Archive for June, 2009

TIP – *ACTUALLY* party like it’s 1999

JUNE 22-28, 2009 – WEEK-LONG DRINK DISCOUNTS
Bigfoot Lodge – TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

Place: 3172 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90039
(323) 662-9227
Time: Opens at 5 p.m. daily, Closes at 2:00 a.m. with happy hour from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Details: Calling all lushes! Longtime Los Feliz hipster hang the Bigfoot Lodge has officially been around for a decade, and in honor of the bar’s 10th anniversary, drinks will be slashed to 1999 prices through Sunday night. WOO HOO! Plus, if you’re in the mood for a little spa treatment as you get your party cocktail on, just check out Bigfoot’s Happy Hour Friday with dtox Spa. (RSVP required)

“Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Bigfoot Lodge brings us a week of special events, reintroducing live bands on Sunday afternoons, “Sasquatch sightings,” vintage drink prices and the opening of a sister-bar in Culver City, Bigfoot West. Bigfoot Lodge’s weeklong 10-year anniversary party takes place June 22nd-28th. Drinks will be priced as they were way back in 1999! Plus, they’re bringing back Sunday Sessions of live bands to entertain the masses as we down their Bloody Sunday crafty cocktails, which we can only imagine will be spicy as hell. On Tuesday, June 23rd, check out the fourth monthly Knotty Pine Derby—and enter your own pint-sized car for the heated races across the bartop. Take home a trophy! For those who reside on the west side, Bigfoot’s coming to you with a new venue called Bigfoot West, taking the place of the old Rae’s Tavern on Venice Blvd. The flaming Toasted Marshmallow cocktail, of course, is always waiting for a new victim.” SOURCE


VIDEO – The Blue Angels

It was filmed at Annapolis, but I’m posting this video from the inside of a Blue Angels‘ cockpit for various reasons:

  1. Southern California (especially San Diego, where I grew up) is an epicenter of the United States Military and the Blue Angels’ annual winter training takes place in El Centro, about 2 1/2 hours from L.A.
  2. It’s a cool video. Duh.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6-IKJUrY-U[/youtube] My father was an Aeronautical Engineer (the last plane he designed was the C-17) , and when I was a kid he used to take me to watch the Angels do maneuvers almost every year. He would’ve *drooled* over this clip, and then probably watched it about a hundred more times and forwarded it to everyone he knew.

Yep… in his wildest dreams, my dad felt the need. And you know what I’m talking about.


WEB – In SRO Land

Each spring, L.A.’s popular time-travel blog 1947project reinvents itself. For the first three years, it followed a chronological crime-a-day format by painstakingly scouring newspapers for incredible forgotten tales of crime and infamy from particular years (1947, 1927 and 1907 were all featured). Then the On Bunker Hill blog which followed was “a house-by-house survey of the great old downtown residential neighborhood that was demolished to create the high rise district that shares its name, but none of its charms.” The contributors – including authors, librarians, bloggers, psychologists, film scholars, art historians, artists and tour guides – dug deep into historic archives to uncover fascinating tales of more than a century of life on old Bunker Hill.

Well, the latest incarnation of Kim Cooper‘s baby has officially been born as of today, and it’s got a name: In SRO Land: lost lore of the Historic Core. The blog’s contributors are an eclectic mix of prominent social historians and journalists who will “explore the forgotten history of Downtown LA, up the grand entertainment boulevard of Broadway (where SRO means “Standing Room Only”) and down the mean streets of Main (where SRO stands for “Single Room Occupancy,” shorthand for a rented room with a sink in the corner, shared toilet down the hall). Between these two poles, straddling the financial center of Spring Street, modern Los Angeles was born.” Check it out!


