April 4, 2002


Are there Ides in April? - anyway, the 4th

DAN PRICE started us off with the Pledge - and he did it right, giving everyone time to get set with their hand over their heart, and thus all beginning together.  A little interplay as the song approached - JACK HARRIS and GREGG ELLIOTT took their places, JACK said, "We're going to keep doing it until we get it right", which comment was greeted with - shall we say - a bit of skepticism by some non-believers.  GREGG then gave us a chord or two, JACK seemed to choose one - and GOD BLESS AMERICA erupted.  JACK, let's face it - this is a rowdy and uncontrollable crowd.  Anyway GREGG caught up with us at some point, and JACK courageously kept the beat.  Really, you know, this early 'business' almost becomes a feature of WVRC - certainly all present enjoy themselves. And seriously, it's a great way to get us started - we like it!
SLOSS VIAU was next up, with an Invocation.  In response to a plaintive question, SLOSS agreed that we should sit down. With the Holy Days behind us, he asked for help in renewing our personal goals and the goals of Rotary, and for wisdom for our leaders in these difficult times.  Well Done, SLOSS.

PP ERIC LOBERG had to admit that there were no Visiting Rotarians, but we did have guests.  PP JIM SUMNER once again brought his Special Guest, Tony Marone, who is in the insurance business in Brentwood (and YOE apologizes for having failed to note Tony's visit of last week).  BRUCE ROLF was with Marie, and KEVIN  KOMATSU introduced two guests of the Club -Michelle Brenner, Principal of Warner Avenue School, and the President of their PTA, Tracey Fitzgerald.  KEVIN later presented them with a check for $1000, and both expressed their appreciation, noting that the money would be well used.   PDG ANDY ANDERSON spoke about the upcoming Music Scholarship Finals, which will be held on April 20th, 1:30 p.m. at Westwood United Methodist Church. These finalists have been chosen by competitions before several Rotary Clubs and the winners each year receive cash prizes.  First place prize is $2000, second place is $1000, and 3rd receives $500 - these awards to be used toward music scholarships at their chosen University or Conservatory.  Last year's winner choose Julliard - which indicates the level of accomplishment we can expect from these finalists.  Admission is $10, with students free - so save the date, bring your friends, and be prepared for a lovely afternoon of classical music.

We now have nineteen Rotarians plus their significant others who will be attending the District Conference in San Diego!  There is still room - and it really will be a great program.  Call PP DOUG DESCH or PP RON LYSTER - (he's the CHAIRMAN) and sign up right away.  RON reminds us that you can come for less than the full three nights, and if you MAY be able to go, but aren't sure yet, get your hotel reservation in before April 11th, when the rates go up - you can cancel, up to three days in advance. Don't forget to stop in at the Singletons in Carlsbad on the way down on Thursday, May 2nd.  While I'm reminding about things, note that April 11th is just a week away - and besides being our next meeting date and the deadline for lower hotel rates, it's also the monthly anniversary of 9/ll - may our FLAGS proudly wave!  And remember, BOB TROXLER would appreciate your visit, OK?

SUSAN ALLEN introduced Amanda Miller, our Ambassadorial Scholar who is just back from her year in Chile.  Chosen in late 1999, she delayed her trip until graduation from UCLA in June of 2000, summa cum laude! Amanda tested us first with an opening statement in Spanish - and then, lapsed back into English, which is a bit easier for some of us…A question she frequently gets, "How was your trip?" illustrates the difference between just a casual, quick trip, and living in a foreign country, absorbing their culture, for a full year.  She asked rhetorically, "Why Chile?" and then answered by asking us in
the audience a number of questions - the answer to every one being, Chile.  She pointed out that Chile has 2000 miles of coastline, mostly on the Pacific, but touches the Atlantic as it curves eastward at the Straits of Magellan. Twice the size of Montana, it has both glaciers and deserts - lots of variety.  Among her exports are wine, a variety of fruits - which grow off- season and thus sell well in the U.S. - and wood products.  However, for the last ten years, her economy has been the most feeble in South America.

They have a viable democracy, with a President, bicameral legislature and other similar institutions to ours.  They share a very long border with Argentina, and a concern is that the 250K Chileans working in Argentina may return, since Argentina is in such terrible shape.  This would only increase the unemployment in Chile, of course.  The counter effect of this is that many in Chile now feel they can vacation in Argentina, with the low prices that now exist.  Amanda's concern was to get to know the people, and she found that sports, for one, provide good entry into what at first seemed a very close-knit society.
She did learn that she shouldn't look for America in other countries.  She concluded her talk by showing some excellent slides of life in not only Chile, but also Argentina and other nearby areas.  Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your year away with us.

PP MIKE NEWMAN came forward to introduce - and induct - JAY HANDAL, our newest member (he was out of town when his compatriots were inducted).  His first comment was, "Now, it's official".  He is the owner of San Gennaro restaurant in Brentwood, plus a second San Gennaro in Culver City - but much of his time is spent in worthwhile community activities.  President of the WLA Chamber of Commerce, he has grown it from 77 members to 960 today!  They have a 97% renewal rate, whereas the standard for most C of Cs is 67% - so their members must be getting benefits from belonging.  

He works with - and often chairs - the local American Heart Association, an Alzheimer's support group, the American Cancer Society in Culver City, the Brentwood/Westwood Symphony, with concerts in WLA, and Aiden's Place.  He finds that these many contacts help in sometimes-unexpected ways - and it isn't bad for business, either.  His advertising budget dropped from 12K monthly to 2K today, for instance - people must be paying attention to all the things he is involved with.  He thanks KEN KILPO for getting him associated with WVRC.  

Prez. GEORGE asked, where did you grow up?  Born in Brooklyn, married at 19, and quit college after a year - too expensive, he felt.  He's 54, and came to California on business, easily deciding NOT to return to NY.  Claims he asked his mother to tell his wife she should move out here.  20 years ago his brother was killed in a car accident, and this changed his life.  He began to realize what was important.  He also has checked, and found there are anyway 7 Republicans in WLA…He mentioned his $10 wine list - there isn't another like it, anywhere - and these prices enable him to sell 500 cases of wine per month.  YOE noted that his son-in-law is in the wine business, and says that if the restaurant is charging over twice retail, they are gouging -obviously, San Gennaro doesn't do that!  Jay also claims that the meatballs he serves are huge - we'll have to check them out.  Seriously, Jay, welcome aboard.  Let's stay in touch.

Our other planned Craft Talker, Kathy Rezos, graciously agreed to tell us her story at a later date.  
YOE, Ernie Wolfe