Saturday, January 31, 2004

File Under: Unnecessary Changes

At first it seemed like a one-off mistake. The logo on a Metro bus was a little unusual. But then I saw it on a billboard.

Apparently the MTA has redesigned its logo -- spending, I would assume, thousands upon thousands of dollars (business cards, letterhead, signs, and a hefty fee to some design firm) to change its "M" logo from this:

To this:

Huh? The original "M" logo was fine! And it's easily recognizable on every bus and at every train station! So why make a slight "Cracked M" tweak? Just makes no sense to me.

But then again, this is the agency that recently named the San Fernando Valley Metro Rapidway as the "Metro Orange Line." Never mind that it's a busway, and the rest of the color-coded "lines" (Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line, Gold Line) are railways.

And never mind that the buses on the "Orange Line" will be painted red -- while other buses not on the Orange Line are painted... you guessed it. Orange.

Let the confusion begin!

Friday, January 30, 2004

Dees Sleaze

Don Barrett at sez longtime KIIS-FM morning DJ Rick Dees promises to make a "life-changing" announcement next Wednesday.

Barrett quotes Dees: "If you don't like me or you're a friend, I'm serious. It is not about some giveaway. It is not about some radio promotion. It is not some rip-off. It is not something to garner listeners. It is not about a concert or Wango Tango. To some it will be really good. Some will laugh. Others won't."

Hmm. Radio boards have been buzzing for a while that Clear Channel and KIIS plan to announce Dees' retirement this year. Could this be it? Is a "Ryan Seacrest in the Morning on KIIS-FM" show close behind? (Dear God.) Or is it just your usual radio hyperbole? Stay tuned.

Aaron Spelling Ventures East of La Brea

Spelling's production company, which took viewers to "Beverly Hills, 90210," and then moved east to "Melrose Place," has now driven over to "Silver Lake."

That's right -- UPN has ordered a pilot from Spelling TV about a record store owner (Rockaway Records, perhaps?) who uses his psychic abilities to communicate with the dead and help them resolve issues they left behind. The show is called "Silver Lake" -- and presumably, that's where it will be set.

No word if there's a role for Beck. Or Gwen and Gavin.

But it would be wild to see Los Feliz/Silver Lake actually play Los Feliz/Silver Lake for a change. A big chunk of the pilot to CBS' "Joan of Arcadia" was shot at Skylight Books, for example -- but the show took place in the fictional town of "Arcadia." (No, it doesn't take place in the real Arcadia, the town adjacent to Pasadena.)

"The Shield" regularly shoots around the corner from us (and prevents us from parking on the street on those days. But that's showbiz.). And there's been a lot of filming activity as of late at Cha Cha Cha restaurant on Melrose. Hell, cheesy restaurant chain Chili's even shot a commercial in front of the outdoor newsstand near the Los Feliz Theaters. (As if a Chili's would ever be allowed near the neighborhood.)

How 'Bout That Lauren Sanchez!

Kevin at L.A. Observed has found that the most popular Internet search term leading web users to his site is "Paul Magers." As in the new KCBS anchor.

Here at Franklin Avenue, meanwhile, we continue to get more hits for KCOP "UPN13" anchor Lauren Sanchez than any other subject -- although UPN13 weathergirl Maria Quiban is a close second.

While I understand the Sanchez and Quiban hits (some of which are accompanied by words such as "nude" -- classy), the emphasis on local news personalities is slightly surprising. After all, Los Angeles is the only TV market in the country where TV anchors aren't the biggest celebrities in town.

Our anchors are... well, news anchors. Head to Orlando, Cleveland or even Chicago, and those towns' TV news personalities are about as famous as it gets.

That includes Minneapolis, where Magers was a superstar. Here, he's just the latest in a long line of KCBS anchors. The station has been in the ratings dumps for as long as anyone remembers, and it won't be easy to turn things around. After watching a few telecasts, though, I gotta admit, Magers has the chops. (Although, he also wears a little too much eye makeup. But that's not the point.) His voice is smooth, and he has a commanding presence. I assume KCBS will give him time -- Magers didn't come cheap.

Supermarket Sweep

With no end in sight to the Supermarket strike, things are getting more surreal. Driving up Vermont, past the Vons store at 3rd St., the group of picketers were grilling dinner -- on a large barbecue -- in the parking lot.

Where's Schwarzenegger in all of this? Besides, of course, violating campaign finance laws.

(By the way, as far as I know, Gray Davis never broke any laws. And he was recalled from office. So if Schwarzenegger did break the law, what's his punishment? Recall, plus he must re-team in another feature film with Tom Arnold? Start signing those petitions now.)

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Set Your TiVo

Watch me make an ass of myself tonight at 11 p.m. on KABC "ABC7" Eyewitness News. I just spoke with repoter John Gregory about the crush of celebrities in legal hot water and how it's been a boon for news outlets.

George Pennacchio, eat your heart out.

Dueling Blogs

Brian at has discovered that Kent Shocknek isn't the only KCBS-2 personality to launch a blog on the TV station's site. Apparently meterologist Josh Rubenstein has also started his own page.

It's title? "Weather... Or Not."

No joke.

As Brian points out, Josh's content includes a great deal of praise for fellow CBS2 blogster Kent Shocknek. He at one point even gushes that the morning news anchor (along with other CBS2 morning personalities Suzanne Rico, Lisa Joyner and Vera Jimenez) makes for some nice "eye candy."

I'm not sure I like this trend of local newscasters entering the blogosphere. For one thing, there's such a thing as sharing too much information. Next up: Paul Magers recounts his "Beverly Hills 90210"-like journey from Minnesota to L.A.!

You've Been Warned

The Winter pledge drive on KCRW begins tomorrow, Jan. 30, and lasts through Feb. 9.

If you're a fan of Ruth Seymour's voice and the sometimes humorous attempts by laid-back DJs Nic Harcourt and Jason Bentley to hard sell listeners, then this is your time.

Otherwise... well, grin and bear it for the next week and a half. I donate once a year -- during the August drive -- so it's CDs and Indie 103.1 for me.

Wacky Press Releases, one in a series

Apparently, the megasuccess of "CSI" isn't convincing teens to pursue a career in crime forensics.
Maybe 'cause its... um... gross?