FOCUS – The People of Silver Lake

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPiuwgCDQek&feature=PlayList&p=1CD11BBE54DDF535&index=0&playnext=1[/youtube] I hate to break so many fantasies… but quite a few Americans who’ve never stepped within the city limits of Los Angeles have an awfully tough time believing that the typical “LA person” isn’t a shallow, illiterate, wanna-be fame whore who flashes their crotch at strangers and opens fire on other cars in traffic whenever possible. Admittedly, perhaps it seems less fun to acknowledge that the vast majority of our neighbors are actually just average, decent, hard working folks who are more focused on feeding their families than world fame, who regularly wear underwear and who don’t take sawed-off shotguns along to commute the 101. (Well, unless we’re having a really bad day.)

Sometimes the reality is interesting too, though. The People of Silver Lake is a sweet little documentary made by the Silver Lake History Collective in an effort to document and explore the human mixing pot of their neighborhood. The film is divided into four YouTube parts and follows five long-time locals as they tell their stories, exposing the diversity of personalities and cultures that make up a Los Angeles neighborhood. Note: No crotch flashing or violence shown. (Sorry!) Storytellers include: artist Alberto Hernandez, resturauteur Larry Nicola, Marion Spencer, Don Jarvis, and Dr. Sekaye Shigekawa (who tells of her stay in a Japanese internment camp at Santa Anita during WW2).

In case it doesn’t autoplay the clips in order, here is the full playlist for all four parts. Also, a map of Silver Lake is after the jump for those who don’t know the area.

(more…)


IMAGERY – Sister Aimee’s Stained Glass

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnHNUIx-bks[/youtube] Up until a few days ago, I had never set foot in the Angelus Temple in Echo Park. Not being much for organized religion myself, this might not seem unusual… except that the temple is one of the more noteworthy parts of my family heritage. At 19, my Grandma Beulah preached at Pentacostal tent revivals alongside the woman who built the temple, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, and often babysat Aimee’s son Rolf who recently passed away. I’ve passed the huge structure so many times that getting out of my car and walking inside was a long overdue experience.

To say that Sister Aimee was one of the most influential and controversial women of the 20th Century in America is an understatement. Let me put it this way… her following was so large that she estimated the entire $1.2 million cost of the temple (we’re talking 1924, people – think about it) was paid for with an average donation of TWO CENTS. I’ll be writing more about her in the future… now that I have this site, I have a great excuse to make myself get off my rear and do some research. My dream is to go through their archives and find some incredible photo of my nutty Grandma as a young girl speaking in tongues or something, but that will take time. So for the moment I’ll just share with you a photo I took of one of the temple’s original stained glass window after the jump. Sister Aimee is the woman portrayed kneeling on the bottom left. CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW.
(more…)


Happy Fathers’ Day

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkAhQBbK-oM[/youtube]

My dad passed away from a heart attack on March 26, 2008. He was a very sentimental guy and after the fact I found out that he’d been going through a big James Taylor kick throughout the entire last year of his life. With that knowledge and also recognizing how difficult this year has been for so many people, this video seems like a perfect sentiment to post today. Have a nice, relaxing Sunday full o’ love, Los Angeles. :)

Happy Fathers’ Day everyone. And to my dad too. I miss ya, you big goofball. (And yes, I know you think it’s “Neat!” that I’m posting your Air Force photo on the internet for the world to see. That’s why I do it.)

Thompson G. Garrett, Jr. - April 21, 1933 to March 26, 2008

Tom Garrett, Jr. - 1933-1908


EVENTS – The Close Up 6/21

UPCOMING EVENTS:
6/21/09 – Opening of the Eagle Rock Rock’N Roll Farmers’ Market
6/22/09 – The Song Stylings of Jackie Chan and Friends – Free Concert in Chinatown; Elvis Costello – Free Show at Amoeba

SUNDAY, JUNE 21st
Eagle Rock’N Roll Farmers’ Market – GRAND OPENING / REOCCURING WEEKLY

