Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Santa Monica Supply Sergeant Closes

Supply Sergeant Santa Monica After I finished undergrad and after I broke off my engagement with my college girlfriend, I went to work at an "equity-waiver" theatre in an office building at the corner of Hollywood and Cherokee. I remember one night during rehearsal, I looked out the window and saw a drunk lying across the hood of my car, which was parked in front of Boardners, a below the line working class Hollywood bar. We had our stage manager and a spear carrier walk the poor bastard home. Those were the days when Boardners was cool, not another yuppified hangout.

When I needed a pair of black dress shoes for the lawyer costume my character was to wear, I walked into the Supply Sergeant on Hollywood boulevard, just a few doors down from my office building and the Pussycat Theatre, which in 1980 was still showing "Deep Throat" and 'The Devil in Miss Jones." I never went inside the Pussycat theatre, but I did find a pair of USA made, Navy oxfords that fit my budget at the Supply Sergeant. I found those shoes incredibly comfortable and I appreciated the workmanship. Over the years, I've returned to the Supply Sergeant and bought at least 10-15 pairs of these shoes. A few years after the theatre company was a memory, I bought a bitchin' pea coat there that a girlfriend at the time gave me shit about wearing too often.

So, I was disappointed when I drove up to the Supply Sergeant's Santa Monica location and found it closed. Not a big problem. I'm not shopping for shoes. Since I haven't been to this location in at least two years (even though I live 5 blocks away), I don't know how long the place has been closed. So, now the next time I need a pair of black oxfords, I'll have to drag my ass back into Hollywood or, god forbid, venture into the valley and go to the Burbank location. I just hope it isn't summer. I avoid the valley at all costs during the summer. When I die and go to hell, I'll be given a residence in the valley without air conditioning.

Marina Del Rey - Couple Fishing

Couple Fishing at Marina Del Rey 7/30/07

Tom Snyder 1936 - 2007 RIP

Tom Snyder 1936-2007 RIP
During my years in high school, I'd come home to see my parents watching the news. Not just one channel, but all three. When the electro-magnetic channel switcher broke from my father's constant use, he would command my mother, who sat on the floor with her back against the couch and her coffee cup on the table beside her, to get up and change the channel. From ABC to NBC to CBS and back and all over again. This situation would worsen during the local news. Then the available stations would increase from three to seven, adding KTLA, KHJ, KTTV, and KCOP. (I think I've got that right. I did that from memory. I didn't look it up.) Increasingly, my mother would get irritated, but they repeated the same ritual each night.
Anyway, in those years, Tom Snyder anchored the KNBC local news. "He was a pistol" as my mother might have said, but I don't remember. Was he acerbic? Yes. Obnoxious? Not really. Entertaining? Yes. Charming? Go fuck yourself.
Like Howard Stern, we wanted to see what Snyder said next. Quite frequently, Snyder asked the questions we wanted to ask. Those are his best moments, whether they proved to be an embarrassment to the guest or embarrassing of Snyder himself.
In regards to the constant cigarette smoke during his show, Snyder turns out to be the seventies generation's Murrow, but in color.
Besides the dead-on impersonation, complete with Snyder's verbal and physical faults, Dan Ackroyd's representation actually shows us how passionately this man loved his work. I don't remember Snyder's politics, but I remember his enthusiasm.

Olympic & Sawtelle

Olympic and Sawtelle

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mitsubishi = Cars for assholes!

Cars for assholes.
Not that I have anything against the auto company or their cars, but why is it that 5.389 out of 10 jerks on the road are driving Mitsubishi cars? While I didn't take statistics for the two years I remained a psych major, I have done quite a lot of accounting and I've done the numbers.

My wife, who sits next to me in our car and listens to me count off the Mitsubishi driving bozos, thinks the phenomenon might exist because the cars are sporty and inexpensive, thus ignorant, materialistic, low self esteem, narcissistic fools are more prone to buy them. I think that makes a lot of sense.

This fellow in the picture above crossed into my lane ahead of me quickly, without signaling (Does Mitsubishi provide signal lights on their cars?), and so close as to almost clip the front of my Mercury. What are you gonna do? Happens everyday to everybody, right? So, I took a picture.

While in the past I've been tempted, like everybody else, to use age or race to stereotype bad drivers, I increasingly find using the type of car and color choice to profile the driving challenged, not only less bigoted and irrational, but much more accurate in the long run.

