walkers, you’re basically giving a stranger access to your home. What’s a privacy prone broke girl to do?


This aptly named service is a lifesaver for several reasons:

  • $50 a month gets me a strip of self absorbent grass of approximately 5 sq. ft. delivered to my front door every other week. For bigger canines, $60 will get you a strip of about 10 sq. ft.
  • $100 a month for small / $120 for large gets you weekly delivery
  • I can change the strip in a jiffy, but a full service option is also available. That means, a service rep will change your strip for you.

This service changed my life! Little Mojito is very well trained and would never think of going in the house; so, it did take a while. At first, he refused to go inside – no way no how. But after patient training, he got the message that it was okay to go on his inside grass.


When I was choosing my service, I did find another one that delivers hydroponic grass. I considered this option but in the end, I was sold on Doggy. The soil that comes with their strips is naturally absorbent. I followed the instructions on where to place the box that the strip sits in and I’ve never had any problems with bad smells. 


Since, I got this service, the quality of life for me and Mojito is vastly improved. He still prefers to go outside and I still take him; but, we both know that when Mom’s away, it’s okay to go in the box.

Well folks, that’s enough potty talk for today. If you’re inclined, give Doggy and the City a call. Dave or Matt will set you up in no time. Here’s what you need to know:


Indoor dog potty and dog grass delivery service





Guess what? Everybody’s eating at CJ’s. And their menu is nearly as diverse as their clientele. On the front, it reads: CJ’s Café. From the South to South of the Border. For breakfast, you can get your basic bacon and eggs, omelettes or egg sandwiches. The sandwiches are a great deal. They range from just over $4 to just over $6; they are really big; and they come with fries, fruit or cottage cheese.

They’ve got an awesome waffle and wings deal for $8.50; and, they’re dishin’ up soul food to beat the band: Red Snapper and Eggs or Catfish and Eggs, each at a little over $11; or Corned Beef Hash and Eggs at a little over $8.

I spoke with Jesse Cisneros, part of CJ’s namesake, for a little minute this afternoon.

Jesse’s Mom’s name is Jessica. She opened the place in 1988; and named it after herself and her son, Jesse – only she flipped the initials. She didn’t want anyone to get it mixed up with JC Penney.

Jesse tells me that, back in ’88, the neighbors wanted some soul food on the menu; but, Jessica didn’t know how to make it. Determined to offer what the people wanted, she asked them to show her how it’s done. So, that’s just what they did. The soul food offerings at CJ’s came from the recipes of the grandmothers and grandfathers of folks who still come to CJ’s to enjoy that good home cooking.

The Mexican portion of the menu is nothing to sneeze at either. If you’re feeling spry, you can opt for Chorizo and Eggs, Platanos Con Crema y Frijoles, or the good ole stand-by that everybody knows – Huevos Rancheros. For those who don’t know, chorizo is a spicy type of sausage. Platanos Con Crema y Frijoles is Plantains with cream and beans. I love that stuff!

The burritos are enormous and delicious. You can get them smothered with chili if you like; and, yes, menudo is available!

Lunch is a very affordable affair, with most of the sandwiches, burritos, burgers, soups and salads coming in at right around $6 or $7. The soul food entrees range in price from $10 to $12. These plates include Catfish, Pork Chops, Short Ribs or Oxtails, and come with a choice of two sides like black eyed peas, candied yams, and collard greens, among others.

Did I mention the staff? Wow. I feel like I’m visiting my small hometown when I come here. Everyone is so welcoming. Service is prompt and friendly. It seems like they have some kind of team policy, because you will often get more than one server taking your order, bringing your grub, refilling your coffee – but it is never overbearing.

This place is one of my true faves. I always bring friends and family and so far, everyone has been charmed. Nothing fancy. Just solid affordable good home cooking in a comfortable spot.  And, the thing I love the most about CJ’s is the same thing I love the most about this city of Los Angeles – the diverse nationalities that come together in one special place.


CJ’s does not serve dinner.

CJ’s Café  on Pico  5501 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90016

Hours: Mon-Sat  6:30 – 6:00; Sun 7 – 5

Phone: 323-936-3216

Limited parking behind the restaurant; Plenty of free and metered street parking

CJ’s Café Baldwin Hills  3655 S. La Brea, Los Angeles 90016

Hours: Mon-Sat  6:30 – 6:00; Sun 7 – 6

Phone: 323-292-9221

The restaurant has it’s own free parking.

Web: (link)



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