By Clay Claiborne
It seems like forever that whenever the first of the month rolled around I would be looking forward to new issues of two local papers that weren’t very thick but were very deep, they were the Venice Beachhead and Change-Links. If you are reading this you are already familiar with the Beachhead. Change-Links is the monthly calender of events and news that provided much of the glue that held the progressive community in Los Angeles together for the past 20 years. The front page always had topical and insightful articles about the issues of the day, but its heart was the calendar section that covered all the up coming programs, meetings, film showings and scheduled demonstrations. It was like a program for the movement in L.A. Every month you would have to seek out your Change-Links to know what was happening.
John Johnson, who like Ron Kovic, was born on the 4th of July 1944. He protested the Vietnam War and was a member of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960’s. He was an activist for peace and justice for the rest of his life and was perhaps best known for publishing Change-Links.
In January 2013, John had heart surgery and as a result, there was no paper version of Change-Links for about six months. I don’t think his health ever fully recovered but his spirits and activity did and we all got complacent about getting out Change-Links every month as usual again. Then two weeks ago he had a stroke and fell. He also had a very bad MRSA bacterial infection that got into his bloodstream, On Sunday, 13 April 2014 he died.
However, his work, Change-Links, will live after him. After a well attended memorial service for John Johnson on April 2014 in Santa Monica, a group of Change-Links volunteers got together to plan the future of the on-line and paper versions of Change-Links. They are now putting together the July edition of Change-Links as a memorial to John. They will be trying to publish it every month. If you would like to help John’s work continue send an email to: [email protected] or call: 951-638-9259. This is the best way to remember him.
There will be a potluck mailing party for the July issue of Change-Links on Sunday, July 6th – 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM
at the new Peace Center – 3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City 90230. Free parking in back.
The family of John Johnson presents the showing of his artistic works at the UnUrban Coffee House in Santa Monica, CA from July 26th thru Aug. 21st, 2014. The show is titled 60s Perspective: Oil Paintings by John Johnson. A gallery opening event will held on Saturday, July 26, ‘14 from 8 pm to 11:30 pm. The gallery opening will be a celebration of John’s life and works. Entertainment and commentary will be on hand, along with the planned free distribution of a commemorative issue of Change-links in John’s honor. The UnUrban Coffee House is located at 3301 Pico Blvd., (at 33rd Street) in Santa Monica, CA 90405. The UnUrban’s owner and staff will cater this event’s gallery opening night. Call 310-315-0056 or visit unurban.com on the internet for more info.
By Clay Claiborne