Friday, December 28, 2007

LA is so much better without people

The best week of the year in Los Angeles is always this one, the final seven days of the year. More picketing and jury duty is on tap for me in January but here in the waning days of December I can bask in the glory of the city that Zorro once called home.

First of all, the town is practically empty. Most people from the industry are gone, terrorizing the help in Hawaii and Aspen. There’s very little traffic. You can actually make the fifteen minute drive between Brentwood and LAX on the 405 Freeway in only forty minutes. It’s like you’re flying! Hard to get into restaurants? Not this week. Spago will even make reservations for people they don’t know. And at 7:00 not 10:30. (Unfortunately, their chefs are probably in Aspen and Hawaii.)

Los Angeles is so deserted I heard of a friend who found a parking place at the Grove shopping mall. But that’s still just a rumor.

For industry guild folks, as a nice respite from picketing, there are free movies. In the hopes of snaring nominations from any organization that gives out awards (even the WGA), studios let eligible voters and guests attend contending movies gratis. It’s also their way of giving back to the community. However, the nanosecond the nominations are announced this lovely gesture ends instantly. And they go back to the business at hand – busting the unions.

Most of the city’s attention this week is on the upcoming Rose Parade and Bowl. If you have six friends over to your apartment to play poker, the Rose Queen and her court will come and speak to your group.

The Rose Bowl traditionally pits the champion of the Pac 10 with the champion of the Big 10. It’s always a big deal, “the Granddaddy of Bowl Games”. This year, it’s USC and Illinois (a team that didn’t even win the Big 10) and since the BCS championship game has now become the only bowl that counts, the anticipation and excitement of the Rose Bowl equals that of the WNBA finals.

Every year fans from the Big 10 representative flood into Southern California. They’re easy to spot. They’re always the nicest people you’ve ever met and they’re always wearing school shirts and hats. I’m beginning to think they come to LA for a week with only that one outfit. The Illinois school color is orange so it feels like Halloween.

Highlight of the Rose Bowl festivities is the Lawry’s Beef Bowl. Lawry’s is the greatest prime rib restaurant in the world (a more popular attraction to Japanese tourists than Disneyland). Every year they invite each team and feed them as much prime rib as they can eat. Usually the winning team tops out at around 630 pounds of beef. During the Rose Bowl, you’ll notice half the players sleeping the bench. That’s why.

The New Year's Eve tradition is to watch Dick Clark and experience the year change in tape delay. Unless you have satellite. Then you can watch the East Coast feed in which case you're in 2008 for three hours while the rest of us are still in 2007.

The Rose Parade is Tuesday morning. Today some idiots will start staking out spots along the parade route. Every local channel will broadcast the parade. KTLA gets a 50 share, everyone else gets a 2. Why these other stations still bother is beyond me. KTLA coverage begins at like 3:00 a.m. Five hours of watching people paste flowers on floats and the idiots from today freezing. KTLA will begin replaying the parade immediately upon its conclusion. Then they replay it again. And again. Sometime around January 15th they return to regular programming.

Bob Eubanks has been hosting the parade since the floats were powered by horses. For many of those years his co-host was Stephanie Edwards, a popular local personality who was mostly known for being the carnie for Lucky Markets. She was replaced in the booth by local KTLA morning news anchor, Michaela Pereira. This caused quite a stir. Most people felt that Michaela was horrible and resented her in that Deborah Norville way for squeezing out our beloved Stephanie. (Fans would show their support for Steph by shopping at Lucky but Lucky no longer exists.) Now it’s three years later, Bob and Michaela are back and most people don’t even remember Stephanie Edwards. On to new important causes.

Then on New Year’s evening all the locals will go out to dinner, have to wait 45 minutes for a table since the Illinois rooters got there first, and things will return to normal.

So for my fellow Angelinos – enjoy it while you can!

By the way, happy 90th birthday to my second cousin Manny Thaler. He used to play in Glenn Miller's Band. He's still getting chicks off that gig.


Jake Hollywood said...

At least Manny can still get chicks, at 90 it's a gift from the gods

And no Rose Bowl talk until the Bruins win the Pac 10 and/or the National Championship. Hopefully both me and second cousin Manny will live to see that game.

So, what's your take on the WGA-World Wide Pants deal? I'd say what mine is, but i don't trust myself to speak.

Anonymous said...

Go Manny!

TCinLA said...