For Immediate Release

Edwin Bodensiek
(719) XXX-XXXX

"CSI" Fails to Inspire Teens' Career Aspirations, According to a New Poll

Teens Rank CSI 33rd out of a Possible 35 "Ideal" Careers

Colorado Springs, Colo. -- The television show Perry Mason inspired many teens growing up in the '50s to consider careers in law. In the 1960s, Star Trek motivated a generation of young scientists to pursue careers in NASA. And in the 1970s, Emergency One introduced countless future Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to the challenges and rewards experienced by paramedics, while C.H.I.P.S. is often credited with generating interest in law enforcement. Television has the power to inspire young people to consider new careers. However, one of today's top television series, CSI, is not inspiring young people to consider Crime Scene Investigations as a profession, according to a new poll.

Though the CSI series and its spin-offs are popular with teen viewers, the career of CSI/Forensics was ranked 33rd out of a list of 35 possible "ideal careers" by 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 in a poll conducted by Junior Achievement in October and November, 2003. In all, 12.8 percent of teens selected "businessperson" as their ideal job, nearly twice the number who selected "doctor" (6.5%), "teacher" (5.4%), and "computer field" (4.9%). "CSI/Forensics" was selected by 0.6 percent of poll participants, trailing "Mechanic" and "Construction," but ahead of "Artist" and "Photographer." The results are from the JA Interprise Poll. For a complete list of ideal jobs, go to

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Observing the Observatory

The Griffith Observatory has been closed to visitors since 2002 -- and isn't scheduled to be re-opened until the end of 2005, after a complete overhaul.

From our window, we've been able to watch over the past two years as scaffolding was added around the Observatory's famous dome -- and the building's color turned to grey concrete. But the site itself is off-limits, so it's been a mystery as to what's actually going on up there.

The answer? A lot. Check out these photos, and you'll see: This ain't just a renovation. This is a whole scale reconstruction.

I know what you're wondering: Will the Observatory still showcase 'Lazer Def Leppard' when it reopens? Sadly, this website doesn't answer such questions. But it will give you a better idea of what's going on there.

UPDATE: L.A. Observed also notes that "as part of the renovation, new copper panels are being added and the dull, matte verdigris finish on the old panels cleaned."

(Link via Joseph Mailander story in the L.A. Alternative Press.)

Grove Envy

Hollywood and Highland isn't the only high-profile recent development failing to live up to expectations. The LA Business Journal this week points out (summary only; story not online) that the ArcLight Hollywood entertainment complex remains mostly empty -- two years after opening.

That's become a major headache for the enormous publicly-owned garage behind it, which hasn't come close to its original projected revenues. The problem? The complex only has two tenants: The ArcLight theaters and a 24 Hour Fitness location. Property owners are negotiating to bring in a nightclub, but the paper says that still won't cover the parking lot's costs.

The woes are very similar to what's going on at Hollywood and Highland, which was a dud from the moment it opened (and was recently acquired by CIM Realty). A sluggish tourism market, an initial way-to-high parking fee, a slower-than-expected Hollywood turnaround and a poor design have kept the center from living up to expectations.

Then there's the Grove. What a difference. Cheap parking, major retailers, the nearby Farmer's Market and a well-designed environment (even if it's wholly artificial) clearly worked.

Next up: the huge, boxy West Hollywood Gateway center opens this March. Tenants include Target, Best Buy, Baja Fresh and Ben & Jerry's.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Five Candles

Happy 5th Southern California Birthday, Krispy Kreme! Now go get yourself a free glazed doughnut.

Oscar the Grouch

The Oscar noms are in, and all I can say is... "From Justin to Kelly" wuz robbed!

Not to mention the fact that, for the seventh year in a row, "Booty Call" was overlooked. Oh, Oscar.

UPDATE: The best and most complete coverage from Variety and our man Tim Gray, who got up early to cover the noms for you lazy slobs.

Full list of nominations

Mmm... Vermin Infestation

Put away your forks... the L.A Times today lists December's L.A. County restaurant closures.

List has your usual round of mom and pop eateries and the rebel IHOP, KFC, McDonald's and Cinnabon (Cinnabon?) locations. Also posting violations: Atlas Bar & Grill on Wilshire; the Baja Fresh location in South Pasadena, and the snack bar inside the Culver City Target.

It's Like Gawker Stalker, But Not Clever*

Big feast of celebrity sightings this weekend as the awards season kicked into high gear.

Saturday night, Maria and I headed to Alex restaurant on Melrose (the former Citrus space), where Showtime was honoring its various award show nominees. Including "The Reagans" star James Brolin. Which means... yup. Babs sighting.

That was probably the surreal moment of the weekend. Barbara Streisand, partying along side Justine Bateman ("Out of Order") and the cast from the TV version of "Soul Food." We also picked up on a new trend: Just as those backpack-style baby carriers were all the rage a few years ago, it's now cool to wear your baby like a bag accessory. Spotted a few celebs bagging their baby. Food was truly excellent, by the way; must return to Alex for a meal.

Sunday night, covered the TV portion of the Globes ("The Office" -- wow) and then headed to shindigs thrown by New Line, HBO and NBC/Access Hollywood. Highlights: "Lost in Translation's" Scarlett Johansson, looking regal; Paris Hilton, looking like she was late to the prom (wearing a puffy light blue number) and chatting up Jimmy Fallon; Richard Belzer, looking very thin; Michael Douglas' son Cameron, guest DJing at the Access Hollywood party; Hugh Hefner, as always with 5 or 6 of his girlfriends in tow; and the always suave Bernie Mac.

*Title courtesy some smartass and their comment from about five months ago

The End

Up for sale: Downtown Los Angeles' Morrison Hotel, where Jim Morrison and crew shot the famous cover to the Doors' 1970 album "Morrison Hotel."

According to the Downtown News, owners Hope Pico Company could fetch between $7 million and $9 million for the property.

Alas, the famous window from the album cover, from which the band peer under the words "Morrison Hotel," is long gone. And it will take some serious cash to turn around the property, which has been neglected for decades.

Famed photographer Henry Diltz -- whom Maria has had the chance to work with -- recounts to the Downtown News how the cover shoot almost didn't happen:

Diltz said he told the building manager they were going to take a few photos, but the manager insisted that they get permission from the owner, who wasn't around. The group walked outside dejected, but then Diltz noticed the manager had taken the elevator upstairs. Diltz told the band to rush inside for a few quick shots.

"They ran in and just fell into those places," said Diltz, who added that lawyers for the Doors' record company ultimately had to secure permission from the hotel owner to use the photo.

A Scream for Sanity

Finally! I've been scratching my head for days now about the uproar over Howard Dean's now infamous Iowa concession speech.

