Sunday, May 31, 2009


It was a sad day at 7th and Montana today as word spread that one of our own -- the Local Curmudgeon known among real estate agents across the Southland as "The Notorious Mr. Evil" for his tendency to hide neighborhood Open House signs when he thought no one was looking -- has met an untimely death. According to The Los Angeles Times, Evil -- a prominent lawyer who moonlighted as a comedian at the Ha Ha Cafe -- died on Wednesday after falling from the cliffs above the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. "We have no idea what he was doing in the Peruvian mountains," said one insider, "Machu Picchu is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. There couldn't possibly be any Open House signs at that altitude." Evil was no stranger to the Grim Reaper. In 1987, one of his clients stabbed him in the chest with an ice pick during an otherwise routine courtroom appearance in Torrance. "The guy was trying to stab me in the heart," he later quipped, "But in a lawyer it's hard to find." "He was heartless, all right," said one real estate professional. In lieu of a wake, an open house will be held next week on 9th Street.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Sometimes it's tough to tell whether Our Favorite Starbucks is going to the dogs or the dogs are going to Starbucks. Take Reef and Annabelle, Dr. Paul's prized pet Weimareners. Just yesterday they were so anxious to make the scene at 7th and Montana they practically burst out of the Good Doctor's car. Then there's the Amazing Dogboy, an adorable toddler with an Unfortunate Beagle Fixation.

Every day for the past week, Dogboy has arrived at 7th and Montana wearing a Beagle Hat and growling like a mongrel. On Thursday, I overheard his parents arguing over whether or not they should get a real dog. "Come on, honey," said Mrs. Dogboy, absent-mindedly petting her son on the head, "What's wrong with a little puppy?" "No way," insisted Mr. Dogboy, "If we end up getting a dog, I want no part of it. It'll be all yours!" Don't be surprised, folks, if Dogboy's "costumes" start become increasingly elaborate. Now that's what I call a Ruff Childhood ...!

Friday, May 29, 2009


It was a game of Musical Chairs this morning at 7th and Montana as the mysterious newcomer known as "Mr. Z" (the Zombie) finally gave up his seat of honor by the Curb from Hell. TV Uber-Mom Meredith Baxter Birney didn't waste any time claiming the seat as her own ... and that's when the fun began. Moments later, Yet Another Unsuspecting Motorist beached his BMW on the curb, scraping his axle on the pavement and -- to the delight of many -- stranding his car on the Island of Lost Auto Parts. Meredith tried to help the driver navigate to safety, but by then the damage was already done.

"These accidents happen all the time," I called to Meredith, "You're sitting in the danger zone." "So I see," she replied. She fled to safety, only to be replaced by Actor Scott Foley, star of CBS-TV's The Unit. On the show, Foley plays a special forces operative who risks his life on globe-trotting, undercover missions ... but the real question is, "Can he survive the Curb from Hell?!?"

Thursday, May 28, 2009


It was a busy morning at 7th and Montana today, so much so that I needed expert advice from Screenwriter Nat about what to put in my blog. "I'm torn," I told him, "Should I go with the Wombat in a Pith Helmet or the Amazing Dogboy?" "I don't know how you do it," Nat commented, "If it weren't for your blog, I don't think I'd realize just how many crazies there are around here!" I paused to think of a suitable reply and then -- as if on cue -- the silence was broken by the arrival of Yet Another Loon in our midst. Rigolatte (pictured above), the man known for walking in and out of Our Favorite Starbucks belting out Wagnerian Opera tunes, strolled by practicing his scales. "Seriously," Nat continued, "It's amazing how you just point your cell phone at these people and they don't seem to care or notice." "Just a minute," I replied, "More duty calls." The Boy Named Sue -- our Friendly, Neighborhood Cross-Dresser -- had just arrived, sporting a bold, new look. Gone were the purple poncho, black miniskirt and prosthetic boobs. In their place were a pair of Capri Pants and Dance Shoes. "Wow," said Nat, "I almost didn't recognize him. He looks almost normal today." Yes, Nat, but normal doesn't count at 7th and Montana ...!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


