Monday, December 21, 2009


Geezbob, Rui and I went to Lawry's Sunday night to have our traditional Christmas dinner. The earliest reservation we could get was 9 p.m. But since Lawry's has a policy of only taking reservations for half of their tables and holding the other half for walk-ins we decided to meet there at 6 p.m. in hopes of eating much earlier.

That's when we found out Lawry's doesn't hold half the tables for walk-ins anymore. According to the hostess, since their business is down due to the Recession they've been making all of their tables available for reservations. (I wonder if they made this change when they became part of the Open Table reservation system.)

So we waited for an hour and when it was clear we were nowhere near being seated we decided to take action. We crossed La Cienega Boulevard and had dinner at Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian-style Churrascaria directly across the street.

This all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse has a large salad bar and waiters bring different cuts of meat to your table.

I'd been to a Churrascaria in Rio de Janeiro and was anxious to repeat the experience in America. I really enjoyed the one in Ipanema but was a little intimidated by the experience. In Brazil there was a language barrier and I couldn't be sure exactly what kind of meat I was being offered. I liked them all and was worried that one of my "favorites" might turn out to be a critter I'd prefer not to eat.

Well, it turns out the Beverly Hills Churrascaria was so loud, the waiters were so harried and spoke with such an accent I couldn't really tell which meat was what there either.

But it was all good even if it was ridiculously over-priced.
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The waiters run around with meat on giant skewers. As long as your red/green card is green they stop at your table and offer to slice some off for you.

It's cute for the first few minutes. After a while it gets annoying. Especially since the table are so close together the waiters (and their giant knives) have to shimmy pretty close to you to get by.
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Latino theater troupe Culture Clash has a new show at the Mark Taper Forum -- "Palestine, New Mexico." I saw it on Saturday night and though I've enjoyed several of their other shows, this one didn't click for me.

Traveling between Afghanistan and a New Mexico Indian Reservation, this show explores "clans" and the role they play in war and peace.

Interesting stuff, but the inclusion of stupid, slapstick comedy ruined the evening for me. It wasn't funny and it spoiled the look at serious issues.
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Friday night I went to the Renberg Theatre to see Leslie Jordan's latest one-man show, "Full of Gin and Regret."

There's no better story-teller out there than Jordan. From his adventures in Hollywood to his childhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jordan had them rolling in the aisles. He can hit a punchline but I think it's his voice and delivery that makes him so entertaining.
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I spent most of last Tuesday in Pomona just outside of the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The weather was gorgeous and the snow atop the San Gabriel Mountains was beautiful.

I haven't been to the L.A. County Fair since I was a kid. Each year in September I see the advertising for the Fair and I think, "I should go," but I never get around to it.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Whole Lot, Fool

As we get ready to close another decade, can I go on record regarding how much I miss the 70s?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where's the Razzle Dazzle?

Stopped by the L.A. Auto Show at the Convention Center last night. What a disappointment!

Compared to three years ago (the last Auto Show I went to) this year's edition was a complete snoozefest. Lackluster displays and hardly any "wow" at all.

I know we're in a recession and everything but if even the people trying to sell cars are going to phone it in then how can there be any hope for a recovery?

Here's how pathetic it was: Ford's big attention getting device was a magician doing card tricks. The 1950s is calling -- it wants its hype back.
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The General Motors section of the exhibit was particularly plain. But I guess that's not surprising given the circumstances.
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hello Gorgeous

There's no spot more beautiful than Southern California the day AFTER it rains. Blue skies, blue ocean, green hills -- it just doesn't get any better than that.

I spent this afternoon on the Palos Verdes Peninsula at the southern end of the Santa Monica Bay. This photo is from Palos Verdes Estates looking towards Malaga Cove and the Pacific Ocean. You can even see Catalina Island in the distance.
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Had dinner Sunday night at Victor's Coffee Shop in Hollywood.

I don't know if it's true or not but this place has the reputation of being owned by the mob.

If it is then it shows even the mob isn't immune from the economic downtown. 7:30 p.m. and you could shoot a cannon through the place (though the family prefers you not).
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shocking Discovery!

How in the world did it get to be December already?

Hotels across America are putting up Christmas trees in their lobbies (this pretty one is in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel in Torrance).

Where did this year go? Heck, where has this decade gone? I'm still freaked out about Y2K.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can think of no better way to wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy Thanksgiving than with a little "Turkey in the Straw."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Standing Tall

Last Saturday night I went to see the West Coast Ensemble production of Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women" at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood.

