Monday, August 8, 2011



OK, right about now you're probably wondering: "Just who is this dude, anyway?" Fair enough question.

In 1965, in Santa Ana, California, one of the all-time most famous UFO pictures was snapped:

Now it's true, I was in Orange County in 1965, and it's also true that I am a bit weird. But the family photograph below, taken in Santa Ana before my Sister's birth - that is, prior to 1965 - disproves the rumor that I came to Earth aboard that UFO in Santa Ana. [That's me in the little bow tie below.] :

Below is a photo of my maternal Grandfather - a major, major character. He was a former wrestler and police reserve officer and you just DID NOT mess with his family if you knew what was good for you; he was one very strong dude! [My brother Napoleon and I both believe that he looked a lot like the cartoon character Rock Bottom from Felix The Cat] :

I told you in the previous installment that I essentially grew up at Dodger Stadium. Below is a photo of Brother Nappy and me with arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher of all-time and Baseball Hall of Fame member Sandy Koufax. [How come Nappy got to have that legendary left hand wrapped around him? That's not fair!] :

My 5th grade school picture. [I definitely got my Pa's chin.] :

(Eat yer heart out, Greg Brady!) I'm lookin' groovy in 6th grade. Dig them crazy threads! :

Although I spent most of my time thinking about girls, I did manage to graduate from Santa Monica High School (better known as SAMOHI). A number of students who later became famous also went to SAMOHI, but me, I'm still waiting for my 15 minutes.

Below is a picture of the steps leading up to the History building in the center of campus:

It wasn't until years after I graduated that I learned SAMOHI played the part of Dawson High School in the classic 1950s movie "Rebel Without A Cause".

In the video below, watch from the 4:40 minute mark through 7:00 and you will see my high school. [Incidentally, even while I was attending SAMOHI from 1974-1977, just like it was shown in "Rebel", there was an unwritten rule that one was not supposed to step on the school seal on the steps leading up to the History building, although few students actually paid much attention to the rule.] :

And now a picture of me circa 1978. Hokey-Smoke! Look at all that hair. Damn hippie! [Photo by Kelly "Andy" Anderson, taken at Marine Park, two blocks from my south Santa Monica home.] :

[This one's for "Mr. Philly" - my friend DiscConnected!]
What was once the Ice Capades Chalet (with the white roof) at 500 Broadway in Santa Monica is now a Fred Segal store. You know it best as the ice skating rink where Rocky Balboa took Adrian on their first date. In actuality, it was a long way from Philadelphia. I used to go there trying to pick up girls. What I wound up doing instead, however, was picking up myself... from off the ice:

Below is a publicity picture I used during my ill-fated attempt to develop an acting career. [Photo by Kelly "Andy" Anderson, taken - if I recall correctly - in the alley behind Kelly's house, circa 1981.] I'm wearing my red "James Dean" jacket, and slightly visible is the gold hangman's noose charm I used to wear around my neck. In October of 1982, my friend Terrill wrote to me:

"The noose around your neck - do you still wear it? That was one of the first things I saw on you. It bothered me at first 'til I found out it had to [do with] James Dean ... and Mark tried to explain briefly what you thought of James Dean." :

Below is a picture of-- Hey, wait a second! What's that doing in here?! That's a picture I took in the Okefenokee Swamp in 1983. Well, tell ya what, let's call it a photograph of "my wild, muddy mental state" and just move on. :

Here's the Nuart theatre. Is it in Santa Monica or West Los Angeles? I always forget, but seriously, what's the difference? Cross one street and you move from one city to the other. The Nuart marquee also shows up in the opening credits montage of the TV show "Moonlighting". I spent more than a few hours in this theatre watching James Dean movies before they became available on video tapes:


Hooray! Here comes the food and beverage section of the tour.

At the intersection of Gower and Melrose stands Astroburger. To be honest, it's just one of countless burger joints in Los Angeles. HOWEVER... one menu item in particular made the place stand out and turned it into a "must visit" place everytime I was in that Hollywood neighborhood: Onion Rings!

I'm not ordinarily an Onion Rings Fanatic, but Astroburger's onion rings were outta-this-world! They were so freakin' big and thick that just 6 rings probably amounted to an entire onion! Here's a picture of Astroburger, looking West down Melrose:

And here's Astroburger looking East down Melrose (the block-long tan-colored building on the left is the Paramount Movie Studio) . . .

North Woods Inn is a chain of rustic, Alaskan-themed restaurants. It's home to the official NFL football-sized baked potatoes. It was The Countess who turned me on to this place, and I remember it fondly:

Inn-side a North Woods Inn:

Tail O' The Pup, near The Beverly Center's 'Hard Rock Cafe'. The food is irrelevant, because you simply must dig a joint that looks like a hot dog, right?

