Saturday, February 28, 2009


Our Favorite Starbucks went to the dogs this morning courtesy of a ten-year-old, 165-pound Newfoundland named Riptide. The fun began when Top Talent Agent David asked me to watch Riptide for a few minutes while he went to get a quick cup of coffee. "You know Riptide," he said, "There's not much to watch, he'll just plop himself down in the shade." I love dogs and am particularly fond of Riptide, so watching him was no problem ... or so I thought. The minute David disappeared into Starbucks, all hell broke loose. Riptide sprang into action, pulling me from table to table in a Frenzied Bid for Food. "What's that, a Grizzly Bear?," asked Gil, as Riptide lunged at his scrambled eggs. "No, it's just a Big, Hungry Dog," I explained. The next thing I knew, Riptide changed direction, lurching wildly towards what was left of Susan's muffin at the next table over. "Help," I cried, "For the love of God, somebody stop this Crazy Beast!" And just then, David returned with his Secret Weapon, the only thing known to keep Riptide under control: A Large Vanilla Frozen Yogurt!

Friday, February 27, 2009


It was Birth of a Barista this morning at 7th and Montana as a new employee joined the family at Our Favorite Starbucks. I couldn't help wondering -- as he sat at a table, lost in thought -- if he knew what he was getting himself into. "Run," I felt like yelling, "Quickly, while you still have your sanity, head for the hills!" But then I realized just how important it is to give young people a chance. Plus, it's always nice to see a new face in the Starbucks line-up. Speaking of line-ups, get a load of the crowd (pictured below) that formed shortly after the Newbie donned his apron ...!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Carl and Carrie Carlson," a pair of Road Warriors who went the extra mile at 7th and Montana this morning to show everyone that they're on the same wavelength. Their conversation went something like this:
Carl: Vroom!
Carrie: Vroooom Vroooom!
Carl: Vrooom-a-Zoom Zoom ...!
Carrie: Vrrrooooooooommmmm!
Carl and Carrie (laughing): Vrrooom ... Vrrooom ... Vrrooom ...!
I can think of only two explanations: Either they're wheel crazy or they're both full of gas...!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The crowd at 7th and Montana was buzzing this morning as word spread that a local swarm of Killer Bees -- first discovered at the Community Garden in Mar Vista on December 13 -- has moved-on in search of greener pastures. "Thank God," said one resident, "I was beginning to worry about Bob and Joyce's bumper crop of tomatoes." Meanwhile, as for the Killer Bees, the story gets Hairier: Rumor has it they've taken-up residence in a new Beehive, something in the high-rent district near 7th and Montana ...!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Pilot to Bombadier ... Pilot to Bombadier: An influx of Zombie-like-Caffeine Addicts wearing headphones landed in our midst at 7th and Montana this morning ... and it was enough to practically turn Our Favorite Starbucks into an Airplane Cockpit. Take the woman pictured above. She buzzed her way through the line, to the cashier and espresso counter, loudly yakking into her headset the whole time like she was coming in for an emergency landing. Then there's the father pictured below, a high-flyer who spent the morning barking orders to an Invisible Flight Crew while ignoring his son. Come on, guys, wake-up and smell the Frappuccino. Life's too short to spend it babbling like a loon...!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Fashionista unveiled a Bold, New Look: A style I like to call "Ring-a-Ding Grunge." Achieving the look is easy: Just let your beard grow for a month, neglect your hair, wear a pair of ripped-up, loose-fitting jeans, a baggy sweater, and tennis shoes. Top the whole thing off with a Fedora and -- voila -- you're ready to roll with a style that can take you from the Rat Pack to a Six Pack in no time. As for the "Fashionista" pictured above, I think he deserves an Oscar in Costume Design ... an Oscar Madison, that is!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Politics reigned supreme at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning as Neighbor Jonathan, a Local Political Expert (above left), made the scene with an Aspiring Young Candidate for the State Assembly. When they saw that Our Favorite City Councilman was standing by the Espresso Bar, they wasted no time schmoozing with him. "I'm telling you, you can't be shy in this business," said Jonathan as soon as the coast was clear, "You have to go right up to people like Bobby (Our Favorite City Councilman) and tell them what you're all about. You have to get your message straight and repeat it over and over. Your middle name has to become 'I'm-Brian-and-I'm-Running-for-State-Assembly!'" Wise advice, to be sure, especially coming from Jonathan. He, himself, ran for State Assembly two years ago ... and lost.