A long long time ago, before there even was an empire far far away, when I was in Navy Electronics school up at Treasure Island, it was presented to us that the command staff wished the school to field a drill team. To increase participation, it was intimated in school scuttlebutt that the team would be invited to march in the Rose Bowl. Having been on a drill team in high school and still not having taken in the old Chief's admonition to "beleive nothing that you hear and only half of what you see" in this man's Navy, i volunteered. We worked three mornings a week (it did get you off of having to stand watch on the north side of the island, a biiiiig plus on a windy night there in the bay). Lo and behold - we were invited to march! And we did! The one and only time I have ever watched the Rose Parade and I couldn't see anything other than the horses pulling the entry ahead of us.

I always like it when it's sunny and warm on New Year's, to call friends freezing in the midwest and ask them if they're watching the game...

Ain't gonna happen this New Year's though. Cold rainy and clammy. I pity the morons staking out their spot on Colorado Boulevard.

Anonymous said...

Things you are unlikely to hear on
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Dec. 31 on ABC:

I don’t know how the man does it. My God, he looks like only a FORTY-eight year old guy with a stroke.”

Dwacon said...

But can you actually get a seat at Father's Office so you can eat your gourmet burger and sweet potato fries comfortably?

Anonymous said...

We have a Lawry’ here in Dallas and they put on one ‘o them Prime Ribapaloozas when my cousin Barry came down to play in the Neiman Marcus All-Natural-Fabric-that-Breathes Bowl. It’s not as big as our Cotton Bowl, but pretty much the same idea – and, being Neiman’s they strive for a better class of player. Not a better player, just a better class of player.

Unfortunately, that year, through a computer mix-up it was Auburn vs. Yeshiva.

Lawry’s was a disappointment because apparently the meat didn’t undergo an inspection recognized by the JFC, so Auburn got all the rib, and Barry had to settle for that ridiculous spinning salad, a side of creamed corn, and a popover – on one of which Barry’s roommate Shelly somehow chipped a crown.

The restaurant said they’d never seen anything like that. They implied maybe Shelly had gone a little longer than he should have between cleanings.

Fortunately, as you can tell by those little white hats the restaurant makes them wear, all of the Lawry’s servers are also trained to double as nurses. Accordingly several rushed to Shelly’s aid and were able to stabilize him until paradental aid could be summoned.

Now Shelly was a 247 lb. nose guard, considered one of the most desirable positions by those of us of the Hebraic persuasion. But somehow the trainer was still able to strap him to one of those trademark Lawry's rolling silver carts that are approximately the size and weight of an Abrams tank.

They wheeled him over to another table where, Binaca Jagger, a Nicaraguan dental hygienist was enjoying a rather nice Chardonnay. However, the good woman agreed to see the stricken athlete because, as she put it, she had taken a "Jippocratic Oath,” and could not idly stand by while the suffering continued.

The game was played as scheduled. Auburn won 86-0, but later Barry’s Yeshiva team was able to sue for whiplash.

angel said...

So there I was feeling like I stole your post about Steve Martin's book, for my blog and then I find that you used my post about this being my favorite week of the year, due to no one being in town. I guess I can sleep better now, I have paid my blogging dues...Just kidding. :-)

Oh, I still feel that Stephanie Edwards royally got the shaft and I should boycott the Rose Parade on KTLA...but I don't.

Happy New Year and good luck, of course.

estiv said...

In the mid-nineties I was both a student at, and employee of, the University of Texas at Austin. Since my job required my presence during the dead week between Christmas and New Year's, I had the same experience you describe: sheer pleasure in all the deserted streets and buildings. I should have realized that the fact that my favorite time on campus was when there was no one under the age of twenty-five around was an indicator of whether I really belonged in academia.

Anonymous said...

If it was the famous swing band, it's Glenn Miller with 2 N's.

The Glen Miller Band sounds like 99 cents store knockoff.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the greatest prime rib in the world is at The House of Prime Rib in San Fransisco, Lawry's is a close (very close) second.

D said...

Yes, I know I misspelled "San Francisco", sorry.

Anonymous said...

You don't have Lucky in LA? The Albertson's here in the Bay Area just reverted to the Lucky name. A Modesto grocery bought the stores off of Albertson's and the name came with the purchase. You don't often see brands reappear like that.

Anonymous said...

I believe that I'm too a second cousin of Mannie Thaler. My mom was Mary Thaler, daughter of Pauline and Louis. Please e-mail me if you get this message: