Monday, July 27, 2009

It's More Than Just a Hat

"Crowns" is a new show at the Pasadena Playhouse that uses the elaborate hats African-American women often wear to church as a stepping-off point to explore the issues surrounding religion, family and identity.

Given the topic I was expecting some really great gospel music and vibrant characters. At times "Crowns" hits the mark but more often than not it misses.

The cast (6 women and 1 man) is very talented but I'm afraid the playwright, Regina Taylor, didn't give them much to do.

The show certainly has it's touching and it's funny moments but it left me thinking it's potential was unfulfilled.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009


Despite property values tanking, the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor hasn't seen fit to lower the assessed value of my condo. So I've decided to file an appeal with the Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board.

On Wednesday I went to a free seminar in Van Nuys held by the Appeals Board to help taxpayers understand the appeals process. In a sign of the times, the room was packed. And what a random assortment of people! And when did I become one of them?

I was actually impressed with how the representative of the Appeals Board managed the seminar. In order to get through her presentation she explained at the beginning that she wouldn't take questions until she was finished. And she stuck to her guns! No matter what anyone did she would wave them off with a very pleasant "no questions now, questions later." And when she was done instead of randomly taking questions she went person by person, row by row, from front to back allowing each person to ask whatever they wanted. Given the wide range of understand about property taxes in the room her tight control was the only way to manage the mob. And I think most of us appreciated the discipline.

When it was my turn I asked about timing. "I mailed my application for an appeal on July 6. When can I expect to hear back and when can I expect a hearing?"

I learned 106,000 property owners filed an appeal within the first three weeks of July (July 1 was when they started taking appeal applications for the year) so it's not like I have to worry about a hearing interrupting any vacation in August.
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Less than a year after being torn down to the ground, my nearby country village store -- the West Hollywood Pavillions -- reopened yesterday. What a beautiful transformation! It's no Draeger's in San Mateo (the most gorgeous grocery store I've ever been in), but it now is the beautiful, large modern store the neighborhood has long needed.

I bumped into my friend, Dave, who seemed tickled to already be on his second visit to Pavillions, having been there the night before during their "preview."

I doubt everything will be on sale for long like it was yesterday -- but it's fun while it lasts.
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As one would expect at a Grand Opening, the store was slammed. But I thought they did a good job of managing the crowds.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hoot and Holler

Friday night I was fortunate enough to sit in the Reed and Davidson box at the Hollywood Bowl to see Faith Hill perform.

I knew I'd enjoy the company, but I'm not a country-western fan so I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy Hill.

Turns out I enjoyed it very much. Her singing is almost as much pop as it is C-W, even if she's from Star, Mississippi.

I was surprised when Hill said Friday night's concert was her first performance since the Obama Inauguration. I wonder what she's been doing for the last six months?
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Why does everything always have to change?

Duke's Coffee Shop, on the Sunset Strip, is one of my longtime favorite stops. It's been run by the same family for decades and hasn't changed a lick in the twenty-odd years I've been going there.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving on Sunset Boulevard and saw their windows papered over. I feared they had become a victim of the economy.

But a few days later I saw the paper had come down and they were still open. I walked in and noticed the place had been re-modeled (very orange now). I knew this wasn't a god sign.

Then I saw the "new" menu -- which is basically the same choices but with higher prices. Come to find out Duke's had been sold and was operating under new ownership. They're open until 2 a.m. now, something the old lady who used to own the place would never allow. "I don't want those drunk kids from the Whiskey-a-go-go in here," she once told me.

The food's not as good anymore and the prices are a lot higher and the bloom is off the rose. So sad.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Going Down Hill

Saturday night I went to see the musical "Altar Boyz" at the Celebration Theater in West Hollywood.

I saw the original cracker jack off-Broadway production of this show at the Dodger Stages in New York City a few years ago and was a little worried about how this production would fare at the much smaller Celebration.

Good news: though it's not at glitzy as the NYC-incarnation, this West Coast production is still lots of fun. Basically the show is a spoof on the Christian Boy Band craze that hit the music scene a few years ago.

With a talented cast of good singers and dancers (and an on-stage band) it's a show well worth seeing.
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Last week Rochelle and I had a late-breakfast/early lunch at Jack 'n Jill's in Santa Monica. By the time we were ready to leave the tiny place was really filling up with the lunch crowd.

The food -- basic American fare -- was excellent. And though I didn't sample any of it, the items in the bakery counter -- like cookies and cupcakes -- looked really enticing.
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Friday, July 03, 2009

Stone-Hearted Hack

OK, I admit it -- I've been a bad blogger for the past few days. I just wasn't motivated to post anything. And that's the truth.

Last Saturday night I went to see "Farragut North" starring Chris Pine and Chris Noth at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. Despite my hesitation over anything produced at the Geffen I was excited about this play because it's political -- set in a Presidential campaign in the midst of the Iowa Caucuses.

What a huge disappointment! How does a playwright like Beau Willimon take the colorful characters that make up a campaign staff and make them so darn boring? And Chris Noth (who also starred in the play in NYC) is absolutely awful, grimacing his way through his performance!

One wag told me he thought I didn't like the play because I "disagreed with their campaign strategy." Well, the only "strategy" I heard in the play was to "hire some field staff to pump up the GOTV." That's pretty hard to argue with and it's also really elemental. Just because you can string together some political-sounding words does not an interesting show make.

When I lived in Washington, DC (1985-89) I used to use the Farragut North Metro stop all the time. Even that little piece of nostalgia wasn't enough to save this turkey.
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Last Friday I had regular service performed on my car at Galpin Ford -- the No. 1 volume Ford dealership in America. It's also the only car dealership I know of that has its own restaurant. I like going there because I can drop my car off in the morning, have breakfast in the restaurant (which is pretty good) and by the time I'm done the car is usually finished too. And they wash the car, which is a nice touch.
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Would someone please explain this to me! LAPD officers -- complete with black cowboy hats -- arrest a suspect near Seventh and Alvarado, one of the most densely populated areas of any city in America. Why in the world are they on horseback? It's certainly NOT so they can blend into their urban surroundings. Maybe with all the budget cuts the LAPD can't afford enough patrol cars anymore.
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