Wednesday, June 30, 2010


School was in session this morning at 7th and Montana as a young couple -- a tutor and her student -- made the scene, intent on studying Japanese. As near as I can tell, the woman was teaching a crash course in Japanese from a book entitled "Japanese Language for Busy People." I don't know what the book said, but if you're really busy, here's everything you need to know, courtesy of the Official English-to-Japanese Online Dictionary: Coffee = Ko-hi; Newspaper Thief = Shinbun Touzoku; Local Loon = Ro-karu Toppyoushi-monai; and Accountant = Shukei. There is no known word for Apple Fritter ...!


Rigolatte -- our Friendly, Neighborhood Opera Star -- found religion this morning at 7th and Montana. Actually, he found it some time ago. In his more lucid moments, he's been known to hop from table to table preaching the gospel and encouraging folks to sign-up for his sermons. This morning he was handing out religious literature and, much to my surprise, it was for one of the largest churches in Santa Monica. Their mission, it says, is "to form loving disciples who will transform the world." I wonder if they're aware that this particular disciple -- when he's not at mass -- spends his free time running up and down the center of 7th Street, flapping his arms wildly and belting out Opera Tunes. Now that's what I call a transformation ...!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the "Greenhorn," a Local Loon (above, right) who has been stationed in front of the Whole Foods market every day, all day, for the past month. His specialty? He picks up every leaf that falls to the sidewalk, one by one, and places it in his back pack for safe keeping. "It's a tough job," he said, "But someone's got to do it!" Unfortunately, he has competition. A gardener made the scene today with a leaf blower. "Go away!," screamed the Greenhorn, "You're not needed around here!" The gardener, for his part, took the incident in stride ... and why not. Local Police (above, left) have been watching the Greenhorn closely. Something tells me if he's not careful, he'll be placed on Permanent Leave ...!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as "Norman the Narco-Schelptic" -- a local loon with the attention span of a Tse Tse Fly -- fell asleep in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. Either that, or he was in a deep trance, the kind you see in the movies when a hypnotist puts someone under, right before turning him into a chicken. I considered giving him a post hypnotic suggestion -- such as "when you awake, you will feel an inexplicable yearning for Apple Fritters" -- but thought better of it. Sometimes you just have to let sleeping dogs lie ...!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


They say that desperate times call for desperate measures ... and if you don't believe me, just ask the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief. Ever since it somehow became public knowledge that he steals copies of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times from Our Favorite Starbucks, his life has become a Living Hell. To avoid detection, he's taken to "stealing" his newspapers from the garbage or "nabbing" extras from the vending machine when he thinks no one is looking. Today, however, he tried something new. He made the scene wearing a Radio Receiver and Antenna strapped to his ear. Mark my words, someone is feeding him inside information ... letting him know when the "coast is clear." Either that, or he's getting his orders from the Mother Ship ...!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Reggie, Richard's new puppy, a delightfully inquisitive Polish Lowland Sheepdog, who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning for the first time. Actually, Reggie's full name is "Sir Reginald of Polish Hill" but Richard is doing him a favor by calling him Reggie, for short. Reggie -- who arrived from Chicago earlier this week -- is gradually acclimating himself to life at 7th and Montana. Rumor has it he's quickly becoming "potty trained" and, if today was any indication, he seems to be taking the characters at Our Favorite Starbucks in stride. He starts school -- an intensive series of Socialization Classes, followed by Clicker Training -- in about a week. How quickly they grow up ...!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Fur was flying at 7th and Montana this morning as stuffed animal activists lined-up in protest against one woman's purse. "It's an abomination against nature," said one onlooker. The purse -- a fuzzy, technicolor bag -- hung limply from her shoulder like a tribble on acid. I like a fashion statement as much as the next guy, but I couldn't help wondering how many Polyesters had to die so this woman could look good ...!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


It turns out that the revolving door at 7th and Montana isn't revolving as quickly as I thought. Today -- not yesterday -- was Barista Veronica's last day at Our Favorite Starbucks ... but that doesn't make anyone less sad about her departure. A parade of well-wishers made the scene to say goodbye, including Screenwriter Nat (pictured above, giving Veronica a big bear hug). It was also Bon Voyage for neighbors Howard and Cathy, who packed everything up -- including two months' worth of Cinnamon Raisin bagels -- and took off for the summer season in Colorado. So long, Howard and Cathy ... we'll save your seats!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It was a sad day at 7th and Montana today as Barista Veronica announced that today was her last day at Starbucks. She is moving along to focus on her other job -- as a receptionist -- but promises to return to 7th and Montana as a customer. While it's nice to see so many new faces at Our Favorite Starbucks, it's sad to see so many of our favorite Baristas moving along. The only person who seems to be rejoicing is the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief. So many people -- including Veronica -- are on to him now, that he's been forced to "steal" his newspapers from the trash. No doubt he'll return to the sales rack now that the coast is clear ...!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