Just off the 405 freeway in the Inglewood area is Randy's Donuts. Back in 1984 I worked for an Inglewood sign manufacturing company, and Randy's was located at my freeway offramp. I stopped there once in awhile for a morning cup of coffee:

Below is Johnnie's Pastrami Restaurant, a popular food joint in Culver City. In '84, I drew the full-sized pattern from which their big yellow sign was created:

Mexican food is my very favorite, and my very favorite Mexican restaurant is Antonio's on Melrose Ave. in the West Hollywood area. I first visited the place in, probably, 1978, and I rarely make a trip to L.A. without having a meal there. Anytime I'm in town, Antonio is one of the first to know:

I know Antonio's as well as I know my own house:

Warren Zevon sang: "All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, I'm gonna drink 'em up". For food, it's Antonio's, but for margaritas, it's El Coyote. Best margaritas anywhere - ever! Even a lush like me can't drink more than three without getting falling-down liquored-up:


Miceli's Italian Restaurant - one of only a few really cool things in "The Valley" :

Below is the interior of Miceli's. Live piano playing and singing waiters and waitresses. (The food's pretty good, too.) Three minutes after I saw the movie "Goodfellas" for the first time, I was in the car and headed for Miceli's:

Jolly Jack's - a neighborhood booze joint, and home-away-from-home for "The League Of Soul Crusaders". Sadly, it's now a fruity coffee house for a pack of tattooed and body-pierced "nonconformists" [Cough!-Cough!]

But back "in the day", if you called the Bay Street house and we League members weren't home, your next best effort to reach us was a call to Jolly Jack's.  JJ's was known for its good, extra spicy, bloody mary's - not that any of us boys ever needed such a thing. ;o)

Rae's diner on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica was one of the regular Breakfast Club meeting places for 'The League Of Soul Crusaders' [more about them in the 6th and final installment] :

Rae's was also featured in the (goofy) MTV video for Eddie Money's 1982 song "Shakin'."

Another one of my very favorite L.A. restaurants is The Sidewalk Cafe, located right on the Venice Beach boardwalk [see the red and white striped awning in the background of the photo below]. As I once said to my dear friend Pooh:

I’ve always been kind of partial to The Sidewalk CafĂ© in Venice because of the carnival freak entertainment that comes free with every meal.

I recommend the Garcia Lorca omelette: Green Chiles and Jack Cheese.

And The Sidewalk Cafe brings us, naturally enough, to The Beach Scene. We'll hit the beaches in Part 3 of our tour.

Transport yourself to Part 3 by clicking here: The Waybac Machine

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


Jessica Bell said...

OMG! That 5th grade picture, I’m thinking, wow, Brady Bunch, Dude, and then you go ahead and say it yerself! hehehe …

All that Mexican food talk has got me hungry and I’m on a diet damnit! Oh man, and the Margarita’s (num num num …) I go to a Mexican joint here in Athens but the food isn’t spicy enough. I guess they’ve had to change their ingredients to suit the majority of the Greek crowd. Real shame that is. I also LOVE bloody marys. Sheesh, I think I may have inherited your taste buds somehow …

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

AlliAllo ~
"The Brady Bunch"?! Aren't you, like, waaaaay too young to know anything about The Brady Bunch?

If you ever visit L.A., make sure you go to Antonio's Mexican restaurant on Melrose. You'll find authentic Mexico City dishes on that menu that you'll find in no other restaurant north of our southern border.

As for margaritas... Gotta hit El Coyote and order your margaritas "straight up" - no ice, no slush, just the nectar strained over ice and into your glass martini-style.

Antonios and El Coyote are no more than about a 15-minute drive apart. But go to Antonios FIRST. Because if you go for the margaritas first, you'll never make it to Antonios!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Arlee Bird said...

I've eaten at the Northwoods Inn in La Mirada off the 5 freeway and I've seen Randys from some other freeway, but I've never been to any of the other places. Huell Howser featured the pastrami place on his show a while back and it looked pretty good. He had a show about that one and Langer's Deli--another place that I want to try someday. Maybe when I do my bus and train tour.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yeah, I've been to that Northwoods Inn as well. I've been to at least 3 of them in the L.A. area. Love that chain!

>>...Huell Howser featured the pastrami place on his show a while back and it looked pretty good.

I've never heard of Huell Howser, but did he mention that it was me who created the pattern from which Johnnie's big yellow sign was created?

I want ALL the credit I have coming to me, damn-it!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

DiscConnected said...

