50 Days to 50 Years: Day 17, Craft Burgers at Morrison with Bob McNelis

15 07 2016

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis


You’ve heard the phrase, “The family that prays together stays together.” Well I believe, “The friends that sing together become lifelong friends.”

Lynn and I met Bob as part of the worship team at the Congregational Church of Northridge, and we all sang together the better part of the 8 years that we attended. Bob is a mellifluous tenor that I loved harmonizing with. He has an equally delightful laugh; and as you can see, we do that a lot when we get together, and it always serves to brighten my day.

Bob is a gem of a human being. Mostly raised in the South, he has the sensibilities of a southern gentleman. He also has a deeply compassionate heart, and truly cares for people. In a multitude of ways, he has been a true friend to Lynn and me.

Bob is also a talented actor. Brent Spiner, “Data” of Star Trek The Next Generation  is his doppelganger. If Brent’s name was still household, he could probably milk it, especially in this age of social media… but that’s not Bob’s style.

Bob is also a gifted conversationalist. We talk about everything from politics, to pop culture, to books, psychology, to film and television. He is a genuine listener, who truly looks for insight and ideas from others, not just ways to refute your opinion if he feels it is wrong. This makes him a pleasant presence to be around, especially with more bombastic types.

So of course, there could be no way that I could celebrate the people who have shaped and transformed my life without including Bob. And in his always-game-for-an-adventure fashion, he came along for the ride.

Morrison is a fairly new local haunt in Atwater Village, and I just love it. Not only is the food the bomb diggy, but the drinks are top shelf. They have a $6.00 Happy Hour which I have frequented more than a few times; so it seemed the perfect place to spend a Friday afternoon.

For the second day in a row I ordered a Classic Burger with all the fixings (eggs and all), and we shared Cheese Fries with Bacon Jam (Hello!). And it wouldn’t be a visit to Morrison without ordering my favorite Moscow Mule. Bob ordered a Filet Mignon Burger and a diet coke. All types of ironies with that one, but we’ll leave it at that.

We decided to split a Key Lime Pie for dessert. I was expecting a sliver of green with some lime slices and whipped cream. So glad I was disappointed! What we got was a gastronomical delight: a cheesecake consistency surrounded by whipped cream and drizzled with caramel, with a side of vanilla ice cream with a sprig of mint. Morrison now has the reputation not only for great drinks, but great desserts!

Bob started attending another church around the same time we moved on to Montrose, so we don’t see each other as often. But he always reaches out to us and continues to stay in touch. There are so many people who simply allow the drift to happen once the social unit that first formed the friendship is gone.

I appreciate that he honors us as his friends and continues to include us in his life. Thank you, Bob for being a valuable part of our survival.



50 Days to 50 Years: Day 29, Sunday Worship, Sunday Fun!

4 07 2016

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.
Everyday life has become my prayer.”
— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Day 29 began with corporate worship at the Montrose Church. The authenticity of Pastor Dave Roberts, and his exhortation to us to live authentic and relevant lives is part of the reason we are excited to be in service every Sunday. We mostly attend the Pasadena-Bresee campus in the evening, but we change it up when we have an evening engagement or I have to work. So yesterday we attended the 10 am at the Montrose campus and got to see people we normally don’t on Sunday. Lynn ran into Bruce, a fellow he carpooled with to the Men’s Retreat in February, and I ran into Sandy Cortes, from my Women’s Bible Study small group. Sandy was kind enough to help me out with a medical appointment a few weeks back, and she is like my spirit sister; she is a delight to be around and her cooking is awesome.

At Jana’s birthday tea, she was wearing a pair of lady bug earrings—I told her I collect ladybugs! Then today, she was wearing an ebony elephant necklace, and I collect elephants too. Suffice to say we find commonalities we share every time we get to meet.