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Maki, a Japanese Flight Attendant who swooped into our midst this morning at 7th and Montana, intent on learning a little English. "Hello," she said, "I am living in Santa Monica this month, renting a Messy House on Georgina Avenue." "Hmmm," said Kathy, "If you're on Georgina maybe you're renting the same house as Ron Howard. He always rents there." "Who?!?," asked Maki. We tried another approach. "You're living right near Bob Dylan," I said. "Ooooh, Bob Dylan!," she exclaimed, beaming with recognition, "Where?!?" I changed the subject. "Maybe you can help me," I said, "I'm stuck on the Crossword Puzzle. What's a twelve-letter word for 'Hatchery Hutch'?" Evidently, Maki doesn't like Crossword Puzzles. She flew the coop after several minutes but, as luck would have it, I ran into her an hour later, presumably in search of Bob Dylan. "Maki," I'm so happy to see you," I said, "We just finished the Crossword Puzzle but had to guess at 95-Down. Am I correct in assuming that a 'Koto' is a Japanese Zither?" "Ahhh," she replied, "Koto. A very large musical instrument that goes Plink, Plink, Plink." "Thank you very much," I replied, but Maki's mind seemed to be elsewhere. Perhaps she was wondering if Bob Dylan plays the Koto ...!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Chivalry was alive and kicking at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Gentleman held the door open for a woman who was limping along on what looked like a sprained foot. "Let me help you with that," he said kindly, opening the door and gesturing to an available chair. "Tell me," he continued, "How did you hurt your foot?" "I kicked my husband," she replied dryly, putting her foot down on their conversation once and for all.


It was a Low Point in Fashion this morning at 7th and Montana as an Attractive Blond Woman made the scene wearing her sweatpants below her crotch. To make matters worse, judging from the heated discussion she seemed to be having on her cell phone, her panties were clearly in a bunch. "There's something you don't see every day," said Joyce, "Her sweats are pulled down so low that she's dragging around her pant-legs like a train behind her!" A Train Wreck is more like it, I thought. At least she wasn't wearing "Depends" ...!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Ever wonder who hangs out at Our Favorite Starbucks after 5:00 p.m.? I decided to put that question to the test today by making a quick pit stop at 7th and Montana on my way home. To my surprise, the place was nearly empty ... with one notable exception. "The Accountant," known for crunching numbers in public for a wide range of clients, was sitting at a table, staring off into space. This was the first time I've ever seen him without somebody's bank statement or check book in full view. I guess he was on a coffee break ...!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Darth Vader," the mysterious, cloaked figure who rides through Our Favorite Parking Lot every day on his Harley-Davidson wearing a black helmet, dark goggles and a black scarf wound tightly around his face. For months I've been trying to get a decent photo of him, but every time he sees me he puts his Harley into warp drive. Just who is this masked man? One insider who claims to have seen him without the goggles and scarf thinks it might be Sean Penn, but I have a different theory. I think he's Yoda in disguise ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Quick, call the Los Angeles Zoo ... One of their 'inmates' has escaped and taken-up residence at 7th and Montana. Meet "Serena the Hyena," a female in her mid-thirties who specializes in Laughing Like a Maniac at regular intervals. "Good Lord," I said, "Get a load of that woman's laugh ... I hope it's not infectious." At first, no one could figure out why Serena was laughing. She was sitting alone, talking to no one in particular, and her head was buried in a newspaper. Every few minutes she'd let out a guffaw that was vaguely reminiscent of the Laugh Track in bad '70s sitcoms. Finally, I couldn't take it any more. I just had to see what was cracking her up and that's when I really got worried. She was engrossed in an article about the Economic Stimulus Package ...!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Strawman, an Anonymous Fashion Plate who made the scene at 7th and Montana recently wearing what looked like a large straw basket or lampshade on his head. "Holy Toledo," I said, "I haven't seen this much straw on someone's head since the Wizard of Oz. If he only had a brain, he'd know his hat was at least four sizes too big for his head!" Between his hat (which obscured his entire face) and his iPod (which was running at full blast), the Strawman was completely oblivious to his surroundings. How, I wondered, can someone like this function in society? The whole thing made me want to take a Strawman Poll: Should this Scarecrow-on-Steroids be allowed to drive a car ...?!?