So, am I seeing things? Does my wife have a point? Do you give a damn?

The only thing worse than a jerk driving a Mitsubishi is a jerk driving a RED Mitsubishi. Don't people who drive red cars realize they are compensating for their inadequacies, trying to use color to get the attention they've been deprived of and are dying for? When are we going to stop using automobiles as advertising for the self? It's a machine!!!

Oh, here's a thought, how about a person driving a red Mitsubishi with bumper stickers all over the back end? How low is that person's self esteem?

James Ellroy Commeth

James EllroyJames Ellroy will be visiting the L.A. Central Library on Tuesday, September 11, at 7pm.
Internationally renowned author James Ellroy discusses 60 years of the secret history of Los Angeles in raucous, freewheeling and profane form. Born in Los Angeles in 1948, Ellroy's L.A. Quartet novels – The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential, and White Jazz – were international best-sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time Magazine’s fiction Book of the Year in 1995. His memoir My Dark Places was a Time Best Book of the Year for 1996. His novel the Cold Six Thousand was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2001. Last year, he published a remarkable first-person story in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about his recent return to the "Great Wrong Place that refined [his] imagination." He visits Z√≥calo to talk about the underbelly of the city he has reclaimed.

- from the Library website
Zocalo, a cultural forum for the new L.A. - Public Lecture Series

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Paco's Tacos Centinela + Another Alibi Room Update

Paco's Tacos on CentinelaOur Pasadena friends, David and Julie, let us know they were going to be on the westside visiting his mom Sunday morning, so we met them for lunch at Paco's Tacos on Centinela, south of Washington. I enjoy Paco's a lot, but not for the same reasons I'm a known fanatic for El Coyote. El Coyote is living history and the scratch margaritas are the best. But Paco's charm lies in its neighborhood family restaurant feel, complimented by their eager-to-please customer service and the hot plates they serve the food on. The bucket of chips will eventually kill you, especially because they keep refilling it. Paco's serves California style Mexican food. They keep it real simple: meat, tortillas, sauce, cheese, beans and rice. But they do have fajitas and for dinner the menu includes some fish dishes the regulars ignore. Mostly, Paco's is a comfortable place with comfortable people serving you comfortable food.
Those darn chips!After leaving Paco's and bidding our friends adieu, I couldn't resist driving around the corner and taking a picture of the Alibi Room's latest condition. During lunch, David and me had reminisced about the one time we went to the old Alibi Room circa 1999-2000. No big deal. No drunken incident to recall. No problems. Nice neighborhood bar. Friendly bartender. Good prices. Cigarette smoking floozies sitting at the bar being romanced by grizzly bearish men wearing baseball caps. Blue collar workers chugging Buds and playing pool with old hippies and young execs. The music choices were just fine. I think I had a bag of peanuts with my beer. I liked the place and planned to return often. I think I went back a few times, then they closed the place and I spent the next year drinking at JP's at 11th and Wilshire near my house. But that's another story.
They've changed the sign.My original post 7/15/07 with 3/13/2007 photo.

My 7/24/07 update with 7/17/07 photo.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ehrhard Bahr - "L.A. is a great place for modernists."

This week's L.A. City Beat has an excellent article on Ehrhard Bahr, a UCLA German Literature professor emeritus and his new book "Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism (University of California Press).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"You Looked Better On My Space"

El Coyote Today

El Coyote Scratch Margarita
El Coyote TostadaTwo Chicken Tacos

New Beverly Cinema Today

New Beverly Cinema
Flower MemorialObit on door

New Beverly Cinema's Sherman Torgan Dies in Santa Monica

Sherman Torgan
I remember this guy vividly. I used to go there all the time. He died while on a bike ride. He had a heart attack at 63 and left a wife, Mary, and a son, Michael. The future of the theatre is undecided, but apparently, after going dark for the funeral, they've continued screenings. He will be missed.
New Beverly Cinema
LA Times Obituary
LAist
Hollywood Elsewhere
GreenCine Daily

Photographer Edward Weston exhibit coming to the Getty

Edward Weston: Enduring Vision
July 31–November 25, 2007
A seminal figure in the history of photography, Edward Weston (American, 1886–1958) began his long career in Southern California. The Getty Museum's collection of Weston prints is among the most significant of any art museum, spanning four decades of the artist's work. This exhibition traces the breadth of Weston's accomplishments in California, Mexico, and across the United States, employing a selection of prints drawn from the Museum's holdings alongside a smaller number of complementary loans. One gallery of the exhibition is devoted to the work of Weston's colleagues and students.