Montrose is a lovely community, and they have a Sunday Farmer’s Market and car show; so after service we walked down to Honolulu Avenue and took in the produce, wares, and the classic cars. We returned home after a few hours, and I made cornbread to go with a delicious late lunch of Crockpot Chili. I’m doing as much as possible to not spend too much time in a hot kitchen, and Crockpots help this tremendously. Then we headed over to Memorial Park in La Canada-Flintridge to take in an Eagles cover band called “The Long Run“.

My new friend and social butterfly Jana had expressed interest in this event posted on Facebook, and Lynn and I love the Eagles. There are very few bands I want to see live. While live concerts are awesome, the money and mess that goes along with them is not something we like to subject ourselves to; but it would have been so great to see the Eagles live. Alas, Glenn Frey is no longer with us, so that one will never happen. But a good cover band will do in a pinch!

Lynn and I arrived at the park first, and scoped out some spots for all of us. Jana said her husband Mark would come at least for a little bit, and her daughter Becca was also planning to come. We found great seats just a few paces from the bandstand and straight on where we could see the band. Jana, Mark, and Becca found us, and we settled in and waited for the music to start.

It was a rocky start, though. The sound was not on point, and Gary Grantham, the lead singer who does the Glenn Frey vocals left much to be desired. Jana and I looked at each other, hoping that this wasn’t going to be a total dud. It turned a corner with the other vocalists: Bill Worrell doing the Timothy B. Schmit highs, Chris Sobkowich working a great impression of Joe Walsh, and Chris Varosy doing the Don Henley vocals, keyboards and percussion. That’s when it popped—the band seemed to hit a groove, and so did the audience. When Chris Varosy ended the first half with “Desperado”, the crowd went wild, and rightfully so. He did the song justice.

Mark and Becca left, so during the intermission Jana and I strolled through the park to see if she knew anyone. This area of town was virgin territory for me, so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew. Boy, was I wrong! We spotted Betty Smith, the co-leader of our small group, and her husband, along with two people that I personally knew and Jana didn’t: Denae and Patrick, clients at CorePower, who used to regularly attend my early AM classes in Sherman Oaks! They were delighted to see me, and I them. They lived in the area, and were friends with Betty. We caught up, and I let them know my new teaching schedule and studios. Hopefully I’ll get to see one or both of them again in class soon.


The rest of the night kicked into high gear when “The Long Run” came back with “Tequila Sunrise”, “Peaceful, Easy Feelin'” and “Hotel California”!

I decided to go “Live” on Facebook as Lynn and I sang along with the band:


Betty tracked us down and encouraged us to get up to the stage and dance. I told her when my favorite Eagles tune came on, I would dance with her. Wouldn’t you know it, when the electric base line of “Life in the Fast Lane” started, I popped up and joined Betty at the stage. Lynn and Jana followed, and we joined folks up front line dancing, rocking out, and generally having a fantastic time. The band’s encore of “Heartache Tonight” was even better, and had most everyone out of their seats. Normally, we would have gone to Eagle Rock Park and seen their fireworks show by ourselves. While its nice, the communities of La Canada, La Crescenta and Montrose put Eagle Rock to shame—particularly in its friendliness. We have gone to Eagle Rock Park consistently for three or four years, and never met anyone new or felt welcomed by those around us. Thanks to our new friends at Montrose Church, we have been introduced to this warm, friendly enclave where people actually say “Hello” to you in the grocery store. It’s quite a change. We’re so glad we chose this instead, not only for the fun musical experience, but for the community, camaraderie and the unexpected meeting with old friends and new. I could not have planned a more cool evening had I tried.



50 Days to 50 Years: Day 33, I Got Music

29 06 2016

“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


I am glad this is not the case with me. I stopped “getting ready to live” back in my 30s. Every day is a day to embrace life, and I seek to do this in everything. That life embrace is reflected in my love of music. I come from a family of singers. My oldest sister Adrienne was training to be an opera singer before she heard the call to ministry. I have studied voice for over 15 years now, and have sung in choirs and worship teams since I was 5. So the music is in me, and comes out on a fairly regular basis.

