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:
EAT, DRINK, AND
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 Café 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
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