Tuesday, July 31, 2007



"For Once You'll Want to Be Blue!"  That was the message this morning at 7th and Montana as Starbucks employees put up new signage promoting their latest concoction, Blueberry Frapuccino.  While locals debated the merits of a Blueberry-flavored coffee drink, Starbucks also gave us another reason to be Blue:  They quietly raised the price of a regular cup of coffee by ten cents.  Perhaps the only person who wasn't "Blue" about the price increase was Baby Helena, who just returned renewed and refreshed from a trip to New York.  It seems that, while she was away, Helena has mastered the fine art of playing Peek-a-Boo.  Too bad she can't make the price increases at Starbucks disappear ...!

Monday, July 30, 2007



Sirens were blaring and whistles were blowing this weekend at 7th and Montana as law enforcement officials descended en masse on Our Favorite Starbucks.  Naturally, I rushed to the scene to get a glimpse of the action, only to find a Little Old Lady literally blowing the whistle on a group of Santa Monica Police Officers as they ran across 7th Street into Starbucks.  "That's Jaywalking, dearies," she yelled after them, blowing sharply on her whistle, "and don't think I'm not going to report you."  She then turned to me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "They're just heading in there for coffee like they always do."  Sure enough, moments later, the officers emerged with enough doughnuts and coffee to feed a squadron.  As for the Little Old Lady, she hopped on a bus heading South ...!

Sunday, July 29, 2007



It was a case of Starbucks Water Torture for Phil this morning as he ended up with one of the notorious "Dribble Cups" at 7th and Montana.  Try as he might, he couldn't stem the flow of coffee out of the cup, onto his hands, down his shirt and across the pavement until he finally admitted defeat and dripped his way inside for a replacement.  The incident -- an increasingly common occurrence at 7th and Montana -- prompted speculation that Starbucks has been cutting corners on its paper cups.  Meanwhile, it was a leak of another kind as word dribbled out that Kovar's recent trip to Sonoma was far more than just a wine-tasting.  It seems the Ace Photographer has landed a new Top Secret Design Project!

Saturday, July 28, 2007



It was another picture perfect morning at 7th and Montana as today's mild, 73-degree temperatures attracted people to Santa Monica in record numbers.  Bob and Joyce decided it was high-time to introduce their grandchildren to the pleasures of Slip 'n Slide.  Shortly after they left the scene -- in search of a Slip 'n Slide -- an Oafish Newcomer pulled up in an SUV, blaring his music loudly enough for all to hear.  After a while, I approached him and politely suggested that it was time for him to either turn the music down or "Slip, Slide Away."  Fortunately, he did both ...!

Friday, July 27, 2007


Whoever said that "the Geek shall inherit the Earth" must have attended the annual Comic Con convention in San Diego, a comic book and entertainment confab catering to Klingons of all ages.  Kathy and I made the Trek from 7th and Montana to Comic Con today, intent on scoping out such new TV series as "Chuck" and attending various industry panel discussions.  Along the way, we met more eccentric characters than you can shake a light saber at.  Evidently, people flock to Comic Con from all over the country, dressed as their favorite Comic Book characters.  Kathy certainly seemed in her element, schmoozing with the likes of Dr. Strange, Jack Sparrow, "V" (from "V is for Vendetta"), a Spartan Warrior and an anonymous Ghost Buster.  Some of my favorite costumes, however, were completely "homemade."  For example, when I asked a man with wings whether he was promoting the ABC-TV mini-series "Fallen" -- a new trilogy about fallen angels -- he replied, "No ... I just have wings.  Do you have a problem with that?!?"  Later in the day, I made the acquaintance of a young woman who resembled a cross between Shirley Temple and Death.  "I'm a Death Maid," she said brightly from behind her surgical mask.  Where else, I ask you, would you find such an eccentric cross section of humanity?  I'll have to give the matter some thought tomorrow morning at 7th and Montana ...!  

