DEALS AND POLITICS--Hey hey ho and a bottle of rum … Jeff Sessions is a comin’ and beatin’ his drum. Ho ho hee and a jigger of gin … Looks like nepotism ain’t no sin. 

If you’re lookin’ for a great deal on a cool spot to drown your sorrows and push back tears of fury or fear, look no further than the original Farmers’ Market at Third and Fairfax. 

Ye olde Farmers Market first came into being back in the Fall of 1934 just as Jeff Sessions’ ole pop was probably working OT to make sure no black folks dared enter his general store in Hybart Alabama. 

The market is a fantastic people-watching locale where you can sit outside under the sun or stars – well, maybe not stars, but night sky – and enjoy your choice of cuisine and libation. There are two bars with 36 different types of beers on tap between them. 

Eats range from a quick burger and fries to a fancy French restaurant, and you might even see a few stars during your visit. At the very least, you’ll have a good shot at taking your mind off the devil’s casting call unfolding in our country’s capital – if only for a few shining hours.

The other night, I met Melissa Kelly, a cicerone candidate at Bar 326 in the middle of the market. She serves up 24 different kinds of brews and that’s not all. 

Turns out a cicerone is the beer world’s equivalent of a sommelier; and, Melissa is not short on knowledge of the various brews, how they’re made, the nature and history of the ingredients used, proper storage, and all manner of cold hard facts about the wide range of concoctions. 

Here, one can puzzle out how it is that a man with a racist past like Jeff Sessions got named as Attorney General of the United States of America over a “Session Gruit Ale,” appropriately fermented with gruit herbs such as wormwood rather than hops. Apparently, these herbs were used in the Middle Ages – much like the values of many if not all new cabinet members. 

Here, a person can sip a delicately fragrant “Parable Saison” as you plumb the depths of the question of how our country’s public school children will fare under the leadership of such a woman as Betsy DeVos who has worked hard for years to undermine the public sector. 

A “Two 5 Left” is about how we might be after new Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin gets his “largest tax change since Reagan.” 

The list goes on – destroyers of institutions being put in charge of them. As Senator Sherrod Brown said, “This isn’t draining the swamp. It is filling it with alligators.” 

Perhaps one can find comfort in a pint of Better Days English style pale ale or a Hunky Dory IPA – dreaming of the day when the whole thing will all be over. 

In the alternative, if you’re just not going to take it lying down, there are counter-inaugural demonstrations taking place around the country. Here in LA, you can join the #UnitedAgainstHate march that meets on #J20 at 11:00 am at Olympic and Figueroa (LA Live). 

Womens’ rights are under fierce attack here with Tom Price as the pick for Department of Health and Human Services. He’s been trying to get rid of Planned Parenthood for decades. You can join a Womens’ March on January 21 at 9:00 am. Meet at Pershing Square and march to City Hall. 

As Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Now is not really the time to cry in our beer. But we can have a drink after the march.  


TRY to forget impending doom at the Original Farmers Market on the northwest corner of Third St. and Fairfax! Here’s all the info  



Info on The Trump Cabinet  

Nepotism Rules!  



March on #J20 #United AgainstHate.

Inauguration Day demonstration

January 20 11:00 am

Gathering at Olympic and Figueroa (LA Live)


Womens’ March LA

January 21 9:00 am

Gathering at Pershing Square



(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website:  

DEALS & DISCOUNTS--Inspired by my recent visit to Manila, I was on the quest to indulge in my favorite Filipino dish again in Los Angeles. Leelin Bakery’s authentic halo-halo was worth breaking my New Years Resolution of eating healthy. 

Halo-halo, "mix-mix" in Tagalog, is a concoction of various sweets, crushed ice and evaporated milk. Some basic sweet ingredients include palm fruit, kidney beans, chickpeas, jellies, coconut, jackfruit, purple yams (ube), and any other ingredient the chef is inspired to put in. Layered between the sweets is freshly fine shaven ice engorged with condensed milk or coconut milk. You do the honors yourself of blending all the ingredients together with your spoon. 

Leelin Bakery in Koreatown has a delicious version of halo-halo for $5.49 for an 18 oz. serving which was more than enough to fill up both my son, “anak,” John (pictured above) and me. I don’t think we could have handled a larger portion at other local restaurants, such as B Bakery for $8 and LA Rose Café for $10. 

