Giving, Sharing & Enriching Lives

Eric Allaman, Former Malibu resident, currently in Sonoma County

Composer

Words to Live By: “One day at a time!”

“When you write music for children, you are in effect teaching them,” says Eric, a composer with Pacific Festival Ballet. “Like great teachers, you’re leading them on a path with your creativity.”

Eric views composing music as a form of writing and communicating, synonymous with storytelling.

“As in writing, there is an inherent intelligence in communicating through music. Music is profound in the way that it can speak to people of different ages, languages, genders and ethnicities,” he says, adding, “If done correctly, great music stands the test of time.”

Through communicating their feelings, fears, knowledge and experiences, composers develop a skillset over time to inspire or move people. As the great composers through the ages have left behind a legacy of their work, Eric aims to do the same.

With three musicals in various stages in Germany, Eric hopes to see them produced in Europe and then brought to the U.S., in addition to sharing the ballets produced with PFB’s Kim Maselli with theaters around the world.

“I am also doing what I can do to help save the planet Earth,” he adds.

Inspiration: Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Helen Keller, the Pacific Ocean, hummingbirds and Edvard Munch.

Community Service: I have worked with Kim Maselli of the Pacific Festival Ballet over the past 10 years. We have created three ballets: “The Sea Princess” in 2007, “Noah’s Ark” in 2010 and “Camelot” in 2019. What I have loved about working with Kim is that we set out to write three shows that would add to the curriculum of ballets. Dance needs new stories. We specifically wanted to write story-driven dramas that would appeal to families, especially dads and sons, and not just moms and daughters. I feel we have been quite successful with this goal by witnessing the reactions from the dancers and the audiences during our shows in Thousand Oaks. I also coached Little League in Malibu for eight years, which is no small gig timewise.

Secret to Success: I enjoy inspiring people to reach their creative goals, because we are all creators of our own lives.

R&R: I compose music. It’s something that inspires me and haunts me daily. I surf and ski and have been recently picking up golf, which I’m now convinced that I have no future in.

 

Steven Chesne, Pacific Palisades

TV/Film Composer

Words to Live By: “We’ve got to be ready to burn our own beliefs to the ground. Our self-questioning needs to be rigorous and impartial. Never settle just because an answer seems easy or familiar. We’ve got to admit our stupidity to clear a space to let knowledge in. If we’re strong enough to find our humility, we can find wisdom.” 

Chesne’s love of music began early on: at 8, he’d spend hours writing songs; as a teenager, he began hearing fully arranged, fully orchestrated musical themes in his head and assumed everyone else did, too. He pursued a degree in Music Composition from the University of Southern California, studying classical guitar and Renaissance lute with Pepe Romero and Jim Smith and learning film composition from David Raksin and Earl Hagen.

After graduating, he composed music for off-Broadway shows, landing his first gig composing full scores for primetime television, which led to feature films. To date, he has composed scores for 300+ episodes of television shows, including “Batman: the Animated Series,” “Family Man” and “Family Matters.” He also has scored 17 theatrical art-house films, including “Zen Noir,” “Debating Robert Lee,” “The Trip” and “No Turning Back.” Most recently, “Sapient: A Cantata of Peace” earned its 12th global music honor, and the first track on the album, “Words of the Kikuyu” was named a finalist for Best New Age Song at the 2019 Peace Song Awards.

Community Service: During the decades that I was focused on film and TV work, my wife, Diane, a brilliant concert pianist who had toured the world playing concertos many years ago, was developing a robust music teaching in our home and encouraged me to join her. Although I had been a composer for most of my life, I was also a guitar major at USC back in the old days, so I started teaching guitar and music theory to locals here in the Palisades—it turned out to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying phases of my life. 

It has connected me with the community in such a beautiful way. I’ve watched some of my very young students grow into wonderful young adults. Some have gone on to do music professionally, others have kept music as a beloved hobby. But my responsibility isn’t simply to make them virtuosos. My responsibility is to inspire them with a love of music.  My adult students are usually already passionate about music. But kids, when they’re curious about the arts, and when the window is open, we need to seize the moment and plant the seeds of inspiration. 