"The screams of a lunatic," the media proclaimed. And that "YEEEEEEAHHHHH!" is already destined to be included in the 2014 edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Huh? What's so new about yelling to work a crowd into a frenzy? Isn't that the M.O. of any pastor worth their salt? Or any coach trying to whip his team into action? (Dean's Iowa speech actually reminded me of Sid Caesar as the hapless coach who attempts to inspire the Rydell High bonfire crowd early in "Grease.")

Yet the discussion hasn't been about whether or not Dean went nuts. No, the discussion has been about how Dean Gone Nuts might affect this campaign.

I thought I was simply missing something here, until I surfed by Mark A.R. Kleiman's site. Kleiman, who notes that he's not a Dean supporter, has been similarly confused by all the uproar. After viewing the speech, he calls it a "pure pep-rally speech: not a form of oratory I especially admire, but not a scandal, either."

After all, he notes, Dean is smiling as he yells out which states he plans to conquer. Even if he has a temper, this wasn't an example of it.

Now, I haven't exactly made up my mind on Dean. Like many (including the media -- yes, I've been brainwashed. As have you.), I'm just not sure he has a shot at beating W in November. But it just strikes me as crazy that his campaign might be derailed by some silly noise he made one night in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Brian Flemming spent the weekend splicing this video, comparing the Dean footage with the video of a drunk W circa 1992. Who's more presidential, he asks.

Can't We All Just Blog Along?

Things got a little heated in the Los Angeles blogosphere this weekend, as a debate raged on the pages of,, and newcomer LA COMfidential over blog etiquette and when it's OK and not OK to link to someone else's work.

Most of the debate took place here, on the comments page at As you can see, a lot of time and energy was spent this weekend on the subject, although I'm not entirely sure anyone came to any agreement or conclusion. Much like the East Coast/West Coast rap feuds, without the killings.

You'll also notice I somehow managed to bookend the debate, with the first and 26th posts. And, in both cases, at KCBS morning anchor Kent Shocknek's expense. Sorry, Kent!

Monday, January 26, 2004

Rate-A-Restaurant, #32 in a series

Restaurant: Buddha's Belly

Location: 7475 Beverly Blvd. (corner of Beverly Blvd. and Gardner between Fairfax and La Brea)

Type of restaurant: Pan-Asian

They stipulated: No reservations for parties under 6. In other words, if it's a weekend, you're going to be waiting. For a while. A waiter will come by and take your drink order as you stand outside. And stand some more.

What we ordered: Crispy soft-shell crab (appetizer), Japanese-Style Baked Alaskan Black Cod, Thai Green Curry Chicken and Jasmine Rice

High point: Los Angeles magazine lists Buddha's Belly as one of the city's new restaurant bargains, and we have to agree. Although, at $15, the Black Cod is pushing it -- but it was so soft, moist and flaky, hell, it was worth the price.

Low point: Honestly, the wait. And the tables are really smashed together, in order to seat as many people as possible.

Overall impression: Right-sized portions, interesting fusion entrees and decent prices make this a nice fall-back restaurant if you can't figure out where to eat. And the atmosphere is alive without being too noisy. We could easily eavesdrop on the gay couple next to us planning a Hawaiian wedding.

Chance we will go back: This is a pretty diverse and exciting menu, so I'm sure we'll return to try something different. (Or hell, to get the Black Cod again.) Don't expect to see us on a Saturday night, however.

For all of our Rate-A-Restaurant reviews, check out our companion blog site,

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Apparently I Have A Future As An MPAA Goon

A friend of Maria's wanted us to purchase and ship her a stylish bag... or a fine-but-cheap approximation of such stylish bag. So it was off to Downtown's Santee Alley on Saturday.

It had been a while since our last trek to the fashion district -- in that case, to purchase fake Kate Spade bags, natch. Apparently Santee Alley's pretty up on the trends, because nary a "Fake Spade" was in sight this go-round. Replacing it were plenty of updated knock-offs (and take-offs of Louis Vuitton bags, which I'm sure are perennial favorites).

Other popular items right now on Santee Alley: Generic batteries designed to look like Duracells; knock-off "Yu-Gi-Oh" action figures; bags with letters of the alphabet sown on the side; and purses featuring an Elvis Presley TV Guide cover on the side. Of course, as Maria noted, vendors are still hawking colored contact lenses. Apparently fake eyes never go out of style.

Walking to grab a coffee as Maria haggled the right price for her bag, I spied several vendors hawking bootleg DVDs on the sidewalk.

But apparently I look like enough of a narc that the vendors quickly covered their ware and scampered away as I approached.

This happened several times. Do I really come off as a spy from the MPAA? Or... "The Man"? (Psst... Jack: I did manage to glimpse a few copies of "Cold Mountain," among other recent releases for sale. Go get 'em.)

Hell, with Billy Tauzin out of the running, maybe I ought to let the MPAA know I'm available. Apparently the perks aren't bad (among the things Tauzin negotiated, then passed on: An apartment in New York, country club membership and fees for the lawyers who negotiated for him).

Isn't It Ironic

Checked out Saturday's L.A. Times corrections and saw this:

A Jan. 11 Los Angeles Times Magazine article on writer Frank Deford incorrectly stated that Deford collaborated on books with five professional tennis players. In fact, Deford wrote "Big Bill Tilden" in 1975 on his own. The article also referred to Robert Victor Sullivan as a Mississippi prep football coach. He was a junior college football coach.

The irony: The piece the correction refers to was essentially a story about how, esteemed sports writer that he is, Frank Deford doesn't always get his facts straight. (For a lengthy debate over the article's pros and cons, check out this Matt Welch post.)

Friday, January 23, 2004


Until today, I've never had a chance to visit the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. But I pass by it almost daily on the 5 freeway, thinking that I should one day check it out.

Made plans to meet a friend at lunch to see the museum's California Pottery exhibit today -- and discovered that it was now called the Museum of the American West.

Either way, I was impressed by the pottery exhibit and the museum itself. The pottery showcase will only be there until this Sunday, Jan. 25, but it's worth the trip. It made me want to take some lessons -- or at least buy some Bauer salt and pepper shakers.

The main collection houses an impressive sampling of Western memorabilia: props, films, music, clothes and posters. Everything is nicely displayed and brings out the nostalgic, childhood memories in you.

While walking along the gallery, I spotted three boys with their mother excited about the small saddle on display. Glad to know that there are still a few cowboys-in-training out there.

Somewhere, Mr. Green Jeans Weeps

First Mr. Rogers, and now Captain Kangaroo has died. Bob from "Sesame Street," watch your back.