Flora

Santa Monica Mirror: BREAKING NEWS! Lindsay Lohan Arrested In SM Civic Parking Lot

Lindsay Lohan's SMPD mugshotI can't believe I'm actually posting this celebrity news article, but my late mother adored Lindsay Lohan. When I once mentioned to her that I thought Lindsay looked like a 40 year old barfly, she defended her to me. But later we both agreed that she looks a lot like Elizabeth Taylor. Now, is that the ET in "National Velvet," "A Place in the Sun," or "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Depends on your perspective.

Lindsay Lohan and her ankle braceletLove the mugshot, but I prefer this photo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Undecided in Malibu - the Doomed Room

Malibu Sky 7-24-07Another grey day in L.A., I enjoy the June gloom, but detest the July muggy mush we live through every year. (The worst was that first summer working in failure theatre at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee in 1980. The best was the following year when I spent the summer in San Francisco working with inner city kids during the day and listening to jazz all night. And don't get me started on how I hate the humid east coast summers. I should probably just move to Alaska.) On top of the terrible weather today, I found myself in one of those undecided modes where I can't make a decision to save my life. So recognizing this early on, I forced myself to make a decision. I decided to drive to Malibu and let the ocean breezes cool me off.
the Malibu PierMalibu turned out to be a blur, a grey blur. The smog had seen fit to hover atop the hillsides; diamonds of glare bounced off the ocean waves and tore into my sensitive eyeballs. Miserable heat engulfed everything. Even an old Pinto hatchback I saw (I'm sure as the result of a heat induced time warp.) had its windows up and its air conditioning turned on. I drove on to Point Dume, where Charlton Heston saw the Stature of Liberty and where I used to enjoy having a cold one at the Dume Room, an authentic beach dive bar, now extinct.
the Dume RoomI stopped to take a look at one of my favorite places on the Malibu coast. It closed earlier this year, the result of new land ownership and higher rents I think I read somewhere. Now, months later, the place remains boarded up and no use to anyone. Doesn't look like any renovations are going on. They could've kept this place open until they decided what to do with it. Let them pay the old rent. Some rent is better than no rent. (I know there are probably other legal and financial considerations, so don't bother me about that. I speak in hyperbole often. Please get used to it. You do too, even if you don't recognize it.) The party could've continued. The payrolls could've kept getting met. Everyone could've continued to get wet. And today, I could've gotten a cold one.
See, it's all boarded up.So, I drove down to Yuma and looked at the bikinis while driving by and then headed back to Malibu where I got a cold one at the Malibu Inn, a slightly overpriced tourist trap restaurant (not as bad as Gladstones - nothing's as bad or as overpriced as Gladstones) by day and a popular music venue at night. The food is excellent. You decide if it is worth the price. The air conditioning proved helpful to my mood as did the cold one. I was disappointed they had discontinued the old fashioned Pabst on draft, but I enjoyed a Stella instead. Nix on the food, I decided. The heat had ruined my appetite. So I drove home and sat in front of a fan and drank another cold one. Then, I took a nap. This turned out to be a good decision. the Malibu Inn

Lunch with a new friend - a Woodlawn crow

Santa Monica SeafoodOn Monday, after deciding to buy both lunch to eat immediately and food items to cook later for dinner at the Santa Monica Seafood market, I bought a spicy tuna sandwich for lunch and fresh yellowtail, chinese coleslaw and octopus salad for dinner. I enjoy this market for its freshness, its quality, and its convenience. Growing up in Gardena, we had to go to Redondo to get fish this fresh. I bought some yellow gladiolus for my wife to compliment the fish.
a Woodlawn crowHere's my lunch pal. I often take my lunch at Woodlawn Cemetery, located at the corner of Pico and 14th. In the olden days, 14th Street was called "Cemetery Road." I know people who have lived in Santa Monica for over 20 years and they had no idea there was a cemetery here until I told them and they still think I am lying. Woodlawn is a lovely small cemetery, right in the heart of the Pico district. It's quiet, breezy, and colorful. Mostly, it's quiet.