Place: 2700 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041 (Located on the upper parking level next to Macy’s)
Time: Every Sunday from 10am to 2pm
Details: Eagle Rock’s groovy new Farmers Market opens up this Fathers’ Day… and if it’s anything like PD Markets’ other locations (I try to attend the Woodman Avenue Market when I can), it’s definitely worth checking out. According to founder Philip Dane, “For those of you that are not familiar with our markets, we are not your ordinary farmers’ market. PD Markets has a unique feel and brings together farmers with artisans and live music. (This Sunday) we have The Bar Band playing 2 sets and of course it’s all Free. Plus we have a Rock Climbing wall and obstacle course for the kids or the kid in you.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cEow6iOWlk[/youtube]MONDAY, JUNE 22nd
Jackie Chan and Friends – FREE CONCERT IN CHINATOWN
Also featured will be Xu Dong Mei, Xu Nin, Jack Tu, Jerry Liao, Yang Zheng, and Ji Tao of the New Lucky Seven, Korean singer Yoo Suengjun, and America’s Sharon Jiao.
Place:
Central Plaza, 943-951 N. Broadway, Los Angeles Chinatown
Time:
Monday, June 22, 2009 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Details: The always adorable Jackie Chan will reunite friends and pop singers from China in a free performance in Los Angeles Chinatown. The concert will be performed in Mandarin and English. Martial arts performances by both the New Lucky Seven and the Shaolin Warriors of Chinatown will be a part of the evening. According to the press release, Jackie is taking time out from rehearsing for the remake of ‘Karate Kid’ to perform his inspirational music in L.A.’s Chinatown, where his very first U.S. feature film, ‘Rush Hour,’ was shot.

Elvis Costello – FREE IN-STORE CONCERT
Place: Amoeba Records, 6400 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
Time: June 22, 2009, 8pm
Details: I *really* don’t need to tell you who Elvis Costello (aka Declan McManus, International Art Thief) is, or why you should see him. You already know. And if you don’t? Seriously? Ummm. Well I… I… oh, I just don’t think I can see you anymore. I’m sorry. I really do care about you, but this relationship just isn’t going to work out for me. Yup… that’s a dealbreaker, ladies.


TIP – The Daily Groupon

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW0nBOpgeN0[/youtube] Their Deals of the Day have saved millions of dollars for the people of Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. already. Now it looks like Groupon.com will soon be sharing the love and coming to Los Angeles. According to their website, their aim will be to find “the most interesting stuff to do in Los Angeles, and work with businesses to offer our subscribers the best deals available on things like Art, Theatre, Restaurants & Bars, Concerts, Movie Tickets, Retail, Lessons & Classes Events, Hotels, Spas & Salons, and more.”

“From the guy behind ThePoint.com, Groupon’s a daily e-blast offering the masses one exclusive and heavily discounted deal per 24-hour window, like a giant soup of the day, and everyone gets a spoon. To take advantage, you prepay the stated rate, but you’re only charged if a predetermined amount of other users do the same — basically, enough that the deal makes sense for the business, establishment, or knee-sock wholesaler in question.” SOURCE

Groupon.com — Los Angeles
A big thanks to Kim for the tip! :)


IMAGERY – LAFD on Flickr

A few images from the Los Angeles Fire Department’s official Flickr stream. As Paris Hilton would say, “That’s hot.” (Sorry.)

(more…)


FOCUS – Inspired by Sunset Boulevard

Note: A link to the entire film is after the jump.

May I present the most kickass stoplight you’ve ever seen. Well okay, your mileage may vary but I’ve been digging on this stoplight since the first moment I saw it. (And yes, I *am* easily entertained.) This was a typical sight on Sunset Boulevard in 1949, as captured in the iconic film Sunset Boulevard just moments before a pivotal flat tire changes Joe Gillis’ life forever, forcing him to hide out in Norma Desmond’s driveway.

I’m normally not one for traffic signals, but I love love love this stoplight. The technology was still relatively new… clearly people couldn’t be counted on to pay attention to simple colored lights yet so they made sure to add an automated sign that announced “Stop” and “Go” as well, just to make sure you were doubly aware of what green and red meant. No excuses, buddy.