"CC" = "Clear Channel"

Now that Clear Channel is selling ad time on the new Indie 103.1, one of the radio station's first advertisers just happens to be... Clear Channel.

Not that it's too much of a surprise. Clear Channel Entertainment is pretty much the only major concert promoter left; as many artists have found out, it's kinda hard to avoid being promoted by the behemoth. Spots on Indie 103.1, for example, are pushing the upcoming Travis show in L.A.

What I find amusing is how Clear Channel Entertainment -- clearly aware that its name elicits a negative reaction from many a music fan -- has taken to calling itself "CC Entertainment." That's right -- the spots for Travis never mention "Clear Channel," but instead refer to it as a "CC" show. Hmm.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Long, National Nightmare: Over

Ben. Jen. Split. Thank. God.

Perino While You Can

L.A. Observed reports that the Collage Dance Theatre is
considering staging a performance at the soon-to-be demolished Perino's restaurant.

Collage performs in unusual and historic sites around the city; Maria and I attended the group's last performance, "Sleeping with the Ambassador" -- mostly to get an inside look at the amazing, abandoned hotel. (See our pics here.)

But the performance itself was incredible as well. Here's hoping they pull it off before the restaurant -- once the haunt of 1940s and 1950s Hollywood royalty -- makes way for apartments. I've had the chance to explore Perino's, thanks to a Television Critics Assn. party Fox threw there a few years ago. It's a time warp: The booths are still in place and little has changed since its heyday.

This could be a pretty sad year for historic Wilshire Boulevard: Besides the end of Perino's, the fate of the Ambassador Hotel will likely be determined this year. And my gut tells me we're not going to like the School Board's decision.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Chinatown: Ten Years Later

January 17, 1994

The bed started shaking sideways and up & down.

Tumbled my way to the doorway hoping it would stop.

Please, make it stop.

There was total darkness, and then a knock on the front door. Some neighbors were going around telling everyone that it may not be safe to stay inside, that we should get dressed and assemble outside. Everyone was outdoors, just waiting.

More shaking.

At dawn, we braved our way back inside the house. You could see broken glass everywhere. The fridge had fallen forward, only to be caught by the kitchen counter. My bedside lamp was smashed into pieces over my pillow, right where my head had been.

I had been living at home in Granada Hills at the time, and was very happy that I was with my loved ones at a moment like this.
After a few minutes my stepfather announced, "Let's go to Chinatown."


"It seems like the whole Valley was affected by this earthquake and there's no water or power within miles from here. We're going to Chinatown, everything should be okay there."

We were all in a daze and in need of a break. So we all filed in the car and drove off.

As we got off the freeway and drove down Hill Street, everything seemed like business as usual. I remember stopping at the gas station on Hill to fill the car and to avoid the lines that would surely form (as predicted by my brothers). At the gas station, my sister and I went to the bathroom and brushed our teeth -- I had the sense to grab my toothbrush after finding out that there was no water.

At this point, it was too early for the shops or restaurants to be open. We wound up at Won Kok, a 24 hour restaurant that we knew.

We got seated but everything was very surreal, no one at the gas station or in the restaurant was talking about the earthquake. Everything was business as usual, just as my stepfather said.

Did it really happen?

I don't even remember what we ate or if we ate anything at all. We sat around sharing our experiences and feelings. We may have even laughed a few times, thankful that we were all alive and well. I think we called my brother in New York, or wherever he was living at the time.

We didn't want to leave Chinatown, but we knew we had to go back and start rebuilding our home.

A Modest Proposal

So I scrawled a goofy little column for today's Variety in which I, oh-so-modestly, solve the California budget crisis.

It's actually so simple -- and obvious -- that I'm sure you were thinking the same thing: It's time for Schwarzenegger to whore himself out. Big time:

If Schwarzenegger were to work non-stop in the coming year, pulling down hefty paychecks for movie roles, TV appearances, product endorsements and perhaps a line of "Girls Gone Wild: California" videos - and then deposit it straight to the state treasury -- he'd go along way toward getting this debt paid down.

"Terminator 4" and "Terminator 5"? Yes, but you're focused on the obvious. As shown by the massive amount of attention the media has paid to the California recall campaign and Schwarzenegger's election, this guy can appear in just about anything -- and people will show up.

Yes, my tongue is firmly planted in cheek. But hell. It's either that, or sell off San Diego. (And perhaps News Corp. is interested in purchasing Orange County to promote "The O.C."?)

Mark Your Ballots

Shout-out to Tony and Becky, who have hit the awards nomination jackpot in recent weeks. Their "King of the Hill" episode "Reborn to Be Wild" (in which Bobby Hill gets mixed up with some skater punks -- who turn out to be Christian skater punks) just scored a Writers' Guild nomination, in the animated series category. (Read about it here if you can't get into the other link.)

They also landed an Annie Award nomination for outstanding writing in a animated TV series.

Glad Tony finally invested in a suit. Good luck, kids!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Latest Reality Fix

Gotta admit: Maria and I are so far enjoying NBC's The Apprentice.

Didn't think we were going to like it. Plus, the first episode was probably a little bit too long. But Trump is outlandishly fun to watch. And the tasks the two teams -- divided by gender -- must accomplish are an interesting twist on the usual "Survivor"-style physical competitions.

Trump is even destined to start a new pop culture trend: That weird hand motion he makes when he barks at each week's losing contestant, "You're Fired!"

Generation Right-Wing

Polls have shown that todays teens (what are we on now, "Generation Z"?) are much more conservative -- and if this kid is any indication, they're right.

High school student Tim Bueler has become the toast of talk radio, reports the L.A. Times, after fighting with his school to let him post some highly controversial flyers for his school's Conservative Group. A newsletter he distributed repeated Bueler's idol, right-wing barker Michael Savage: "Liberals welcome every Muhammad, Jamul and Jose who wishes to leave his Third World state and come to America — mostly illegally — to rip off our health-care system, balkanize our language and destroy our political system."

Yikes. How I suddenly long for the days of Alex P. Keaton.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Several-Month Old Movies Maria and I Finally Got Around To Watching

Time to start a new feature here at Franklin Avenue.

Yup, Maria and I try to stay on top with the TV and music pop culture. But somehow, we've fallen behind in the movie scene. For example, we haven't seen any of the "Lord of the Ring" trilogy, which should probably force us to give up our Pop Culture Identity Card right now.

But with the awards season in full swing, we're finally making time to watch some Oscar-friendly pics. Latest is Lost in Translation, which we caught Sunday night at the Laemmle Theatres location at Fairfax and Beverly.