I’ve also developed a sense of connection to a larger community through “Sapient.” As it tunnels its way through Facebook, it has connected me with others from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Egypt, Ghana, Algeria, Iraq, Venezuela, France, Bangladesh, Burma, Pakistan, etc., all on a path of seeking world peace.

Motivation: The opportunity to sneak out the exit from the mundane. To get under the hood of the steaming engine. The possibility that I might touch the transcendent. 

Secret to Success: Fame is an illusion—it’s become a cartoon. The pursuit of wealth is unquenchable. It’s a trap. The pursuit of power over others will not fill the void inside. 

Always hunt down reality, no matter how messy, how complex, how nuanced, how embarrassing, how surprising. Find it. Demand it.  

R&R: Wherever Diane is, that’s where I want to be.

 

Richard “Dick” Held, Brentwood

Pali High Booster Club 20-Year Board Member

Words to Live By: “Love your wife, kids, God and Country. Treat your neighbors with love and respect.”

Richard graduated from Doane College, in Crete, Nebraska, in 1970, then drove to L.A. in a 1966 Ford Mustang with his wife, Debbie. He went on to earn an MBA from USC Business School and entered the commercial/industrial real estate business—”it was the Wild West and lots of fun! There were no regulations back in those days. I remember using typewriters on the hood of my car, closing real estate deals.”

He and his wife, Debbie, are approaching almost 50 years of married happiness. Dick’s family, including kids Brian, Kevin, Amber and Amy, Joe, Jazmin, Molly, Dylan and Henry, and six siblings, plus his “Dear Mother—95 years young” and Jet the Dog, are his main source of joy.

Community Service:

·         Pali High Booster Club: “A big thank to all the hardworking moms (and dads) who have raised thousands of dollars for Palisades Charter High School. It is fun and truly enjoyable to work with the Team of Pali Super Moms and Dads.”

·         Saint Martins of Tours Church in Brentwood: Worked on the Committee for the Poor for 35 years. One of the activities is raising money to supply 2,200 backpacks with underwear, t-shirts, socks, toiletries, a raincoat, gloves and beanies to homeless men, women and children who live on the streets of L.A.

·         AYSO Soccer referee and coach for 40 years.

·         Board of Trustees for Doane University Nebraska {12 years).

Motivation: Working and helping other people, enjoying my family and grandkids, running around the block and feeding the neighborhood dogs treats in the morning.

Secret to Success: Work hard and help other people as best you can. Play hard and love your parents and family.

R&R: Running SK races, refereeing and coaching AYSO soccer, following Nebraska football and other sports. Being with family and friends.

 

 

Sam Lagana, Pacific Palisades

Associate Vice Chancellor of Pepperdine

Words to Live By: “Work as if everything depends upon you and give thanks to the greater glory of God.” 

As Associate Vice Chancellor, Sam represents Pepperdine across the nation, bringing new friends into the Pepperdine Family and serving a key role in the University’s global fundraising efforts. An ambassador for the charitable initiatives at Pepperdine through outreach and networking, he presents “Philanthropy with Purpose” seminars and consultations on Passion, Pride and Practicality for charitable giving. He has managed meetings of the Pepperdine Athletics Board, the University Campaign Committee for the Student Recreation & Events Center and has hosted exciting and innovative events, receptions and outreach activities on campus and throughout the country.

Sam enjoyed a successful tenure at the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club (1996-2001) as the Executive Director of the prestigious John R. Wooden Award. He also directed the Sports Marketing & Business Development Divisions at the club. In 2012, he was appointed the National Chairman of the John R. Wooden Award and enjoys a close working relationship with the LAAC and the Wooden Family in this capacity, as a volunteer. He has served in Athletic Administration at Cal State Dominguez Hills (1993-1996), and at Cal State Northridge (1989-1993), and in the mid-1980’s, Sam managed numerous sporting events while directing promotions and public relations for the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

Actively involved with numerous nonprofits since 1990 and serving on City Council and on various boards, Sam is a member of The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), among others.

