To Hollywood And Back!

What a cool piece of tech this is. It puts nearly all the functionality of a control room switcher into a tiny box It is broadcast quality HD at what historically would be seen as an insane price. Thank you computers.

Busy day. Allow me to bore you with the details.

Tomorrow is our 31st anniversary. That means, as it does most years, a Thanksgiving trip to Vegas with Stef. Of course it’s not that easy. There’s Roxie and Doppler to think about.

Our sitter is away, so we brought Doppler to Hollywood to join Roxie, Laura and her menagerie. Laura is magical with dogs.

IMAG1783On the way up we stopped in Garden Grove to see a demo on the new Tricaster Mini.

What a cool piece of tech this is. It puts nearly all the functionality of a control room switcher into a tiny box It is broadcast quality HD at what historically would be seen as an insane price. Thank you computers.

As the demo went on, I asked Kim (the nerdboy sales/engineer–said as a compliment) if it could do all sorts of non-obvious things. Every answer was yes. One question concerned a function so arcane I expected to have to repeat the question. Instead he said, “Yes,” then did it.

High definition video is a real challenge. 1920×1080 29.97 time per second is a lot of data. Each frame is full of information. All those pixels. All that variability. This high in the video chain the switcher must not degrade the signal.

As you can tell, I was very impressed.

IMAG1784From there it was up to L.A. Bless you GPS! Four freeways to Sunset, then west to Stef’s street off Hollywood.

We dropped off the dogs and headed to Canter’s Deli. It’s still family run, not far from CBS on Fairfax. A fixture in Hollywood since 1938.

Pastrami. Rye. Mustard. This is how it’s properly eaten.

We’re home now. Yes, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic at 8:00 PM.

Vegas in the morning.

The Foxes Play Tour Guide

There are reasons tourists go where tourists go. Their chosen spots offer a concentrated experience in a little time. Forget nuance. Tourists want it all now!

Helaine and I live in Irvine. It’s near LA. It’s not LA! It’s a nice place to live, not a tourist destination.

With that in mind we headed north to Los Angeles with my niece Melissa and her husband Mark. Time was short. Their honeymoon flight to Fiji would take off with or without them.

First stop: Hollywood. Please feel free to say it as the American Idol judges would… as in, “You’re going to Holly-wuuuud!!!”

The corner of Hollywood and Highland is within walking distance of Stef’s apartment. How could we not go?

Once upon a time Hollywood was sold as the center of movie making. Today sound stages and studios are spread out. Lots of movies and TV shows looking to save money are made outside California. I’m not sure what tourists expect to see when they arrive?

As is the case in Times Square, a large part of the local commerce is centered around costumed characters who pose for tips and stores selling t-shirts and tsotchkes.

Our next stop was Neptune’s Net, just past the Ventura County line on the Pacific Coast Highway (which no one here ever says–it’s the PCH). Neptune’s Net is a seafood stand. It attracts lots of bikers, day trippers and those who remember it from a show starring Olsen Twins.

We chowed down, then crossed six lanes of PCH and climbed down a hill to get to the ocean. It’s a surfing beach. I brought a long lens!

We’d gotten to this end of Malibu by driving up the Ventura Freeway then through some twisting canyon roads. My passengers weren’t thrilled about a stomach sickening repeat, so I turned south and hugged the coast. More traffic. Fewer curves.

We stopped at the Rosenthal Wine Bar and Patio. As the designated driver (and photographer) I headed to the beach while everyone else sampled wine. More surfers for me and some very nice views toward Santa Monica and beyond.

By this time it was getting late. We headed inland on Sunset, taking a very brief detour to see the homes in “The Flats” neighborhood of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

Heading down Wilshire we passed what we think was the premier for the new Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman movie. Did anyone in the car see either star? Maybe. Let’s just say I won’t dispute any stories.

Stef was in charge of delivering our charges to the airport, so Helaine and I said goodnight then headed through a mid-evening crush of traffic to the OC.

It’s our first SoCal experience shuttling tourists. I’m hoping we passed the test.

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Another Way California And Connecticut Are Different: Pot To Your Door


Helaine and I dropped by Stef’s apartment in Hollywood yesterday. Nice neighborhood. She’s on a hilly street just off Hollywood Boulevard. It’s city life. You’re never more than a few minutes from hearing a police siren or fire truck.

