Friday, February 29, 2008



Stop the press!  A scandal was brewing at 7th and Montana this morning as word spread that an Anonymous Nogoodnik has been stealing newspapers from Our Favorite Starbucks.  Inside Sources report that the Nogoodnik-in-Question -- pictured here -- routinely "sneaks" into Starbucks, grabs a copy of The Los Angeles Times when he thinks no one is looking, and high-tails it to another cafe, where he spends the rest of the morning reading at his leisure.  "He's sly, but we're onto him," said one witness.  "One of these days we're going to catch him in the act."  Meanwhile, the Nogoodnik was last seen this morning hopping on a bicycle (presumably his own) and pedaling towards the 7-Eleven on Wilshire ...! 

Thursday, February 28, 2008



Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as details emerged regarding the recent, three-hour "Espresso Training" course at Our Favorite Starbucks.  Apparently, as part of a corporate-wide training initiative, 7,100 Starbucks locations were closed on Tuesday from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. in order for Starbucks management to instruct 135,000 workers on the Fine Art of Espresso Making.  Baristas were encouraged to "make sure it takes between 15-19 seconds for each Espresso shot to pour from the machine so it comes out dripping like honey from a spoon."  Following the training, every Barista signed a "Promise" that now hangs prominently on display behind the Espresso Machine:  "Your Drink Should be Perfect, Every Time.  If Not, Let Us Know and We'll Make it Right."  Rumor has it that the training cost Starbucks an estimated $50 million.  That's a lot of Promises, dripping off a lot of tongues across the country like so much honey from a spoon ...!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008



Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Mr. Obvious, the latest newcomer on the scene at 7th and Montana.  While I don't know Mr. Obvious personally, at first I was convinced he was talking to me this morning when he walked right up to me and said loudly, "Either he's going to do something, or he's not."  Just as I was preparing to agree wholeheartedly (afterall, what is there to disagree with?), it became clear that he was talking to someone else through an almost invisible microphone sticking out of his right ear.  "Like I said," he repeated, "Either he's going to do something, or he's not."  At the risk of stating the Obvious, it's getting harder and harder lately to tell the people who talk into wireless mouthpieces apart from Babbling Psychopaths.  I'd point this out to Mr. Obvious, but something tells me he'd either listen or he wouldn't ...!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008



Barista Robb was more whipped up than one of his double-foam cappuccinos this morning as an Ornery Customer with an Attitude made a scene at Our Favorite Starbucks.  The fun began when the Customer-in-Question, a woman described by witnesses as "an Evil Munchkin," began giving another customer a tough time before starting-in on Robb.  Poor Robb.  If it's any consolation, I couldn't help noticing last week that the Baristas in Tokyo have similar problems on their hands.  On Friday, an Obvious Maniac with a Winnie-the-Pooh Fixation (pictured above) settled-in for the duration at the Starbucks at Shinagawa Station ...!

Monday, February 25, 2008



The "Country Club" atmosphere at 7th and Montana took on a whole new meaning this morning when an Anonymous Bogeyman carrying a set of Golf Clubs arrived on the scene.  "Maybe he just wants to play through," said Screenwriter Mark as the Would-be Golfer grabbed his Golf Bag and trudged his way up 7th Street.  For my part, I took the incident in stride.  Given the cast of characters who frequent Our Favorite Starbucks, the sight of an Anonymous Bogeyman puttering around is simply Par for the Course.  As for the Bogeyman, he was last seen heading towards the Sand Trap at 7th and Alta better known as "Our Favorite Fixer Upper" ...! 

Sunday, February 24, 2008



Barista Robb and Robin greeted me at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning with some startling news.  "Welcome Back," said Robb, "We've made some changes in your absence ... let's see if you can figure them out."  Apparently, at the direction of Starbucks Headquarters, they've replaced the counter at 7th and Montana with a collection of new bistro tables and chairs.  "See what happens," Robb noted, "You turn your back for one minute and we start making changes."  In other news, Actress Keri Russell made the scene this week with her baby, River, and a Gaggle of Paparazzi in tow.  According to Robin, the popular actress ordered a cappuccino-to-go and tried to remain incognito as she walked home.  She made it as far as the front door of my condo before turning to face the photographers, calling them a bunch of "Lame, F--cking A--holes" and continuing along her merry way.  Perhaps Russell, pictured here shortly before her outburst, would get more privacy if she traded-in her "Waitress" uniform for a Barista Cap ...! 