Sofia Coppola has crafted a rather poignant and visually stunning film about two lost souls who briefly find themselves in each others' world. Between this and "Rushmore," Bill Murray has really done some outstanding stuff lately. (His character, a washed-up actor in Japan to film a lucrative whiskey commercial, is not unlike his Herman Blume in "Rushmore.") And Scarlett Johansson deserves all the kudos she's gotten as of late.

"Lost in Translation" is a quiet movie, but it transports you to the isolation of feeling alone and periodically jubilant in a foreign land. The shots of urban Tokyo are frenzied and exciting, yet overwhelming at the same time. DVD comes out Feb. 3; it's the perfect movie to watch on a quiet evening or a rainy day -- in other words, with a melancholy backdrop.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Fashion Plate

The verdicts from the "America's Next Top Model" judges are in: I've got style!

Spending Sunday morning at UPN's portion of the TV critics press tour, I stuck around for the "Top Model" panel. Tyra Banks -- who freely admits she's got a huge forehead, so much so she was nicknamed "fivehead" -- was there, along with the show's other judges: Original supermodel Janice Dickinson, fashion photographer Nigel Barker and Eric Nicholson, senior fashion editor of Jane magazine.

After the session, I was talking to a UPN exec when the dark-haired Dickinson -- who's brash enough to call herself the "Rosa Parks of the modeling world," because she broke through what was then an all-blonde, blue-eyed industry -- walked up to us. She quickly told me how much she liked my jacket.

I was wearing a thrift store brown leather jacket I bought with Maria a few years ago in San Francisco. At $40, it was a pretty damn good purchase. All the more because I get more comments on it than any other piece of clothing I own.

When Dickinson heard I bought it at a thrift store, she brought over the Jane magazine fashion guru, who gave a thumb's up as well.

There you have it: Mike Schneider, fashion guru. Maria will be so proud.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Quake Mania

Bored of killer mountain lions and Mad Cow mania, local news media have found the perfect timing for the next big scare: Predictions that another big one will hit by September.

It's the tenth anniversary of the magnitude- 6.7 earthquake that stunned Northridge and all of L.A. -- and earthquake experts say they're taking seriously predictions that a shaker of at least magnitude 6.4 will hit the southern San Andreas Fault by Sept. 5.

Nice. Hmm. Perhaps time to put the home search on hold. At least until Sept. 6.

According to the Daily News, The prediction of UCLA seismologist and mathematical geophysicist Vladimir Keilis-Borok, who is known to colleagues as a "big shot in our field," is viewed as credible because last June his team predicted the magnitude-6.5 San Simeon Earthquake that occurred Dec. 22 and the magnitude-8.1 Hokkaido, Japan, earthquake of Sept. 25.

I was braving the freezing cold in Rockford, Illinois, when the big one hit, serving out a Northwestern/Medill School of Journalism "teaching newspaper" internship at the Rockford Register Star. (I didn't move to L.A. until June 1996).

Maria, meanwhile, lived through it in Chatsworth, and promises to recount her experiences later. A close friend of Maria's actually lived in the collapsed Northridge Meadows Apartment complex, in which 16 people died. Luckily, she came out OK.

On The Chopping Block

The Los Angeles region used to be home to several Air Force bases. Edwards AFB obviously still operates (and is in no danger of shutdown), but installations such as George Air Force Base (near Victorville), Norton Air Force Base (outside San Bernardino) and March Air Force Base (near Riverside) were all closed by the early 1990s.

According to the L.A. Times, a local group is now trying to save Los Angeles AFB (near El Segundo) from a similar fate.

It won't be easy: With a new round of cuts looming, the base's future doesn't look good. First off, it's tiny.

According to the paper: The base — officially called the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center — developed the GPS satellite navigation system. Its programs include the latest space-based radars, infrared satellites used to track enemy missiles and some of the nation's most covert space weapons.
The complex, which has no runways, supersonic jets or barracks, looks more like a spartan college campus.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Welcome to the Club -- the city guide portal backed by Gannett, MediaNews Group and Stephens Media Group -- remains in "public beta test" mode. But the site has quietly started up its own (you guessed it) blog.

How do we know? One of the blog's first links is to Franklin Avenue, and our proclamation below that Blogging Is Officially Over, thanks to Kent Shocknek.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

It's Official: Nick and Jessica Rule Entertainment

One day, three press announcements*:




*It's true! All three items, from three different networks, were were announced Thursday. I mean, come on, guys. Let's bring it down a notch.

Have Blogs Officially Jumped The Shark?

Yup, blogging has officially gone mainstream: KCBS morning anchor Kent Shocknek has started one on the station's web site. A sampling of Kent's big news: Apparently he lives five miles away from new traffic anchor Vera Jimenez -- and he's thinking about asking her to carpool.

So What The Hell is Press Tour, Anyway?
That's where all us freeloading reporters who cover the TV biz get drunk off top-shelf alcohol supplied by the networks while listening to execs explain how they're "really excited" about their fall development, yes?

Well, yes.

But truthfully, there is a lot more to it. New Jersey Star-Ledger TV columnist Alan Sepinwall is keeping a "Hollywood blog" of what goes on behind the scenes at the Television Critics Assn. press tour this week. It's a good primer, and helps explain why even top biz publications send their reporters to cover the event.

As Alan notes, The presence of the network suits is one of the unique parts of press tour. Not many other businesses force their chief executives to regularly stand in front of a room full of hostile reporters and explain their every blunder; at press tour, it’s a ritual.

These days, it's also a chance for grumpy critics to vent their frustration at the amount of reality TV on the air. And, of course, a chance to see Vanilla Ice go beserk (see below).

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Spalding Gray Missing

I know I'm late to this, but it's TV press tour time, so cut me some slack. Like other fans of his work, I'm rather sad to see that monologist Spalding Gray -- he of "Gray's Anatomy" and "Swimming to Cambodia" fame -- is missing and feared dead.

Of course, anyone who's seen the movies of his performances, read his books or caught him in person knows that Gray has suffered from depression and has attempted suicide in the past. His monolgues have also touched ocassionally on the impact of his mother's suicide.

Reports the New York Post: The angst-ridden writer and actor disappeared Saturday night "without his credit cards, his wallet and with no medication," said Tara Newman, speaking for Gray's heartsick wife, Kathie Russo.

And police were checking a report that Gray was spotted on a ferry Friday - on what his loved ones dread may have been a test run.

Gray - a manic depressive who has twice attempted suicide - had tried jumping off a ferry in September but was stopped by a friend, sources said.

