Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ has been in the same spot in Panorama City since they opened in 1969. They’d probably be huge if they were in a more accessible part of the Valley, but they can’t (easily) move because they wouldn’t be able to get a permit elsewhere for a barbeque pit.
Dr. Hogly Wogly was an actual person. “Doc” Johnny Greene was a pharmacist from Tyler who worked for Piggly Wiggly, a Southern supermarket chain. He was a big guy, so they called him Hogly Wogly.
Seriously, you want to get the brisket.
There are actually TWO museums dedicated to the San Fernando Valley. Valley Relics was founded in 2013 by Tommy Gelinas, and it’s his personal attempt to collect as much of the pop culture of the San Fernando Valley possible. It’s a little loose about what constitutes “The Valley.” It’s more like “mostly from the Valley, but if there’s somewhere close that Valley kids used to visit we’ll take stuff from there, too.” When a business with a distinct sign closes, they try to swoop in and grab it before it disappears. I hope they got the sign from Four ‘N 20, the place where I used to get banana fudge pie. I miss you, banana fudge pie.
The other museum has the much more formal title of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley. It was founded in 2005 at Los Angeles Valley College. With the more formal title comes more formal exhibits. Lots of photographs and carefully researched articles, very few physical bits of pop culture from the past. It’s also been around about eight years longer.
Legends of the Fall
I fell on my bike. It was dumb. I wasn’t going fast. I was on a bit of dirt, but it was hard packed. I should have been fine, but instead decided to tear up my knee and forearm, and apparently thrash my back as well. That’s okay- it’s not like I’m planning to ride 230 miles a week or something.
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.
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.
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 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.
People. PEOPLE. Thanks to the donations you’ve given, at this point I’ve had three dollars donated for every mile I traveled! THAT IS OUTSTANDING. Thank you! It would be AMAZING if that trend continued. Share and make it happen, because YOU ARE AWESOME.
Next, The Hopefully Interesting Ramble
It’s probably hard to tell, but I sometimes do a bit of research before I go out on a ride so I can have some ideas for things to talk about; that’s how I knew about the Tataviam Tribe and Charles Maclay. It started with a 1923 map of the San Fernando Valley from the Library of Congress.
Lots of changes in the last 100 years. One of them is that green box around streets in the Northeast corner of The Valley.
The largest thin in the bost is the name Maclay. It’s the street name, but it’s larger than the other streets in the area, so I searched for it and found this article:
That’s a little heavier than I usually like to go in these videos, but I’m always interested in finding out the history of The Valley. So in it went.
The Oviatt Library was different. I already knew about the filming at CSUN, and I knew where I could find those clips, so I didn’t look it up ahead of time. When I got home I realized I’d been going to that library for over 30 years and I had no idea who it was named after, and thought I might find a History Fun Fact or two that I could throw into the edit.
Mom didn’t just teach 36.6 miles away for twenty years. For most of that time, she taught first grade. I’ve taught first grade; it’s hard. Kids aren’t used to longer school days, and the sheer number of different subject (and amount of information students are supposed to learn in each of them) is overwhelming. Add to that teaching kids for whom English is often a second language and the pressure skyrockets. I don’t think I could have done it. Go mom! You rock.
The Thanks and The Asking (slight return)
This is probably my last TogetheRide post of 2020. It has been thrilling and inspiring to see people give so much during this wacky, difficult year. Let’s all have a 2021 with more of the inspiration and less of the difficulty. A year that lets us actually see each other’s faces! And enter the “Tell Me Where To Go” contest!
You might have watched that and thought “How the heck did he find four wicker pop culture references?” Well, I’ve got news for you: I barely scratched the surface of the world of wicker. Vox did a whole video on the pop history of a wicker chair.
Donut King II is not the most famous giant donut on a building in Los Angeles (that would be Randy’s by LAX) but it’s a very similar giant donut on a building. A very different option for giant donut is the donut hole, where you actually drive through the donut. Read some donut words here!
Too much monkey business
If you’ve never seen “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp,” you are about to experience…something. The pitch meeting must have been amazing. “Okay, here’s the idea: You know how people loved that talking horse show? That was just one animal! What if we did a show where everyone is a talking monkey? And the main character has a Humphrey Bogart voice? And there’s a monkey band- not The Monkees, but actual monkeys? This thing is gonna be HUGE!“