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Before winging my way home to Santa Monica today, I decided to explore the Asakusa region of Tokyo, known for its many historic shrines and open air markets.  The heart of this neighborhood -- the Sensoji Temple -- is a deeply spiritual place.  Visitors come from miles around to walk through the Kaminarimon -- or "Thunder Gate" -- and purify their souls at the Water Dragon Fountain.  Just outside the temple walls is the Nakamise, one of the oldest outdoor markets in Japan, dating back to 1688 when a Big Shot Shogun named Tokugawa first allowed the opening of special Tea Houses to serve visitors to the Shrine.  Today, however, the Nakamise plays host to a more eclectic mix of shops selling everything from Halloween Costumes for your dog to Yokohama Bust Pudding, a popular, Japanese dessert served in a Pair of Perky, Plastic Breasts.  Like everything in Japan, it all makes Perfect Sense:  Visitors can pig out on "Breast Pudding" all day, then cleanse their souls at the Temple nearby ...!

Friday, February 22, 2008



Anything goes here in Tokyo, but even the locals seemed a bit surprised this morning at the sight of a Fashionable Young Woman traipsing across the lobby of Le Meridien hotel wearing what looked like two dead rabbits on her feet.  "Did I just see what I thought I saw?," I quietly asked one of my colleagues.  "Yes," he answered, "She's wearing Rabbit Slippers."  We watched in silence as the Young Woman in Question hippity-hopped her way out the front door and hailed a Taxi-dermist ...!  

Thursday, February 21, 2008


It all began innocently enough over breakfast this morning when one of my local, Japanese colleagues asked me, "Marty-san, have you tried the Golden Toilet yet?"  "That sounds like a trick question," I responded, chuckling.  "No," he replied, "The toilet on the main level at the Meguro Gajoen is quite something."  "Thanks," I said, "If the need arises, I'll let you know."  Later in the day, one of our Corporate Hosts opened a formal speech before more than 200 executives by saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope by now you've all had a chance to visit the Magnificent Toilet downstairs."  Well, you don't have to ask me twice.  I grabbed my camera phone and made a Beeline for the Bathroom.  Trust me when I say it was worth the wait.  Sliding Black Lacquer Screens inlaid with Gold lead to an antechamber covered with artwork that would make any museum proud.  A Babbling Brook filled with Carp winds its way to an Ornate Washroom and, to get to the toilets, you have to cross a bridge over a traditional Japanese Water Garden.  Best of all, by the time I finally found the toilet itself -- cleverly hidden behind a mahogany doorway -- I actually had to use it ...!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My meetings this week are being held in the Meguro Gajoen, a cultural landmark in Tokyo that was originally built as a community space and more recently transformed into a Spare-No-Expense venue for private meetings and weddings.  The location is a study in contrasts:  A sleek, modern skyscraper filled with centuries-old works of art, indoor and outdoor koi ponds, exotic gardens, and a man-made waterfall.  It's the perfect location for a celebration, which seems appropriate given that the purpose of my meetings here is to help plan the future of Blu-ray Disc, one of two home entertainment technologies engaged in a fierce battle to become the high-definition successor to DVD.  Just yesterday, elsewhere in Tokyo, the competing format, HD DVD, admitted defeat and will likely start to disappear from store shelves by the end of next month.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008



Over the years, I've eaten just about anything you could shake a stick at in Japan.  Wiggling Jellyfish, Sea Urchins a la Mode, Tentacle Surprise ... you name it, I've tried it.  That's why I was so shocked tonight when the waitress brought me something new:  A Living Fish-Kabob.  Imagine, if you will, a whole, raw fish, skewered down the center, going into what looked like cardiac arrest on your plate.  Forget the skewer, I wouldn't touch this dish with a ten foot pole ...!