A scandal was brewing along with the coffee at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning but don't ask me what it was all about. It's all Top Secret. The fun began when an Attractive Woman in Black (pictured above, from behind) announced melodramatically, "It's SCANDALOUS, simply SCANDALOUS!" Naturally, I grabbed my spycam and listened closely for details ... but it was all to no avail. "I'll tell you all about it later," she told her friend. "Lady, please," I felt like saying, "You can't just announce that something is SCANDALOUS and drop the subject like that. What am I supposed to tell my readers?!?" And so, I had to settle for quietly taking a photo of her rear end and posting it online, instead. Now that's SCANDALOUS ...!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as the man known locally as the Gorton's of Gloucester Fisherman for his striking resemblance to the Frozen Fish Pitchman turned over a new leaf. Gone were the floppy, yellow fisherman's cap and the ever-present raincoat. In their place was a pair of mirrored sunglasses and a pack of cigarettes. He chain-smoked so much I thought he might disappear in a puff of smoke ... and, indeed, there was something magical about his transformation. It was like watching a glazed over codfish turn into a smoked salmon before my very eyes ...!

Monday, May 25, 2009


It was Bombs Away at 7th and Montana this morning as an Eccentric Nerr-do-Well made the scene carrying a contraption that resembled an Explosive Device. "Holy Mary Mother of God," I said, "Get a load of what just walked in. We're done for!" The Nerr-do-Well, a man in his mid-thirties with long, scraggly black hair and a ski hat, took a seat at the counter and plugged his mysterious device into the wall. "Is it ticking?" I asked. "No," replied Robin, "But you really need to go in for a closer look." I did ... and wasn't the least bit surprised to find the gentleman conversing with himself. "She's singing, I tell you," he said, repeatedly. The device, it turned out, was a Black & Decker Electromate 400, a portable power supply offering up to 450 amps of "instant starting power" and a built-in inflator. Maybe he can use it to give himself a little shock therapy ...!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Extra, Extra: Read all About it! Kathy's Top Secret Video went into production today and, surprisingly enough, I had a part in it ... as an Extra. Several months ago, Kathy laughed out loud at the notion that I might be a Romantic Lead. More recently, she suggested that I don't even have the acting chops to play a Corpse. Today, however, she needed Extras for a location shoot at the Beverly Hills Library and both Genevieve and I were happy to oblige. My role was to walk up and down the stairs repeatedly with my head buried in a book. I was supposed to be reading Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. However, when no one was looking, I shoved that book back on the shelf and chose something more appropriate for my "big break": I Am Potential by Patrick Henry Hughes. Meanwhile, Genevieve -- whose role was to walk down the steps as I was walking up -- was apparently something of a Flop. The Sound Crew said that her Flip Flops were making too much noise. By the end of the shoot, she, too had picked-up a new book: Hot and Bothered by Jane Isenberg.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Algernon(compos mentis)," an eccentric bicyclist who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning with what looked like a bouquet of flowers growing out of his rear end. His friends wasted no time commenting on the bold, new look. "You've got a growth sticking out of your ass," said one of them, dryly, "That's pretty brave of you!" Algernon just looked at him smugly, as if to say "You're full of fertilizer," and ran inside to grab his coffee. I tell you, some people think their shit doesn't stink ...!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as a Mysterious Newcomer known as "Mr. Z" for his peculiar, zombie-like behavior sat staring into space for the third day in a row. By most accounts, he's become a Permanent Fixture in front of Our Favorite Starbucks, shifting location only occasionally to refill the water bottle he keeps by his side. "Every day it's the same thing," said one witness, "Same blank stare, same chair, same water bottle. Maybe he's trying to set a new world record for inactivity." If so, he has some big shoes to fill. A "silent Indian fakir" named Mastram Bapu set the current world record by sitting virtually motionless from 1960 to 1982 outside the remote Indian village of Chitra. I guess that means we can look forward to the pleasure of Mr. Z's company until 2032 ...!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