Sunset Boulevard is, hands down, my number one top favorite film for sentimental reasons and has been ever since I first saw it with roommates just days after moving to Los Angeles from San Diego by myself. I loved everything about the movie… the noir cinematography; the incredible dialogue (My favorite line? “Funny how gentle people get with you once you’re dead.” Just wow.); the total sexy hotness of William Holden in his vicuna; the batshitinsaneness of Gloria Swanson’s iconic portrayal of Norma; Erich VonStroheim’s accent; Betty’s smart sassiness; seeing Detective Joe Friday as a skinny party boy; and of course, the monkey funeral… but most of all, I LOVED being able to witness vintage Los Angeles in its glory. The magic of the film hooked me completely.

A few days after seeing the movie, I remember driving around town with my friends in search of the filming locations… it was so exciting to just imagine we were breathing the same air as William Holden and Gloria Swanson had, albeit decades later. Sunset Boulevard was the first film that inspired me to take to the streets and explore old Los Angeles, because the film captured it and showed it to me in real time. It’s a time capsule of the Los Angeles that has since been paved over and considered forgotten… but there are still very tangible traces of that city if you look for them.

(more…)


TIP – *BEST* DMV To Register Your Car

Okay, I had a hell of a time registering my little clown car this year. It’s done now so I won’t go over the sordid details other than to say that apparently 1999 Mazda Miatas and smog checks do not get along like peas and carrots. But looking on the bright side, along the way I did happen upon a hidden gem of a government office in Hollywood. And since few government offices can be considered a “hidden gem,” this was a big shock. Now before I continue, please note that this DMV apparently does *NOT* handle drivers license issues… but if you need anything registration related? It’s awesome. I walked in with no appointment and got through the line in five minutes flat. There were only two people ahead of me! Now that I know about this location I will never go to another office. (more…)


FOCUS – Your Inner Bukowski

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVn9qUz3W94[/youtube] I’ve been noticing lately that people seem a bit weary right now. Just kind of… holding on and trying to keep their heads up until the tide turns. Los Angeles is a city with a bit of a manic depressive personality, so when times are hard (riots, earthquakes, fires, floods, unemployment, bad breakup, whatever) usually it’s easy to just look up at the sun and think, “Yeah, my life kinda sucks right now… but look at this weather! Tomorrow will be better!” Lately even the best of us seem to be struggling and feeling a bit down for an extended time, though. We’re all a little bummed that Obama hasn’t filled our lives with rainbows and butterflies yet.

Now I’m one of those annoying people who likes to focus on the good, but sometimes that’s a lot of work during times like these. What to do, what to do. (more…)


TIP – New Link Listings!

Happy Thursday, folks!

Well, if you look up above where it says “Pages” and pull down the menu, you’ll find a feature called “Hidden LA Online Resources.” It’s a compilation of links to assist you in your Los Angeles treasure hunting. This listing will be updated regularly, so please let us know if there are any sites you feel should be included, any links that are broken or out of date, or any way that it can be improved along the way so that we can make it a better resource that you’ll want to turn to. Capiche? :)


EDITORIAL – Why People Hate LA

REASON 493: LOS ANGELES WILL EAT YOUR DREAMS FOR BREAKFAST
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T3Fr132lec[/youtube] 26 year-old Greg Insco‘s website begins, “The people that are crazy enough to change the world… DO.” Greg’s dream of changing the world? To be a contestant on Survivor. And knowing there was overwhelming competition to be noticed, Greg worked on a master plan… to walk directly from Cincinnati to the Survivor auditions being held at CBS in Santa Monica, more than 2,200 miles. The idea to make the journey on foot and hand deliver the tape first came from his best friend, Megan, who died more than two years ago. So as a tribute to her and his Tribal Council aspirations, he started his walk on April 9th youtubing and twittering the whole way. He arrived on Saturday. Along the way he didn’t lose faith… he was going to change the world and go to cast parties with Rudy Bosch come hell or painful blisters. He was going to follow the American dream and work hard… to get on a reality show.

