Monday, December 27, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

A few nights ago I went to dinner at the new Capitol Grille in the Beverly Center. (They took over -- and radically changed -- the old Hard Rock Cafe space.)

This is the 42nd edition of the Capitol Grille nationwide and the first one on the West Coast. I've been to two others -- Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

I was underwhelmed with the Los Angeles branch.

There was nothing "terrible" about the place, it's just that there wasn't anything "special" about it either. It seemed like a high-end assembly line restaurant that's way over priced.

I can't imagine that I'll ever go back again.
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Well, If James Franco's Grandma Says So....

Who Says They Hate Dressing Up?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not Washing That Man Right Out of Her Hair

Last night I went to the Paley Center for the Media in Beverly Hills for a tribute to Bing Crosby.

The program featured a new documentary about Bing and Kathryn Crosby's trip to Argentina in 1970 followed by a panel discussion featuring friends and family of Bing Crosby sharing their memories inter spliced with film and TV clips of Mr. Crosby.

The documentary was fascinating. In 1970 the Crosbys went to Buenos Aires on vacation. A local TV host basically stalked and convinced the Crosbys to come on his show their last night in Argentina. On Channel 13's Saturday Circle show, both Bing and Kathryn Crosby sang and answered some wildly inappropriate questions like "what time do you go to bed?" and "which side of the bed does Bing sleep on?"

I don't know how Bing -- the consummate professional -- kept his cool through the whole thing, but he sure did. And, amazingly, during most of the show he demonstrated nearly perfect Spanish (except when it was in his interest not to "understand").

Mitzi Gaynor was, without a doubt, the star of the panel discussion. She knows how to command a stage, get a laugh, draw a tear and command the spotlight.
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After the program was over I had a chance to visit briefly with famous producer AC Lyles.

Mr. Lyles has worked for Paramount since 1928, when he started working at a Paramount Theater in Florida. To this day he has an office on the Paramount Lot.

I reminded Mr. Lyles I'd met him at the White House in 1985 when he came to visit his friend, President Reagan. I was interning in the President's scheduling office and I remember how charming and dignified he was. Last night Mr. Lyles said, "I remember your face."

I don't think it was true at all, but what a terrific line. I think I'm going to start using it.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

One Night Only

Monday night I went to Glendale's gorgeous Alex Theater to see the Musical Theater Guild's production of "Hello Again" by Michael John LaChiusa.

Boy, the cast was talented but I was disappointed by the material (based on the structure of the 1897 play "La Ronde").

A few years ago I saw LaChiusa's new musical "The Wild Party" and was thrilled by it. So maybe my expectations going in were high.

The Musical Theater Guild utilizes a pretty interesting format -- they rehearse a show for only 25 hours and then perform it "one night only."

So I guess they aren't reliant on word of mouth to move tickets.
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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Politics as Theater

I enjoyed myself last night at the Cornerstone Theater Company's production of "Making Paradise: The West Hollywood Musical" at Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park in West Hollywood.

It's hard to imagine the topic of incorporating a city would make for an interesting musical but they pull it off with this tale of how a portion of unincorporated Los Angeles County became the City of West Hollywood 25 years ago. (It's sort of a local version of the musical "1776.")

Yes, the audience actually tapped its toes to a song about a report by the Local Agency Formation Commission on local revenues the new city would generate.

Pushed by an alliance of rent-control supporters, gay-rights advocates and Jewish Russian immigrants, West Hollywood citihood certainly had a colorful start. And much of that start took place in Fiesta Hall, where the musical is playing. (It was fun watching the scene where they argued over how to set the chairs for a community meeting -- in a row facing a podium vs. in a circle -- in the room where the actual argument took place.)

I thought Ivy Bottini (a real-life 84-year old community activist) stole the show as a maniacal Chamber of Commerce member determined to stop citihood by creating "chaos."

My only quibble with the show is the final scene where activists gathered around a TV to watch the election returns to see if citihood passed. Sorry -- not realistic. There was a bigger news story on November 6, 1984 -- President Reagan's re-election. In 1984 the way a small campaign would have gotten real-time results was to send a representative to the City of Commerce where the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters was counting the votes. Then, using a payphone, the representative would call with the results. (But it's a musical so I guess some theatrical license is OK.)

And while many in the audience may have marvelled at the "long-ago" events in Fiesta Hall, the last time I was in Fiesta Hall before last night was even further in the past, in 1979 or 1980, when I took first place in the Native Sons of the Golden West Speech Contest.