I've seen Gray twice, one at the Alex Theater in Glendale and once at UCLA; both performances were several years ago.

Word To Your Mother

Forget about Schwarzenegger -- that's so Saturday. My latest surreal celeb experience? Tuesday morning at The WB's portion of the Television Critics Association press tour, when friggin' Vanilla Ice made my acquaintance.

The Setting: Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, at Hollywood and Highland
The Time: 10 a.m.
The Players: Me and Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle
The Scene:: Vanilla Ice has come to press tour to hawk the new WB reality show "The Surreal Life," along with the show's other roster of sublebrities: Erik Estrada, Traci Bingham, Ron Jeremy and "The Real World's" Trishelle.

The session is over, and I need some coffee. So does Vanilla Ice. For me, that's good enough. Just getting coffee while standing next to Vanilla Ice is more than enough for the memory book. After all, "Ice, Ice Baby" was a huge hit my senior year in high school. I hated the song at the time -- yet could still recite all of the lyrics without any visual aid. (And still can. It's always the songs you hate the most that stick with you the longest. But of course, with time, the song now reminds me of good high school times. Go figure.)

But rather than just get his coffee and go, Vanilla... er, Rob... strikes up a conversation with me.

Vanilla Ice: Man, I need some coffee.
Mike: Um. Me too.
Vanilla Ice: That's cool.
Mike: Hey, I enjoyed your show.
Vanilla Ice: Thanks, man.
Mike: Did you enjoy doing it?
Vanilla Ice: Not really.

How can you beat that? Try this on: Later that night, at the WB's press tour party, a karaoke machine had been installed. And Vanilla must've had a few cocktails. Because -- despite, as you'll see in "The Surreal Life," he desperately wants to rid himself of his cheesy past -- when the jokester DJ decided it was time to play the instrumental to "Ice Ice Baby," rather than get angry, Vanilla grabbed the mic and rocked the house. Seriously. For a moment, it was 1991.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Save Our Pumpkin Smoothie

Wow-- I write a post about me and Maria spying on Schwarzie the Guv and Shriver the First Lady window shopping in Beverly Hills (scroll down), and all anyone wants to talk about is the Pumpkin Smoothie I was slurping from Jamba Juice!

Still, that's cool. It's pretty damn good. But be warned: With the holidays over, Jamba Juice is phasing the flavor out. Before it's too late, I suggest contacting them here and demanding that they keep it.

Sometimes it actually works: Yes, I wrote the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf a few years ago, asking that they bring back the White Chocolate Dream Latte, which had been yanked after a seasonal run. A few weeks later, someone from the corporate offices left a message on our home machine: They were reintroducing it! (Of course, it would have been doubly nice if they had thanked me by giving us a coupon for a free beverage, but I digress).

Should stubborn Jamba Juice refuse to unleash the pumpkin, reader Justin Levine leaves word that Robek's Juice actually boasts a far superior Pumpkin Smoothie. And yes, folks, there's a Robek's location on Franklin Avenue (at Hillhurst)!

Monday, January 12, 2004

Koo Koo Konfused
Apparently burger joint Fuddrucker's purchased Koo Koo Roo (18 locations) at the end of the year (how'd we miss that scoop?). The effect is immediate: As of today, the Koo Koo Roo across the street from Variety World Headquarters is selling hamburgers.

That's right -- burgers at a joint known for healthy chicken and turkey alternatives. They're also offering ostrich burgers. Have yet to try ostrich (is it stringy?), which seemed to be the health rage in 1994. But today, at least, I stuck with my Spicy Garlic Chicken Bowl.
Justice for the Hall of Justice
Ten years after the Northridge earthquake -- and after several false starts -- it appears that reconstruction will finally begin this spring on the long-empty Hall of Justice.

LA Downtown News reports that the classical Italian-style building recently secured $144 million to finally be reconstructed.

The building -- which once held famed convicts such as Al Capone, Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson -- has been uninhabited since the 1994 quake. Eerily, the building has been virtually untouched since then: Calendars inside are still set at January 1994; Christmas gifts still sit inside, unopened and collecting dust. It's a grand old building, at least from the outside, and for now, at least, is the most famous of L.A.'s Ghost Towers.
KROQ Responds
It didn't take long for radio powerhouse KROQ to subtly tweak its playlist in reaction to the launch of Indie 103.1.

KROQ has suddenly added tracks by The Postal Service ("Such Great Heights") and Gary Jules ("Mad World") and is playing a few more classics from the grungy early 90s. Even stranger, today KROQ was almost echoing Indie at one point -- playing the grunge classic "Hunger Strike" by Temple of the Dog while Indie was about two minutes into the song; same thing happened with "Such Great Heights."

The Infinity-owned station, of course, is not in danger of being beat by upstart Indie 103.1 anytime soon -- Indie's weak signal and niche format assure that. But Indie could soon enough be a thorn in KROQ's side, and be enough of a draw to take a few share points away from the "World Famous" station. (That's Clear Channel's plan, after all, in selling ad time on Indie -- steal enough share points so that KROQ drops from second or third to sixth or seventh in the Arbitrons).

So it's probably not a surprise that KROQ would act fast and start playing a few of the Indie 103.1 playlist tracks -- even if it's a little odd to hear the retro synth of The Postal Service in between songs by Blink 182 and AFI.

It's also odd, if you note that both the Postal Service and Gary Jules tracks are at least a year old -- KCRW was playing those songs back when 103.1 was still a Spanish station!

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Our Lovely Stroll with the Guv'nah

Just ten days into 2004, and Maria and I may have already experienced the surreal moment of the year: Witnessing Arnold Schwarzenegger, wife Maria and kids window shopping on Rodeo Drive -- with security team in tow and Beverly Hills cops shadowing them close behind.

The Setting: Rodeo Drive near Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
The Date: Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004
The Time: 6:15 p.m.
The Scene: Maria and I had just stopped by Jamba Juice (which, by the way, is still selling their Pumpkin smoothie -- sounds disgusting, but it's like slurping a slice of pumpkin pie. Yum.) and were walking down a mostly deserted (and dark) Rodeo Drive when we spotted a family coming toward us.

Being the clueless guy I am, I didn't zero in on the parents. Nope, while taking a sip I noticed the family's daughter, who was wearing Ugg boots. What the hell are these things, and why in the past week have I heard everyone talking about them? That began to consume my mind -- until Maria started tugging on my shirt.

That's one of our silent codes for "Try to act cool, a celebrity is in our midst." According to Maria (that's my wife Maria, as in Franklin Avenue Maria), when she grabbed my shirt, Schwarzie's Maria, aka Ms. Shriver, noticed her and quickly gave her a funny look.

