South Coast Plaza Looks a Lot More Chinese These Days--And It's Not By Accident


By Charles Lam

There goes a 3-foot Elsa with verve, walking through South Coast Plaza on Halloween afternoon, passing Sears and Din Tai Fung before getting on the escalator down to go to Uniqlo. A Minnie Mouse and an astronaut flank her; behind the trio are two adults--a man dressed in chinos and a casual button-up shirt, and a woman in a simple top and black pants--watching diligently as their children go from store to store looking for candy.

Hundreds of costumed kiddies join the scramble--Captain America and Optimus Prime for the boys; Katniss Everdeen and a galaxy of Disney princesses for the girls. They mix with the regular Saturday mall-going crowd. But as Elsa's family reaches the bottom of the escalator, the father and mother pull their wards to the side and speak to them in Mandarin, a language rare in South Coast Plaza even a decade ago, but nearly ubiquitous today.

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Loretta Sanchez Presses Attorney General for Answers in Alex Odeh Murder Case

Courtesy of the Odeh family
Alex Odeh busy at work for the ADC
You remember our cover story earlier this month on the unsolved assassination of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh? Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez sure does. On Friday, she wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an update on the case while offering to host a closed briefing on it with her department.

"If the FBI knowingly admits that this is the oldest open counter-terrorism investigation they have on file, then we must ensure that justice delayed will not be justice denied," Sanchez wrote Lynch. "The Odeh family deserves closure."

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Kings MMA in Huntington Beach is the Most Important Fight Gym in the World Thanks to Rafael Cordeiro

Categories: Longform

John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
You spend your Friday mornings sipping a latte or getting into a Downward Dog? I've been spending them getting some good ol'-fashioned ass-whuppings.

For up to four hours a day, six days per week for the past three months, I've weathered the punches, kicks, knees, elbows, strikes, takedowns and workouts offered by the people who train at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, the most important gym in the mixed-martial-arts (MMA) world right now, a place that has been creating champions the way USC used to produce Heisman winners. It's also a top-notch dojo for Muay Thai and jiu jitsu--a rare trifecta in an industry that's happy to smush in as many clients and classes as possible, damn the quality.

I recently gritted through another Friday cycle of sessions until there was just one left: jiu-jitsu, probably the least bruise-inducing fight style offered at Kings. Just two six-minute rounds of sparring, then a well-deserved break. I matched up with my sparring partner for the round, an amateur grappler whom I've rolled with numerous times before. Good guy--tough, but not ruthless.

Our round started the same way as it had dozens of times before--I got us in a neutral position, he tried to break it into a dominant one. A fake move by me to set up a sweep, and a recovery by him that broke my tired grip. A scrum ensued, with limbs flying everywhere.
And then he kneed me straight in the eye.

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Activists and Family Members Keep the Memory of Alex Odeh Alive, 30 Years After His Unsolved Assassination

Statue of Alex Odeh in Santa Ana
Brian Feinzimer
If you were able to identify your and others' misfortunes
I would have brought out an extraordinary human being of you
--from a poem by Alex Odeh

On the morning of Oct. 11, 1985, Norma Odeh made breakfast for her husband, Alex, in their Orange home. The night before, KABC-TV Channel 7 had interviewed Odeh, West Coast regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and one of the U.S.'s most prominent Arab-American activists. The interviewer wanted his opinions about the Achille Lauro hijacking and the subsequent killing of 69-year-old wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer that had happened just a couple of days before.

A camera crew filmed Alex at the ADC offices in Santa Ana. He condemned the hijacking, as well as terrorism in general. But he also claimed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) wasn't responsible for the attack and called Yasser Arafat "a man of peace" for helping to secure the release of hostages.

"After he came home, we watched it together," Norma recalls. "I hope to God nobody does anything to you," she told him then. Alex's sister also phoned him with her worries after seeing the news segment. He moaned to his wife about how KABC had simplified his nuanced statements into a soundbite about Arafat, then went to bed.

The interview was still on Norma's mind the next morning when Alex kissed her goodbye. A long day awaited him, including a speech at Congregation B'nai Tzadek, a Jewish synagogue in Fountain Valley.

Odeh arrived at the ADC's second-story offices in Santa Ana around 9 a.m. His assistant usually opened up in the morning, but she was running errands that day for an upcoming banquet. As Odeh turned the doorknob, a rigged 30-pound pipe bomb exploded, blowing off his legs. Shards from the shattered windows rained onto the street. Only the concrete floor saved the debris-strewn office from total obliteration. Paramedics hoisted Odeh's charred body onto a stretcher and rushed him to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana; doctors pronounced him dead roughly two hours after the attack. He was 41 years old.