Also, a visit to the Leelin Bakery gave me a great opportunity to pick up other Filipino favorites, anything made with ube. There are so many ube items to choose from like ube sponge cake, brioche with ube and coconut, ube bread loaf, ube hopia, ube ice cream and rice crispies. Not only did I come home with delicious halo-halo, a bag load of ube pastries, I also ordered a mango cake for an upcoming celebration. Also, I really appreciate how they have all their products conveniently pre-packaged for freshness “to-go”. 

With Southern California a major hub of Filipino immigrants and Filipino-Americans, there are six family-owned Leelin Bakery and Café locations for the past 40 years taking over the once popular Goldilocks’. The headquarters and factory is in Santa Fe Springs, with retail bakery/cafes in Cerritos, Eagle Rock, Panorama City, North Hills, Koreatown, and West Covina. 

Celebrate 2017 with the Filipino favorite of halo-halo, and may it bring sweetness to your new year! 





209 S. Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90004 

Eagle Rock

2700 Colorado Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90041 

Panorama City

8340 Van Nuys Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 91402 

North Hills

16130 Nordhoff Street

Los Angeles, CA 91343 


11489 S Street

Cerritos, CA 90703 

West Covina

2429 S. Azusa Avenue

Covina, CA 91792


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


SUCH A DEAL--Are you looking for ways to make the holidays special this year? How about a visit from Santa’s favorite elf. You can have one of Santa’s elves visit your hotel room at the Mission Inn in Riverside to tuck them in at bedtime. 

As a hotel guest from Friday, November 26 after Thanksgiving until December 26, “Buddy” himself can come to your hotel room for a bedtime tuck-in between 7:00-10 pm. Bearing the picture book of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, the elf will read the poem, wish your youngster sweet dreams and leave behind great memories and the sweetest of all, a cupcake from the infamous Casey’s bakery. 

The tuck-in costs $50. Plan in advance: the hotel fills up for the holidays & the tuck-in service has been sold-out. Think of the great “elfie” “selfie” you can post on Facebook for years to come. 

In addition to the tuck-in service, the Mission Inn has other holiday services to feel merry. There is a beautifully decorated 20 foot tall Christmas noble fir and loads of lights lit up everywhere for the eyes to behold. You can sing along to your favorite Christmas tunes and plenty of opportunities to hang out with Santa such as the Saturday breakfast, Sunday champagne brunch, and at the afternoon tea. There is also a Santa letter drop box delivering your child’s note directly to the North Pole. These hotel activities are certain to have you feeling the holiday magic. 

In addition to the historic Mission Inn, the downtown district of Riverside is as magical as can be with the fantastic and ever-so-popular holiday celebration, The Festival Lights. At the opening ceremonies, it drew 70,000 people to see the decorations and firework display. Over the next 6 weeks, staring on the Friday after Thanksgiving, over 1 million people come out drawing a close on January 7. 

Warning to all, the weekends of the festival get really crowded with difficulty parking, long lines to see the displays, buying food, playing amusement park games and rides, especially as it become dusk and the holiday lights switch on at around 5 pm. 

If you plan in advance, get there early and be patient. It is a great way to enjoy the holidays, especially if you are lucky enough to stay at the Mission Inn and have Santa’s elf bedtime tuck-in. It is sure to make your little one’s spirits bright and leave your family with a lasting memory. 



THE MISSION INN, Hotel and Spa 

Festival of Lights, November 25, 2016-January 7, 2017

3649 Mission Inn Avenue

Riverside, CA 92501

(951) 784-0300 


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


DEALS AND DISCOUNTS--As the saying goes, “it is better to give than receive.” However, it is even better to give and receive at the same time. This holiday season, give to your favorite charity and receive a tax deduction when you itemize expenses on Schedule A of your tax returns. Here is my newfound favorite charity, Journey Out

Dance for Freedom

Last month, I was lucky enough to participate in a fundraising event called DANCE FOR FREEDOM. A group of zumba lovers had an intense workout from three popular westside instructors and the proceeds were donated to JOURNEY OUT, a local non-profit that helps victims of sex trafficking and exploitation from the streets of Los Angeles. 