Photo Update on Alibi Room

I couldn't resist going slightly out of my way last week (7/17/07) to get a photo of the Alibi Room in its reconstruction. I took a peek inside and it will be a total renovation. I'll have to email Triplecreme and give her the updated photo. My original post 7/15/07. As for the photo, not only is my windshield dirty, but it was one of those slate grey days in L.A. when there is no blue in the sky and everything looks like someone didn't erase the chalkboard.
the Alibi Room

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gardena Police Shooting - Yoshinoya


I grew up in Gardena in the sixties when the small community of stucco bungalows looked beautiful because they were complimented by exquisite Japanese gardening. I ate sushi before sushi was cool. I grew up with Japanese friends, some of whom had parents and grandparents who returned from the WWII American concentration camps to restart their lives. We all lived together and everybody got along. Some of us became family to each other.

Now, the little city has lost most of its charm and looks like an extension of south central. But the best Italian deli in South Bay, Guiliano's, still exists. A freight train continues to run through the old downtown intersection at Gardena and Vermont now and then. You can buy excellent sushi on Denker near my Elementary School. The new Hustler Casino has an inexpensive, multicultural menu. For the most part, everyone still gets along.

At 6 am or so this morning, an armed robber entered the Yoshinoya near the corner of Redondo Beach Boulevard and Western Avenue, pistol whipped a female clerk and left with a bag of money. Somebody had hit the alarm and the Gardena Police responded immediately. When the cops saw the crook exit the restaurant with the gun in his hand, they fired their weapons and sent him to hell. The gun turned out to be a replica.

I know that Yoshinoya. I don't think I've ever eaten there. I usually feed at the sushi restaurant next door. But my father told me he once dashed into the place when, while driving nearby, diarrhea overwhelmed him with an irresistible urge to void his bowels. He waved and ran past the clerk and made it to the men's room before the worst happened. However, he confessed to me that he soiled his underwear and had to wash them out in the sink. From that time on, we always referred to Yoshinoya, known famously as "the beef bowl," as "the shit bowl."

If my parents were still alive, I'd call them in Gardena and talk to them about this morning's SHOOTOUT AT THE SHIT BOWL.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday Night in Brentwood - Louise's & Pinkberry

Louise's

We ran out to get an early dinner before the Monday night rush. (Sarcasm intended.) Having enjoyed Kay and Dave's Cantina on Pico, we decided to try their Brentwood location on 26th street, south of San Vicente. We were being seated at a table when we realized the place was so noisy that we couldn't hear ourselves think much less talk. Then, the screaming babies started adding to the cacophony. We got up and went next door to Louise's. Much better. More serene. No screaming babies.

Bread, Wine, Hands



We dove into the bread and wine while we waited for:

House Chopped Salad





the chopped salad (a generous serving, but lacking the salami magic)

Chicken Balsamico




and the Chicken Balsamico (excellent, kind of like an Italian teriyaki).

Firetruck Parks



Afterwards, we watched a firetruck pull out of the red zone across the street, turn around and parallel park into two metered spaces in front of the restaurant. What fun!

Pinkberry BrentwoodWe decided to go in search of the rumored new Pinkberry location in deeper Brentwood. Obviously, we found it. Now, we already eat a lot of plain, non-fat yogurt, so the tartness of the Pinkberry product didn't present a problem. The dessert satisfied, but the mechanical customer service and the lack of chairs on the patio won't be bringing me back. (This is one of those corporate places that you enter and they register your complete order and take your payment before you can even look at the goods. The clerk demanded I chose my three toppings, but I didn't even have a menu to chose from. I guess she thinks everyone is a repeat customer or everyone went through the same Pinkberry product training course that she did.)
Man Feeds Dog Pinkberry

Here's a fellow who so loves Pinkberry that he shares it with his dog. Is that Rudy in L.A.? Watch that spoon!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Alibi Room @ Triplecreme

I visited this place just a few times before it closed down. Nice place. Friendly regulars. A fine dive. It sat closed for some time. Since then, we've friends who have moved into that neighborhood, so I'm ecstatic this place will reopen. I realize it may be a trendy disappointment, but maybe a twist on the neighborhood dive bar, a neo-dive.
The Alibi Room This photo was taken on March 13, 2007 and shows the building in construction. On the Triplecreme site, you will see more recent photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Burger Madness every Tuesday and Thursday in Ocean Park

A few years ago, my longtime minister friend, Bill, told me he was taking me out to lunch at a place that had an incredible burger. We drove up to Rick's Tavern on Main in Ocean Park who offers a "Burger Madness" deal on a 1/2 pound hamburger (beef, turkey or veggie) with waffle-cut fries on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We had an excellent lunch. I chose turkey and Bill chose beef. If you're like me and drinking before 6pm puts you to sleep, you can enjoy the iced tea and they won't look at you funny for not ordering alcohol. As far as Rick's itself, I've been going to that bar since the early 80's when most of my UCLA film school friends lived on Dudley Avenue in Venice and we used to hang out on Main Street when the neighborhood was far from trendy. Then, the Circle Bar was a lovely dump where you feared using the rest room; Chinois was a punk club; the Gap was a disco, and Rick's (called something else back then) had huge wooden booths like the kind you can find at Hollywood's Musso and Frank's. To my disappointment, sometime in the late 80's they pulled out the booths and put in tables. Well, despite the change in decor, the place is still a terrific neighborhood bar and if you show up on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, you might spot me at the bar chowing down on a turkey burger without cheese.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

EL COYOTE: Do you get it or not?

El Coyote Customer on my right
I drove across town to eat lunch at El Coyote today. I sat at the bar and had two scratch margaritas along with a tostada served with fajita chicken. The old guy on my right (see pic above) told me about his life in Larchmont and the dead couple that left their estate to their doctor. The guy on my left (no pic) told me he's lived in the Park LaBrea since the sixties. He runs an ice cream store at Farmer's Market that his grandfather started. He recommended watching the Science channel.

I love El Coyote. There are two types of humans in this city. You either get it or you do not. A third type might be those that don't get it, but pretend to. The food, Californian Mexican diner style, is as kitch as the decor. Get it? (You are eating art and participating in a performance piece.)

Documentary filmmaker and professor Mitchell Block was the first person to take me to El Coyote back in 1978. (He had taken us film students to the cast and crew screening of Piranha at the Director's Guild theatre, which was on Melrose then.) At the restaurant, we sat in the back in a large red vinyl booth and raved about the carnival atmosphere.

All through UCLA Graduate Film school (80-83), we ate religiously at El Coyote as a prelude to double features at the New Beverly Cinema. The food and drink was so affordable you could buy rounds for strangers and we did.

In 85, I moved into the neighborhood. I took up residence at the Cameo apartments on Cochran Avenue just south of 3rd street, three blocks west of La Brea and four blocks away from the entrance to an air conditioned margarita paradise.

Then, I met my wife and we went on our first date to El Coyote. She grew up in the neighborhood and attended Fairfax High. She and her buddy Lisa would pig out there regularly. When we met, we discovered our mutual fondness for the place, so we chose to go there when we scheduled our first date. We sat in the rear west room, which once had a working fireplace. We were seated at a booth with an unstable table, so we switched to another booth. Several margaritas later, we confirmed our suspicions that we were talking to another person from our home planet. When we moved in together a short while later, we elected to stay in the neighborhood and found a larger apartment just two buildings north on Cochran.

Many wonderful evenings were spent at El Coyote with many wonderful people. I particularly enjoyed the rainy Friday nights when the fourth double margarita didn't start to taste too sour.

My friend Steve dined there so regularly that on Friday nights I could have him paged. His wife turned us on to the mexican spaghetti option. At his bachelor party, we smoked a joint at a center table and no one said anything. It was 1987.

In the early nineties, I spent a lot of time hiding out from the heat and reading scripts there. The family matriarch Blanche, dressed in beautiful ornate dresses, would stop by and ask if everything was okay. She was a delightful part of the whole show.

In 93, we moved to Santa Monica and have never found a west-westside alternative to El Coyote. So, we regulary venture back to our old neighborhood and gorge ourselves. My wife meets her best friend there every Thursday night for dinner. (The sour part is that we have to watch how much we drink, so as to safely survive the voyage home to the beach. My wife and I trade off as designated driver.) Anyway, I'm babbling.

El Coyote Cafe sign