Monday, February 16, 2009


What's the world coming to when a Superhero, sworn to protect Starbucks from evildoers of all kinds, is afraid to step foot in the pouring rain? Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "The Schlep," a new hero in our midst, who came to my attention yesterday in a most unusual way. "I've got a Tall Double Espresso here for Batman!," shouted Barista David, "Batman: Are you out there?!?" Evidently, the "Schlep" (pictured above), specializes in giving the Baristas a different Superhero name every time he places an order. "It keeps them on their toes," he laughed. "I see," I replied, quietly whipping out my cameraphone, "Who will you be tomorrow?" "I don't know yet," he said, "I'll have to think of something appropriate!" "How about Wonder Woman?," muttered Genevieve, as the would-be Superhero schlepped his way out the door and up 7th Street. In the end, the question was moot: the Schlep never made it to Starbucks today, no doubt because it was raining. Fortunately, the Man of Steel and his brother Tyrannosaurus Boy (pictured below) -- known for racing around town in their Little Red Wagon -- were not afraid to brave the elements. "Where are your costumes today?," I asked. "We are in costume," insisted the Man of Steel, as he chug-a-lugged his chocolate milk, "We're dressed in Human Suits today!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Cheers erupted at 7th and Montana this morning as I took decisive action against yet another Angry Russian in our midst. The fun began when the Russian-in-Question, a Local Refusenik with a chip on his shoulder the size of Siberia, raised a ruckus at the Espresso Counter. "You people are agonizingly slow," he barked at Barista Kenisha. And then, as if to imply that Russia sets the world standard in Food Service Efficiency, he grabbed his coffee, stormed out the door and lit up a cigarette. That was his Big Mistake. You see, the City of Santa Monica enforces a strict ban on smoking within 20 feet of entrances, exits or open windows of public buildings and at all outdoor waiting areas including ATMs, Bus Stops and Movie Lines. I didn't waste any time calling the City's "Smoking Hotline." "Hello," I said, "I am a Concerned Citizen and would like to report a Smoking Offender at 7th and Montana ... Can you send someone right over?" An hour later, two Police Cars arrived on the scene and an Officer attempted to issue a Citation. Naturally, the Russian beat a hasty retreat moments before the Police arrived but, as luck would have it, he was replaced by another Smoker (pictured below). Baristas Kenisha, Anthony and David applauded my efforts to protect Our Favorite Starbucks from Ashholes of all kinds. "We're in this together," said Anthony, giving me a high-five. I guess that makes us all Comrades ...!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Today may be Valentine's Day, but a Cold War was brewing at 7th and Montana, thanks to a pair of Shifty Russian Operatives who "stole" a table right out from under my very nose. Let me explain: When I arrived at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning, there were no tables to be found. Neighbor Richard was sitting at the nearby bus stop, waiting for a table to open up. "I'll tell you what," I said, "You keep watching for a table and I'll run in and grab us both some coffee." By the time I returned, however, Richard was fuming. "That Russian couple over there stole our table," he said. Evidently, just as Richard was about to claim the only available table, the Russians -- a husband and wife team -- swooped-in out of nowhere and brushed him aside. "It's mine!," shrieked the woman, delivering a Nuclear Missive worthy of Brezhnev, "This table is mine!" All I can say is "Be on the Lookout, folks:" Something tells me they're KGB (Kleptomaniac Good-for-Nothing Barbarians) ...!