It was "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Hello" at 7th and Montana yesterday as an Anonymous Newcomer decided that her feet deserved a chair of their own. I might not have noticed but for the fact that she pushed her makeshift footstool close to my table, crossed one leg over the other and -- how do I put this kindly? -- she smelled like low tide. Moments after sitting down, she called someone on her cell phone and left a message: "Hey, honey," she said, "I hope you're awake. I'm just calling to make sure you got out of bed!" Lady, let me give you some unsolicited advice: Go shove your feet in "honey's" face. If that doesn't wake him up, nothing will ...!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana on Sunday as Second Hand Tillie, the woman known to be on Perpetual Lookout for a yard sale -- any yard sale -- made the scene intent on finding bargains. "Hooray," I cried, as I watched her Light Blue Prius (CA License #5MDX45) crawl up 7th Street at a snail's pace, "She's back!" True to form, Tillie parked her car in the middle of the street while she slowly, methodically toddled her way over to a nearby light pole to check for signs of a yard sale. "Look at that," cried a man wearing what looked like a lampshade on his head, "That guy is taking her picture ... that's the funniest thing I've seen all day!" I wonder if he'd still be laughing if he knew that both he and his lampshade were featured in my blog on February 17.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It was game called on account of sludge this morning at 7th and Montana as Our Favorite Starbucks shut down promptly at 9:00 a.m. for some emergency plumbing repairs. "It looks like there's some serious shit going down in there," said one onlooker, "Hurry up and get inside before they lock the door." I had plenty of time to get a good look around before the plumbers arrived. "Hmmm," I thought, "This looks like the handiwork of the Notorious Mr. Sludge, known far and wide for backing-up local toilets every time he flushes his babywipes." Mr. Sludge was nowhere to be found, but the evidence of his crime was on display in the pastry case ... !

Monday, May 18, 2009


It was a taste of South Pacific at 7th and Montana yesterday as an Anonymous Islander took fashion trends to a new Bali Low. "Yikes, get a load of that," said one onlooker as the Islander, a woman in her early fifties, walked by wearing an Extra Large Mu-Mu festooned with Lilies. Her hair was arranged in a bun so tightly wound it sat on her head like a cobra ready to strike. An Oversized Blossom dangled precariously from her scalp. "I'm on it," I said, grabbing my camera phone and following her up 7th Street. And then, just as I was ready to take her picture, she turned to face me. I tried to cover my tracks, pretending as usual to send someone a text message, but the jig was up. She shot me a look like an Angry Volcano God, then continued along her merry way.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


It was a Culture Clash of major proportions this morning at 7th and Montana as a pair of Anonymous Music Aficionados (pictured above) regaled the crowd with stories of last night's classical performance featuring Internationally Celebrated Conductor Kent Nagano at the The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Evidently, the stage was a bit too broad for its own good. The program began with a tribe of Inuit Throat Singers who croaked at each other from the depths of their windpipes, creating a sound one might expect if a dozen cats coughed-up a collective hairball. "I'm sure there's a place for this music ..." said Aficionado A, "...somewhere in the Arctic." Next-up was a grizzly rendition of Karlheinz Stockhausen's "In Freundschaft," performed by a Bassoon Soloist who appeared on stage in a bear costume. "Just try to imagine a man in a Full Kodiak Bear Costume standing alone on stage, grasping a bassoon with an air tube entering his mouth just below the snout," said Aficionado B, "He was accompanied only by a small jar of honey near his feet, apparently intended to inspire him to musical greatness." "Did you say this was a bassoon or a buffoon solo?," I interjected. Whatever the case, the whole evening must have been unbearable. The Aficionados left during the intermission. "That's what I like about the Broad Stage," said Aficionado A, "You get home so early ...!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Taipei is an intriguing city. Perhaps because it's covered in a nearly perpetual blanket of smog accompanied by the pungent aroma of Chicken Asses, Rooster Balls and Pig Blood Popsicles, it's all too easy to hole yourself up in your hotel. I finally had a chance today to venture beyond the Sheraton Taipei, and I'm glad I did.

It didn't take me long to find the National Theater and Concert Hall, Taiwan's largest national performing arts center. The building looks like a traditional Chinese palace with its imposing stone facade and bright, orange tiled roof, but it's actually a modern structure, commissioned in 1975 by the Kuomintang government. To my surprise, I learned that my own company, Philips Electronics, played a major role in its design and engineering.

