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Crystal Meth Emergency Town Hall Meeting Tonight

In The Meantime Men hosts discussion about Gemmel Moore’s death and solutions for addiction

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Gemmel Moore. (Photo from Facebook memorial page)

The toxicology report has not come back to determine the exact cause of death for 26 year old Gemmel Moore, but the Los Angeles Coroner’s office originally ruled his death an “accidental” overdose from crystal meth. For Jeffrey King, founder and CEO of In The Meantime Men, that sounded an alarm too many people have ignored for too long about the epidemic of crystal meth in the LGBT African American community.

King, along with a slew of community partners, is holding an open Emergency Town Hall Meeting and Call to Action tonightTuesday night, from 7:00-9:00pm at The Carl Bean House, 2146 W. Adams Blvd. in LA.

The first part of the evening, King tells the Los Angeles Blade, will be devoted to “giving dignity to the life Gemmel Moore lived, to empower the life of this young man who shared the same kind of experience with many peers. We think it’s important to shed light on the complexity of addiction and crystal meth—where race meets sexual orientation meets addiction. With race comes racism. Why was he not working a full time job or in school? Why was he escorting? To make fast money? Because he had too many felonies that made it difficult to find a job? It’s a cycle. And he was surrounded by amazing people—we’re going to be delving into all that complicated stuff.”

Jeffrey King, Founder, CEO of In The Meantime Men. (Photo via King’s Facebook page)

But, King says, the meeting will also work to find solutions, highlight the important work mental health and social support agencies are doing together, and formulate a call to action.  Kathy Watt, director of the Van Ness Recovery House will be there, for instance. But why is the Van Ness House the only facility (other than Tarzana) for LGBT addicts/alcoholics seeking help? Sober living facilities help keep you clean and sober, he says, they don’t get you out of the clutches of addiction. Perhaps a campaign targeting local elected officials can raise awareness of the state of emergency the silent meth epidemic has created in the Los Angeles County African American and Latino communities.

King is doing his part. Every Saturday from 11:30-12:30, there is a free 12 Step Recovery Meeting called “The West Adams Group” at the Carl Bean House at 2146 W. Adams Blvd.

He also features a breakdown of drugs and what they do on the In The Meantime Men website under the category “LARG (LA Addiction/Recovery Guide).” Here’s an excerpt under crystal meth: “Long-range damage: In the long term, meth use can cause irreversible harm: increased heart rate and blood pressure; damaged blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes or an irregular heartbeat that can, in turn, cause cardiovascular collapse or death; and liver, kidney and lung damage. Users may suffer brain damage, including memory loss and an increasing inability to grasp abstract thoughts. Those who recover are usually subject to memory gaps and extreme mood swings.”

But crystal meth has its own brand of scariness. The Addictionblog  notes that: “[M]eth users can take a lethal dose and not realize it right away. But in general, meth overdose is characterized by physiological deterioration, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke. Further, meth should not be used by people with heart, thyroid disorders and diabetes, because these chronic conditions may lead to sudden death….Because of rapid onset, death proceeds suddenly and unexpectedly after a meth OD. Many fatalities usually manifest symptoms of coma, shock, inability to pass and secrete urine, and muscle twitching. Emergency department visits due to meth overdose have been up to 130,000 per year, out of which almost 15% were fatalities.”

Crystal meth was out of control in the Los Angeles County area in the early 2000s—so bad in Long Beach, for instance, that the Long Beach Press Telegram ran an important and shocking series called “The Meth Menace.”   With PrEP not even on the horizon, the addiction, coupled with high risk sex, lead to the frightening conclusion about the possible spread of HIV. “Meth use, which has intensified over the past five years and replaced cocaine as the most popular illegal stimulant in Long Beach, and the nation, is widely abused among heterosexuals, too, but the high-risk sexual behavior it triggers among gay men has presented a new front in the war on AIDS,” the report said.

Then the epidemic seemed to subside. But not in the black community. “If you were paying attention, a few years back, about 2006 and 2007, you could already see a rising problem for black gay men on the horizon. No one talks about it, but it’s true. Even then the conversations, scattered and infrequent though they may have been, were just beginning to take shape: black gay men in New York City were talking about developing a crystal meth awareness campaign,” Charles Stephens, co-editor of the anthology Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call, wrote in a 2015 essay called “Black gay men must face the crystal meth enemy in their midst.”