He served as an adjunct professor of Marketing for Sports in the Business Division of Pepperdine’s Seaver College and is a recognized sports announcer, voice-over talent, and emcee. He is currently the stadium voice of the NFL Los Angeles Rams. In 2018, LA City Councilman Mike Bonin (11 district) named Sam a Neighborhood Hero.

Community Service:

·         John R. Wooden Awards for collegiate basketball, Steering Committee

·         Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, Advisory Board member

·         Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Board member

·         Active board member with Westcoast Sports Associates, a nonprofit that encourages participation of kids in sports.

Motivation: Working to make life enjoyable for others.

Secret to Success: Remember to thank those who help you along the way. There are people who advocate for you, and it’s important to appreciate their care and effort in their desire to share life with you.

R&R: Spending time athome with my wife, Eileen, and daughters Cambria (Pepperdine Class of 2017) and Cienna (Pepperdine Class of 2021).

 

Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, Malibu

Zuma Jay’s Surf Shop Founder & Mayor of Malibu

Words to Live By: “You can’t eat a standing ovation.” “Pay peanuts, get monkeys.”

When Jefferson started surfing in the early 70s, most people thought of surfing as an “extreme” activity; through the years he’s been centerstage as the surf culture took root and grew into the mainstream sport that it is today. The founder of Malibu’s oldest surf shop, Zuma Jay’s (est. 1975), Jefferson enjoys sharing the love of surfing with people of all ages.

“I share their experiences,” says Jefferson, who started out shaping his own boards at his surf shop on Pacific Coast Highway across from the iconic Surfrider Beach. “For most people, surfing is a dedicated sport… it’s a lifestyle.” And today, even toddlers are getting into the sport, starting out with a boogie board, he adds.

The longtime Malibu personality embodies the characteristics and values of the Malibu community, extending his reach beyond the sea to participate in politics in an effort to make a difference.

As mayor of Malibu, Jefferson aims to help solve problems and create a brighter future.

Also the author of The Armchair Adventurist, and The Hobo’s Handbook, which became a movie called “King of the Northwest,” Jefferson says he doesn’t do “Faceplant, Yelp or Twitter,” but prefers interacting with people in person. When he’s not in the ocean, he splits his time between City Hall and the Zuma Jay’s Surf Shop, aka “2nd City Hall,” where locals and tourists frequently walk through the doors in search of $1 surf wax (“I sell it for what I buy it for!”), wetsuits, paddles, surfboards and sometimes just a friendly smile and casual conversation.

A plaque on a surfer statue in Legacy Park captures Jefferson’s outlook: “I turn my back to the black asphalt strip that brought me here; then I look out over the big blue adventure that lies ahead,” —Zuma Jay.

Community Service: City Council member,2008-present;Mayor of Malibu, 2010-2011; currently serving a second term, 2019-2020.

Public awareness coupled with frustration drove me to get involved with local government. If you follow the news and feel frustrated, you can sit back and be a curmudgeon and point fingers, and nothing will get done, but if you take the handles and try to do something, you can help. I’ve been able to achieve what I’ve promised—banning plastic sand bags, creating an Office of the Ombudsman with Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution. Current issues include homeless outreach, short-term rentals and banning rodenticides, pesticides and insecticides.

Motivation: Motivation comes from the reward of fulfillment; imagine you have a dirty sidewalk, you can wait for someone to clean it, or you go out there with a broom and do it yourself… set an example. Once you clean the sidewalk, you feel happy because the tourists walk by and it’s nice and clean and neat: Fulfillment is easy and that’s what drives me.

Secret to Success: Live modestly, without expectations that are unachievable. Keep your goals in mind and follow that path, but don’t make your expectations unachievable, because you’ll get depressed. It’s all achievable—keeping my sidewalk and gutter clean; they’re really simple things and when people appreciate it, that’s fulfilling! That means more than money to me. What else have we got? When we die, all we’re going to have are people’s memories of our behavior on Earth.

R&R: Surfing and standing on the hillsides looking out at the ocean—no cell phones, no Twitter, no Faceplant! Also, spending time with my daughter and wandering around Home Depot—the “other woman!”