Directly across from the National Theater and Concert Hall is the monumental Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall honoring the famous former President of the Republic of China who died in 1975. Chiang Kai-shek was considered a reformer, so in designing the monument, the Taiwanese people wanted to make a statement. According to the official propaganda, "The key concepts of the architectural design are: to convey the spirits of Chinese culture; to create a style with novelty and distinctiveness; and finally to use the most modern architectural technology in order to achieve practical and economical purposes at the same time." In other words, no one wanted to break the bank on this one. It's imposing but stark.

The Memorial Hall is surrounded by lush gardens with two ponds designed to reflect the principles both of the Ming Dynasty and the modern unification of China. The ponds are stocked with colorful carp and surrounded by hills, which -- according to officials -- "provides an ultimate sense of relaxation to make visits worthwhile." In my opinion, it would have been more relaxing if it wasn't 90-degrees outside with enough humidity to send even Chiang Kai-shek running for cover.

I continued my walk until, quite by surprise, right behind a street vendor selling a foul-smelling delicacy called "Stinky Tofu," I stumbled upon the National Taiwan Museum. The Museum -- built in 1908 by the Japanese who ruled Taiwan at the time -- features collections including specimens of Taiwan's indigenous animals and plants. I didn't go in, having already seen enough of these animals on my dinner plate to last a lifetime.

The Museum is flanked by 228 Peace Park, a small patch of greenery which -- while originally built by the Japanese -- stands today as a memorial to a bloody massacre. In 1947, a group of protesters, angry over police brutality against Taiwanese civilians at the hands of the then-reigning Kuomintang government, staged a demonstration on this site which led to more than 10,000 deaths, ushering in a period called the "White Terror" during which thousands more Taiwanese were killed, imprisoned or vanished.

Perhaps that's why the police presence today in Taipei seems so much more subdued. The Lone Bumpkin standing in front of the Taiwanese Presidential Palace (pictured above), is actually a Police Officer in disguise. I was driving by in a taxi when my driver stopped, laughed and, in broken English, yelled out the window, "Hey you Tourist, who do you think you're fooling?!? Everyone can see the wires hanging out of your ears ... we all know you are an Undercover Cop!" I urged him to drive on before he started another rebellion.

Friday, May 15, 2009


They say that no trip to Taipei is complete without a visit to Snake Alley, an outdoor marketplace specializing in "traditional Chinese medicine," where colorful street vendors try to sell you on the pharmaceutical benefits of everything ranging from deer antlers and monkey heads to flying lizards. The specialty of the house, of course, is snake blood which, when mixed with alcohol, is supposed to make men more virile. But if snake blood isn't your cup of tea, not to worry, there are plenty of other options.
Rooster Testicles (pictured above) are apparently the Ultimate Aphrodisiac. Just plop one into a glass of champagne and you're ready for a night on the town.

Turtles, they say, are good for longevity ... though the unfortunate specimens pictured above might argue with you on that point.

Mice are soaked in wine for a period of at least two years. You pick your own specimen out of a cage and the nice folks at Snake Alley will ferment it for you. The New York Times called Snake Alley "a street paved with Chinese traditions and superstitions," but by the time I was finished walking the two blocks I was ready to call it something else: A Day. My blood was boiling and it wasn't because I'd sampled any of the "merchandise."
"It's healthy for men, healthy for men," repeated a particularly zealous vendor in broken English. "I'm not interested in snake blood," I said, firmly, "Haven't you people ever heard of Viagra?!?" And with that, I huffed off. The nearest PETA office is in Hong Kong and you can bet I'm getting in touch with them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


What does the corner of Zhongxiao Xinsheng and Gungyuan Road in Taipei have in common with 7th and Montana? Quite a lot if my experience this morning was any indication. You see, there's a Starbucks at that corner -- just seven blocks from the Danshui River -- and it seems to have become a magnet for Local Loons. Take the woman pictured above. She spent all morning standing on the sidewalk wearing what looked like a White Ninja Costume and a Sandwich Board which read, in Chinese, "There's no Justice." She clanged away incessantly on a pair of Portable Cymbals and chanted over and over, in Chinese, "There's no Justice." I found out what she meant shortly after walking into Starbucks.