Stephens acknowledged it wasn’t an easy discussion. “For one thing, we are subjected to such pervasive scientific objectification by society that a consideration of our interior lives, is often unthinkable,” he wrote. “To talk about meth addiction and black gay men forces a conversation about our sexual practices and our sexual pleasures. It forces a conversation about how we seek intimacy and connection. It forces a conversation about how we struggle to cope with racism and homophobia and also struggle to transcend them. It forces a conversation about how black gay men have inherited the collective trauma faced by our ancestors and elders.”

More recently, filmmaker Christopher Rudolph produced a documentary ParTy Boi: Black Diamonds in Ice Castles about how there has been an uptick in crystal meth that is devastating queer communities of color. “In [’parTy & play’] community it has become a part of the norm,” Rice says in the trailer.

Brain function: the normal brain left. Meth brain, right. (Graphic from NIDA/NIH)

But the drug is not restricted to gay men. A new study from Chapman University “found that transgender teenagers are twice as likely as their cisgender peers to have substance abuse problems,” including crystal meth, according to a news report about the study, which published in the Journal of School Health. Researchers dove into results of the California Healthy Kids Survey (which 4778 transgender and 630,200 non-transgender students) in middle and high schools in nearly all school districts in California between 2013 and 2015. “Transgender teens were about 2.5 times more likely to use cocaine/methamphetamine in their lifetime, and more than twice as likely to report inhalant use as well as prescription pain medication use.”

“Transgender adolescents face tremendous social stress in families and schools, which often leads to behavioral health disparities,” Kris De Pedro, PhD, assistant professor at Chapman University and lead author on the study, said in a statement.  

“California is a unique context for exploring substance use among transgender adolescents,” the study noted. “California is one of the most racially, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse states in the United States. More than half of California public middle and high school students are nonwhite.”

For more information about the open community forum on crystal meth, go to Jeffrey King’s Facebook page  or call: 323-733-4868

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West Hollywood

WeHo Arts unveils new holiday street pole banner by Sophie Morro

The city has also installed annual holiday lights on street poles and around trees lining Santa Monica Boulevard to make the city festive

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Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood - Photo by Jon Viscott

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The annual holiday street pole banners went up this week throughout the city of West Hollywood. The City’s WeHo Arsts unveiled the new holiday artwork by artist Sophie Morro along Santa Monica Boulevard, San Vicente Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue.

A total of 29 of the new banners were produced this year and will become part of the annual collection of holiday street pole banners on display in WeHo to celebrate the holidays. Banners include past holiday artwork by Shag (Josh Agle) and Mosa Tanksley.

The city has also installed annual holiday lights on street poles and around trees lining Santa Monica Boulevard to make the city festive around the holiday and New Year’s celebrations.

Sophie Morro is an artist based in Los Angeles. Her oil paintings are largely informed by an autobiographical narrative with nods to spirituality, dreams and the otherworldly. Visit sophiemorro.com to learn more about the artist.

In April, 2022, the City of West Hollywood Arts Division made a call seeking a visual artist to provide artwork for the city’s annual winter / holiday card and street pole banner display. The deadline to submit their work to WeHo’s Performing Arts and Cultural Affairs Subcommittee was May, 2022.

Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood – Photo by Jon Viscott

The new artwork will also be used on the City’s annual end of year Winter / Holiday card, social media promotions along with the printed street pole banners. Artists were invited to submit existing work samples to demonstrate their style and technique.

The Request for Qualifications was open to artists who live in California. Artists who live in
West Hollywood and artists of color, women, artists with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ artists
were highly encouraged to apply. The artists who applied will remain eligible to be selected as semi-finalists for 3 calendar years without needing to reapply.

Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood – Photo by Jon Viscott

The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission believe
that all people in the City of West Hollywood have the right to celebrate and engage in meaningful and relevant arts and cultural experiences.

Each member of the community should have access to the arts which reflect and nurture individual identities, affirm personal value, and foster belonging in the community. The right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community is recognized as a basic human right.

