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Archive for the tag “Good Times”

Quizmasters & Booze for the People

All right Cool Cats and Kittens, you steel souled gatherers of groove, you lusters of the crooked smile, the neon spandex jacket, and the all messy, dirty thoughts that cannot be helped by prayer.  It is time to put on your metallic colored caps of thinking and squeeze out the delicious strains of useless knowledge like the yellow matter custard that John spoke of.  Here’s the Daddy:  First two people who answer all eleven questions correctly will have 3 cocktails purchased for them at one of my favorite bars.  This deal is “on the belly” – so step up and be counted.  The questions, like my blog, mean nothing and everything, so pour yourself  a tall cool one and tax those dark shadows in your brain.  “Luck is the residue of design” the Old Branch said, so let’s start crackin.

Hoff crab

1.   The Hoff crab is a type of yeti crab discovered in 2010 on the Southern Ocean floor near Antarctica. It is named after:

A) Abbie Hoffman , political and social activist who co-founded the Yippies and was thrown off the stage at Woodstock in 1969 by Pete Townsend when he tried to interrupt  The Who’s performance.

B) David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff  because the crab has many hairs on its abdomen and it reminded the scientists of the strapping hairy chested actor.

C) The great relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman, one time save leader in the MLB.

D) For  Helsinki, Finland –  home  of crab discoverer Vaanta Kaajanokka.

2.  Lew Wallace  was a Civil War general and Governor of the New Mexico territory.  He broke his promise to pardon Billy the Kid after the Lincoln County Wars in 1879.  He is also famous for :

Lew Wallace

A) inventing the Graham Cracker

B) making the first baseball glove

C) writing the religious classic Ben-Hur

D) is distantly related to Frankie Valle of the Four Seasons

3.  We all love that wacky yet pleasantly attractive Gilligan from ” Gilligan’s Island”. What was his first name on the show?

A) Willie

B) Gill as in Gill Egan

C) Buddy

D) Ezra

4.  Rockstar Warren Zevon ‘s (“Werewolves of London”, “Poor,Poor,Pitiful Me” ) father was:

A) A minor league catcher in the Los Angeles Dodger organization

B) Part of L.A. Gangster Mickey Cohen’s gang

C) Invented a life saving tool used today by lifeguards in Santa Monica

D) Invented the Pez dispenser

Warren Z

5.  If the amount of soldiers who died in the American Civil War were to be computed to the current population of the United States population there would be

A) 700,000 – 1,000,000 dead

B) 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 dead

C) 4 ,000,000 – 5 ,000,000 dead

D) 6,000,000-7,000,000 dead

6.  The Powers that Be took over Bob Lee’s pad during the Civil War and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.  (Bob’s estate sued and it was returned to his family, then they sold it back to the Government).  Besides JFK, only one other President is buried there.  Which one ?

A) Ike Eisenhower

B) Andy Jackson

C) Billy Taft

D) Ted Roosevelt

7.  Charlie Lindberg was known for being the first to fly across the Atlantic on a solo.  He was also known to have spread his seed counting 12 children he called his own.  How many of those were illegitimate (conceived outside of his marriage to Anne Morrow)?

A) all 12

B) 23

C) 7

D) 4

Fred

8. The word is that Sasha Baron Cohen is going to play Fred Mercury of the rock group Queen in a up and coming movie bio.  Who didn’t dig that stick microphone and his huge overbite ?  Fred is from what descendants ?

A) English

B) Indian

C) French

D) Brazilian

9. Wilshire Blvd is named after Gaylord Wilshire, the socialist millionaire, who made and lost a number of fortunes and had even less respect for the mighty dollar than I do.  How much of this famed street did he actually own?

A) 16 miles

B) 7 miles

C) 1 mile

D) 4 blocks

10.  Los Angeles was a delicious cesspool of corruption and vice until the new police chief  Bill Parker (Parker Center) took over in 1950.   Sure, he cleaned up Los Angeles, but don’t we all miss the days when the L.A. Vice squad ran their own prostitution ring and the coppers were extorting dough from the local hoodlums?   Chief Bill had his issues : “After trying to absorb Parker’s brilliance by day,  I would, too often by night, drive him home drunk.  And I mean loaded.  He drank until words slurred and stairs became a hazard.  He would repeat the same thought over and over until he became a terrible bore.”  Who said this about the Chief ?

