The thing I was most worried about when I signed up for the TogetheRide was the fundraising. I hate fundraising. Even when I know it’s for a good cause, I have a very hard time asking people for money. I set my goal at their suggested low end – $3000 – and started riding. When I passed that I didn’t officially change my goal, but I secretly hoped I’d get to $5000.
Yesterday it happened. I’ve now raised five thousand dollars and ninety-five cents. Some of that is me, some of that is matching donations (which is why I threw in money- those had limits on time and available funds), but most of that is you. Thanks for being awesome.
One more thing: I pointed out the “polka-dot neck thing” like it was somehow directly related to TogetheRide. It’s not. It just happened to match the jersey, so I decided that Fate wanted me to wear it.
I can’t believe I forgot to stop at the LaRusso’s apartment. It’s probably the most recognizable location from the movie.
I almost stopped at Mr. Miyagi’s house, but they didn’t shoot the part you see from the street. It just looks like a house surrounded by a wood fence that could use a little “paint fence up down.”
Another thing to notice about Ali’s house: listen to the ambient noise. Down in The Valley everywhere is surrounded by cars. Up in the hills it’s quiet. So quiet that I’m practically using my “library voice.”
If you’re wondering why I didn’t include any Cobra Kai locations, it’s because they shoot most of the show in Georgia. That’s also why I didn’t go to the Golf ‘n’ Stuff, which is not even close to the San Fernando Valley. My guess: the script originally had them go to Castle Park in Sherman Oaks, but it was easier/cheaper to film in Downey. And a trip to Leo Carrillo Beach would have added more than sixty miles and 3000 feet of climb to my ride.
I should do more “SFV as a film location” videos. I could do a bunch just on the movies of Paul Thomas Anderson.
First of all: A big thank you to Jamie, who not only donated but used the tool on the donation page to get matching funds from her employer. Yay Jamie! Also: check out Bionic Disco!
This is mostly about movie theaters in the eighties, so get ready for some Grandpa Simpson storytelling. Of course, I had an onion tied to my belt, as was the style at the time…
A thing that I’m glad didn’t happen at the UA
Katherine and I were supposed to go on our first date there. It was the day after the end of 11th grade, and I asked her to a movie (after she offered to drive me home so I could ask her out, even though I didn’t know that was the plan). The movie I suggested was playing at the UA, but it was sold out. That was a good thing. Here is the actual UA Warner Center newspaper ad for that day. See if you can guess what I thought would be a good first date.
The movie about the old guy who used to dress up like his mother and kill people?
The movie about the car thief who murders a cop then gets his innocent ex-girlfriend involved?
The fantasy space movie sequel that people were saying was the worst in the series without know how good it would look compared to the coming films?
The movie where everyone pretends the creaky old spy dude can still run around, fight squads of trained killers, and have enough energy left over to sleep with women nowhere near his age?
No, it was the movie where a guy in blue tights gets split into a weakling and a drunk by cigarette tar. Superman III, the movie that said “Superman II is just too darn serious.” Be we were lucky: It was sold out, and there was nothing else there we wanted to see (I had ditched school a few weeks earlier to see Return of the Jedi), so we went to the GCC and saw WarGames, a movie about nuclear annihilation that was actual a pretty good first date film.
Before the magic of the Internet, people would check what was playing at a theater one of two ways: They would look in the newspaper for a listing like the one above, or they would call the theater and listen to a tape that listed everything. If you missed part of it, you stayed on the line and it would loop. One day the tape broke, and we ended up answering the phone directly. THIS FREAKED PEOPLE OUT. They wanted a bland recital of movies and times, not a conversation with a human! As soon as they realized interactivity would be involved they would hang up.
My solution: imitate the tape at first. “Hello, and thank you for calling the UA Warner Center Theater, located at 6030 Canoga Avenue, between Oxnard and Erwin Street, behind the El Torito, next to Wickes Furniture. Today in theater one we are proud to present… well, why don’t you just tell me what you’d like to see?”
It didn’t work, and now that opening is forever embedded in my brain.
More Magnetic Tape
Instead of the current style of pre-show commercials, there was a slide show of ads created mostly by local businesses. They had no music, but the theater sound systems were connected to an EIGHT TRACK TAPE PLAYER.
They played music in an endless loop (man what is it with theaters and endless looping tapes?), and by the eighties they were not popular. Very few people owned a player, let alone a recorder.
But Brian owned a recorder.
He had an unspoken mission: Figure out the weirdest sounds he could play without someone complaining. It might be circus music. It might be Yma Sumac. It might be throat singing. I don’t think he ever found something that he had to pull. (When Ty started working at a different theater and continued the mission there, he finally cracked the code: Patrons will complain if you play the soundtrack to “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life,” which repeats whole sections of the movie, before you actually play the movie).
The downside of getting fired to go on a date
Future dates are much more difficult when you have no money.
The upside of getting fired to go on a date
Thanks to a weird and unexpected set of circumstances, losing the job at the theater led me to my first job at a school, which eventually led to me becoming a teacher. So I guess my advice is to be lucky enough to have your screwups lead to better things.
Cold is fine, especially when the sun is out. I can throw on some long sleeves, maybe a set of knee warmers or long pants, and I’ll be plenty warm once I start moving. But the wind? NO. WIND BAD. That means I’ll probably get farther behind in miles until it warms up, which means weird, short videos for a bit.