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Mouths were watering at 7th and Montana this morning as Barista Extraordinaire Rob quietly slipped me a "sneak preview" of a new breakfast pastry -- a Strawberry-Blueberry muffin -- destined for the Starbucks menu next month.  I convened a panel of Objective Dessert Experts in my office to join me in sampling the muffin and here is our completely candid review.  Lisa:  "It's simply scrumptious, the perfect combination of strawberries, blueberries and oats and it's not too sweet."  Lyndsey:  "It's good.  It tastes like a Blueberry Muffin."  Me:  "I give this muffin two enthusiastic thumbs up.  It's an absolute taste sensation brought to you by the true geniuses at Starbucks.  With desserts like this, no wonder more and more Starbucks locations are springing up every day."  Remember, friends, you can always count on me for hard-hitting, honest reviews of the entire selection of delicious and nutritious pastries at 7th and Montana ...!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007



It was a case of Separation Anxiety this morning at 7th and Montana as an attractive newcomer left her adorable pet Chihuahua by my table while she went into Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee.  The minute she turned her back, the poor pooch started whining uncontrollably.  Moments later, the whining turned into yelping as the woman began leaving Starbucks without her dog.  "For some reason, your dog seems to have a bad case of Separation Anxiety," I observed, shortly after she returned to the scene.  "Yes," she agreed.  "You'd feel the same if I left you behind."  "If you say so," I replied.  Meanwhile, not to be ignored, the woman seated to my left was carrying on an animated conversation -- with herself -- alternating between what sounded like a high-pitched baby voice and a parental reprimand.  Passersby, including Actor-Director Ron Howard, seemed intent on keeping their distance as the Obvious Psychopath begged herself for permission to "pet the doggie."  As for me, I beat a hasty retreat ... without any Separation Anxiety whatsoever!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007



Nerves were frayed at 7th and Montana this morning as a seemingly endless line snaked outside the door of Our Favorite Starbucks at 7:15 a.m.  Perhaps some of the employees took a cue from the latest Starbuck's compilation CD and went "Off The Clock."  As for me, I was very much "on the clock" -- running late for a meeting -- and left without ordering my usual Grande Half Caff.  I returned, nearly 12 hours later, to find the Notorious Scribbler still seated at his barstool, writing sweet nothings in his closely guarded notebook.  Rumor has it he's writing the Great American Novel in a secret code inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, but I think he's merely Off the Clock ...!

Monday, July 23, 2007



Suspicions ran high this morning at 7th and Montana as word spread that someone stole and illegally cashed Kovar's paycheck.  While it remains unclear exactly how the check was stolen, Kovar has been working overtime on the phone with his bank and local authorities to clear things up.  One thing is certain:  Someone intercepted the check before it reached Kovar and forged his signature to get it cashed.  For his part, Kovar seems to be taking the whole thing in stride.  He playfully nabbed a suspect this morning -- Local Newshound Dennis -- and loudly interrogated him for all to hear.  Dennis, uncharacteristically, had "no comment!"

Sunday, July 22, 2007



Evidence suggests that builders have been working overtime to complete work on the Infamous Monstrosity under construction at 7th and San Vicente.  While the Good News is that they've erected a scaffold in front of the building, the Bad News is that it appears unlikely they'll be using it to execute the architect.  Many insiders fear that the entire "whimsical" property -- complete with its stairways to nowhere, lopsided wall structure and topsy turvy entryway -- will be encased in corrugated metal.  Much to my surprise, at least one "local" appears to admire the building.  "Looks like they're building a nice, new house," said an Anonymous Nincompoop in an obvious effort at making small talk.  "Nice?," I replied, incredulously.  "NICE?!!?  The only thing NICE about it is that it stands as a NICE, big monument to colossal, bad taste ...!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007