Like most apartment dwellers Stef gets her fair share of ads under the door. Nearly anything you can think of will be delivered at nearly any hour.

This one was different. Well, to me it was different.

Yes, it’s an ad for pot delivery!

I’ve decided not to scan the backside. No sense giving away free advertising. Basically it mentions the types of weed available, including gourmet THC chocolates and vegan infused THC brownies.

Always discrete. Credit cards accepted. Just text or call for a menu or delivery.

Pot to your door. I haven’t seen that since college.

The Party Moves North

We’ve left my cousins in Orange County and moved north to Hollywood. I405 and I5: Boring! There are beautiful parts of SoCal, few of which are passed on this drive.

Hats of to Google Navigation which mislabeled the 101 Freeway as Cahuenga. It is not.

Note to tourists: It’s pronounced kəˈwɛŋɡə. La Canada has a ‘yada’ in it.

Helaine and I took a walk from our hotel, close by Hollywood and Highland, down to the actual Cahuenga. Though Hollywood Boulevard has been rehabilitated and cleaned up for tourists west of Highland, east is a different story! There was a sketchy coterie of characters including a Marilyn Monroe wannabe of questionable gender.

Hollywood Boulevard is the Walk of Fame and there are ‘stars’ embedded all along the route. Lots were names I barely remember, or dead before I was born. It was nice to see Betty White’s star facing Allen Ludden’s, as it should be.

Stef lives in hollywood. Short visit this afternoon. Longer visit tomorrow.

IMG_8061 Hollywood

IMG_8066 Hollywood

IMG_8073 Hollywood

Stef Goes Paparazzi

Maksim-at-Whole-FoodsI don’t talk about Stef enough. I’ve got a good excuse tonight. This photo was taken by her this evening. That’s Maksim Chmerkovskiy of Dancing with the Stars and General Hospital.

Stef lives in Hollywood. Her apartment is right off Hollywood Boulevard, a block from the Runyan Canyon trailhead.

Everyone in her neighborhood looks like they’re on their way to an audition.

Stef works for a production company specializing in reality shows. It’s a great job in a field that’s thriving. Lots of interesting, often famous, people involved.

Tonight’s photo was taken while Stef was shopping at Whole Foods. Hey, Maksim’s gotta eat!

It was taken with her iPhone, but it’s obviously paparazzi quality. Skills.

We look forward to seeing more Stef when we’re out west.

Child Update

I just spoke with the child. I can’t always write about her, but have been given permission tonight. She is in Las Vegas. She is on location. Production begins tomorrow.

Stef moved to California a few years ago. I’d like to tell you I helped get her first job. I cannot. I tried. She got it on her own.

For the last year and a half she’s been the assistant to the principals in a busy production company. They do reality shows. They have at least a handful in various stages of planning or production that I know about. Stef’s office was on a small studio lot in Hollywood. Disney Channel shoots a few shows there.

She lives in Hollywood too. She’s in an apartment where everyone looks like they’re from central casting and no one has any body fat.

Stef has been promoted to associate producer. She’s out in the field helping make sure all the pieces come together.

I can’t divulge the show she’s with. It’s on a major pay channel where it’s run a few seasons already.

When you’re on the road for an extended stay the production company arranges for housing. Stef’s staying in a suite in a nice hotel. This will be her home for six weeks. She says it’s the nicest hotel room she’s ever been in.

Tomorrow is their first shooting day. They’ll be out-of-doors walking through Vegas with cameras rolling. I’m guessing Stef will be doing a lot of walking backwards.

Her boyfriend and dog are both back in L.A. That part is tough.

Sunday In SoCal

We’re back. The Foxes are home after making the 12.5 hour door-to-door cross country jaunt. I’m still not sure why, but sitting in a seat for five or six hours is exhausting.

I scheduled this day off to recuperate from my trip. At the moment that feels like a good decision.

Instead of taking a laptop to California I took my tablet. That’s good news bad news. The tablet saved bulk and weight, but it still can’t do 100% of what a laptop does. That’s especially noticeable in photography where the RAW files I shoot aren’t yet compatible with the tablet software I use.

There’s an animated slideshow with pictures from this spectacular Southern California day at the bottom of this entry. Make sure you take a look.