"That will be $95," said the Taiwanese Barista, handing me my coffee with a straight face. "What?!?," I cried, "$95 for a small cup of coffee?!? Are you insane?!?" He laughed. "That's 95 Taiwanese Dollars," he explained, "which is only about 3 American Dollars." "What?!?," I exclaimed, again. "$3 for a medium drip coffee?!? ... There's no Justice!!!" The Barista laughed. "Would you like anything else?" That's when I looked down at the Pastry Case and came face-to-face with the local equivalent of an Apple Fritter.

It's called a "Dragon Festive Sweet" and is essentially two scoops of technicolor bean paste atop a banana leaf. In the Dragon Boat tradition, I'm told, such sweets were thrown into Hong Kong harbor centuries ago in an effort to prevent fish from eating the corpse of a well-known official. I wouldn't try that these days. Not only would the fish prefer the corpse, but local authorities would probably slap you with a fine for Toxic Dumping, to boot. Now that's what I call Justice ...!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Ever feel like you needed a little hair of the dog that bit you? If so, then the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is for you. Established in 1909 on the banks of the Keelung River by a group of enterprising street vendors, Shilin is today the largest and most well-known marketplace in Taiwan. Their motto is: "If it moves, we serve it up for dinner." I went there last night with a group of colleagues, intent on grabbing some Chicken Ass on a Stick and, let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. "I promised you Chicken Ass," said my colleague, Judy, "And Chicken Ass is what you get!"
Chicken Ass on a Stick (pictured above) is a local delicacy here in Taipei. People can't seem to get enough of it and it's easy to see why. Succulent bits of marinated chicken anus are roasted to perfection over an open flame, seasoned with "special spices," and skewered right in front of you. It's like having your very own, made-to-order Ass Kabob. What could be better? Just you wait!

Feast your eyes on the Specialty of the House, Barbecued Duck Feet (pictured above). These tangy, tendonous tidbits are so fresh they practically waddle right up to you and say "get me the hell out of here." But better hurry, folks, before Rigor Mortis sets in.
Those duck feet are tempting, but if you're like me, you prefer more meat and less bone. Take a look at these juicy, Boneless Chicken Feet (pictured above). Grab a scoop and fill a cup, folks, there's plenty to go around. Colonel Sanders never had it so good.
But enough with the feet. Nothing says "fowl" quite like a Disembodied Duck Head on a plate (pictured above). Grill it, add it to your favorite stir fry, use it as a garnish ... the sky's the limit! Why, if you listen closely, you can practically hear it saying, "You're Despicable!"
Step right up folks and lend me your ear. They tell me that Raw Pig Ears (pictured above) are an acquired taste ... but I wouldn't know. They're best served boiled, but as far as I'm concerned, they could make it into a silk purse, fill it with gold and I still wouldn't be interested.
And finally, we're ready for our main course: Intestines al Dente (pictured above). Where else, my friends, could you find juicy, raw intestines carefully wrapped and coiled by expert artisans who aim to please. Some establishments might charge you an arm and a leg for morsels like these, but at Shilin Market you pay for your intestines by the foot.
I hope you saved room for dessert, because I'm about to make you an offer you can't refuse: Pig Blood Popsicles (pictured above). It's true, the culinary geniuses here in Taipei have found a way to take congealed pig blood and mold it into the form of a popsicle. What will they think of next?!? The mind -- and the stomach -- reels. That ends my tour for today, folks. Come back tomorrow for a special, inside look at the Taiwanese Healthcare System ...!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Mr. Tomatohead," the silent sentinel who stands guard over Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. Tommy -- as his friends call him -- is the first thing most visitors see when they clear customs in Taipei and, take it from me, you could hardly ask for a more Enigmatic Welcoming Committee. He sits in the arrivals area, quietly vegetating while passersby stare in disbelief. "Why a tomato?," I wondered as I rushed by to catch a cab, "Who in their right mind would disguise himself as a Beefsteak Tomato?!?" I would have stopped to ask a few questions but -- how can I put this delicately? -- Tommy was a bit ripe ...!