A funny thing happened to me this morning when I tried to buy a newspaper at the Incheon International Airport in Seoul.  The proprietor of the newsstand -- an elderly gentleman who spoke very little English -- looked me dead in the eye and said, "Harry Potter ...?"  At first I thought he had "mistaken" me for the boy wizard and I prepared to become "indignant."  Then, however, he produced a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" from under his desk and explained that he had only just received a few initial copies to sell moments ago.  Given the time difference between Seoul and L.A., this meant I was looking at some of the first copies of the book to go on sale anywhere.  Thinking quickly, I realized that if I read like a maniac during the flight home, I might just be able to finish the 759-page tome before crossing the International Date Line.  "Just think of it," I told my colleague who quickly snapped up a copy for himself, "We might be able to claim we've finished 'Harry Potter' before its official launch date!"  Anyway, 5,664 miles and 476 pages later, I was interrupted by a polite tap from the person sitting next to me on my connecting flight home.  He said, "Hey, don't I recognize you from the Starbucks at 7th and Montana?!?"  It turns out he's a neighbor from Santa Monica Canyon who hangs out at Starbucks regularly.  What a small world we live in.  You can fly backwards in time, cross cultures in the blink of an eye and meet neighbors in the sky.  If that isn't magic worthy of Hogwarts, what is?!?

Friday, July 20, 2007


I slipped out of my hotel long enough today to take a trip to the Kimchi Museum in Seoul City.  The museum traces the roots of Korea's favorite food, Kimchi, a spicy, fermented cabbage dish dating back more than 2,600 years.  Some call Kimchi "refreshing" but, frankly, I had been hearing mixed reviews.  In any case, a woman from our China office kept insisting that I give it a try.  "You'll love it," she said as she passed me a heaping helping of the bright orange delicacy.  I'll say one thing, it certainly tasted like it belonged in a Museum.  That's the last time I take food advice from a woman whose idea of a business dinner includes Dog Meat, Bugs Soaked in Wine and Fried Scorpions on a Stick ...!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Eyes were popping across Santa Monica this morning as word spread that Our Favorite Building Manager, known among friends as Ralph or Raphaelo, returned to 7th and Montana after a year-long hiatus.  Known for his Tall Tales -- he was a former Secret Agent and Green Beret who suffered numerous injuries in falls from planes, yachts and ski-lifts the world over -- Raphaelo was a fixture at Our Favorite Starbucks before disappearing mysteriously without a trace last year.  According to Genevieve, who spotted him this morning, he spent the past year in Canada and Spain, presumably managing many a building along the way.  Meanwhile, here in Seoul, it was a hair-raising encounter of another kind last night as a Demented Barber made the scene at the Hotel Intercontinental.  At approximately 9:00 p.m., a group of colleagues called my attention to a man in a hair salon who seemed to be lovingly caressing the disembodied head of a manikin.  An hour later, when we returned to the hotel, he had the strangely lifelike head in an almost passionate embrace.  I was tempted to interrupt him -- to suggest he elope with the head to 7th and Montana where he'd fit right in -- but I doubt he understands English ...!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007



I ventured out of the confines of my hotel last night and its delicious but predictable five-star dinners to sample a taste of traditional Korean cuisine at its best in a restaurant called Pulhyanggi.  Known as one of the finest restaurants in Seoul, Pulhyanggi caters to what they call discriminating "persons of an artistic turn of mind."  In my case, however, something else was turning as plate after plate of pickled creatures was placed in front of me.  Dancing Octopus, Fish-a-la-Rigor-Mortis and Fermented Devil Root were just a few of the specialties I endured ... and among the only items I was able to identify during the course of the meal.  "Ahh, you must have a small stomach," said one of my local colleagues as he passed what looked like an eyeball in my direction.  "Yes," I replied, "It runs in the family ...!" 