The Rose Bowl was built in 1922, twenty years after the first “Rose Bowl” game (originally called “The Tournament East-West Game”). Since 1923 only one Rose Bowl game was held somewhere else: in 1942 people were afraid it would be an easy war target, so they moved the game to Duke University in North Carolina. Duke lost the game.
This was the first time I rode around the stadium, and I learned one important thing: go clockwise. If you go clockwise you get to ride on a path around the park; counterclockwise and you end up on the regular road.
The Monkees filming Head.
Lots of movies have been filmed at the Rose Bowl, including mainstream stuff like Yes Man and Cheaper By The Dozen (the 2013 Steve Martin version), but also some odd and/or less remembered stuff, like:
…and twice KIIS-FM’s Wango Tango, which had a ton of muscial acts. My favorite list is the one from 2003 that has Bowling For Soup as the first/headline band and KISS and the last band, below such noted musical luminaries as Jennifer Love Hewitt, O-Town, and Paris Hilton. No shame in that.
So, here’s the story I almost told during the video:
Many years ago when my friend Ty got married, I was one of his groomsmen. We all wore rented tuxedos. But here’s the thing about tuxedo rental shops: they don’t carry every size tuxedo. They have a range of jackets and pants that fit most people. MOST people. The shop we went to (and probably most tuxedo shops) stocked pants with waistbands you could adjust with clips at the waist. The only pants they had hat fit my waist were huge. At the time Tom Bosley (the dad on Happy Days) was kind of a large guy, so I said I had to wear “Tom Bosley pants.”
That was close to 40 years ago, and I believe it’s the last time I wore a tuxedo.
And that’s the whole story. Definitely worth the time you spent reading it.
Also: as the show progressed, Tom Bosley lost quite a bit of weight. I would never have fit in the final pants of Tom Bosley.
This video covers about two weeks of riding: eight or nine rides, depending what you count as a ride. I had planned to show all the rides on one map, but Strava changed their heatmaps and made that difficult. I also don’t want to stick eight or nine rides at the bottom of a post, so if you’re really curious where I rode you’ll have to look at the Strava widget in the sidebar.
Olvera Street, where Los Angeles officially started, was originally called Vine Street because a bunch of Italian winery folk had shops there. Antonio Pelanconi came later and took over Pelanconi House, the building that eventually came to house La Golondrina. I’ve been in some of the spaces not open to the public, and it’s pretty obvious from how they’re constructed that the building has been around a long time- well before current building codes, that’s for sure. Here’s an article about Italians at the Pueblo that became Los Angeles.
The Original Pantry has been open for 97 years. It is Los Angeles Historic/Cultural Monument Number 255. As you might expect, it’s also been used as a film & TV location.
Here it is in Knocked Up. Warning: this scene has one of those swear word things.
I don’t know why I got confused about which version of Psycho filmed at that lot. Hitchcock filmed the original when he was at Universal, which is less than a mile up the street. A couple of years ago the current dealer held a screening right before Halloween.
Look how close it is to Universal!
That sheepskin seat cover place really was a bit of a miracle. I have no idea what arcane magic they used to keep it open so long.
I can’t believe that I talked about different artists who drew Batman but didn’t mention Neal Adams, the comic artist legend who now runs a comic shop within a couple of miles of the statue.
I haven’t been to his shop yet, but that’s only because COVID is keeping me out of all non-essential stores. Get your shots, people!
Also shot at Johnie’s: the “I can get you a toe” scene from Big Lebowski.
The May Company Building (which, in spite of my failing brain’s insistence otherwise, never had anything to do with Bullocks) is Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument number 566. It’s been used as an exhibition space for LACMA, but hasn’t yet opened as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum. They’re still hoping to open in December. I hope so, too. Get your shots, people!
I didn’t realize until I wrote the title of this post how silly it is to pair a history lesson with a guy from the band that sang “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.”
If you’d like to see more about the Battle of Providencia, this guy has created a 20 minute video (with actors and sets and stuff!):
Hollywood Forever really is an amazing place to explore. Tons of old school famous people are buried there. There are amazing headstones and memorials, but there are also simple markers made with pipes. Not fancy pipes; regular plumbing pipes. I’ve taken a few pictures there over the years. Here’s a set of them.
Today I saw a marker for someone I hadn’t noticed before: Holly Woodlawn.
First, let me clear something up: For the most part I wasn’t an awful person in high school; I was mostly just an awful student.
Second: These are stories as I remember them, not deep dive researched facts. I reserve the right to get things wrong, to leave things out, and to contradict myself. I contain multitudes.
I wasn’t supposed to go to El Camino Real High School; I lived in Canoga Park, and my house was in the borders for Canoga High. But I wanted to go to ECR because they had a better drama department, and I wanted to be an actor (with about the same level of realistic planning as a five year old has when they want to be an astronaut who fights fires, and is also a video game champion).
The problem: LAUSD requires you to have a reason to transfer, and in the days before charter schools “I MUST SHARE MY GIFT OF ACTING WITH THE WORLD” wasn’t a good enough reason. So my folks and I found another way: a gifted transfer. I used a dubious gifted test from elementary school as an excuse to get back into the gifted program, and that was only offered locally at ECR. After a year of skating through the gifted program I returned to regular classes, where I thrived (or just continued skating at the new, easier level).
The “become an actor” plan didn’t pan out, but I did meet Katherine at ECR, and that was better. If you’d like to know how that story goes, you can read my ancient short stories I wrote for an English class when I finally decided to properly go to college instead of skipping classes and hiding in bookstores. That’s right, even my wild college escapades were boring.