Monday, March 21, 2011


The thing that's awesome about the Huntington Gardens is everything. It's more awesome when you go there to celebrate a friend's birthday -- and awesomer still when that friend has a pass that allows her to bring friends in for free.

We arrived about 10:00 Saturday morning, before it officially opens to the rest of the public. Members can go in early and enjoy the grounds before they let the rabble in. This is, no doubt, the way Henry Huntington wanted it.

Even after the rabble come in, it's still an uncrowded, quiet place to enjoy manicured nature.

We also had reservations for high tea at noon. The back room, where they seat the cool people... not crowded.

I don't think anyone has ever moved to Los Angeles just to be nearer to the Huntington Gardens. But it is one of the reasons people stay.


In the Japanese garden. This photo was taken by a security guard who claimed no less than 26 security personnel worked overnight to keep the property free of campers, vandals, pranksters, and vagabonds. I think he was lying. He had this detached, disinterested subtext that sounded like, "What am I? A goddamn tour guide? Yeah, 26. And the ducks play water polo with pine cones, brainiac."

Ducks waiting for us to offer food or pine cones, no doubt.

Watercress finger sandwiches, salmon canape, and other stuff at high tea.

Patty (the birthday girl and membership-holder) and I on her favorite bench. This was taken about five minutes after us college-educated grown-ups stopped at this quiet, idyllic spot and began goofing off. Note the girl in the background picking up her stuff and leaving.

Stefan and I on Patty's favorite bench.

Amazingly, they did NOT carry this in the bookstore. But they did have an Abe Lincoln 3D picture book. Abe Lincoln in 3D??

I believe people stay in L.A. even for THIS:

Not the art. I mean making fun of art. L.A.'s a great place to make fun of crap. Don't ask me how I know this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Outside my apartment. This photo was taken on March 10.


"I Am Happy Here"

The dear Dale & Julie had another party last night. Julie celebrated a birthday at the local bowling alley (this time with a murder mystery), complete with buffet and drinks. The food was provided by George, the chef at the bowling alley's coffee shop.

Before you start judging....

The phrase "bowling alley coffee shop" doesn't exactly connote haute cuisine. But you have not eaten at the coffee shop at the Canoga Park Bowl. Chef George is not some parolee flipping frozen burger patties. He makes dishes. And for the party, he brought in lamb, meatballs, Greek salad, hummus & pita bread, and these little slivers of zucchini with some kind of sauce over them. This intrepid reporter was too gluttonous to bother asking what they were. But the whole thing was damn good.

In fact, dare I sound judgmental, it was too good to be bowling alley food.

During one of George's trips into the party room, I called him a wizard to his face and told him he should have a restaurant in Beverly Hills.

He backed away and waved his hands at me like he'd overeaten. "I am happy here."

I mean, isn't that just the damn secret we're all trying to figure out, if we were smart? Getting to the place that makes us happy, not the place where we think we're supposed to go where we'd be happy?

Go to George. Eat his food. Learn from George.

And if I can brag about L.A. for a moment, another satisfied customer in the city known for crushing dreams.