Since I am in between worship ministry and singing gigs, these days I get the most fun playing around with music by creating playlists for my Yoga classes. I created a Summer Solstice playlist for my classes this week, and I received high compliments from my students in every class. It had my usual eclectic flair (I pull from many different music genres and sources), but with a languid feel of ease and heat.

For all my Yogi students and music appreciators, here’s the list:

Summer Solstice Playlist

In My Orbit: Working for the weekend

8 11 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s week has been occupied with interviews of fascinating individuals.

Dr. A. David Matian used to be my primary care physician, and he was honored to be interviewed about his philosophy as a medical professional, and how the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare will affect his practice.

Omar Akram is a talented and accomplished New Age musician, who just released a new album called Daytime Dreamer. At his album release party, I got to cover the red carpet and met some accomplished musicians, authors, and fashionistas.

Shyra Sanchez, actress, singer, fitness coach, activist, and humanitarian sat down with me and her publicist at the Mandarette Cafe, and talked about her music, life vision, and why she will always stay connected to a metropolis.

Lance Lindahl and Credere Joseph met me at the Village Bakery and Cafe, and I got to see firsthand how this connected collaboration of old souls, music, and film helped create the delightful comedy, Hay Days.

Omar, Shyra, Lance and Credere will be featured at Examiner.com on my Faith & Community page. Dr. Matian will be profiled on Examiner.com, and some of his quotes may make it into an article on my Washington Times Communities “In My Orbit” column.

Speaking of of the WT Communities column, this week I discuss President Obama’s non-apology Apology.

“In an effort to get ahead of the narrative (too late), Obama did the one thing at which he is proven effective: he decided to talk. Yet this talk which supposedly included an apology did not express any accountability for lying over 29 times, the current mess those lies are producing, nor did he offer any real solutions to fix it.

If you actually listened to the President’s words, he kept emphasizing the “only 5 percent”, or “a small percentage” of the population that are receiving cancellation notices. By his consistent usage of “only” and “small”, Obama delegitimizes the anger and concern of the people whose policies have been cancelled.”

According to Henry Louis Gates, 388,000 Africans actually survived the Middle Passage and arrived in America to be used as slave labor. That’s less than half a million people. Did that make slavery any less heinous because it was such a small number?

Obamacare is fast becoming an albatross around the President’s neck. Give the rest a read over at the WT Communities site.

Hope you have a fun weekend!

In My Orbit: my Red Carpet Moment and the 2013 Oscars’ recap

25 02 2013

Farshad Farahat with Jennifer Oliver O'Connell (Formatted)So the Girl got the closest she’s ever been to a Red Carpet a few weeks ago at the 2013 MovieGuide Awards. You can get the skinny from the write-up I did for my Examiner.com column “On the Red Carpet at the 21st Annual MovieGuide® Awards“. Please give it a read, and feel free to comment!

The only thing I’ll rehash from that experience is my photo op with actor Farshad Farahat, whose star turn in Argo was critically acclaimed. Argo won the Best Picture Oscar last night, so I’m sure Mr. Farahat’s currency has risen exponentially. Well deserved, and I wish him all the best. Thanks for the opportunity to say that I met you when!

I enjoyed watching the show with industry friends who gave me the insider take on some of the Oscar guests and other gossip–gives some added color to an already colorful night! Here’s my summation of the evening:

Host Seth MacFarlane. Sue me, but I like Family Guy and American Dad, and I liked Seth MacFarlane as Host. Unlike several of the past Oscar hosts (since Billy Crystal’s first departure), MacFarlane did not desperately try to resurrect Crystal’s mojo (as if anyone could). He simply brought himself, his style, and his humor; and for the most part, it worked. If you have watched an episode of any one of his shows, or saw Ted, then you full well knew what expect. So what exactly is everyone so shocked and disappointed about?

I’m getting quite a chuckle reading the articles (many by women) about how sexist and misogynistic MacFarlane was, ad infinitum. Riddle me this: since when did Buzzfeed, the bastion of testosterone-laden muscle flexing, care about sexism?