Monday, February 18, 2008



You know you've been traveling too much when the woman behind the counter at the Airport Currency Exchange Desk knows you by name.  "What's it going to be today, Marty, Euros?," she asked, helpfully.  "No thanks," I said, "Today I have a Yen for Yen."  And so, I replenished my supply of Japanese currency and ran to catch a flight to Tokyo, where I'm in meetings all week.  Sayonara, folks ...!

Sunday, February 17, 2008



Shock Waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as word spread that the owner of the "Fancy Schmancy" cafe across from Our Favorite Starbucks -- the one that charges $4.95 for a brownie -- apparently has a nasty habit of touching Other People's Food with her dirty hands.  "I couldn't believe it," said Robin, who dashed across the street yesterday with Robb in search of the Perfect Bagel.  "We saw her first handle money, then grab and slice the bagels without washing her hands."  I guess that's what you call a Hands-On Management Style ...!   

Saturday, February 16, 2008



It was Many Happy Returns today at 7th and Montana as Terry made the scene, fresh from her recent sojourn Under the Tuscan Sun.  While abroad, Terry sealed a real estate deal for her family, acquiring a centuries-old farmhouse in the Chianti region of Tuscany.  Rumor has it the place comes complete with Wild Boars, Olive Trees and Grapevines which -- if all goes according to plan -- might one day supply the family with their own wine.  Let the Grape Stomping begin ...!

Friday, February 15, 2008



It was a thriller of a morning at 7th and Montana today as a Dead Ringer for the King of Pop made the scene.  "There goes Michael Jackson," said Howard, gesturing towards a Pale, Mysterious Creature with Long Black Hair and a Black Fedora. Naturally, I sprang into action, whipping out my camera phone and chasing the Would-Be Jacko across the Parking Lot.  Alas, the Creature-in-Question couldn't possibly be Michael Jackson:  It had a nose ...!

Thursday, February 14, 2008



Love was in the air today at 7th and Montana as Barista Trina revealed that she's pregnant.  A Bouncing Baby Barista is expected this Spring!  In related news, Susan announced that Sophia, Our Favorite Australian Bearded Dragon, has recently laid a clutch of 40 eggs.  But don't count on hearing the Pitter Patter of little claws just yet.  The eggs -- which according to Susan resembled a cluster of Chocolate Covered Almonds -- were unfertilized.  "Sophia is still a Virgin Queen," said Susan, proudly.  Meanwhile, at least for the time being, if I were you, I wouldn't accept any Chocolate Covered Almonds from Susan.  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone ...!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008



It was the "agony of da feet" this morning at 7th and Montana for Screenwriter-Entrepreneur Kathy as word spread that she suffered some minor foot injuries in a Recent, Embarrassing Pole Dancing Incident.  Faithful Readers might recall that Kathy took a series of Pole Dancing Classes last April.  While her "career" as a Pole Dancer has been on hiatus ever since, she's apparently had her eye on a particularly Enticing Pole near her swimming pool for some time now.  Finally, unable to resist any longer, she decided to put this pole to the test after a brief swim last Friday.  "I wanted to see if I still had it," she said, "Unfortunately, I forgot that you shouldn't try Pole Dancing with wet hands."  Poor Kathy slipped, sprained one of her toes and scraped her foot pretty badly.  Kathy:  Perhaps it's time to put the Pole Dancing -- and your feet -- on ice! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



It was Back to the Grind today for Screenwriter Mark who made the scene this morning at 7th and Montana with his brother Rob to do what they do best:  crank out award-winning scripts from a table at Our Favorite Starbucks.  The Writers Guild of America voted today to end what has been a devastating three-month strike that virtually brought production in Hollywood to a standstill.  Most writers will return to work tomorrow, but Mark and Rob are Show Runners -- responsible for the day-to-day operation of their shows -- which means they could return to work today.  Inside sources say that everyone walked away from the contract discussions "equally frustrated" which, as they say, is the sign of a good negotiation ...!