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I had some free time this morning so I decided to check out the Bongeunsa Temple complex across the street from my hotel in Seoul.  Founded in 794, this Buddhist temple commemorates 1,200 years of Korean history and is said to be the ideal place to "find oneself," a practice known locally as Chamseon, which means "to purify the mind from unnecessary thoughts and return to one's true character."  While I didn't exactly find myself at Bongeunsa, I did notice quite a few interesting architectural details, including dozens of historic Swastikas adorning everything from temple murals to decorative candles.  Long before Hitler came to power, the Swastika was known as a symbol of Buddha's heart.  Ironically, the heart of the Bongeunsa complex contained what appeared to be a symbol of Buddha's wallet -- an ATM machine and gift shop -- and that's where I finally "found myself."  I promptly withdrew enough cash to pay 5,000 Won for a Grande Drip at the Starbucks down the street...!   

Monday, July 16, 2007



What would you do if a customs official welcomed you to a foreign country with a "KISS"?  In a manner of speaking, that's exactly what happened to me today as I arrived in Seoul for a series of meetings and -- like so many other travelers before me -- answered a series of mind-numbing questions from a group called KISS (the Korean Immigration Smart Service) before I could enter the country.  Questions included:  (1)  "Are you carrying a crossbow, explosives or poisonous radioactive substances?";  (2)  "Are you bringing opium, heroin, cocaine or other illicit or potentially dangerous drugs such as diet pills into the country?";  (3)  "Are you transporting endangered species such as tigers, cobras, turtles, crocodiles or bear's gull into the country?";  and (4)  "Are you carrying any pornographic materials such as books, CDs or photos into the country?"  I fought the impulse to laugh -- "Yes, my crossbow is in my carry-on bag, right near my supply of uranium which I take purely as a dietary supplement ..." -- and just answered "no" to everything.  After all, joking with a customs official is usually the KISS of death in any country ...!

Sunday, July 15, 2007



Shock waves rippled across Santa Monica this weekend as word spread that Our Favorite Fixer Upper -- the long-neglected home just North of 7th and Montana -- is, in reality, a secret hotbed of illicit activity.  The problem began several years ago when an investor reportedly paid $1.7 million for a home that was just crying for the wrecking ball.  However, before she could "flip" the property, a SWAT team from the local police department allegedly swooped-in and used the house for target practice under the mistaken impression that it was scheduled for demolition.  Since then, the home -- now unoccupied and riddled with bullet holes -- has suffered one indignity after another.  Last year, local sources report that a homeless man moved in, used the floorboards as firewood and transformed one of the rooms into a toilet.  More recently, an enterprising student is said to have gained access to the house, cleaned things up a bit, and turned it into a temporary "Loveshack," renting out rooms by the hour on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.  Today, things are relatively quiet at Our Favorite Fixer Upper, but I can't help thinking that the property has become a monument to Real Estate Misfortune and a sore spot in the neighborhood ...! 

Saturday, July 14, 2007


It was "Many Happy Returns" this morning at 7th and Montana as Bob and Joyce returned, renewed and refreshed, from a week at The Rainbow Ranch in Big Sky, Montana where they filled their days with fly fishing, horseback riding, white water rafting and golf.  Liz just returned from Sacramento where she competed in her latest rowing competition.  Paul made the scene after his frequent travels on Montana Avenue, where he's known to perpetually bounce from one Starbucks to another.  Ironically, the only "regular" who was unaccounted for today seems to be our Friendly Neighborhood King of the Road, known for parking his unsightly trailer in front of other people's houses for days on end.  Perhaps, with any luck, he's finally packed up his trailer and driven off into the Sunset for good ...!

Friday, July 13, 2007



Another "phoney" celebrity did her best to make an impact on the crowd at 7th and Montana this morning, first crashing her BMW SUV into the Curb from Hell, then holding up traffic while she continued blabbering on her cell phone for all to hear.  Eyewitness accounts suggest that the woman -- known to insiders as "Oblivia Newton John" -- seemed entirely oblivious as her tire exploded against the curb with an earth-shattering kaboom.  By the time I arrived on the scene, she was still oblivious, chattering away on her cell phone while absent-mindedly backing her SUV into my path.  "They never learn," said Our Fearless Parking Lot Manager.  "Just talk, talk, talk on the phone."  "Yes," I agreed, "Too bad those Protective Pylons have disappeared ...!"  