And tell me, feminists, how do you rate the women MacFarlane lampooned in the “We Saw Your Boobs” sketch? Where is the commentary on a Hollywood that gives high kudos and awards to the female roles where pretty women ugly themselves (The Hours, Monster), or bare their comely parts (Monster’s BallThe Reader) in order to have their acting prowess recognized and score a big win? MacFarlane did swift work of  the sheer ridiculousness of this machine with just that one number, and I appreciated it. We will see if he is invited back next year; frankly, I hope so. As a musical/variety fan, it was nice to see singing, dancing, and movement incorporated back into the show in a fresh way.

Quentin Tarantino. As I wrote on my Twitter feed, Tarantino is a joke and a fraud who has parlayed video-game style revenge fantasies masquerading as high art to new levels. The same people who screamed about The Help being racist and a detriment to Black people are lauding and applauding a white man’s take on slavery in Django Unchained. More twisted logic and hypocrisy on display in that one. I refuse to see the movie, as being assaulted with the N-Word for two and a half hours is not my idea of a fun time. Suffice to say the fact that Tarantino eked out even two awards from this farcical product is egregious.

Jennifer Lawrence. Not really a fan of her work, although Silver Linings Playbook was watchable, and the roles were well acted. I have no idea whether Jennifer’s particular choice of attire was foisted upon her or if she actively chose it, but it clearly was not well thought out by someone. When Jennifer came up as a presenter before her category was announced, a Facebook friend joked about how many people were under her dress–it truly was a giant moving mass of fabric, and one has to learn to walk in such a contraption. I don’t think anyone gave Jen lessons, poor thing.  So when she took an almost face plant as she walked up the steps to receive her Best Actress award, I wasn’t surprised. I was among some Jennifer Lawrence haters, so they considered it schadenfreude. Interesting….

I rather admire Diane Keaton, who mostly eschews the pretty Barbie doll attire for a more polished, practical, and personal look. Should the day ever arrive when I get such an invite, I would probably trend in that direction.

In Memoriam: They gave the technical and behind-the-scenes folks some real honor, but they left out the likes of Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Alex Karras, Gore Vidal, Richard Dawson, and Sylvia Kristel. These individuals were also television, literary, stage, and sports figures, so they received commemoration from those respective fields. But what hit home to me is that all the great ones are dying off, and fairly quickly. A fact of life, but still sad to see.

Daniel Day-Lewis. I have great admiration for this man’s talent. I think that appreciation also stems from the fact that he does not overly saturate himself. It’s obvious that he loves and delves deeply into his craft, yet he hasn’t appeared in a ton of movies. But each time he does appear, it screams for Oscar gold. This is a record third Best Actor Oscar: something that has never been accomplished in the 85-year history of the Academy Awards! So hats off to you, Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, for bringing our 16th President to magnificent life, and being a credit and fine example of your profession.

Singing and Dancing. I love both, especially when they are done well. And all the numbers, from Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum (who knew she could dance?), to Seth himself doing an old soft shoe, and belting out a few tunes, was all great fun.

Unlike my criticism of Bouncey‘s lip-synching the Inauguration National Anthem, I cannot be critical of a 10-years-older Catherine Zeta-Jones doing the same while performing her “All that Jazz” dance number from the movie Chicago. One Facebook friend pointed out that actresses/dancers sing and dance on Broadway six days a week, but Catherine hasn’t been on Broadway (or much of anything for that matter) in quite some time. The fact that she can still dance and look fabulous while doing it, is enough for me.

I can be critical of Barbara Streisand, though. Babs still sings and tours (despite several “Farewell” performances… go figure), so this rendition of “The Way We Were”, though heartfelt, was not very good. Contrast that with the powerhouse performance of Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger”, and Streisand’s performance pales even further. Shirley is not a regular performer, but she’s still got her chops–and she looked awesome in that gold dress.