Not that they look alike, but that picture of your grandfather gives me the same impression whenever I see Phillies manager Charlie Manuel-old school man's man.

He's got a cigar instead of chewing tobacco, but I'll bet they're cut from the same cloth!


Arlee Bird said...

I guess Huell Howser's "California Gold" tv show didn't come on Public TV station KCET until after you left town. It's one of the best things on local TV and features interesting places around L.A. and California in general. He's got some really cool stories and has introduced me to some very fascinating places. You'd probably enjoy the show.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Oh, I can certainly understand why you would say that. Yes, I imagne they were both cut from the same cloth – not just “Old School” but “Prehistoric School”, when men were men and women were scared. Ha!

There used to be a reader’s write-in column titled “My Most Memorable Character”; I think it may have been in Reader’s Digest magazine. Anyway, my Grandfather would have been my choice (with his daughter – my Mom – a close second).

He was so good-hearted that you could never go to his house without him trying to give something away to you. We heard it a million times: “What do you want? Is there anything here you want? Go ahead and take it. How about that lamp over there? Do you want that? This typewriter’s pretty nice here; only the letter ‘z’ won’t type, but you don’t use the letter ‘z’ very often anyway. Why don’t you take that typewriter home with you?”

That man was so loyal to his family, and God help the person whom he determined had wronged a member of his family! He was probably the strongest man I’ve ever known; had forearms the size of Redwood tree trunks, and it was all due to a lifetime of hard manual labor – I doubt he ever lifted a weight in his life.

And my Ma picked up so many traits from him! The same fierce loyalty to her family. If she found out that someone had mistreated one of her kids in any way - Oh, shit, look out!!! Ha!

My Grandpa’s heart eventually gave out by degrees, and it was so sad to see a guy that strong and manly kind of wither away to nothing.

I was originally thinking of posting a picture of Rock Bottom below that photo of my Grandpa but these blog bits are already so overloaded with pictures and videos that I decided to make cuts where I felt I could. But in case you don’t recall what Rock Bottom looked like, here’s a link to a PHOTO.

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>...You'd probably enjoy the show.

Yeah, it sounds like I would.

I think a great deal has changed in La-La-Land since I left.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Lyle Flynn said...

Stephen, re Huell Howser. I think you and your mom would havel loved him. He has a distinct qualiy of making anything he is talking about, even the very mundane, interesting. He also frequently takes a nostalgic look at a lot of great people and places around LA and throughout Cal. I'll see if I can tape a few to watch if you have time on your next visit.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>...Stephen, re Huell Howser. I think you and your mom would have loved him.

My Mom? You mean that woman who insisted that you have a spare key to your car made before we set out for Devil's Tower, Wymoming?

The woman who saved us from being stuck at Devil's Tower, Wyoming, in the rain... because we had a spare key when some drunken dude (although I won't mention any names, "POOH") lost the original car key? That woman?

Pooh! I miss you!(...strictly in a John Wayne way). Didn't we have some GREAT times?!

Gosh, man! I'm sitting here listening to the first two Starbuck albums on CD which The Great L.C. gave me earlier today as a belated birthday gift, and I'm feeling SOOOoooo nostalgic.

And you are what I miss the absolute most in Los Angeles (I mean, after 'The Beach Bike Path', of course).

"Moonlight Feels Right"... but I don't like the girl you're going to get.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Sheboyganboy VI said...

This was fun... but like Arlee, I've not been to any of those places, not even the Northwoods Inn.

We went to Griffith Park, and frequently up to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to see operas.

Rather removed from your peeps on skid row!

By the way, as a youth you looked like this tough kid in my school that was always getting in fights. Just lookin' at your mug makes me want to put up my dukes!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

The Northwoods Inn is a 'sawdust on the floor/unshelled peanuts on yer table' kind of place.

Not sure a Dorothy Chandler Pavilion boy like you could appreciate it. ;o)

I'd walked by the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion many times, and I believe I was inside once or twice.

That may have been where Marty and I once attended an opera together. His parents had a couple of tickets they weren't going to use and urged us to go.

I was bored out of my skull. (I pretty much determined that bad acting + overwrought music = opera. An opinion I'm sure you share with me. :o)

The only thing I can really recall about my one and only "Opera Experiment" is that prior to the beginning of the histrionics, I made a remark to Marty about eyelashes which the woman in the seat in front of me overheard and she started laughing.

>>...Just lookin' at your mug makes me want to put up my dukes!

Ha! No, no, no! Anyone who wants to fight me has to go through Nappy first, and NO ONE goes through Nappy.

It's good to be the Older Brother who has a little brother for protection.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'