We had an opportunity to meet the director, Dr. Stephanie Powell who told us of her first-hand experience working with this population as a retired, 30-year LAPD vice sergeant working the downtown streets and JO’s current director. As a compassionate maternal-figure, she talks to victims in depth to find out their backstories and the common threads that led to this lifestyle. She spoke of the conditions why sex workers turn to the streets, being manipulated and coerced by pimps and traffickers, their need for attention and their willingness to work for the pimps’ love, and their lack of self worth. Every zumba dancer was deeply moved emotionally as we physically moved to the beat raising awareness, support and money. 

(Photo left: Dr. Stephanie Powell and the DANCE FOR FREEDOM Zumba instructors) 

Sex Trafficking in our Backyard

What I did not know is sex trafficking is rampant throughout the US, Los Angeles included, especially downtown and in the San Fernando Valley. Underage girls, age of 12-14 years old, are being lured through psychological manipulation, force or fraud by someone they trusted and later become their “pimp” or “john”. Sex trafficking includes all types of sex venues ranging from massage parlors, brothels, escort services, the streets and many the “dark corners” of the Internet. 

Here are just a few reports from 2016. The Los Angeles Times reported two LAPD busts on large crime rings rescuing 30 victims and arresting 350 perpetrators through Operation Reclaim in January 2016 and Operation Summer Rescue in August 2016. 

The Daily News reported young girls walking the streets of Van Nuys, Sun Valley and Panorama City day in and day out with large-scale brothels nearby last January. Just a few days ago reported a sex ring in the Western Avenue and Figueroa corridor that resulted in sentencing five LA pimps 11 to 21 years in state prison for turning teens into prostitutes. 

Journey Out

Journey Out, a 501c(3) organization, formally known as the Mary Magdalene Project, is based in Van Nuys has a big heart and a long history of service and success. They provide victims with the tools and support to be successful after leaving sex trafficking and rebuild their life. 

A recent success story that was just tweeted involved at 16 year-old girl, Ericka, who was kidnapped by a trafficker. While walking down a busy Van Nuys street, she was grabbed by the neck from behind and forced in his car. The pimp sex trafficked her for two weeks. He watched her day and night not to escape, and to get Ericka to sell herself for his gain, he burned her with cigarettes and used a stun gun. She felt desperate and hopeless until she was rescued by an LAPD Vice squad during a Vice operation targeting pimps and buyers. 

Ericka sat sobbing at the Journey Out office recounting her story of survival. She was comforted by a survivor-leader who knew all to well what Ericka was going through. JO helped Ericka with her immediate needs; food, clothing, took her for a medical exam and that night got her into a transitional living program in another city where she could be safe and continues to receive mentorship from JO. Today Ericka is safe and out of that abusive lifestyle. Very grateful for the help and support received, she would not be where she is without the assistance of JO. 

Journey Out programs include:

  • Survivor-led support groups and mentorship,
  • Case management and referrals,
  • Peer-to-peer support and counseling, therapy and crisis counseling,
  • HIV testing and education,
  • GED tutoring, and vocational referrals,
  • Basic needs provisions such as shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene products. 

So far this year in 2016, Journey Out has taken 322 individuals off the street, with the majority being women, a few male and transgender individuals. That is a 40% increase from 2015, which could be due to different factors such as a court referral diversion program and dismissal, or from rescue efforts from programs such as Journey Out. 

The topic of sex trafficking is disturbing. The silver lining is there are wonderful people in our community involved, and you can be too. You can make a year-end contribution, join our zumba group for future DANCE FOR FREEDOM fundraisers, volunteer at Journey Out, or attend a JO event. 


If you have not make your end of year contributions yet, consider Journey Out. It will make your heart happy to know you are donating to a charity that does so much to help victims of sex crimes, and will make your pocketbook happy reducing your taxes. A win-win!   


There is an event coming up on Friday, March 24, 2017 at the Joan Palevsky Center for the Future of Los Angeles at 221 S. Figueroa Street (part of the California Community Foundation) where Journey Out is giving an award to LAPD Sheriff James McDonnell as a “Visionary of Freedom” for his work dealing in this sector. 

Get involved. Visit their website and Facebook page, receive their Twitter feeds, check it out! 




7136 Haskell Avenue, Suite 125

Van Nuys, CA 91406

Tel: 818-988-4970 


Informational video played on KCET on April 18, 2016 


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


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