A) Future L.A. mayor Sam Yorty

B) Jack Webb of Dragnet fame

C) Future Police chief Darrell Gates

D) L.A. Ram Quarterback Roman Gabriel

11.   In 1928 Walt Disney lost one of his cartoon characters to Universal Pictures.  78 years later the Walt Disney Company through a trade with NBC Universal got the characters back when NBC got the rights to sportscaster supreme Al Michaels.  What cartoon character did the Disney Company get back?

A) Mickey Mouse

B) Arnold Schwarzenegger

C) Donald Duck

D) Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

So there you have it. Enter as many times as you like.  Free booze is in the future of the 2 winners.  Good luck and cocktails are on me. Groove.

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Untamed, Ready for the Good Time

Lucy Banning

” A Peach”, ” man-crazy”, ” a free-spirited ingenue”, ” the most beautiful woman in California”. My distant cousin was called all these things and much more, some less than flattering. Lucy Banning was one of the richest and most beautiful women in the latter part of the 19th century, a time when Victorian rules where the name of the game, but Lucy had enough dough to play by her own rules thanks to a inherited fortune from her old man, ” Transportation King”, Phineas Banning and the financial windfalls she collected thanks to her gaggle of wealthy ex-husbands.

Lucy was born in1876 in the 23 room greek revival mansion in Wilmington that her Dad had built in 1864.  (still there, site of the Banning Museum). A young gal when Phineas called it a day she now had dough and wanted out of Squaresville Wilmington. Her many suitors included the handsome young attorney Johnny Bradbury whose Pop was a gold-mining and real estate tycoon. The family’s name is commemorated by the famous Bradbury Building in downtown L.A., the town of Bradbury, and Bradbury Estates.

They eloped to San Francisco where they were married on Dec 4, 1893. For four years the marriage seemed to be on a smooth stretch of highway until the couple attended a party in Santa Monica and Loose Lucy cutout with another man, a fellow named H.Russell Ward, a married Englishman. Reporters found them in a San Francisco Hotel. Lucy told reporters ” It is true that I had a beautiful home, that jewels were showered upon me, but all these did not satisfy me. I left simply because I believed that I had a right to plan out my own life; to go in search of happiness.”

Lucy and Ward were charged with adultery, but like the cavalry of the old west, Lucy’s Mom came to the rescue and paid off the “Society for the Prevention of Vice” and the charges against her were dropped. Not so for the polo playing Ward who faced the charges alone. Johnny Bradbury stated that  “H.Russell Ward had exerted an undue influence over my wife, and that she would never have done what she did had it not been for his uncanny spell over her.” Reconciliation seemed complete and bliss resumed, but not so for the unfortunate  Mr. Ward.  Johnny Bradbury is not the first nor the last, to find that a strong nudge to the small of the back from a speeding train can make certain troublemakers go away – for this was the fate of Mr. Ward.  Suicide, accident, or murder Mr. Ward would not embarrass J.B. again.

Lucy’s marriage would not endure. After moving to Mexico and returning to Los Angeles divorce proceedings from J.B. were under way – for Lucy again fled to San Francisco. Just two months after the divorce, Lucy took up with Charles Hastings of Pasadena. Rumors concluded that the two would marry, but these predictions did not come true. Lucy took up acting (translation: she took up actors) and soon married Shakespearean actor Mace Greenleaf who worked at the Burbank Theater (see what happens when you slip on some tights). Mace was no Romeo off stage so Lucy dumped him and  married Robert Ross, the son of a prominent judge.  “I am through experimenting, I am prepared to settle down” declared Lucy then 42.

And so she did until 1925 when she went to the Olympic Auditorium and laid eyes on Japanese wrestler Setsuzo Ota. Witnesses said  “she tossed her evening handbag into the ring at Ota with her calling card inside.” Lucy went to Ota’s hotel room and “she took my shirts, ties, everything out of the closet and dresser, put them in a suitcase, closed it and said “We go now.”, Ota exclaimed. Ross divorced her and Lucy, 51 and Setsuzo, 31 drove to Seattle (interracial marriage was not allowed in California) to be married.

This marriage did not last long either, but not because of the usual reasons. While vacationing in Italy Lucy caught pneumonia and passed away, shortly after her 53rd birthday. According to Ota, Lucy knew she was dying and her last words were “I’ll get criticized for this too.”  Lucy left almost $400,000 to Ota, but because of lawyers and family disputes he walked away with $6,000. Setsumo Ota took his own life in 1963.

So comes the close to a wild gal who set her own rules, took advice from few, and lived the untamed life on a path she choose alone.

Many thanks to Tom Sitton, author of ” Grand Ventures, The Banning Family and the shaping of Southern California”.