Anyway, this seems like a good time to catch up on Sunday, our busiest day and my camera’s busiest! We started with brunch, the final event in Bar Mitzvahthon 2012.

Note to self: No eating for the next week… maybe two.

We met up at Stef’s apartment just under the Hollywood Hills. From there we all headed to Fairfax High School, site of a weekly flea market.

The Fairfax Flea Market is typical of what you’d find anywhere, maybe a little more artwork, but populated with a smattering a eclectic Californian’s.

The temperature was around sixty when we got there. In L.A. that means dozens of women in coats or jackets, bare legs and cowboy boots.

The plan was to take Stef and her boyfriend to dinner in Malibu. Helaine and I headed out early so I could shoot some photos. That started with Bedford Drive down in “The Flats” in Beverly Hills.

Bedford Drive is well known for its twin lines of tall, thin palm trees. Trust me, you have seen Bedford Drive before!

We continued on Wilshire to the 405 then westbound on I-10 to the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. PCH parallels the coast through much of the length of California.

We headed north stopping a few times along the way including one at Pepperdine University. How is it possible for Pepperdine students to concentrate when they sit on a bluff with a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean and Malibu? I’d just pull up a chair and stare.

We continued all the way into Ventura County stopping across from Neptune’s Net. I know from previous trips this is a prime spot for surfers. Today it was mainly filled with kite surfers in the taller than usual waves.

Now we were backtracking, heading south toward our dinner reservation. One more stop this time with better access to to the beach.

We finally ended up a Geoffrey’s&#185 a spectacular restaurant on a bluff overlooking the ocean. I knew this was going to be an expensive place. On their Internet site the menu has no listed prices! Also one of my Facebook friends tipped me off.

We pulled into the valet parking area and got out next to an amazing Mercedes sports car. “How much,” I asked the valet?


It was a little chilly to sit near the ocean, but the restaurant is equipped with a small army of propane heaters. Mother Nature be damned, Geoffrey’s controls the weather here!

The restaurant was expensive, though nowhere near as much as I anticipated! The food was excellent as was the service.

It was dark as we headed back to Sherman Oaks with my belly full and K-Earth blasting on the radio.

&#185 – I pronounce Geoffrey “jeh-free.” They pronounce Geoffrey “jah-free.” Whatever.

Where’s The Sun

We’re in a cafe on Sunset in Hollywood.  A breakfast burrito is on its way.  We were headed to Stef’s apartment, but she’s not ready.


On our way we passed by Hollywood and Highland and the Chinese Theater.  Lots of tourists posing with costumed characters.

It’s gray and gloomy. When we left Sherman Oaks the ground was wet!

It never rains in California! Haven’t they heard the song?

I’ll be dropping off Helaine then heading back to the Valley. Building my friend a website… in the rain.

The Four Dogs On Laura’s Couch

It’s my understanding only Roxie and Henry are allowed on the couch. Even Laura would have trouble enforcing that!

Our daughter Stef is in California where the living is easy and the Sun always shines. Every day on her way to work she drops her dog at Laura’s for daycare.

As befits doggie daycare in SoCal in general and Hollywood specifically Laura looks like she’s right out of central casting! More importantly for the pooches she speaks their language. No dog is out-of-line long at Laura’s.

Take the crew in this peaceful snapshot. Cooper is on the left with his paw hanging down, on top of the pillow is Henry, on the right is Skyla and rounding out the crew above it all is Steffie’s pup Roxie.

It’s my understanding only Roxie and Henry are allowed on the couch. Even Laura would have trouble enforcing that rule right now!

My Best Drive Home Ever!

Tonight she called me and regaled me with stories. Tonight she warmed my heart. Tonight Stefanie was the perfect child.

I was getting into the car to go home when I felt the vibration in my pocket. Stef was calling from California. “I don’t need anything,” she said. She just wanted to talk.

If you’re a parent (if you’re a child as well) you understand no intergenerational relationship is totally smooth. Stef and I have gone without speaking. More frequently we’ve resorted to shouting. Not tonight. This conversation was everything I could hope for.

We talked about Roxie. We talked about Stef’s social life. We talked about work.

I’m not even sure how much I’ve revealed about my child’s professional life. She lives and works in Hollywood. She is California’s only resident with a sub-ten minute commute!