The Division and Commission’s definition of diversity includes all ways in which people
differ, including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status,
education, age, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability,
geography, citizenship status, religion, language, physical appearance, and the
intersection of these various identities.

*******************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles County

LA Mayor Garcetti volunteers at Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving

For many of the celebrities joining Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving Day volunteers the day was about sharing the experience with family

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(L-R) Ava Maybee, Trisha Cardoso and Mayor Eric Garcetti attend Lisa Rinna Joins Celebs Volunteering In Project Angel Food Kitchen on Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 24, 2022 (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)"

LOS ANGELES – In the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub, celebrity supporters and 225 volunteers and staff to prepare and deliver 7,400 meals on Thanksgiving Day to seriously ill and housing insecure people throughout 4,700 square miles of L.A. County.

“Mayor Eric Garcetti epitomizes what it is to be part of a community and lift one another through compassion and service. As he rolled up his sleeves and helped plate meals, he brought attention that while this is a day most of us are surrounded by people we love, we need to remember that some people don’t have that,” Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub said. “He reminded us that no Angeleno should be alone and with a warm smile, a conversation and a meal, our volunteers can change the entire day for our clients, become angels in the City of Angels,” Ayoub added.

For many of the celebrities joining Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving Day volunteer pool, the day was about sharing the experience with family. Volunteers included Lisa Rinna and husband Harry Hamlin; “Weird Al” Yankovic with his wife Suzanne and daughter Nina.

Also volunteering was Out actor and singer Cheyenne Jackson and husband Jason Landau with their twins Willow and Ethan. Jackson said the couple brought the children because, “I want to teach my kids to be grateful and thankful for everything that we have, and when you have the capability to give to other people, do it.”

He also talked about the death of friend Leslie Jordan, a Project Angel Food supporter who died exactly one month earlier. “He was one of my best friends and it hit me really, really hard like so many people,” he said.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 24: (L-R) Cheyenne Jackson, Jason Landau and family attend Lisa Rinna Joins Celebs Volunteering In Project Angel Food Kitchen on Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 24, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

American Idol favorite Ava Maybee with her mother, and Melissa Rivers with son Cooper Endicott, continuing her mother Joan Rivers’ legacy of volunteering on Thanksgiving.

Avatar: The Way of Water star Trinity Bliss brought her parents just weeks before the December 16 release of the highly anticipated film. “I’m so honored to work alongside so many people to bring a warm, delicious, tasty meal to people in need.”

Of her much-anticipated film, Avatar: Way of Water, Trinity added, “Avatar was amazing, but I think Avatar: The Way of Water is going to be just so much more dramatic and be an experience people are going to need to experience in theaters.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 24: Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna attend Lisa Rinna Joins Celebs Volunteering In Project Angel Food Kitchen on Thanksgiving at Project Angel Food on November 24, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

Lisa Rinna reflected on the fact that Project Angel Food is the primary source of food for most of its clients. “It’s so important because that is going to be their only meal of the day.” her husband Hamlin added, “to have the opportunity to give back is amazing.”

Other celebrities included Eileen Davidson (RHOBH, Days of Our Lives), Peter Porte (Days of Our Lives), Juan Pablo Di Pace (DWTS, Fuller House), Olympian Tai Babilonia, Tim Bagley (Gracie & Frankie, Will & Grace), Michael Hitchcock (The Resort, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Lawrence Zarian (The Kelly Clarkson Show), Marc Malkin (Variety), James Wallington and Will Jardell (Amazing Race Season 32 winners), Romeo Escobar (Survivor 42 runner-up), and parenting author Donna Tetreault.

The 7,400 meals being delivered on Thanksgiving included 1,600 traditional turkey dinners to critically ill men, women, children and their caregivers, 5,600 Medically Tailored Meals and breakfasts regularly scheduled for Thursday delivery, and another 200 meals were provided to Project Angel Food community partner PATH for residents for two of PATH’s Interim Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing sites. 

Volunteers provided contactless “drive-by” pick-up of the meals which were then delivered to Project Angel Food clients. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners consisted of roasted turkey, root vegetables, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. Vegetarian meals were also provided.

The meal was sponsored by the Stanley and Joyce Black Family foundation with Glamazon (Amazon’s affinity group for the LGBT+ community) sponsoring the volunteer event.

Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub noted that Project Angel Food strives to end food insecurity and improve health outcomes of critically ill men, women and children in Los Angeles with Medically Tailored Meals, delivered with care and compassion.

Over 2,500 clients are fed daily. Project Angel Food delivers 1.3 million meals each year.

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Southern California

Triple A: Drivers can be thankful, gas prices plunge before holiday

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.16, which is 24 cents lower than last week

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Thanksgiving pre-holiday traffic in Los Angeles (Screenshot/YouTube VOA)

Editors Note: The Weekend Gas Watch is being published one day early due to the holiday.

LOS ANGELES – A hefty gas price decline of more than 20 cents in the past week has now brought pump prices lower than at the start of the September-October price spike, but those driving to Thanksgiving holiday destinations will still be paying about 50 cents more per gallon than at this time last year, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch.

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.16, which is 24 cents lower than last week. The average national price is $3.61, which is 13 cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.21 per gallon, which is 25 cents lower than last week, 60 cents lower than last month, and 51 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.19, which is 26 cents lower than last week, 58 cents lower than last month, and 53 cents higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.20, which is 21 cents lower than last week, 59 cents lower than last month, and 55 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.09, which is 25 cents lower than last week, 56 cents lower than last month, and 46 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.42 average price is 19 cents lower than last week, 54 cents lower than last month, and 77 cents higher than a year ago today.

“With an all-time record number of 3.9 million Southern California Thanksgiving travelers hitting the road this week, the large price declines are very helpful for holiday getaway budgets,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “The lowest-priced gas stations in Southern California are now charging less than $4.40 a gallon. Make sure to use a tool like the free AAA Mobile app during your travels to find the cheapest gas prices close to you.”

The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:

  • If you use premium unleaded fuel, make sure it is required for your vehicle, not just recommended. The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center found that vehicles with recommended premium fuel performed safely with regular unleaded gasoline.
  • Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. Fuel economy peaks around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speed increases. Reducing freeway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
  • Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because you could lose control of the vehicle.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning.
  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your car.
  • Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use.
  • Download the AAA App to find the cheapest gas prices near you. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Nov. 23, averages are:

Nov 23 22
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Southern California

Triple A: Thanksgiving travel expected to become busiest on record

For the second year in a row SoCal travelers will be paying highest gas prices ever when they fill up for their holiday trips

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

LOS ANGELES – The Automobile Club of Southern California projects 4.5 million Southern Californians will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year – an all-time record for the holiday and a 2.5% increase from last year.

Nationwide, AAA is projecting this Thanksgiving to be the third busiest on record, with 54.6 million travelers expected compared to 58.6 million in 2005 and 56 million in 2019.

Thanksgiving Forecast charts SoCal

“Despite inflation and high gas prices, consumers are continuing to prioritize valuable and memorable time with family and friends through coming together at the holidays,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Our members still want to make up for their delayed or missed opportunities to travel during the pandemic.”  

Top Destinations

Nationally, AAA expects Anaheim to be the second-most popular destination for Thanksgiving travelers, with Orlando the most popular. According to a survey of Auto Club travel advisers, the top five destinations for Southern Californians are:

1) Las Vegas

2) San Diego

3) Grand Canyon/Sedona

4) Yosemite

5) Mexico cruises

The top 5 destinations nationally are Orlando, Anaheim, Las Vegas, New York and Atlanta.

Gas Prices

For the second year in a row, Southern California travelers will be paying the highest gas prices ever for this time of year when they fill up for their holiday trips. With average gas prices near $5.50 a gallon in most local areas – about a dollar per gallon higher than last year – a typical 15-gallon tank fill-up could cost drivers $82. To find the cheapest gas prices closest to your location, use the AAA Mobile app, and visit gasprices.aaa.com to find the average gas prices at your destination or calculate the estimated gas cost for your Thanksgiving trip.

Travel Tips

  • If traveling by automobile, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up-to-date and your tires and battery are in good condition. The Auto Club expects to respond to nearly 48,000 calls for help in Southern California over the Thanksgiving weekend. Visit AAA.com/AAR to find a reputable AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Air travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international departures. The Auto Club recommends reserving a parking space at the airport to make sure you have one, and taking advantage of tools such as early check-in and airline apps.

Busy Roads

According to the transportation analytics firm INRIX, Wednesday, Nov. 23 in the afternoon and evening will be the busiest time for Southland freeways. They project that the busiest local freeway segment for drivers will be Interstate 5 South from Colorado St. to Florence Ave, where traffic is expected to be 144% over normal levels on the afternoon and evening of Nov. 24. All outbound freeways are likely to be congested on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons before Thanksgiving, so drivers should expect longer travel times during those periods and plan to leave early.

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Los Angeles

Trans remembrance vigil held at LA LGBT Center

“We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity”

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LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad

HOLLYWOOD – A Trans Remembrance Vigil was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Monday, November 21st.

Candles and white, pink, and lavender flowers mounted on tiers draped by a trans flag adorned the center stage. A large monitor served as the focal point of the evening above the memorial display. 

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles started the ceremony with an acapella performance. Following the song of hope and redemption, opening remarks were given at the pulpit by the Anti-violence project manager for the LGBT center, Mariana Morroquin, and representatives from the Trans Wellness Center, Bienstar Human Services, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, APAIT, and [email protected] 

Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“I think it is very important to acknowledge our partners,” said Morroquin, somberly addressing the seated audience of about one hundred and fifty. “We know that hate is real. A lot of us have seen hate pretty close. We are very grateful to have you. We open our arms to receive your love and your support. The way we support each other is by providing jobs, providing spaces for us, and providing opportunities. Because hate is out there. We need this space. We need to welcome everyone. I want you to keep that in your heart. And tomorrow, when we get back to work, let us open our hearts and our minds. Don’t make decisions for us. Invite us to those tables. We know what we need. We’ve been doing this forever. We are going to keep fighting because this is what we do.” 

She then added, “We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity. We gather because we must remember what is worth fighting for. For now, we commemorate. We tell the stories of the ones we lost. For tonight, that will be enough.” 

One by one, members of the audience approached the pulpit to read the names and stories of a multitude of trans people whose deaths were the tragic result of hate crimes. The photos, names, and ages of the victims were displayed on the center-stage monitor. 

“My name is Nikai David,” said one speaker, the photo of a pale, curly-haired young lady displayed behind them. “I am a model and social media influencer who aspired one day to own my own clothing boutique. I had just celebrated my birthday a week before I was shot in Oakland California, on December 4th, 202. I was thirty-three years old.” 

Stories of these deaths included shootings by assailants, police, and family members, brutal beatings, and stabbings. The bodies of these victims were found in their homes, in garbage cans, and on streets where they were left, still dying, among other locations. 

The final name read was Daniel David Aston, who died in the recent Club Q mass shooting.  This year, TDOR came on the heels of the senseless massacre in Colorado Springs that left five members of the LGBTQ+ community dead and 25 injured. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer gave an impassioned closing speech, first inviting the audience to take several deep breaths in unison. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“We will mourn our family, our siblings,” said Reverend Spencer,  “but we are not having our primary focus on the violent conclusion of their life. We are choosing to see them and know them and celebrate them in the full context of their living. For they were fierce and powerful people.”

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Los Angeles County

Culver City Police are investigating anti-Semitic hate incident

The publication was produced by a known hate group who has distributed similar hate materials in surrounding cities

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Facebook

CULVER CITY – Police investigators are looking into anti-Semitic hate incident that involved the distribution of anti-Semitic hate publication in one Culver City neighborhood on Sunday. Multiple neighbors reported copies of this publication.

The publication was produced by a known hate group who has distributed similar hate materials in surrounding cities.

“The Culver City Police Department condemns all forms of hate, and we stand in solidarity with our Jewish Community.  We will utilize all resources available to us to fully investigate this matter and bring any criminal offenders that are identified to justice.  We are working diligently with our community partners, neighboring agencies, and other law enforcement partners on this incident.  Any criminal activity that is discovered as a result of this investigation will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for criminal filing consideration,” the department spokesperson said in a statement.

Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to contact the Culver City Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Sergeant Edward Baskaron at 310.253.6316, or the Watch Commander at 310.253.6202.

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