This show always reminds me of Marian Seldes, who I saw perform in it twice. The first time was in 1994 at the Promenade Theater in New York City when Seldes played "B," the middle-aged woman in the play.

In 1996 she was back at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles, this time as "A," the oldest of the three women.

Whichever role Seldes played became the lead role, as far as I was concerned.

At the El Centro, the performances were more balanced but Eve Sigall, as "A," really was captivating. She has this smile that just makes you want to huddle at her feet and hear her tell stories.

Of course, Albee's rumination on aging really stands the test of time and is worth seeing no matter the scale of the production.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Winner! Winner! Turkey Dinner!

Made a presentation last night in Lomita and afterwards headed over to the Claim Jumper in Torrance for dinner. A couple of weeks ago I had dinner at a different Claim Jumper and they gave me a prize card that could only be opened upon my next visit to a Claim Jumper.

When they opened the card last night I had won a free entree. Their portions are huge so not only did I have a free dinner last night, I had the leftovers -- for free -- tonight.
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I spent Thursday night and Friday in Ventura. My hotel room had a nice view of the Ventura Harbor (if you block out the parking lot).
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After my early-morning presentation Friday I had breakfast at the 50s-themed Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Ventura. This place has been around a long time -- at least since 1989 when I lived in Ventura (briefly) to run a City Council campaign.
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I like this Fresh Produce Farm Stand in Ventura. So close to the city yet still in the country.
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Monday I had lunch with Rochelle at the new Thyme Cafe in Santa Monica. It's a complete rip-off of the delicious Huckleberry Cafe -- but it's cheaper and the parking is a lot easier. Seems like a winning combination to me.
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Saturday night I went to the Pasadena Playhouse to see the musical, "Baby It's You," featuring the music of the Shirelles.

The show features lots of great early 60s music, but the focus is on Florence Greenberg, a New Jersey real-life housewife who turned herself into a record executive and discovered the Shirelles.

Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed by this show. The music was OK, but the book was like an express train through several lives. None of the characters were really developed and we never saw below the surface.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Green Family Memories

Yesterday would have been Grandmother Green's 99th birthday -- so how great was it that I got to spend most of the day in San Pedro and Long Beach (along with Wilmington, the lands of my people).
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For many years (decades?) Grandfather Green worked in this building as a janitor. Back then it was the headquarters of the General Telephone Company (now Verizon) and the building wasn't as modern looking.

I remember riding with Grandmother Green to pick him up after his shift was over. Grandfather Green didn't drive.
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When I was a kid, this part of Long Beach was "The Pike" -- a seaside entertainment zone, sort of a poor-man's Coney Island. Originally it was built to extract money from sailors and others working in the Port of Long Beach.

It was the sort of place Walt Disney must have been thinking about when he said he wanted Disneyland to be the opposite of the amusement parks that existed when the Magic Kingdom opened its gate in the 50s.

Grandmother Green used to take me there all the time. I was too chicken to ride the roller coaster but I always enjoyed the dark rides like the Haunted House. (In the 70s they discovered one of the "bodies" that popped out as you rode through the Haunted House really was a dead mummified body. True story.)

I'm sure if I could travel back in time I'd be shocked by The Pike. No doubt it was filled with tattoo parlors, bars and sketchy characters aplenty. All I remember is that I loved it there and I resent the redevelopment that has taken its place today.
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

I Needa Napa

I spent most of the day on Friday in my hotel room in Napa, working. But I managed to sneak out at the end of the day and walk around a little bit.

I knew I had overstayed my 4 p.m. late check-out when there was a knock on my door at 4:02 p.m. and the Front Desk Manager asked, with a smile, "May we assist you with your luggage?"

Truth is I was nearly ready to go but at 3:59 p.m. I got that call I'd been waiting for all day -- of course.
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I had a great burger at Taylor's Automatic Refresher. It's not cheap, but the food sure is good. I've now been to all three of their locations -- St. Helena, San Francisco and Napa.
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I walked around the very hip Oxbow Public Market. It seemed like a precursor to the recently opened market in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
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My Napa hotel -- the Westin -- was directly across from the station used by the Wine Train. Precisely at 11:30 a.m. I watched it pull out of the station from my hotel room.
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At 2:30 p.m., with lunch over, the train returned to the station facing the opposite direction. I wonder how it turned around?
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