Stef works in the business as the assistant to the two principals of a production company big into reality.

She loves her bosses. She loves her job.

It’s funny. I pulled every string I could to try and help her get a job. For nearly a year nothing I did helped. Then out of the blue she got this job on her own!

“It would have been the job I wanted… if I knew it existed,” she once said.

No matter how much she tells me I always want to hear more. I’m not sure if she can understand my excitement over what must seem like the minutiae of her life. I’m excited because her job comes with salary, benefits, but more importantly a liberal education in career development.

She is learning what she’ll need to thrive and succeed.

I can guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt we will scream at each other again. Would you expect any less? Helaine says Stef and I are too much alike.

Tonight she called and regaled me with stories. Tonight she warmed my heart. Tonight Stefanie was the perfect child.

It was my best drive home ever!

Idol Moves To A City Near Hollywood

Ten season watchers you are going to have to give me a little slack. This is my first time through the American Idol rodeo

We went to dinner tonight with our friends Bob and Karen. When I told Karen I was now an American Idol watcher she offered a fist bump. It’s cult-like… sort of like finding out you were both at Woodstock.

Ten season watchers you are going to have to give me a little slack. This is my first time through the American Idol rodeo. I’m just getting my bearings.

Through the auditions everyone was told they were going to Hollywood. Not quite. Somehow on American Idol Hollywood equals Pasadena.

Note to people named Nigel and Simon: It does not!

Pasadena has the Jet Propulsion Lab and real rocket scientists. Hollywood has guys dressed in Darth Vader outfits working for tips taking pictures with tourists at Grauman’s Chinese.

Last night Stef said Hollywood Blvd. was closed for a music video shoot. No such event on Pasadena’s main drag, Colorado Blvd. They were brushing their teeth at that moment in Pasadena.

Back to Idol.

I was surprised to find I haven’t yet picked any favorites. Luckily there are already people I dislike!

Annoying. There were annoying people–mainly crazy ex-girlfriend types though one guy who thought he was Frank Sinatra probably had an escort out. The judges mostly saw it my way.

Tonight’s culling of the herd was less satisfying than the auditions. I’m not even sure why it’s part of the series. It seems superfluous. I am curious to see the ratings in the morning.

Unless the producers do something dreadfully wrong they’ve got me hooked. I’m hoping tonight’s show is not indicative of what’s to come.

Photos From Stef’s Roof

I knew the cirrus layer over the city would color the sky orange and red. Too much meteorology!

The top floor of Stef’s building has an open air common area with chairs, tables, a stereo, tv, barbecue and view to die for! Nestled at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains the ground floor is 425 feet above sea level. That gives it a height advantage over Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills/Century City and the ocean.

Sunset here is a little after 5:00 PM. Helaine and I walked up at 4:55.

Earlier she’d asked about clouds. Wouldn’t they spoil the sunset? I knew the cirrus layer over the city would color the sky orange and red. Too much meteorology!

Here’s a little sample of what I saw. Click any picture to see a larger image.

I need one more trip to the roof after sunset with my tripod. There are more pictures to be taken!

The Neighborhood

Thin. This is a neighborhood of thin. It’s a neighborhood of young too. The vast majority of those we saw were in their 20s and 30s.

A little note about my daughter’s neighborhood seems in order. Though she lives in a nice apartment in a neighborhood of nice apartments that’s not what struck me. Helaine and I just ran an errand. We got to see who lives in this part of Hollywood.

Maybe there are stars here. Probably not. Surely there are ‘before they were stars’ here.

We took the elevator to the ground floor, walked through a courtyard past a fitness center and out to the street. Last night as we walked by a woman on an eliptical machine was running while reading a script. Today a thin woman was cardio training–punching pink boxing gloves into the gloved hands of an equally thin, muscular man.

Thin. This is a neighborhood of thin. It’s a neighborhood of young too. The vast majority of those we saw were in their 20s and 30s.

Up the block is the trailhead for Runyon Canyon. The trail runs up into the Santa Monica Mountains with a few overlooks you’ve seen thousands of times in movies and on TV.

On this sunny, warm and dry January day we watched groups of threes and fours head up toward the trail. They were running all-the-way.

“I want a do-over,” I told Helaine.

You can get nearly everything else in Hollywood. Do-overs? Sorry.