Thursday, July 12, 2007



Stomachs were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as Starbucks introduced the latest in a new series of menu items, Pasta Salad with Chicken, by handing out "Free Samples" at 7:00 a.m.  Earlier this week, also at 7:00 a.m., they tried passing around another crowd pleaser, Marinated Mozzarella Balls.  Take it from me, there's something frankly repulsive about the notion of eating a Marinated Mozzarella Ball out of a plastic petrie dish before you've had your morning coffee.  "I don't know why we're offering this stuff so early," said one insider.  "We're just told to put the free samples on the counter."  No doubt it's all the handiwork of a Highly Caffeinated Marketing Expert at Starbucks World Headquarters.  To this genius I offer some advice:  You might need to start replacing the cream in our coffee with Milk of Magnesia ...!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007



Is it my imagination, or has there been an Exodus lately from 7th and Montana to the Middle East?  Leah just left yesterday for another month-long sojourn to the "Promised Land."  Charlie (pictured here) just returned from a two-month exploration of the Middle East for his TV series.  Everyone says the area is perfectly safe -- that we take greater risks walking around downtown L.A. than traveling across the Middle East -- but I still have my doubts.  For now, despite my interest in Middle Eastern Culture, I'll stick to drinking "Arabica" coffee at 7th and Montana ...!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007



Tongues and tails were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as rumors spread that Our Favorite Cocker Spaniel Toby has become tragically addicted to drugs.  While it has long been suspected that the happy-go-lucky, "105-year-old" pooch is prone to taking a nip every now and then, sources close to the situation report that he has recently added both Prozak and Xanax to his repertoire.  A spokeswoman confirmed that doctors have prescribed both drugs to Toby "for medicinal purposes" but refused to acknowledge any signs of addiction.  As for Toby, friends fear that he has turned a deaf ear to the situation.  "It's going to take tough love," said one insider.  "Toby's obviously wrestling with some fierce inner demons!"

Monday, July 9, 2007



Roll Over, Beethoven, there's a new "Moonlight Sonata" in town.  It seems that yet another Inebriated Bum has taken up residence in our midst, this time pulling his pants down and settling-in for a nice, long nap by the entry to Our Favorite Parking Lot.  In the interest of Full Disclosure, I must give credit to Robin and Genevieve for making the discovery.  "This is the third Full Moon we've seen this month," quipped Genevieve, shortly after noticing yet another butt crack smiling at her from the sidewalk.  As for me, I guess I've become jaded by all the comings and goings at 7th and Montana.  Three Full Moons a month seems normal.  Call me when the Werewolves arrive ...!

Sunday, July 8, 2007



The crowd at 7th and Montana was perplexed this morning on reports that one of the so-called Protective Pylons designed to prevent automotive mishaps at Our Favorite Parking Lot was discovered late last night in the garden at Blockbuster Video.  "The case of the missing pylon has been solved," said Genevieve, who made the surprise discovery last night following one of her nocturnal Scrabble matches.  While I performed a rescue mission to return the Pylon in Question to Starbucks this morning, I can't help wondering whether we're better off without it.  Life was always so much more interesting when we were dodging hub caps and other automotive debris with our morning coffee ...!

Saturday, July 7, 2007



Sparks were flying at 7th and Montana this morning as a Suspicious Newcomer arrived on the scene, wearing what appeared to be a dozen sticks of dynamite strapped to his torso and a matching set of plastic explosives attached to each wrist.  While a curious crowd of spectators gaped at his ensemble and prepared to meet their maker, closer inspection revealed that he was merely another eccentric out for a morning stroll.  He was last seen heading South towards the Saint Monica Church and Elementary School ...!