Jennifer Hudson represented as always, delivering an abridged version of “And I’m Telling You” with iron lungs. I recently watched Dreamgirls again, and I will say publicly that Jennifer had a fuller, lusher sound when she had a bit more… substance. My vocal coach agreed with me, though he said he’d never go on the record–but he admires my freedom to do so. Hey, I’m just a lowly writer who also sings–he actually has to work with these people. Enough said.

She’s still Jennifer Hudson, and still fabulous–so do yo’ thang, girl, do yo’ thang.

Adele. What more can I say about Adele? I’m a fangirl, not only because she is an awesome songwriter with pure vocal supremacy, but she’s a big girl and is neither apologetic, nor ashamed about it.  Adele performed with class and polish, despite the technical mess they made of it–who puts their orchestra in another building several blocks down?! Her Best Song win for Skyfall is just another jewel in a tremendously weighty crown.

Steven Spielberg/Lincoln. Well, one thing was glaringly obvious: Spielberg is no longer the favorite son.  Tommy Lee Jones was robbed by Christoph Waltz, who basically reprised his role in Inglorious Basterds with a different accent and costume. Then Tony Kushner, who is a brilliant writer, was trumped by Argo-writer Chris Terrio. So save for the Best Actor prize, folks in the Academy are no longer in paroxyms over Spielberg’s accomplishments: and Lincoln really was a stellar accomplishment all around.  Shame it wasn’t more recognized.

Argo. I must say I was impressed by Argo, and by Ben Affleck as director. I still say Lincoln deserved Best Picture, but I can’t be mad about it. It was predictable that a movie where Hollywood was the hero would receive the biggest film nod of the night, and sometimes the Academy is nothing less than predictable. Over the years, the Academy has picked some stinkers for Best Picture, but thankfully this was not one. Argo was a nicely conceived, historical vignette, weaved  with layers of humor, suspense, and intrigue in presenting its story. It worked for me, and for most audiences.

Michelle Obama’s Bangs. With poorly trimmed bangs and another ugly dress, Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance via satellite, to lecture us about the meaning of films and present the Best Picture Oscar. For me, part of the point of entertainment is to escape the routine and vagaries of life–and that includes politics. So for the Obamas to once again inject themselves some place where they clearly do not belong was jumping the shark. This is not just my conservative bent talking: Read the comments on the Yahoo! and The Hollywood Reporter articles. These publications aren’t exactly right-leaning, so the fact that these viewers were equally mystified or appalled speaks volumes.

Despite the inauspicious ending to the evening, all-in-all, it was one of the better Oscar telecasts. Here’s to more Red Carpets and Oscar brushes In My Orbit!


In My Orbit…

16 09 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the “Girl’s Gone Wild” edition of In My Orbit.  The way the GOP establishment and the mainstream media is treating the Delaware Republican candidate for Senate is akin to how they would treat some bubble-headed-young-adult girl who flashes her breasts in the aforementioned DVD series.  So much tsk, tsking, Karl Rove bemoaning that all is lost, and the usual credibility-destroying stories about financial and mortgage troubles, abstinence work, and a masturbation comment?  A good chunk of the country (including yours truly) are unemployed, underemployed, or have lost their homes to foreclosure; so as far as we’re concerned, she can actually identify with what real people go through. We have an admitted tax cheat as Secretary of the Treasury–financial malfeasance didn’t stop the Senate from confirming him, did it?  And with sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy on the rise, abstinence education doesn’t look all that bad.  Truly, if this is the best they can come up with, then Christine O’Donnell is definitely a shoe-in for November.

The smart and sassy political consultant and radio co-host Jeri Thompson, who also happens to be the wife of former Senator, Presidential candidate, and Law and Order DA Fred Thompson, chisels a substantive piece in her American Spectator column today.  Jeri exposes and excoriates those behind the Christine O’Donnell silliness, detailing the establishment’s marginalization of women conservatives, the Tea Party movement, and the new wave of populism that has been ushered in because of said Party, and despite the GOP establishment.  A prescient quote:

“While they may not be intending to be sexist, the message, the attitude and whining sure make many in the GOP look eerily like the elites we are trying so hard to usurp. The sexism issues aside, it’s time for the Washington GOP establishment to man up and stop sulking over losing — no, getting walloped — by a woman they continue to insist is unqualified despite the fact that she has a pretty big win under her belt under pretty difficult circumstances.”

