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Odds & Ends Around the Valley


Heavenly Rap

There's no Madonna in this music video, although there are heavy religious overtones.

And the 11 San Fernando Valley teen-agers rapping in the video are not headed for MTV, they're going to the National Congress on Youth Evangelism July 17-21 in Washington.

The teen-agers, members of the Canoga Park Presbyterian Church youth program, are finalists in a national contest open to Youth for Christ groups across the country.

What they did was produce a rap video about their upcoming trip to the nation's capital.

What they won was a complete set of religious records from Benson Records.

What they are is elated.

It all started in December when their adviser, Brad Elias, got a pre-enrollment packet for the congress, which 16 members of the church youth group will attend.

The packet, which gave information about the program and the procedure for becoming delegates, included a notice about the religious rap contest.

The contest was open to each church group attending the meeting--expected to draw 20,000 young people from throughout the country--and the rules were fairly simple.

Entrants were to produce a three-minute video to the song "DC '91," by Christian rap group DC Talk. No professional help was allowed, and the kids had to use either DC Talk's recording or their own version of the song.

Lip-syncing might have been OK for Milli Vanilli, but our local neo-rappers weren't buying it. Never mind that none of them had ever done anything like this before.

And they decided that they didn't need any professional help because they had an award-winning amateur video producer in former youth group member Monica Wibowo, a graduating senior at Chatsworth High.

"I listened to the audiotape done by DC Talk and immediately visualized what I wanted to do," said Wibowo, 17, who twice won top honors in the Los Angeles Unified School District video festival for school project tapes.

Hoisting her trusty Panasonic VHS onto her shoulder, she did the entire video portion in one day, shooting with various members of the group.

After the sound was dubbed, the tape was sent off.

More than 50 entries were received from all over the country, and the local group came in third.

The new kids on the video scene are jazzed.

Don't Wrap It

If you're a bargain-hunting beastie, look to the new Tower in Sherman Oaks.

Tower--as in records, videos, art, books--is now Tower as in gigantic discount store.

Directly across from Tower Records on Ventura Boulevard, there is a new sort of bare-bones facility where all kinds of Tower stores send all the stuff they don't sell.

You can buy "The Hunt for Red October," "Another 48 HRS," "Wild Orchid," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Doctor Zhivago" videos, each for $9.95.

You can buy videotapes of '50s television classics such as "Dragnet," "Make Room for Daddy," "Flash Gordon" and "Ozzie and Harriet" for $1.95.

You can buy 45s and/or cassettes by John Cougar Mellencamp and Run DMC, Oingo Boingo and--yes!--Milli Vanilli for 25 cents and up.

You can buy books about cars and art and New Age stuff and seamanship and even get a Physician's Desk Reference for a lot less than their publishers would like.

Open House

Several years ago, NBC writer-editor Phil Clapick was told that if he became a coordinator for the American-Scandinavian Student Exchange, he would get a free trip to Sweden.

It sounded like a deal, but that was then and this is sometime later.

"Actually, it's been a lot of fun until now," says Clapick, who places 17- and 18-year-old exchange students in homes in the San Fernando Valley.

Usually people are very happy to play host to students, Clapick says, but that was before the advent of the double R's--recession and rationing.

"People now say they can't afford to have another mouth to feed," he says. "They are worried about the recession and their own economic reality."

Water rationing is another problem for Clapick as he tries to place five students for the autumn. "People say they are afraid they will get in trouble if there's another person showering in their house."

Clapick says that the youngsters come with their own spending money and that water officials will make allowances.

If you have a spare room to volunteer, he hopes you'll call him at (818) 348-0530.

Brace Yourself

Such a touching scene.

People in wheelchairs and leg and arm braces were trying to play volleyball in the parking lot of Holy Cross Medical Center last week.

But wait.

As the players hobbled and wheeled themselves around the court, others in chairs and leg and arm braces on the sidelines were shouting at them, sometimes laughing at the players and speaking in less than respectful tones.

That's because the people playing volleyball were therapists, nurses and other hospital personnel strapped into their restrictive devices just for the occasion, while the sideliners were their patients, who would not be unstrapping their braces and getting out of their chairs after the game.

This staff activity was officially called an empathy exercise, although some patients called it "turnabout is fair play." It was meant to remind staff how frustrating, annoying and painful physical restrictions can be.

The patients seemed pleased with the effort, but didn't hesitate to remind the staff members that it was inappropriate for them to leap out of their chairs when they wanted to do something fast.

"The patients from our newly opened rehabilitation center were really giving the needle to the staff," says Barbara Mitchell, director of rehabilitation services and instigator of the exercise.

She says that is natural because the staff goads, prods and cajoles patients into doing difficult, often painful things during rehabilitation.

Mitchell says empathy exercises are ongoing and keep staff members sensitive to their patients' reality.


"I saw Mariette Hartley over in produce and she looks just like herself."

--One shopper to another in the checkout line at Gelson's in Encino

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