Friday, July 6, 2007



It was a morning of surprises at 7th and Montana as Newbie Starbucks Employee Rob said a cheery "hello" and then asked me about my blog.  "Hey, I was talking to some customers and they told me about your Starbucks website," he said.  "What kind of stuff do you talk about?"  Evidently, a pair of Anonymous Stool Pigeons turned me in.  Not that it bothers me, mind you, but I wouldn't want the employees at 7th and Montana to feel embarrassed by my constant praise.  Why, just this morning I had a devil of a time trying to figure out where on Earth Starbucks finds such intelligent and attractive people.  Surely they must be recruiting them from MENSA ...!

Thursday, July 5, 2007




The crowd at 7th and Montana found religion yesterday in the form of a roving "Mitzva Mobile" which rolled-up to Our Favorite Starbucks just in time to share some Old Testament thinking with neighborhood sinners.  Indeed, spectators were agog as a Rabbinical Scholar emerged from a minivan, set-up a card table and began distributing Judaic Literature to passersby.  In the Hebrew tradition, a Mitzva refers to "any act of human kindness, such as the burial of the body of an unknown person ..."  Personally, while I find it hard to swallow a Torah reading with my cappuccino, I think we're lucky to have a Roving Rabbi in our midst.  Wouldn't it be the ultimate "Mitzva" if he were to remove the last of the Protective Pylons from Our Favorite Parking Lot?!?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007



It was a Fourth of July to remember at 7th and Montana today as Little Alex -- the Prince of Starbucks -- declared his Independence by producing his very own cell phone.  As if to say "It's for you," he graciously shared a few of his "rollover minutes" with Joyce.  Is it my imagination, or are kids Declaring their Independence faster than ever these days?  Next thing you know, Alex will be following in the footsteps of Professional Poker Player Dan, who mesmerized the crowd yesterday by demonstrating his new Apple iPhone ...!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007



Sirens were blaring at 7th and Montana this morning as several police officers arrived on the scene, intent on putting a stop once and for all to the rash of illegal gardening that has been plaguing Santa Monica.  Evidently, a Hapless Gardener was found guilty of violating strict regulations prohibiting the use of Leaf Blowers anywhere in the City.  While the officers raked the poor man over the coals in two languages, I couldn't help wondering who blew the whistle on him.  As for the Gardener, he seemed thoroughly confused.  "Don't worry," I muttered under my breath, "I'm sure this will all blow over soon ...!"  

Monday, July 2, 2007


It was just like old times at 7th and Montana this morning as a series of newcomers crashed the party by introducing their vehicles to the "curb from hell" on their way into Our Favorite Parking Lot.  The fun began when an Electrician-in-a-Hurry ran head-on into one of the last remaining protective pylons, flattening it like a pancake in his zeal to grab a cup of coffee.  Minutes later, as if on cue, an elderly gentleman marooned his Lexus in the "Island of Lost Auto Parts."  In unrelated automotive news, a ten-year-old child was spotted today cruising down Sunset Strip in a Blue Acura.  The youth (pictured here wearing dark sunglasses) could barely see over the steering wheel.  Inside sources speculate that he was on his way to 7th and Montana ...!  

Sunday, July 1, 2007



It was a day to see, be seen and make a scene at 7th and Montana today as picture perfect weather drew crowds in record numbers.  While local luminaries ranging from Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger to LPGA Hall of Fame Golfer Amy Alcott graced us with their presence, the most notable appearance was that of two gentlemen who held up traffic by placing the most finicky order I've ever heard for a cup of coffee.  "Make mine a Double Vente Berry Frapuccino with a Shot of Vanilla, Soy Milk Only and Extra Whipped Cream," said the man pictured above to the right.  "By the way, can I see the mug you are serving it in? ... Don't go away, I also want a Banana Bran muffin but may I inspect it first?"  At this point, I tuned-out, only to later hear him grilling the cashier about the percentage of bran in Starbucks' muffins.  By the time they finished ordering, I felt like asking either the Governator or the equally formidable Amy Alcott to rough them up a bit ...!