Just as I looked up and realized -- Holy crap, it's the Governator! -- some random woman with her two kids in tow (the only other people on the sidewalk) started to shout, "Governor! Governor!"

Yup. It was Ahnuld, Ms. Shriver and family.

But before I had the chance to congratulate him for, winning the Governorship, the Schwarzenegger clan (again, with about 10 security personnel in tow) darted across the street.

But not in a crosswalk or at an intersection. That's right, scofflaw fans, we witnessed your Governor jaywalking! (A crime, by the way, that got Maria and I a ticket from the Burbank police a few years ago -- but that's a story for another time.)

We stopped and observed, and made one very snap observation (besides the shocking, shocking! jaywalking scene): Arnold is short! Celebs frequently look smaller in person, but, wow! Short.

Dressed rather casually, Arnold and fam began to window shop. Most of the stores on Rodeo were already closed, but as he looked into one boutique, the woman inside closing up shop rushed to unlock her door.

Too late. Arnold had moved on. We kept up with them from across the street, as they looked from store to store. We were also pretty sure that dark figures inside the several unmarked cars parked on the street (with their engines running, natch) were keeping an eye on us aswell. (Now, should we discuss the irony of Schwarzie shopping on the most expensive street in California the day after he proposed slashing budgets and cutting down state programs?)

Eventually, the family ducked inside somewhere, and we kept walking. And sucking on Jamba Juice.

Friday, January 9, 2004

Rate-A-Restaurant, #31 in a series

Restaurant: Trader Vic's

Location: Inside the Beverly Hilton -- 9876 Wilshire Blvd.

Type of restaurant: Tropical/ tiki bar

They stipulated: You pretty much have to order a cheesy, sticky sweet tropical drink. (Otherwise, what the hell are you doing at Trader Vic's? Go to Sona or something.)

What we ordered: Ahi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes for Mike; sea bass for Maria

High point: It was New Year's Eve, and we went there because (a) we didn't have reservations anywhere else; (b) they didn't force a prix fixe dinner on you and (c) we thought it would be fun and kitschy. And it was. Plus, they added some nice touches -- free champagne at midnight, party favors and complementary dessert.

Low point: Still, if you're gonna play the tropical role, then I say -- go all out. The singers and hula dancer was nice, but how bout blasting some Hawaiian music over the speakers? Also, for New Year's, it was a pretty mellow affair (not that we complained -- we were sort of looking for something not too crazy). But it ended too quickly -- the place cleared out by 12:30.

Overall impression: Surprisingly, the food wasn't bad for a place like that. After all, you don't go to Trader Vic's for the food, just like you sure don't head to El Coyote for the Mexican fare. You go for the beverages. And more beverages.

Chance we will go back: Trader Vic's is probably a once a year place -- just like you don't want to overindulge in anything too kitschy. See you in 2005!

For all of our Rate-A-Restaurant reviews, check out our companion blog site,
New Bookmark
Can't hurt to have another site out there tipping us off to what's going on in Los Angeles... so check out Get Out LA, which boasts a solid list of events, exhibits, conventions and concerts of note -- all handily listed under the subhead "Crap."
Mr. Misery
The L.A. Weekly expands on previous reports that singer/songwriter Elliott Smith may not have committed suicide after all.

A report released by the L.A. County Coroner's Office this week reveals that the department has left open the possibility that he was a victim of homicide:

According to the January 6 report, Smith’s girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba, told police that she and Smith were arguing when she locked herself in the bathroom. She said she heard Smith scream, opened the bathroom door and found him standing with his back to her. When he turned around, she told police, she saw the kitchen knife in his chest. She said he was standing up, conscious and gasping for breath. She told police that she pulled the knife out of his chest and saw "two cuts" before he walked away and collapsed.

Hmmm. Fans of Smith, posting at the singer's website, are still holding on to the belief that Smith killed himself -- and that the LA Weekly story got it wrong. To me, it all sounds a little dicey.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Cellular Static
In a headline sure to strike fear in the hearts of Angelenos, the L.A. Times reports that the Los Angeles city council has proposed banning hand-held cell phones in cars.

Hands-free devices, like I try to use most of the time (well, I use the earpiece on my phone, does that count?), would still be allowed:

Yet to be decided are what penalty scofflaws would face, and how such a rule would be enforced. And given that Los Angeles borders, and in some cases surrounds, lots of other cities without such a ban, officials would also have to figure out how to notify drivers to put down their phones when they enter the city limits.
Music To My Ears
Finally updated the Recent Playlist round up (scroll down the right-hand bar and you'll find it). A small sampling of the stuff I've been listening to in October, November and December.

That means, of course, a sprinkling of tracks by Outkast and Damien Rice, a couple by Death Cab for Cutie, and a few Italian pop tracks that caught our attention while we were there.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

New Year's Resolution #546
Watch more of Fox's "The OC."

For peeps like myself who haven't watched consistently (and plan to make it must-see TV in the 2K4), the O.C. Weekly boils down 14 episodes of 'The O.C.' into 1,260 words.
New Wave for Blade
Radio listeners twisting their knob past KYSR-FM Star 98.7 on New Year's Day heard a familiar SoCal voice: Richard Blade.

Blade, the man who pretty much popularized the synth-heavy New Wave music of the 1980s, was also synonymous with the glory days of KROQ -- which made hearing him on a crosstown rival just plain bizarre.

Blade left KROQ in 2000 and moved to the Carribean, occassionally returning to L.A. for Depeche Mode conventions and dialing in his voice for those annoying Auto Insurance Specialist ("A.I.S.") commercials.

But according to his bio on the Star 98.7 website, Blade actually returned full time to L.A. in October 2002, and worked last year on the VH1 reality show "Bands Reunited." He has now signed a deal with Clear Channel and Star 98.7 to host a weekly Saturday night "Totally 80s" flashback show on the station.

The bio, by the way, makes no mention at all of KROQ. Which is like ignoring the elephant in the room -- after all, that's what he's best known for (well that, and showing up in 80s classics "Square Pegs" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun").
Music Exchange
I still have a few copies of our end-of-the-year CD compilation, "Prego! Saucy Selections from 2003, Simmered By Mike."

You want a copy? As I mentioned below, it includes tracks from The Postal Service, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Gary Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Richard Ashcroft, Coldplay, Weekend Players, Cat Power and plenty others. And Maria created the cool CD design.