No Ordinary Street

Useless, Insignificant, Poetic

Sam the Butcher from the Brady Bunch, Colonel Klink from  Hogan’s Heros, and the Chief from Get Smart – they all lived within a couple of blocks from the  home at 231 North Bundy Drive where my family lived for close to 40 years. Our house was modest, but filled with comfort, fun, and love – all the handy work of our Mom and Dad. One can tell by the status of the TV stars that lived around us that our neighborhood was attractive, yet unassuming, built-in the 40’s.

I was disturbed when reading of Bundy Drive that it was called “notorious” and “infamous” because of the knifework on Nicole and Ron by that depraved reprobate O.J.   Bundy Drive deserves much better than to be associated with that coward.

Bundy Drive was named after real estate developer  Tom Bundy who was also a three-time winner of  the Men’s Doubles at the U.S.Tennis Championships. Tommy married May Sutton, who at age 18, won the Women’s single title at the U.S. Championship and also became the first American and first non-British woman to win a Wimbledon singles title. Their daughter “Dodo” Bundy Cheney became the first American woman to win Women’s single title at the Australian Championships.

But the real claim to fame of Bundy Drive are not the tennis champs or a knife wielding liar, but The Bundy Boys, a glorious group of actors, writers, painters and ner do wells, who made the Rat Pack look like the Vienna Boys Choir.  As a young lad I would play with my friend Stan who lived a couple of blocks north of where I was raised. His home was shaded by a large redwood tree which would bring splintered sunlight, cooling shadows, and possibly a hint of the location’s devilish past. On the large wooden door was a brass lion door knocker with what appeared to be a family crest with two unicorns surrounded by the words “Useless, Insignificant, Poetic .”  This was the home of The Bundy Boys some 30 years before Stan and I rolled around in that precious dirt.

The group included actors W.C. Fields, John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn, Vincent Price, John Carradine, painter and forger John Decker, screenwriter Ben Hecht whose credits include Some Like it Hot, Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, and Mutiny on the Bounty, and many other notoriously  flamboyant life livers.

Gene Fowler, journalist and life long member said this: ” That brown beamed studio was a place of meeting for still lively survivors of Bohemian times, an artist’s Alamo where political bores never intruded and where breast beating hypocrites could find no listeners…these men live intensely as do children, poets, and jaguars.”

Their boozy self destructiveness was spectacular, their drunken brawls foolhardy, they spent their fortunes quicker than they made them, and all were committed to their friendship and their right to destroy their careers,  and themselves by any means necessary.

The house is gone now. Torn down along with the redwood. In its place is a sad property line to property line mansion that has the soul and depth of an ashtray. I am sure there are ghosts there, unhappy ones at that. As W.C. Fields said ” Life is a funny thing. You are lucky if you can get out of it alive.”    

Grooving at Dodger Stadium

Grooving at Dodger Stadium

My kids have always loved baseball probably because I do too. The look on their faces as we turn the corner and see the field at Dodger stadium is the same look as they had when they were young opening presents on Xmas morn. Though they have seen this field dozens of times – it is always the same: a look of wonderment, hope, and pure delight.

Recently at a night game my daughter Lily spotted a strange light emitting a soft yellow glow from the far reaches of the parking lot behind right field. As it turns out it comes from a lantern that was erected in 1965 inside a Japanese garden that was built by the O’ Malley family during the construction of Dodger Stadium in 1962. A Japanese sportswriter legend named  Sotaro Suzuki was invited to the grand opening of the stadium and he was so taken with its magnificence that he commissioned a stone lantern to commemorate the lasting connection between The Dodgers and the nation of Japan. One can visit this place and imagine Walter O’Malley meditating on the single bench clearing his large head with visions of the fleet-footed Maury Wills stealing bag after bag and reaching harmony and the ultimate serene mode of consciousness with the thought of Sandy Koufax’s curveball.

So next time you find yourself in the far reaches of parking lot six look to the Garden and remember that Tommy Lasorda was given the Order of the Rising Sun and bow to the Enlightenment that is Dodger Stadium.

Sterlfest

He adorns himself in satin, crushed velvet , and taffeta. He does not speak hard or dry of word,nor has a voice of pored gravel. He brings light, groove, and an aura of a knight who is on top of his game and is exempt from hands that hold us down. I speak of the Great Sterling Brandt and the honorable fifth annual Sterlfest  August 24th and 25th down at La Fonda Mexico.

This journey is for the Uplifters and those who are fond of the smile and laughter. Make your plans and prepare for the Good time because it will be coming at you with the vigor and strength of a freight train off the rails, off the charts, and with the understanding that mistakes are the portals of discovery.

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