Friday, February 13, 2009


It was a case of "Mother Knows Best" at 7th and Montana recently as an Overprotective Mother dragged her Impressionable Young Son to Our Favorite Starbucks and gave him a lecture for the ages. "Now I'm going into Starbucks for a few minutes but I want you to stay outside here," she said sternly, "I want you to watch me through the window and don't move a muscle. Not a single muscle. Do you understand me?" "Yes, mom," said the boy, who couldn't have been more than four years old. "And what do you say if anyone -- and I mean anyone -- says a word to you? Do you remember what to say?," the mother continued., "You say STRANGER DANGER and don't just say it, yell it as loud as you can. I don't care if someone just says 'hello' to you, I want you to yell STRANGER DANGER at the top of your lungs. Can you do that?" "Yes, mom," came the reply. "Good, now sit right here and I'll be right back." She started to go inside for her coffee, then turned around, stuck her head out the door and issued a reminder. "Remember, STRANGER DANGER ... and don't you forget it ... you just yell that if anyone says a word to you. Anyone at all ... Ever ... Anywhere!" I looked at the mother, then at the son, and all I could think of to say was "MOTHER SMOTHER!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as I ordered something in addition to my usual Grande Half Caff and Los Angeles Times. The fun began shortly after Barista Veronica handed me my half caff. "I'd also like a Black Iced Tea this morning," I said, calmly. For a brief moment, all activity stopped. The Espresso Machine went quiet. The Cash Registers stopped ringing. The Apple Fritters froze in their tracks. The Baristas seemed dumbfounded, but it didn't take them long to recover. "Wow," said one, "You've ordered something new." I didn't have the heart to tell them it was for Screenwriter Mark.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Look out folks, a Mysterious Gypsy is on the loose at 7th and Montana and if her wardrobe is any indication, a caravan of tasteless accessories can't be far behind. The Gypsy-in-Question, a woman in her mid-twenties, made the scene wearing a sparkling leopard print shirt covered in sequins, a bright, plaid skirt, baggy leggings and a fedora. "How nice," said one onlooker, "She's bringing us a taste of the Grand Bazaar." I don't know about that, but one thing's for sure: Her taste is, indeed, Bizarre ...!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Extra, Extra ... Read All About It: The Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief -- known for stealing copies of The Los Angeles Times from Our Favorite Starbucks -- has been foiled again ... and this time I had nothing to do with it! In what insiders are calling a "shrewd redecorating maneuver," Manager Extraordinaire Gabe has moved the newspaper display away from the doorway to a new and more strategic position, right near the Cash Register and just a stone's throw away from the Apple Fritters. If that doesn't keep the Newspaper Thief away, nothing will ...!

Monday, February 9, 2009


President Obama might be talking about upgrading the nation's infrastructure -- repaving highways, replacing old waterlines and revamping long-neglected power-grids, bridges and levees -- but the crew at 7th and Montana is already hard at work implementing some badly needed changes. Young Alex paved the way yesterday by using a recycled Starbucks cup to create a Dandy New expressway for his Hot Wheels Racing Car. And that's not all. His parents -- Julie and Chris -- introduced a Stimulus Package of their own last week: A Bouncing, Baby Boy named Benjamin, weighing-in at seven pounds and four ounces. Congratulations to Julie and Chris, and Proud Grandparents Bob and Joyce!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It was Many Happy Returns at 7th and Montana this morning as I made the scene fresh from my trip back East, secure in the knowledge that my father is on the road to recovery. While I wish he could be with me to soak up the California Sun, let's face it, 7th and Montana is no place to recover from a Heart Attack. Take "Tightly Wound Tillie," the woman pictured above. No sooner had Barista David handed me my coffee than Tillie, who had been standing in line behind me, barked "Will you get out of my way?!? I'm in a rush!" "Excuse me," I said politely, stepping to one side, "I was just trying to get my coffee." Let's hope she ordered a decaff.

Then came the usual, shocking parade of Fashion Victims, starting with Mr. Fancy Pants (pictured above), a man whose shorts were so garish I doubt they'd clear customs in Bermuda. The pants-in-question -- featuring multi-colored geometric shapes interspersed with cartoonish trolls and gremlins -- must have been designed by the Brothers Grimm.

Speaking of Grim, eyes were popping as an Unfortunate Street Urchin made the scene wearing a Skimpy Striped Miniskirt, Clashing Socks and a pair of Sneakers festooned with Pink and Purple Skulls. Just as I was about to suggest that she "follow the Yellow Brick Road," things got out of hand.