My good read of the day:  Don’t Tell Me She Cant Win.

And the Daily Mail drops an interesting tidbit about our dear FLOTUS.  In a new biography by journalists Michael Darmon and Yves Derai in collaboration with Carla Bruni, the FLOF (First Lady of France), Ms. Bruni allegedly asked Michelle Obama about her position as the U.S. President’s wife, and Mrs. Obama replied: “Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!”

There have been denials by both Ms. Bruni’s and Mrs. Obama’s handlers that these words were never spoken, and I believe that’s true.  Who wouldn’t love taxpayer-funded vacations to Spain and magazine photo ops practically ever week?

Whether true or not, like the “first time in my adult life I’m proud of my country” comment, this one will be wrapped around her neck like an albatross.  Michele Obama thinks being First Lady is ‘hell’…

And sweet Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe of Precious fame graces the cover of Elle magazine this October!  This is unprecedented, since no woman above a single-digit size has ever been allowed to headline the magazine.  A milestone or an anomaly, who knows?  But such an accomplishment should be celebrated, particularly after obvious snubs of the young and vivacious Gabby by Vanity Fair and Vogue in their Hollywood editions.  Sadly enough, the majority of the news coverage is about whether Elle “lightened” her skin in the photos! Gabourey Sidibe’s Elle Magazine Cover Raises Controversy…

It once again highlights Hollywood’s discomfort with plus-sized role models, particularly women of color, who on the average, can more closely identify with Gabby Sidibe than say, Halle Berry.  Despite their gifts and accomplishments that have little to do with their size, the Hollywood starmaker machine finds ways to diss them and get them to lose weight, then hawk their new size five as spokesmodels for Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.  Jennifer Hudson is the latest example of this model.

With a new supporting role in the Showtime series The Big C, maybe Gabby will stay strong–one can hold out hope.

In My Orbit…

23 07 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s been gone for a bit as life and circumstance have eaten up my time, energy and a bit of my sanity.  Since I never claimed to be completely sane anyway, that last one was the least of my worries.

After a month-long ordeal of packing a house and cramming it into an apartment, my sweet hubby fell ill and ended up in the hospital.  Diagnosis: ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the colon.  Thankfully, he is on the mend, adapting to his medications, and we pray will be able to get back to life and work soon.

So the blog got put on the back burner, but I am now back with a vengeance.   Watch out, world!

The political junkie is in full bore, what with the smackalicious stuff coming from The Daily Caller about the JournoList,  a listserv where bunches of liberal journalists got together to engineer and plot the downfall of the likes of Fred Barnes and Sarah Palin, and to assist Obama’s political rise and eventual win of the 2008 Presidential race.

Like the East Anglia emails, it only confirmed my and many conservatives, suspicions about information control and dissemination in order to advance a cause or political agenda.   So no big surprise here.  However, the arrogance, sniping, and smarter-than-thou snarkiness is more than fascinating.

See for yourself.  The Daily Caller-JournoList links.

And I end with a bit of humor–it made me laugh out loud!  I love the Talking Heads and their video of this song, so this parody is well done, along with packing a punch.

H/t: Hot Air.

In My Orbit…

16 03 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m all over the galaxy this morning, with a potpourri of stuff whizzing by my planet like asteroids.  While I’m no less prolific, the death of my working laptop has rendered me limited.  When part of your livelihood requires you being online, its not a good thing; but I continue to revolve…

Did you know Southern California had yet another earthquake earlier today?  Funny thing is, I woke up at 3:30 a.m., looked at the clock, and wondered, “what the h@%&?”  Then rolled over and went back to sleep.  The actual 4.4 quake hit about 4:04 am, while I was back in the land of restful slumbers.  Epicentered in Pico Rivera, which is about 11 miles from downtown Los Angeles, it was felt as far as San Diego, which experienced its own 4 pointer on Saturday.  While no major damage was reported, Kate Hutton, our favorite seismologist at Caltech, says there is a 5% change that this is a “foreshock” to the Big One.  The joys of living in a fault zone.  4.4 earthquake awakens Southern California….