Well, Greg made it to the auditions… (more…)


TV – Man Versus LA Food

The Food Network’s travel show Man Versus Food follows actor and food enthusiast Adam Richman as he explores the “big food” of different American cities and enters a long-standing eating challenge at a local restaurant.

In February, Adam brought the show to Los Angeles. If you’d like to try his local menu for yourself, here it is:

Where: El Tepeyac Café
Where: 812 N Evergreen Ave, East LA (323) 267-8668
What to order: The five-pound Manuel’s Special, designed to feed two to four people. He also ordered a machaca burrito, which is shredded beef with egg. Having grown up in San Diego, I just prefer to call this “breakfast.”

Where: Phillipe’s French Dip
Where: 1001 N Alameda Street, Downtown (213) 628-3781
What to order: He tried all of the French dips and rated them in order of his favor: 1. Beef; 2. Lamb; 3. Pork; 4. Turkey. (I concur with his results.)
Tip: Eating aside, I would also recommend walking around the corner to the back dining room and checking out the walls. Philippes used to have a strong tie to the local union of circus performers and there’s still some vintage circus memorabilia gracing the walls if you look to your left. Model trains, too!

THE FOOD CHALLENGE
Where: Orochon Ramen
Where: 123 Onizuka Street Little Tokyo (213) 617-1766‎
What to order: The “Spicy Ramen Challenge”… basically, any person who can finish the serving of Special No. 2, a spicy soup featuring 10 kinds of chiles, is awarded a place on the Wall of Bravery. He finished. Will you?

Full episode of “Man Versus Food” is viewable after the jump. (more…)


MUSIC – Cowabunga, Daddio

Sunday’s passing of Bob Bogle, lead guitarist of The Ventures (the “most successful instrumental combo in rock and roll history” according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), has inspired us to pay tribute to what was the original soundtrack for much of Southern California’s beach culture, Surf Music. Strange as it seems, as a third generation native Southern Californian who’s never surfed and is allergic to the sun… Surf Music is the music of my people. Other folks have this and I have this. There are worse lots to have in life. If it wasn’t for the Chuck Berry-on-crack guitar riffs of musicians like The Ventures (who were actually from Washington), Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and even the Bel-Airs, the Beach Boys, and the Surfaris? Well, the Southern California beaches (not to mention the films of Ennio Morricone, Quentin Tarrantino, Robert Rodriguez and Annette Funicello) would’ve been *much* less groovy and danceable. Let’s not even think about a horrible world like that: it totally harshes my mellow, dude. Surf music’s awesome. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

So, in tribute to the talents of Mr. Bogle and the wonders of my musical heritage, I present some totally rad music videos. Some vintage… some newer… all awesome. More after the jump. Enjoy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8__EwAT8VM[/youtube] (more…)


EVENTS – GO, possums! GO

ednaTrue story: Dame Edna once gave me a black eye. With a gladiola. No joke, I had a shiner for a week. But I’ll get to that story in a minute. First things first.

Not *all* great things in LA are hidden… but they all need your support!
What: Dame Edna Everage’s FIRST LAST TOUR
Where: Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Downtown
When: Until June 21
TIP: Subject to availability, $20 Hot Tix may be purchased on the day of performance at the box office (cash only). Exact seat locations are not given over the phone. Tickets limited to two per household. To learn more about Hot Tix, call Audience Services at (213) 628-2772.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gO8hmDzxFM[/youtube]If you have had the pleasure of attending any of her previous shows, you have probably already bought tickets for this. If you have never seen Dame Edna live, LISTEN TO ME… get off your rear and make an effort to see her right now because not only may this be your last chance, but your world will instantly become far more fabulous once you do. Trust me on this. I would not steer you wrong. While a Dame Edna show may seem like silly camp, it’s much more. It’s non-stop laughter and who doesn’t need that?!? In truth, Barry Humphries may easily be the quickest witted performer alive. Nobody else holds a candle. Edna is an absolute treasure to watch, so go… and laugh your gladiolus off!

