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Volume 15, Issue 22  | March 17, 2023Subscribe

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Fair Game


The pain of Dr. Mammone’s death continues to bring hurt to a stunned community

TJ headshot AugWe here at Stu News are still struggling with the death of Dr. Michael John Mammone, 58, longtime Laguna Beach ER doctor. We assume it’s a common feeling throughout the entire community. The extremely respected and well-liked Mammone was riding his bike up Pacific Coast Highway near Crown Valley Parkway, just south of town, last Wednesday (Feb. 1) afternoon, when he was reportedly run down from behind by a white Lexus being driven by one Vanroy Evan Smith, 39, of Long Beach.

It didn’t end there. As Dr. Mammone was lying injured in the street, Smith reportedly exited his vehicle and began stabbing Dr. Mammone repeatedly with a knife. Ultimately, Dr. Mammone died later at the hospital.

So, Smith has now been charged with one count of murder and personal use of a deadly weapon, which could enhance his sentencing, according to Orange County Superior Court records. He’s now pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bail.

He could face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life and is scheduled to appear in court next week on Thursday, Feb. 16 for a pretrial hearing.

No known cause has emerged as to why the suspect took such action and no apparent connection between the two has emerged.

Stu News will meet this week with friends and family of Dr. Mammone to find out more about the man who brought comfort and healing to many in the community through his work in the emergency room at Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach. 

I’m not necessarily the most religious person you’ll ever meet, but I urge each and every one of you to say a prayer offering comfort and strength to those struggling friends and family of Dr. Mammone. 

• • •

Okay, you might be able to say you’ve seen a Grammy® award winner perform in-person before…and that’s a maybe. Even so, you probably can’t say you’ve ever seen a Grammy® award winner perform before their statuette even has had a chance to gather any dust. 

Well, here goes. This Wednesday evening (Feb. 8), Bijon Watson, fresh off his Grammy® win this past Sunday for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, will join Laguna Live! for the Jazz Wednesdays Winter series, with “The Soul of Jazz: A Jazz Tribute to the legends of Soul and Groove.” He’ll be joined on stage by the Laguna Live! All Stars featuring Maiya Sykes on vocals. 

The other All Stars joining in, besides Sykes, include Tom Luer, saxophone; Will Brahm, guitar; Bryan Velasco, keys; Dan Lutz, bass and Gene Coye, drums. Both Luer and Brahm joined Watson on the Grammy® award-winning album.

The concert is at [seven degrees] from 6-8 p.m., with doors opening at 5 to enjoy the bar and social hour. This concert is $37.50, or $150 for the full Jazz Wednesday’s season. Tickets are available at or call 949.715.9713.

• • •

No Square Theatre was scheduled to perform Trashy Love, a concert for pre-Valentine crowds. Unfortunately, the show has had to be canceled in its entirety due to a death in the family of several of the performers. 

No Square is now moving ahead with the audition process with Roald Dahl’s Matilda – The Musical. This Sunday, Feb. 12, auditions will be held from 12-3 p.m., for singers, dancers and actors, ages 8 and up.

For more info, go to

• • •

The winter sports regular season has ended for Laguna Beach High School. Now it’s CIF-SS playoff time. The Breakers will be represented by the girls basketball program that finished the year 19-9, with a 2-4 record in the Wave League, still good enough for third place. 

This Thursday, Feb. 9, the girls team will go on the road to take on Dominguez at 7 p.m. The Dons won the Mid-Cities League Championship but had an overall record of 15-11.

The winner moves on to a Saturday match-up with the victor of Valley Christian and Quartz Hill.

• • •

The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach has announced that scholarship applications for the 2023-2024 academic school year are now open to local students. Applicants need to be graduating high school seniors who reside in Laguna Beach or attend LBHS. Applications will be accepted through the Festival’s website at until the March 10 deadline.

The four-year, highly competitive scholarships are awarded to students who excel in Film, Performing Arts (dance, music and theater arts – including performance and production), Visual Arts and Writing. A student may apply for just one or in all four categories, but can be awarded only one scholarship. 

The FOA Scholarship Committee includes Chair Pat Kollenda, along with committee members Wayne Baglin, John Connolly, Marge Earl, Jacquie Moffett and Jeff Rovner

“This program is a tremendous opportunity for students who are considering a career in the arts,” said Chair Kollenda. “The arts are such a critical part of a student’s overall education as well as continued personal development. It is with great pride that the Festival rewards and encourages the development of careers in the arts.”

Last year, five students were each recognized with $20,000 scholarships by the FOA. Each recipient was granted $5,000 per year over a four-year period as long as he/she continues to meet the specified requirements. Since 1957, the Festival of Arts scholarship program has supported rising young artists by making it possible for students to pursue college studies in the arts. To date, the Festival of Arts has awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarships. 

For general scholarship information, call Michelle Reindl at 949.464.4201, or visit the website at The Festival of Arts is a nonprofit organization that produces the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and the Pageant of the Masters. Its mission is to support the arts and art education in and about Laguna Beach.

• • •

Let me see if I have this right. The Laguna Beach City Council recently bans balloons…then just days later, a balloon, suspected from China, is spotted flying over the country. A coincidence? I think not! Call it foresight. Thank you, City Council, I feel safer by your foresight and action.

Incidentally, the China balloon was later shot out of the sky over the Atlantic. I’d like to thank the U.S. Government for following Laguna’s lead and reinforcing the banning of balloons.


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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