I swear, the Brits have better news these days.  From the Beebs (BBC), ABBA has been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–way cool!  ABBA is one of my favorite bands, and I was so happy that Muriel’s Wedding and Mamma Mia gave them a revival.  Well deserved. ABBA receives Hall of Fame honour.

The boys at Hillbuzz turned me on to this article in by Shikha Dalmia in Forbes: Wrong Bill at the Wrong Time.  While the boys have their favorite pull quote from the article, mine happens to be:

“Even before President Obama rammed through his trillion-dollar-plus stimulus/bailout packages last year, there was a growing sentiment that the country’s top priority ought to be tackling the entitlement programs whose liabilities are like a swelling aneurysm in the brain of the body politic waiting to rupture.”

Worth the read.  We are experiencing massive fraud, deceit and wholesale hijacking of the Constitution, all for this bill.  An aneurysm waiting to rupture is an apt description.

Where Have All The Community Eating Places Gone? Long Time Passing….

18 06 2006

Lynn’s and my third dating experience, was impromptu. He had just called me to chat, and I impulsively asked if he wanted to hook up—what can I say, when it comes to new relationships, I’m like a puppy: bouncy, excited and always wetting myself. Thank God that he enthusiastically answered “Yeah!,” and we went about the business of deciding on a place to meet. This was the beginning stages of our courtship, so coming over to one another’s houses was not yet an option. We live about 16 miles apart, he on the West end of the San Fernando Valley, and me on the East end, so I recommended The Good Earth in Northridge, which is somewhere in the middle for us both. I hadn’t been to that Good Earth in ages, but it held some warm memories, and I felt excited about introducing him to a particular venue that I held in high esteem.

“It’s right off of Nordhoff and Shirley. Just past Tampa,” I directed.

“Okay, I’ll see you there,” he responded.

I was running late, and was jamming on the freeway, when my cell phone rang. I had since programmed his number into my phonebook, so his name popped up on the view screen.

“Hi, what’s up?” I answered.

“The restaurant is gone.”

“What?! Are you on Nordhoff and Shirley?”

“Yes, I’m in the parking lot, and there’s construction, and nothing else.”

“I’m almost there, so let’s just meet in the parking lot.”


I got there, and indeed it was, gone… I was devastated to say the least. I had arrived in Los Angeles in 1988 and one of the first places I was introduced to was The Good Earth Restaurant and Bakery. The 10-grain pancakes were to die for, and their tea had a unique sweet/tangy flavor to it, without even adding sugar. But the good food was coupled with good times and good friends, so it not only meant the end of a quality restaurant, but the end of a place where community had flowered. Lunches and dinners with friends from the single’s group at church after Sunday and Wednesday services, sitting for hours sipping tea (the refills never ended and were free!) and sharing about the sermon, our lives, the last movie we’d seen—whatever. It was a place where you could gather, and the management didn’t seem to have that L.A. disease of pushing you out the door as soon as the wait staff dropped the bill.

Dalts Grill is another place that has since bitten the dust, sometime in 2005 (where have I been?). Once again, I discovered this on one of our dates—Easter Saturday, as a matter of fact. We had left the church service and were hankering for a place to eat. Lynn is a lover of American dining—coffee shops, bar and grills or pubs—if the place has good old-fashioned stick-to-your-ribs food that’s consistently prepared, he’s there. So I got all excited and wanted to take him to Dalts. It was a bit more upscale than a coffee shop, but had traditional food and a great old-fashioned bar atmosphere; in fact, it was very similar to the bar featured in Cheers. The prices were reasonable as well, and you could easily feed two people on the cheap.