Curious about how she gave me a shiner? Well, that and more Dame Edna info after the jump.
(more…)


EVENTS – The Close Up 6/16

EVENT LISTING
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18th
A CONVERSATION WITH PENN & TELLER, presented by Writers Bloc
Where: Writers’ Guild Theater, 135 Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Time: 7:30 pm Price: One ticket is $20.00. Cash or personal checks accepted at the door. Please no credit cards. Online RSVP required.
“Penn & Teller, known for their magic and performance wizardry, are as fun to listen to as they are to watch. Their art is avant garde, the banter is provocative and funny. And now’s your chance to see Teller talk! In conversation with Eddie Goredetsky, writer for Late Night With David Letterman, SNL, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and more. Eddie also wrote for Penn & Teller’s specials, Don’t Try This at Home, as well as Penn & Teller’s Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends.”

SUNDAY, JUNE 21th
FATHER’S DAY WITH CHARLIE CHAPLIN – THE KID
Where: Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, 611 N Fairfax Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90036
Time: 8pm; Price: $12 – Tickets can be reserved online
“In celebration of Father’s Day, The Cinefamily presents one of Chaplin’s most moving and beloved films. The Tramp adopts an abandoned baby he discovers in an alley, and raises him to become his sidekick in a variety of schemes and cons. A moving and hilarious film about paternal love, or as Chaplin’s first title says, “A picture with a smile, and perhaps a tear…” Children under 18 get in half price to this special “kiddie” matinee.” Dir. Charles Chaplin, 1921, 16mm, 68 min

(more…)


TRENDS – Tweeted Treats

Although a bunch of enterprising UCLA law students recently helped to overturn that stupid ban on taco trucks in Los Angeles (THANK YOU!), there are some things that will never be the same again. It’s now the dawning of the age of Twittered food in Los Angeles. It all began when word leaked out that Kogi was twittering the locations of their Korean taco trucks to keep one step ahead of the kerfluffle with authorities. Public reaction was unprecedented… soon thanks to word of mouth, the excitement built up until people began lining up curbside for two hours just to get the chance to try a Kogi spicy pork slider. (Which, let me say from first hand experience, are definitely tasty. Perhaps not two hours standing on a curb worth of tasty, but tasty.)

Since Los Angeles is so big, we’re behind the food cart culture of cities like Portland. And we’re always a little bit behind New York, where twitter will lead you to Belgian waffles, red currant ice cream and a brazen guerilla coffee truck that parks outside of Starbucks (NICE!). But with the success of Kogi, we knew it had to be the beginning of a trend. So below is a listing of the current food vendors that are riding the twitter train, as well as tips on how to get Kogi without waiting in line forever. It makes perfect sense to me that with the economy the way it is and the overhead of a mobile restaurant being so low, this list will probably multiply soon. So keep your eyes and ears open and let us know if you discover any great ones we should know about. (more…)


The Unknown Angeleno

We met our first, utterly delightful Unknown Angeleno while enjoying a sunset dinner with visiting friends from Montana. (Shout out!)

Where we met her: Yamashiro’s
Occupation: Food server
Has lived in L.A. for: 15 years
Why we chose her: She was very sweet. And she serves up an awesome lychee martini. We’ll do anything for a lychee martini. Well, *almost* anything.

THE UNKNOWN ANGELENO’S FAVORITE THINGS

1. “Even though I’m Japanese, there are a lot of really great Korean places I like to go for Happy Hour. They have really good deals and great people. I can’t read the menus at all, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve had a lot of fun.”

2.$15/hour foot massages in San Gabriel. You can’t beat them.”

3. “Definitely horseback riding in the hills above Beachwood Canyon.” (One hour is $25. Two hours is $40. And hey, look! Old photos!)

*********
This reoccurring column will feature three local tips and/or insights from anonymous locals we meet during our daily travels.