Monday, February 11, 2008



Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Silver," an Alaskan Husky mix whose Barf is worse than his Bite.  Shortly after arriving on the scene with two women this morning, Silver began gobbling up the flowers in front of Our Favorite Starbucks and regurgitating them all over the sidewalk.  At first, I tried to be polite.  "Watch your step," I said loudly, "It looks like we have a sick dog on our hands."  The women ignored me.  Then, I tried to be more blunt.  "Look out," I warned several passersby, "Some people aren't taking very good care of their dog."  Finally, I took a direct approach.  "Excuse me," I said, approaching the Women-in-Question, "Your dog is throwing-up profusely."  "I know," responded one of the women from her Island of Puke, "He does this all the time ... he really shouldn't be eating the flowers."  Frankly, the incident left a bad taste in my mouth.  What will they say when Poor Silver ends up "pushing up daisies" after overdosing on them ...?!?

Sunday, February 10, 2008



"I'm heading to Fatburger!"  That was Ace Photographer Kovar's conclusion this morning after regaling the crowd at 7th and Montana with tales of his recent journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain rise in the world.  Kovar spent most of the past month in Africa shooting a documentary about seven-year-old Keats Boyd and his successful bid to become the youngest person ever to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.  Along the way, Kovar, Keats and the team had what sounds like the Experience of a Lifetime.  Imagine flicking gargantuan, poisonous spiders off your pillow at night;  eating termites fresh from the mound (Kovar wisely took a pass);  watching elephants traipse through your campsite;  and scrambling to keep everything together when freezing, 70-mile-per-hour gusts of wind blow your tent down.  Sounds dangerous?  Not to worry, the team had a genuine Maasai Warrior with them at all times.  Needless to say, Kovar said he was "thrilled" to be home.  We might have our share of Bullshit at 7th and Montana, but at least we don't have to dodge any Elephant Chips along the way ...! 

Saturday, February 9, 2008



Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as a would-be King Midas burst onto the scene, inexplicably dressed from head-to-toe in Skin-Tight Gold Spandex.  "What are you supposed to be?," I asked, "an American Gladiator?!?"  "I'm so glad you noticed," he replied, "I was just at a party last night where we had an American Gladiators theme."  Frankly, dressed as he was, he looked more like an American Gladiola than anything else ... but far be it from me to Burst his Bubble.  "So," I mused, "The party was yesterday, but you're still wearing the same outfit?"  He practically glowed with enthusiasm.  "I didn't change," he gushed, "I just love getting all this recognition!"  As Barista Robb quietly noted, apparently some Gladiators defeat their rivals based on strength ... others rely on a certain stench!

Friday, February 8, 2008



An early morning meeting at Walt Disney Studios prevented me from making my usual stop at 7th and Montana today, but -- have no fear -- Disney has its own Starbucks on the lot, specializing in its own unique cast of characters.  Take the Anonymous Guitar Hero (pictured here) who greeted me on arrival by playing an Electronic Air Guitar loudly enough to wake the dead.  Actually, he was at the studio all day today promoting a new toy called Guitar Hero which -- thanks to an "electronic pic," a "rockin' belt buckle" and a "wearable, mini-amplifier" -- allows any nincompoop to impersonate Gene Simmons whether he wants to or not.  "You have a brilliant career ahead of you," I said to the Guitarist-in-Question, half-jokingly.  "You should try playing the Starbucks at 7th and Montana ...!"

