Any resemblance between the opening of this video and the credits from a seventies TV show about an Amazon superhero are purely coincidental.
I don’t have an online collection of the exact set of pictures from the art exhibition I participated in, but some of them are in this set. The theme of the show was “Heartbreak,” and it was tied to a poetry collection. There was a ton of cool art and a live poetry reading. The worst poem of the night: My terrible haiku. A total “no honey, yours is beautiful in its own special way” moment.
Galco was one of the places we bought the drinks for our wedding. We had dozens of different crazy drinks, including Radar O’Reilly’s favorite: Grape Nehi.
Handy Market is an old-school grocery store with a big meat counter in the back. On weekends they fire up a big smoker in the parking lot and people line up for hunks of meat.
Okay, folks: you should go donate now. The Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation will be very grateful. http://tofighthiv.org/goto/ga2so
If you live in San Francisco (or as the locals call it, “Sani DiFranco”) you know the signs for the 49 Mile Scenic Drive, but you’ve probably never done it.
Everyone enjoys a paraphrased Wikipedia page
The first scenic drive didn’t have an official name. It was a car tour of the city set up for FDR. After that the San Francisco Down Town Association came up with a 50 mile drive, but that quickly switched to the current 49 Mile Scenic Drive name. Why 49? To link it to the Forty-Niners.
Just make it more confusing, the 49-instead-of-50 Mile Scenic Drive is 46.9 miles long, because that’s the approximate square mileage of the city, and everyone enjoys a casual link between measurements of distance and area.
The original 49 mile route looked like this:
It started at City Hall, but ended at Treasure Island for the Golden Gate International Exhibition. When the exhibition closed in 1940 and the navy took over Treasure Island, the drive was rerouted to end where it started. It’s been modified a few times since then.
The original signs marking the route were pretty plain. The seagull design showed up in the fifties. If you’re planning to navigate the path purely by following the signs, good luck- they get stolen a lot.
City Hall was completed in 1899, after nearly thirty years of planning and construction. Eight years later, it was destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake. That’s not a great ratio of construction to function. They should have waited to build it until after they decided to have the quake. Poor planning, really. The current City Hall was designed and built by 1915 so it could be ready for the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition.
If you’d been there in January 1954, you might have seen Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio stopping by to get married.
And if you were there in fictional 1936, you might have seen Indiana Jones hanging around with Marion Ravenwood.
Forget it, Jake. This is a different Chinatown.
When Grant Avenue was still Dupont Street, it was not exactly a fun tourist location, unless you were really into opium dens, brothels, and Tong Wars. After the 1906 earthquake it was rebuilt and renamed after Ulysses S. Grant.
Chinatown is the setting of the 1986 Kurt Russell action-fantasy movie Big Trouble in Little China. The biggest fantasy of the film? Someone driving a big rig through Chinatown.
The most important thing about Fisherman’s Wharf is that it was where James Bond met CIA agent Chuck Lee in the 1985 smash hit film A VIEW TO A KILL!
Okay, this post is getting long, and I’d like to get it posted before I die, so I’m going to stop for now. Maybe I’ll do a Part II later. Don’t bet the ranch on that.
Every semester I tell my students the same thing: “I want you to fail.” Then I explain that I don’t mean that I want them to always fail. What I hope is that they will try things they don’t know how to do, things they might not have any idea how to accomplish. If they do that, they are pretty much guaranteed to not always succeed. But they will learn how to accept and deal with things going wrong. This is an important skill. Things always go wrong, and failure is normal. And they’ll learn some things that don’t work, so the next time they try to do a similar project they’ll already have made progress toward the solution.
Another thing: my students often get frustrated when things don’t work and abandon projects without turning in their attempts. I always tell them to turn in their challenging projects, even if they are incomplete. The failures are important. Something that a student labored over and could not get to work is much more impressive than something a student knocked out without a struggle.
Now I’m staring at a personal failure. Even worse: because the challenge goes until June 30th, t won’t officially be a failure for three weeks. I technically could still do the final 1400 or so miles, if I rode around 65 miles a day, every day until the end of the month.
That’s not going to happen.
So: failure is coming. What am I learning? What benefits were there? What skills did I get for other projects?
I learned that I can raise money for a good cause, a valuable skill. I learned that if I set a goal for a project I should build in more time to work on it than I think I’ll need to complete it. I definitely got better at riding, particularly hills. And I reconfirmed my knowledge that people are awesome. My failure is the foundation of my next success.
Man, I’m deep.
Now, the donuts…
Donut Time was the location of Tangerine, a film by Sean Baker. It was shot completely on iPhones. It received a ton of awards and nominations. I’ve never watched it, and I’m not sure why. Baker’s follow-up, The Florida Project, was probably my favorite film of 2017.
I never had a donut from Donut Time, and I’ve never had one from Magee’s. I’ve had Trejo’s, but it was near closing time when I went and the donuts weren’t fresh, so I can’t accurately judge them.
…and the ice cream
I’m not surprised that I couldn’t get ice cream at the drive through. Most places won’t serve a bike, even though they’ll serve a motorcycle. However, I was a bit surprised that I could bring my bike into the store, even though it’s no dirtier than walking. I’m guessing if it had been crowded I would have had more resistance, but there were only two other people in the giant store.
I did have one tiny issue with the school being named after her. There are three middle schools in Burbank, and they we’re all originally named after naturalists; the other two are John Muir and Luther Burbank. It would have been cool if they could have found another naturalist for the new name. But as I said this is a tiny issue, roughly on the level of “you gave me this awesome mansion but this one closet still has some stuff hanging in it.”
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.