But, as Jackie Steinman warned me Tuesday night when I was telling old campaign stories, I'm starting to sound like I'm "a thousand years old."
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Election Night

I had a fun visit to Sacramento to watch the Election returns come in. Winning makes it a lot easier to have a good time.
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The War Room -- aka as a conference room where everyone plugged in to get the latest results.
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Celebrating late into the night on the patio at Gallagher's after the results were in.
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Several folks had a late breakfast Wednesday at the Fox & Goose in Sacramento. It's a British-themed place with a huge menu located in some sort of repurposed industrial location.
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Monday, November 01, 2010

Final Radio Alert

I'll be on Rick Amato's show on KCBQ - AM tonight at 10:05 p.m.  If you're in the San Diego area you can listen at 1170 AM or you can listen on-line here:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On the Campaign Trail

As is appropriate for the last full week of the campaign, I spent most of last week on the road. Here's a snapshot of downtown Chico.
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Driving from Chico to the Central Coast I went through the Pacheco Pass and made my traditional stop at Casa de Fruta.
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Peacock at Casa de Fruta.
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Ducks at Casa de Fruta.
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Tuesday night I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurant's in California -- Rosine's in downtown Monterey. Great food and wonderful desserts. They didn't disappoint on this trip.
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This is the National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to go inside.
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This is the Old Town section of Salinas. The restaurant with the blue awning advertises that John Steinbeck ate there.
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On Wednesday I needed to drive between Salinas and San Luis Obispo so I decided to take the scenic route along the coast. It was the first time I'd ever taken Hwy. 1 through Big Sur. Absolutely stunning! I stopped off at the gorgeous Ventana Inn for lunch. This was my view of the ocean from my table on the patio.
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Driving south I stopped off to look at some Elephant Seals sunning themselves on the beach directly below Hearst Castle. The area is fenced off to keep people from interfering with the critters.
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Wednesday night I had dinner at the completely over the top Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. This place is always something to see, but it's the excellent kitchen that keeps bringing me back.
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Thursday I had an excellent lunch at the terrific and historic Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, just a few miles west of Santa Maria.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

More Radio Fun

I'll be on KOGO (600 AM) in San Diego tonight (Monday) at 7:30 p.m.  If you want to listen on-line here's the link:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Radio Rescheduling

My appearance this afternoon on Andy Caldwell's show on KUHL-AM has been rescheduled to Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

Be sure to listen in then.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirty Minute Quickie

I had a lot of fun Tuesday as a guest on Larry Mantle's show on KPCC-FM debating Proposition 24.

I've been on his show before and Larry is always very fair in moderating debates. And it's still amazing how quickly thirty minutes on the air goes by.

On Friday at 3 p.m. I'll be a guest on Andy Caldwell's show on KUHL-AM (1440) in Santa Maria. If you're not on the Central Coast you can listen in on-line here:

Call and say hello and ask me a question!
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This was my first time at KPCC's new studio in Pasadena. For decades they were housed on-campus at Pasadena City College.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Talk to Me!

On Wednesday morning, October 20 at 8:10 a.m. (PT) I'll be debating Proposition 24 on Berkeley's Pacifica radio station -- KPFA - FM.  You can listen in here:

And if you missed this morning debate on KPCC-FM (where were you?) you can listen to it here:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Radio Alert!

I'm doing a couple of radio shows on Tuesday, October 19.  Please listen in and call in and say hello.

10:30 a.m.

7:40 p.m.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good Recommendation!

A couple of months ago Dana Reed suggested I check out Cafe 222 near the Gaslamp District in San Diego.

I didn't have a chance to go there until last week, but what a great find!

Open primarily for breakfast, Cafe 222 serves terrific food in a bright and sunny location.

Thanks, Dana!
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

I was in the State Capitol last week and, for the first time, had a chance to see the grizzly bear statue Governor Schwarzenegger has installed in front of the doors to his office.

What a hideous piece of tacky trash! Please return it to the Mammoth Lakes souvenir shop where it belongs.
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Radio Booking

I'll be on KNWS-FM (94.3) in Palm Springs on Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. discussing Proposition 24. If you're not in the Coachella Valley you can listen via

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Guaranteed Good Time

Friday night I went as a guest of Reed & Davidson's to see John Williams conduct at the Hollywood Bowl. The night was a little chillier than I had expected but there's really no way to have a bad time at the Hollywood Bowl -- especially if you're sitting in a box and have valet parking.
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