Stab Magazine | The Palos Verdes Dramas Are Not About Localism

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The Palos Verdes Dramas Are Not About Localism

Rory’s Rumblings: “Although kicking your board into someone’s back is easy to do.”

news // Dec 16, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Make no mistake, you are not welcome on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. 

Which is barely a problem, really. The drive is a hassle, the good waves rarely break. The culture is all spoiled-white-child-living-off-his-trust-fund-while-pretending-to-be-a-success. There’s very little reason to head up the hill, unless you’re one of the countless plebs who earns their living serving PV’s idle class. 

Still, it sticks in one’s craw, Lunada Bay’s insistence on exclusivity, a stone’s throw from LAX’s portal to the rest of the civilized world. The spoiled man-children want it both ways. Alone at home, free to travel as they wish.

There’s no better example than Alan “Jahlian” Johnston. A failed pro turned pseudo-artist trash picker, who glues garbage to itself, plays the enlightened vagabond on camera, retreats home to act the asshole.

Johnston was arrested last year for harassing Diana Milena Reed, a kookish SoCal actress. He was charged with a misdemeanor, the case was dismissed. Transcripts of the incident are public record

I’m sure many will say it isn’t so bad. Someone being a jerk shouldn’t be a crime. But try leaving Lunada, heading up the hill, and treating a resident the same way. See how LAPD responds.

It’s all done in the name of preserving the “sanctity” of their little town. Keep it clean, keep it quiet. Keep out the outsiders. (Nothing worse than middle-income trash littering the lineup.)

It’s an ironic argument if you look hard enough. (And robbing local shops hardly keeps your community pure.) 

Minor status can keep your name out the paper, but public record process of elimination sheds light on transgressions. (Especially when multiple family members are joining you in court.)

Which isn’t to say things aren’t getting better. Michael Papayans, a defendant in the ongoing civil suit, earned a record for an assault at a Dodgers game. Not good look when you’re hoping to prove you don’t have a history of harassing strangers. 

The fort is gone. Pure schadenfreude, the loss of that little clubhouse. It doesn’t change our world for the better, but it’s always nice to see assholes stripped of something they love. 

Ditto with the civil suits and the unprosecuted crimes.

Yesterday, once again, the Los Angeles Prosecutor’s office declined to pursue a case against some PV residents

The 28-year-old surfer allegedly tried to spear a nonlocal in the face with her board on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when outsiders surf the bay under the watch of police and demand access for all.

Palos Verdes Estates police presented their investigation to prosecutors earlier this year, but last week they decided not to charge the woman with misdemeanor battery due to lack of sufficient evidence.

According to the charge evaluation sheet, there was “not sufficient evidence to establish an intentional touching as opposed to an accidental touching or bumping with surfboard.”

Intentional drop-ins, endangering outsiders. Women who understandably want a spot to themselves. Apparently it’s hard to compete for waves when you are fairly inept at surfing.

It’s no surprise the case won’t move forward. How do you prove a drop-in intends to harm? Do we really want to set that precedent? It’s already enough that lawyers are so damn expensive. Defending yourself from an accusation is, in itself, a fairly decent punishment.

Though I wonder, is it enough? Should we maybe take note of these names, learn to assign faces to transgressions? Keep an eye out in the water, whether we’re in Hawaii, or Mexico, or the rest of the South Bay?

Maybe it’s best if we play by their rules. Feel free to burn Papayans and Johnston and Sang Lee and Brant Blakeman and the entire Ferrara clan. They have their own pie, we shouldn’t feel obligated to share a slice of our own.

It seems only fair to return tit for tat. The Palos Verdes story is not about localism. It is not about enforcing lineup etiquette, or pecking order. It is not about a small community coming into conflict with a massive influx of new faces. It’s about a longstanding tradition wherein a group of privileged white people demand a sanctuary while denying others the same courtesy.

Sit on them, back paddle them. Look them in the eye. Smile. Go.

If they feel like returning the favor, so what? Kicking your board into someone’s back is easy to do and, as we’ve now seen, there’s really no way to prove it was intentional.

(If you’re interested in reading court documents pertaining to the ongoing civil suit head here.


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