We drove up Riverside Drive, and were about to turn the corner to the parking structure, when I saw a black tarp where the lighted “DALTS GRILL” sign used to be. My heart sank.

“Forget it hon, it’s closed.”

“What?!” He said a bit churlishly. When Lynn’s blood sugar drops, it’s not a good thing.

“I’m sorry, but it’s closed. Let’s find somewhere else.”

Another one of my favorites just…gone. We ended up at Bob’s Big Boy, which made Lynn happy, as Bob’s was a huge part of his life, and he had lamented the day when they shut down most of the Bob’s in the San Fernando Valley because it was no longer the “in” place to eat. Lynn was born and raised in the Valley, and except for a few years living in San Luis Obispo, he has never lived any place else. Part of what makes him a treasure—how many native Southern Californians do you know that still live here and are proud of it?

Not that he doesn’t also note the massive changes that have occurred in his 45 years of being in L.A., and grieves the loss of places of consistency, quality and substance, that were removed to make room for the hip and commercial. For me, there are certain places that make a community, and when they disappear, it leaves a discernable hole.

Both The Good Earth and Dalts Grill are connected to my 20s and early 30s, the years that best represented community as I understand it, and wished that I had again. I and my friends had special events, birthdays, or just good “hangout” time at these establishments, especially at Dalts. I discovered the restaurant when I first moved to Burbank back in 1990. They were conveniently placed between Disney Studios (where I was temping at the time), and my home on Pass Avenue, so on occasions when I had the money, I would stop there after work and have loaded fries—French fries covered in melted cheddar cheese with bacon bits and green onions, and finish it off with a slice of their famous Malt Cake—I can feel your arteries hardening, but man was it tasty!

My friend Chrissy invited me to go along with a group of people she knew to a production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. “Much Ado…” is one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies, and we all had a blast and enjoyed the production immensely. Afterward, we went to Dalts for dinner. Those fabulous quesadillas were the hit for that night, along with discussing the play and our combined love of all things the Bard.

I recall one late night when me, Chrissy and Chio, another nutty friend from my nutty past, were craving a chocolate fix. So where did we go? To Dalts, of course. Not only because of the famously rich malt cake, but unlike other Valley restaurants, they actually stayed open until midnight! We shared one piece of the malt cake, a-la-mode (the piece they gave you was huge, so this was easily done), and were in endorphin heaven for the rest of night/morning! While savoring her bites of the cake, Chio exclaimed, “This is better than sex!”

Dalts was also a reliable place for connecting with my friend Paula Potter, who is the manager of the Rights Clearance department at Disney—they are the ones that say “nay,” or “yay, and pay this much,” to requests to use any film or audio clips licensed to Disney or its related children (Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax, etc.). She’s as busy as all get out, but we somehow managed to meet once a year (sometimes more) for Dalts’ Sunday Brunch. Paula’s one of those people that no matter how long the absence, when you get together again it’s like you never parted. I’ve seen her through her many bridesmaids adventures (but still not a bride—damn it!) and the deaths of her aunt and father, and her mom’s recent illnesses, all over that all-you-can-eat buffet. But no longer. When we do connect again, it will have to be another restaurant, and it just won’t be the same.

So why am I blathering on about this? Yes, there are plenty of other places in L.A. that have good, reasonably-priced food, and yes, the food at these restaurants definitely mattered—would I be going on about 10-grain pancakes and malt cake if it wasn’t fabulous?! But the crux of the matter goes beyond that, to what these places signified—the bonding and community that happened around the good food, that has me complaining about the closures. It feels like another blow to consistent community, because when a place becomes a part of your life, it’s hard to say goodbye—especially when the separation is so sudden and unexpected. It’s as if I’ve lost an old friend, and a part of my past has been obliterated. I’m sure these establishments will be replaced by something that I’ll consider pedestrian, and less than community-oriented: like a Denny’s, or Heaven forbid, a Starbucks. Just what we need, more high-priced, low grade coffee and Wi-Fi so people can hide behind their low-fat lattes and laptops and not have to connect with the real world.

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