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How a Chapman University Law-School Student Saved a Korean Immigrant From Deportation

Dan Doperalski
Shin at his office

Jonathan Shin was up by 7:30 the morning of Sept. 11 this year--never mind he had only slept about four hours. The Chapman University law student skipped breakfast, his appetite zapped by nerves. He was due to appear at 1 p.m. at 606 S. Olive St. in Los Angeles. The Brutalist-style office building houses Los Angeles Immigration Court and the judges who decide whether people in the greater LA area can stay in this country or get deported.

Shin rode shotgun as his father drove from Irvine to downtown LA, the air conditioning on full blast. As if a mantra, Shin repeatedly drew in his mind the picture he'd paint of his client, a 59-year-old Korean immigrant the U.S. government wanted to deport. He also mapped out the various rebuttals he expected the judge would throw back.

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Senior-Citizen Mobile-Home Parks Across OC Fight for Their Survival Against Developers

Categories: Longform

John Gilhooley
Ginger Roberts sits on a loveseat against the window at the clubhouse of Costa Mesa's Rolling Homes Mobile Park. The 81-year-old's neighbors are poolside, sipping beers and cocktails while playing a particularly testy card game. "Where's your cocktail?" one player cracks as someone joins in. "You should always have a cocktail in hand."

Though it's near the end of the 55 freeway and faces busy Newport Boulevard, the scene is calm, relaxing, an ideal place for seniors to live out their golden years. Roberts looks on from inside the clubhouse, the harsh sunlight nearly obscuring her small frame. She's recalling for a reporter the day Rolling Homes residents learned their way of life here had no future.

"One Sunday morning [in 2013], I was getting ready for church," Roberts says, her shock of short, red hair and thick, black eyeliner complementing her feisty tone. "A friend called me and informed me that our park was for sale in the Daily Pilot and that they were going to put a high-rise in place of our homes."

The 55-and-older mobile-home park was the planned site of a four-story luxury apartment complex--and Rolling Homes residents could do nothing about it. They were subject to California laws that allow owners of mobile-home parks with no homeowners' associations (HOAs) to keep a property sale secret until the very end--eviction notices. Rolling Homes didn't have an HOA because residents thought they'd never need one.

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Re-living the Great Disneyland Cast Member Strike of September 1984

This week's feature story, "David Koenig Has Exposed the Disneyland Secrets Mickey Doesn't Want You to Know About," mentions how much the September 1984 strike by cast members was a gut punch to employee morale, resulting in many of the stories that turn up in the author's books.

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David Koenig Has Exposed the Disneyland Secrets Mickey Doesn't Want You to Know About

Categories: Dishney, Longform

Luke McGarry
How's this for random? Credit goes to Danny Kaye and a labor strike for the public knowing the stories, incidents and dirt about Disneyland that the Anaheim amusement park would rather we not know.

David Koenig was studying journalism at Cal State Fullerton in the 1980s; several of his classmates were scoring book deals before they even graduated. One sold a biography on Steve Martin, another was published writing about the Three Stooges, and a third had Dustin Hoffman as a subject.

"These were all just college kids," recalled Koenig, who was born in Chicago but moved with his family at age 3 to Orange County. "Now, everyone and their brother writes books, but back then, to publish a book meant you had the stamp of genius on you."

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OCW20: "Dear Congressman" Revisited

The look back at OC Weekly's first 20 years resurrected the cover image from Nov. 1, 1996, when my fat, oral-fixated face went up to mark "The 20 Best Lines From Matt Coker's Much-Missed A Clockwork Orange Column." But what about the story that accompanied that cover originally?

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The 20 Best Lines From Matt Coker's Much-Missed A Clockwork Orange Column

The following appeared in Matt Coker's column A Clockwork Orange, which ran from 1996 to 2003. His hilarity still appears daily on Navel Gazing.

Nov. 21, 1996: "There's got to be a morning after," a wooden Carol Lynley lip-synchs in The Poseidon Adventure. Since the sappy tune comes from a disaster flick, it's the perfect post-election theme song for some of A Clockwork Orange's favorite politicians, like Curt Pringle. Hah! Anal rashes have lasted longer than the Garden Grove Republican's Assembly speakership.

Nov. 29, 1996: Fox News at Ten unleashed a bombshell: "Thousands of Southland teens have found a new place to party," anchorwoman Susan Hirasuna said with a startled gleam in her eye. "They call it TJ--for Tijuana." Whoa, teens in Tijuana? And they use this sort of hipster code word, TJ? Now that's news.

Feb. 21, 1997: In Newport Beach, you can pull your luxury car out of your gated temple of self-indulgence in the morning; pop over to Newport Center to have your nails done, the bikini wax applied and the fat sucked out of your thighs; and still keep that noon lunch date with the bitch screwing your husband.

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