The Furniture That Made Me Cry

“Is it leather?” Stef repeated to the salesperson.

“Faux leather.”

Close enough.

This is a good story. This is a family story. This is about Stef living on the West Coast.

She had been sharing an apartment for the last year in “The Valley.’ Now she’s on her own in Hollywood!

For those of you who know the Los Angeles area you know much of Hollywood is not desirable. Stef seems to be in a nice part and under 10 minutes from work!

In Los Angeles having a ten minute commute is the equivalent of finding free all day parking in Manhattan… or Sasquatch!

With her few sticks of bedroom furniture she began to live in a barren space. TV watching in the living room was either done from the floor or… actually no or. It was just the floor!

Today she went furniture shopping. I guess I knew she was, but I’d forgotten until the email arrived with a photo. She bought a table and chairs and a few stools for the breakfast bar. Later she picked out a sofa.

“Is it leather?” Helaine asked on the cell.

“Is it leather?” Stef repeated to the salesperson.

“Faux leather.”

Close enough.

This is my child. I changed her diapers. I spread enough baby powder to look like a desert sandstorm. Now she’s bought furniture!

It made me cry.

It’s tough to think of her as a child now.

I’ve Become The London Lee Repository

There must not be a lot written about London Lee, because when people search his name, they often end up here. Most notes begin by acknowledging he was drop dead funny. I’ve heard from his friends, relatives, a few folks who despise him (London, trust me, stay clear of your cousin in Boca) and a woman who claims to have known him in Europe.

A while ago, I wrote about London Lee, the iconic young Jewish comic of the mid and late 60s. I’m afraid for those just a few years younger than me, his name means nothing.

London Lee was huge. He was on Sullivan. He was on the Tonight Show. He was a comic on a meteoric rise… and then… you know… stuff happens.

There must not be a lot written about London Lee, because when people search his name, they often end up here. Most notes begin by acknowledging he was drop dead funny. I’ve heard from his friends, relatives, a few folks who despise him (London, trust me, stay clear of your cousin in Boca) and a woman who claims to have known him in Europe.

It’s funny, but I was just thinking about “London Lee”. I did the search and found your site.

London Lee was really the son of a wealthy garment center guy. His real name was Alan Levine and he lived on Central Park South NYC. That was in 1960-1-2.

My boyfriend at the time, who was a hustler and pool sharp (later to be a heroin addict), was staying with London in his studio there and that was how I met Alan/London.

I was impressed when I first saw him on TV and surprised at how really funny he was. I guess it was because it was all true stories and insecurities.

Amazingly, he does seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. Would have been in his mid to late 70’s I wonder if he is still alive…….

Maybe Miami Beach?


He’s alive. I believe it’s Broward County, just to the north of Miami Beach. By the way, isn’t it more than a little unnerving to read her boyfriend/heroin reference of 45 years ago!

Today I got this:

Just read about London Lee.

He is performing at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Hollywood, FL on Sunday October 29, 2006.

Thought your friend who e-mailed you might be interested.


So, obviously he is alive an well. There is quite a “Borscht Belt II” circuit playing for retirees in South Florida. He is in good company.

The real reason I’m posting this is this remarkable photo I got from Harry Watts. How lucky am I that Harry took it in August 1968, kept it safe all these years, digitized it and then sent it to me via email nearly 40 years after the fact?

The scene is the Boardwalk in pre-casino Atlantic City. This photo is looking north and the ocean is off camera to the right. Back then A.C. was a hopping resort town.

Steel Pier was, and is again, located at Virginia and Boardwalk. It was known for it’s diving horse (whether it was actually a free will diving horse is another story) and it’s big name acts.

Appearing along with London Lee was John Fred and his Playboy Band. Their hit, “Judy in Disguise” went to number one in January 1968. Also on the bill, somewhat incongruously, was Don Glasser’s Orchestra, a “smooth as glass” dance band.&#185

The photo is a one of a kind, and I’m deeply grateful to Harry for allowing me to post it.

Take a look at the people and what they’re wearing. Atlantic City was where you went, even on this gray summer day, to get away from the heat, forget about the rest of the world, and have a little fun.

&#185 – Amazingly, Don’s band still performs, though without Don.

Because this page is so often searched and found, it has been reopened for comments.