TIP – Online SigAlerts

Next time you’re leaving the office and want to figure out the best route to make it home in time for Howie Do It, take a minute to log onto the online SigAlert page and see what’s happening on the roads first. The California Highway Patrol defines a SigAlert as “any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours, as opposed to a planned event like road construction, which is planned separately.” Contrary to rumor, the name doesn’t come from the word “signal,” but rather is in honor of the system’s inventor Loyd C. Sigmon who passed away in 2004. Apparently the vanity license plate on his car even read SIGALRT.


FOCUS – See Cal Profit

Cal Worthington and his dogg SnoopCalvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington was a bad ass. I mean, we’re talking about a man who braved Southern California heatwaves wearing a polyester cowboy leisure suit. For decades, he stood on top of biplanes in midair, rode charging hippos and wrassled bears and tigers. Just to get you to go see him. And it all paid off… a profile in the Sacramento Bee (published in 1990) stated that ol’ Cal grossed $316.8 million in 1988. Okay, now add inflation. That’s a lot of Fords, my friend.

Cal was one of the very first car dealers to appear in their own TV ads as a wacky character, promising if he couldn’t give you the best price that he would stand on his head or eat a bug. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any youtube videos of Cal eating bugs so I’m unsure if he ever actually ate any. But he did an awful lot of other stunts for rolling cameras, as evidenced below. (Turn your speakers down if you don’t want to be humming his theme song all day.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOsLdT4slsk[/youtube]

From the first link:

Mr. Worthington came to Southern California in 1948 after a much-decorated military career piloting B-17 Flying Fortresses on 29 combat missions over Germany. He made enough selling used cars to start trading in war surplus. That’s what brought him to California, where it took him nearly two years to sell a ship full of corroded welding equipment he’d bought. He cleared $13,000, which was enough to buy a Muntz dealership.

Mr. Worthington became an early believer in the power of television advertising. Rather than buy ad spots, he produced entire programs. Every Saturday and Sunday night, he was host of a three-hour variety show broadcast live on a Los Angeles station from Cal’s Corral at his dealership. The show featured a who’s who of country music stars, including Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Roger Miller. The rising cost of television time eventually forced Mr. Worthington to focus on shorter ads in which he praised specific cars on his lot while wearing a 10-gallon hat and a garish western suit from Nudie Cohn, the rodeo tailor.

One day a rival dealer appeared in commercials with his dog, named Storm. As a joke, Mr. Worthington started countering with ads featuring “my dog Spot.”

“Only Spot was never a dog,” he said with an infectious, off-kilter grin. “It was always a chicken, or a possum, or a duck or something. But it was never a dog.”

Over the years it became a signature gimmick. Mr. Worthington appeared with a zoo’s worth of creatures, including a lion, an elephant, a water buffalo, a gorilla, a tiger, a rhinoceros, assorted snakes and even a killer whale (which he rode) at Sea World.

Mr. Worthington, whose formal education ended with the ninth grade, said he had only one occasion to rue his lack of schooling. “I wanted to be an airline pilot after World War II, but the airlines wouldn’t take you unless you had a college degree,” he said.

Cal is 88 years old now and his son voices most of his current commercials. In addition to automobile dealerships, it’s said that the Worthington family owns ten ranches as well as three shopping centers and one office tower, grossing $600 million a year.

So really… there’s a big life lesson in this, people. Especially during hard economic times like these, if you really want to succeed in life sometimes you’ve just gotta just quit whining, take a deep breath, get up some courage and do something crazy to get yourself noticed. It might just pay off. Bug eating and bear wrestling (or trying out for a reality show, for that matter) isn’t original anymore so you may need to get a little more creative, though. Be a bad ass.

When the going gets tough, just think to yourself… WWCWD?


IMAGERY – Origins of Smog

Celebrated books have been penned to discuss how Los Angeles’ problem with air quality first developed. Commonly, the blame has been put on the local munitions factories of World War II (one of which my grandma worked in, btw), but a photo of the *real* perpetrator has been discovered.

It’s visible after the jump. (more…)