I'd love to trade for one of your mixes -- CD for CD. Just e-mail us for more details. Grazie! (Prego!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The L.A. Times has redesigned its comics pages -- but failed to add or eliminate any strips.

What a wasted opportunity. Finally, their chance to can "Rex Morgan MD," "Crock" and "Mutts." But alas, all three are still there.

Actually, to not be flip for a moment, I'd say the L.A. Times has one of the better comics selections in the country. They've given high-profile shots to a number of new strips ("Candorville," "Frazz"), run the current hottest strips out there ("Zits," "Get Fuzzy," "Boondocks") and have avoided running too many way-past-their-prime strips such as "Hi and Lois." And they've put entries like "Garfield" and "Family Circus" where they belong -- on the kids' page.

Meanwhile, still on the comics page: The truncated Liz Smith. I've never understood the use of running the first two graphs of her column, but nothing else.
New Bad Reality Show Idea: Self Court
Item: George Russell Weller -- the 87-year-old driver who killed 10 people at the Santa Monica Farmers Market last year -- has been charged with ten counts of vehivular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Sez the L.A. Times:
Police Chief James Butts urged Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley last month to file manslaughter charges, saying that Weller should have been aware of his own capacity to drive and was "at best" negligent in his operation of a motor vehicle.

Lynch said prosecutors took care when making the filing decision because there were "pretty horrific injuries and death out there with a nontypical killing weapon and a nontypical defendant." The charges come after a lengthy investigation by the California Highway Patrol and the Santa Monica Police Department.

Weller's attorneys, Mark Overland and Jim Bianco, said Monday that they were disappointed that Cooley decided to proceed with the case. They stressed that their own investigation concluded that the crash should not result in criminal charges.

Take a look at that last line again. The shocker: Their own investigation concluded that the crash should not result in criminal charges.

But of course. By the way, I'm sure Kobe Bryant's lawyers' investigation found that... ready for this? Kobe's innocent. Funny, but Michael Jackson's reps have likely come to the same conclusion about their client. And I'm sure Ahnuld's peeps would have decided the same thing had the Gropenator not called off his investigation.

Monday, January 5, 2004

Rate-A-Restaurant, #30 in a series

Restaurant: Mustard Seed Cafe

Location: 1948 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz

Type of restaurant: California lunch/brunch cuisine

They stipulated: Mustard Seed has very limited hours -- 9 to 5. That makes it tough, obviously, to grab a bite on weekdays. Unless you don't have to work. Damn you. (They're also closed on Mondays.)

What we ordered: Rosemary turkey burger with a side of potato salad (Mike) and Chicken sandwich with red slaw for Maria.

High point: The rosemary turkey burger is truly excellent, and different. And the potato salad was a surprise -- fresh and flavorful, and not at all your typical picnic variety.

Low point: The red slaw, on the otherhand, was a huge disappointment. Way too vinegary.

Overall impression: Mustard Seed Cafe is one of those great, neighborhood weekend joints. The mood is relaxed and slow. The decor is a bright yellow, and patrons spill onto the sidewalk, making it all the more inviting. And the cafe takes quite a few chances with its menu.

Chance we will go back: You'll see us there on a future Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

For all of our Rate-A-Restaurant reviews, check out our companion blog site,
Radio, Radio
Just found the new website for Entravision's KDLD/KDLE "Indie 103.1."

Web site is still a work in progress, but will eventually stream the station's audio and list areas of the region where it can be heard (due to its weak signal, it's tough to hear east of the 5 and north of the 134).

Site does already list a sample of tracks being played on the station -- helpful since Indie 103.1 hasn't yet hired any jocks to back announce:

michael andrews/gary jules-- "mad world"
polyphonic spree -- "light & day"
network -- "supermodel robots"
postal service -- "such great heights"
nofx -- "franco un-american"
the faint -- "agenda suicide"
black rebel motorcycle club -- "stop"
bright eyes -- "lover i don't have to love"
iggy pop -- "little know it all"
the thrills -- "one horse town"
jet -- "rollover dj's"
atmosphere -- "trying to find a balance"
chicks on speed -- "yes i do"
interpol -- "obstacle 1"

Of course, those are the newer tracks being played on the station. But Indie 103.1 is showcasing mostly older songs from the 1980s and 1990s (for now, at least).

Web site lists engagement ring hawker Robbins Bros. as one of the station's charter sponsors.

Meanwhile, a number of commenters down below are still pissed off about the demise of dance-oriented 103.1 KDL.
Marry Her Baby, One More Time
Oh, Brit-Brit, how did your life become a bad parody of a dated "Friends" storyline?
Signpost Ahead
Apparently it's getting too easy to rename your neighborhood. All you have to do, according to the L.A. Times, is get a group of residents together and ask a city council member. They'll ask the Department of Transportation to put up a sign and done.

Hence neighborhoods like "Canterbury Knolls," "Green Meadow" and "Athens on the Hill." Huh? Where?

It's that easy neighborhood naming that has some council members looking to toughen the process.

Me, I'm hoping to get our portion of Franklin Avenue renamed "Beyonce Knolls" before the rules change.

Friday, January 2, 2004

Price for gas in L.A. is up vs. last year at this time, but at least still far below those insane prices of last spring, according to the L.A. Times:

As the new year began, Southland gasoline prices were 8.5 cents higher than at the start of 2003, the Automobile Club of Southern California reported.

Regular gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area cost $1.626. Prices peaked the week of March 22 at $2.17 a gallon.
Loyal Franklin Avenue readers, 'tis the end of the year and time for Mike's annual "Best of" CD compilation.

This year's edition, "Prego! Saucy Selections from 2003, Simmered By Mike," includes tracks from The Postal Service, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Gary Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Richard Ashcroft, Coldplay, Weekend Players, Cat Power and plenty others.

Best of all, the CD packaging this year was created by this cool graphic designer I know. And live with. And am married to.

We made enough copies for the usual circulation of friends, but also have a few left over. Want one? Email us... along with a confession about your most embarrassing moment of 2003 and/or your life philosophies for 2K4. Best responses will get a copy...
Lessons for 2004, Number One: Read the Labels In Your Bathroom
So this is how the new year is going to go: Hoping to freshen my breath this morning before going out on a walk with Mrs. Franklin Avenue, I grabbed a bottle of green stuff -- one of those hotel-size small containers -- and started gargling.

It was bath gel.

Why, oh why, would you manufacture bath gel the same color as mouthwash?

And why, oh why, didn't I stop one second to read the label?

On the bright side, my mouth is now bath gelly clean.

Happy New Year!