A Mysterious, Black SUV pulled out of nowhere, stopped in the middle of the crosswalk in front of Our Favorite Starbucks and blocked traffic long enough for an Anonymous Ignoramus -- working for Local Real Estate Agent Kate Bransfield -- to emerge with a series of signs promoting an Open House. "Move it, Fat Ass," screamed an Impatient Motorist, shaking his fist, while the Ignoramus placed Kate's Open House signs on the sidewalk. "Can't you see people are trying to get by?!?" Call me a matchmaker, but I think someone should introduce the Impatient Motorist to Tightly Wound Tillie. The two of them could make beautiful music together in the Cardiac Care Unit at Rhode Island Hospital, where -- thank God -- a vacancy just opened up.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


My nephew, Jackson, was somewhat hampered this morning in his efforts to convince us to take him out to breakfast. It's not that we didn't understand him. "Come," he said, repeatedly, "Let's go. Blue Cakes!" We knew perfectly well that he was trying to say "Blueberry Pancakes." The fact that he was standing in the hamper when he said it didn't phase us, either. It was that it was 6:00 a.m. and no one felt like moving. That is, until my father announced that he felt up to it ... and that's when I knew that nothing was going to hamper his recovery. So, the six of us -- my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, Jackson and I -- waited until a slightly more reasonable hour and headed off to Bistro 45 in North Attleboro, Massachusetts where Jackson enjoyed his Blueberry Pancakes and I enjoyed watching my father continue to regain his strength. Thank you all, again, for your good wishes. I returned home to California today, secure in the knowledge that my father is on the road to recovery and that the power of positive thinking -- and a "Blue Cake" or two -- will help keep him there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I'd like to thank everyone for their prayers, good wishes and positive vibes ... all of which I'm sure will help my father along on his road to recovery. He left the hospital today with a list of medicines as long as your arm, but I think the best medicine of all is that he'll be with his family, especially my nephew Jackson (pictured above).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I interrupt the normally scheduled coverage of 7th and Montana to bring you this breaking news update. My father has had a heart attack and is in the hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. I've flown back East to help out but would like to ask you to send some prayers, happy thoughts and positive vibes his way. It would mean a lot.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Something's percolating at Our Favorite Starbucks and it's not just the coffee. Rumor has it that Manager Extraordinaire Gabe is on the prowl for new employees. That's why I wasn't surprised this morning to find one candidate (pictured above) filling out a job application and another, just yesterday, sitting with Gabe for an interview (pictured below).

A third candidate (pictured below), listened intently during what appeared to be an orientation session. I assume the discussion went something like this: "Welcome to the exciting world of 7th and Montana. Now that you've signed on the dotted line, there are a few things you should know: (1) Always smile at the Jittery Nutcase, especially when he's waving a cup of Hot Chocolate in your direction; (2) Don't take your eyes off the Newspaper Display, not even for a minute; (3) Be nice to the Superheros, you never know when you'll need friends in high places; (4) Don't believe the Bulgarian Vulgarian ... she is not in charge around here; (5) The Fishing Pole in the back room belongs to the Gorton's of Gloucester Fisherman, you'll know what to do with it when the time comes; (6) Don't laugh at the Bicyclists, they spend a lot of time and energy squeezing into their Lycra Suits; (7) Watch out for the Blogger; (8) Don't feed the Psychopaths; (9) Humor Our Favorite City Councilman ... tell him you live to sell RED cards; (10) The Apple Fritters are for emergency use only."

Sunday, February 1, 2009


It was Hats Off this morning at 7th and Montana to the Anonymous Conversationalist who arrived on the scene intent on making a speech. Indeed, he appeared to be carrying on an impassioned debate ... with himself. "Take it Off!," he barked, "I told you to take it off!" He would then calmly, deliberately remove his hat and place it on the table in front of him ... only to put it back on his head several minutes later and repeat the cycle all over again. I briefly considered telling him to "put a lid on it," but decided to lay low. Afterall, every tea party needs a Mad Hatter ...!