Thursday, February 7, 2008



The cat was out of the bag this morning at 7th and Montana as word spread that Rat Fink Robb "ratted me out" with the Attractive Regular who played a starring role in my blog on Monday.  Evidently, Robb knows both the Woman-in-Question and her cousin, Jackie, who, by coincidence, is a Barista at Our Favorite Starbucks.  Moreover, he could hardly wait to point them in the direction of my blog and its Hidden Camera Photo.  And so, I've been caught "red-handed."  As punishment, I promise to consume an entire Apple Fritter without complaining.  Meanwhile, as for the Attractive Regular, may I just state for the record that it's rare to find someone as Intelligent, Pleasant, Friendly -- and dare I say Understanding -- as you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008



Sunday School was in session at 7th and Montana this morning as a Devout Disciple provided some serious religious guidance to a Quiet Young Lady who listened intently but said not a word.  "Jesus wants you to do this," said the Disciple, "Jesus wants you to do that ...!"  I'm not a religious person -- to each their own, I always say -- but I couldn't help wondering whether the choice of venue, the counter at Our Favorite Starbucks, was well-suited for such a Spiritual Discussion.  As I was leaving, it sounded as if the Disciple was telling the Young Lady that Jesus wants her to join a nunnery.  Next thing you know, they'll be sipping "Tall, Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Lattes" out of a Holy Grail ...!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008



I arrived at 7th and Montana Justin time this morning to catch a Boy Band Wannabe smoking up a storm in front of Our Favorite Starbucks.  "Get a load of Justin Timberlake over there," I said to Susan, who -- after one look at the Baggy Jeans, Skater Shoes, and Obligatory Bandana -- replied, "That's not Justin, it's just another Butt-head."  California State Law prohibits smoking within 20 feet of entrances, exits or operable windows of a public building.  But don't try telling that to our would-be Justin.  He was too busy blowing smoke in our direction and throwing his cigarette butt on the ground.  What an Ash-hole!  Next time, I'm calling the City's Smoking Violation Hotline at 310-458-8923 ...!

Monday, February 4, 2008



It was a comedy of errors this morning at 7th and Montana as an Attractive Regular made an Awkward Confession.  The fun began when I tried to pry some Juicy Gossip out of Barista Robb.  "Hey Robb," I said, cheerfully, "What's new?"  "Hmmmm," he replied, "Let me think.  What's New ...?"  At that point, the woman standing behind me in line inexplicably gave us an answer.  "Don't ask," she said.  "I'm so busy ... I basically won't have a life for the next four months!"  She went on to explain, in confidence, exactly what will be keeping her so busy.  While I'm sure the whole thing was a simple misunderstanding -- she must have thought we were asking her "what's new" -- I couldn't help wondering what possessed her to chime-in.  I guess there's just something about Our Favorite Starbucks that makes people spill their guts ...! 

Sunday, February 3, 2008



"Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" made an appearance today at 7th and Montana, but there was no need to ask her how her garden grows:  She was wearing it on her head.  Indeed, An Anonymous Fashion Victim arrived on the scene at Our Favorite Starbucks, wearing enough Plastic Vegetation on her head to scare off Carmen Miranda.  "Perhaps she's auditioning for a part in some big, new production," I wondered, as -- with a simple flourish of her Bright Red Parasol -- she quietly disappeared into the rain.  One thing's for sure:  Dressed like that she'd be a shoe-in for a part in the Rose Bowl Parade ...!

Saturday, February 2, 2008



If it's true what they say -- that "politics makes strange bedfellows" -- then I guess there's been more sleeping around than usual in Hollywood these days.  Everywhere you turn, the politicians are out in full force.  Last night, Bob and Joyce (pictured here) attended a taping of the PBS show Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, which was broadcasting from Glendale in the wake of Thursday's Star-Studded Clinton-Obama debate in Hollywood.  Howard and Cathy ran into the Clinton Motorcade at the Hotel Bel Air.  As for me, I've been trying to keep my head down ... but with "Super Tuesday" around the corner, I guess you could say that's not very politic ...!

Friday, February 1, 2008



Lucky the Dog was aglow this morning on reports that he might join his Mentor, Charlie, on a ten-day trip to Hawaii.  If all goes according to plan, the Happy-go-Lucky Retriever -- pictured here urinating on the shrubbery at 7th and Montana -- will hit the road tomorrow with Charlie to shoot a documentary on the Lifeguards of Oahu for Charlie's Explore program.  Ten days in Paradise ...Now that's what I call Lucky!