A strange thing happened tonight when I was out on my evening stroll around the neighborhood. There I was, minding my own business, admiring the view from Adelaide Drive to the Pacific, when I was interrupted by an unusual request. "Excuse me (hic), but is there a Starbucks around here (hic)?" I turned around and came face-to-face with a man in desperate need of coffee. He wore a bright red beanie, was pushing a shopping cart and seemed drunk out of his gourd. I directed him to 7th and Montana. "Thanks," he replied, "I'd just about kill for a latte." I'm sure he was kidding, but I couldn't help wondering whether the Starbucks Aprons come in Kevlar, just the same ...

Monday, June 21, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet John Revolta, an Adorable-but-Confused Youngster who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning intent on treating Our Favorite Starbucks like Studio 54. "Look at me, everyone," he shrieked, "I'm shaking my booty!" He gyrated and jumped his way to the Espresso Bar, then tipped his bike helmet in my direction. "What's his problem?," asked an Anonymous Regular at a nearby table. "Nothing serious," I said, "Just a bad case of Saturday Night Fever ...!"

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Spring was busting out all over this morning at 7th and Montana ... and if you don't believe me, just ask Mother Nature. She made the scene today in her zippy Mercedes Sportscar, wearing a gown that was so diaphanous she might as well have been going "au naturel." "Good God," said one witness, "She leaves nothing to the imagination." Indeed, anyone looking at the back of her dress could see right through it. "She's not wearing any underwear, unless there's a G-String in there somewhere," noted Bob. I, for one, was thrilled. It's about time they found something to replace Apple Fritters on the menu. Anyone for Hot Cross Buns ...?

Saturday, June 19, 2010


It was standing room only at 7th and Montana this morning. Why? Because a parade of ne'er-do-wells grabbed some of the chairs from Our Favorite Starbucks and moved them up 7th Street. First came "Beer Hall Barney." Barney arrived by bus, with a bicycle and bag of groceries in tow, and wasted no time dragging one of the few available chairs up 7th Street. He waited until he thought no one was looking, then whipped out -- and guzzled -- two cans of beer in quick succession. Then came Time-Out Timmy (pictured below), a portly gentleman who moved his chair by the dumpster behind Starbucks. For added privacy, he swiveled around to face the dumpster. "I guess that's the latest trend," said Joyce, "Satellite Seating!" Maybe if we're lucky, their next seats will be aboard the Sputnik ...!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Eureka: I've discovered the key to immortality! Just show up to a meeting of the City of Santa Monica's Planning Commission. You'll feel like you've been around forever. I attended a meeting on Wednesday night, to support a group of neighbors who have been trying to prevent Verizon from building an industrial cellular tower on top of their building. It's a long story, which I first reported last July 16, but -- in a nutshell -- the condominium owners at 404 San Vicente made a terrible mistake. They agreed to allow Verizon to build a high-capacity transmitter on top of their building, a first for the City, without realizing what they were getting themselves into. As soon as they learned about the medical risks involved -- risks so great that even Verizon's own employees admitted they'll be wearing radiation suits when they come to visit-- they tried to pull out of the deal. But, alas, the City Planning Commission ruled against the homeowners in favor of Verizon and on Wednesday they upheld that decision. If that's not enough to get your blood boiling, the Commission also sided with the developer over local homeowners regarding construction of a grocery store in a proposed "mixed use" complex near Stanford and Wilshire. For more than three hours, a parade of local homeowners -- some so upset they could barely speak -- complained that traffic and street parking were already major problems in their neighborhood and that a grocery store would only make things worse. But the Acting Chairperson of the Commission -- Hank Koning -- knew better. "I ran a Google search," he said, "and saw available street parking in the area." How nice to know that Mr. Koning took the time to run a Google search. Maybe one day he can also search for his group's own mission statement. Its main objective is "to promote the health, safety and general welfare" of the community.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


If laughter is the best medicine, then I guess Rigolatte -- the Local Loon known for locking himself in the men's room at Our Favorite Starbucks and belting out opera tunes for hours on end -- was on his meds today. He made the scene at precisely 8:15 a.m., laughed like a hyena for no apparent reason, and slipped out the side door a few minutes later without ordering anything. "We should all be so happy," said Kathy. Maybe she's right ... but let's hope that not all laughter is contagious!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


All Hell broke loose at 7th and Montana this morning as the Accountant -- known for spreading out his client paperwork all over Our Favorite Starbucks -- attracted some unwanted attention. A Curious Regular walked right up to his table, grabbed a handful of unpaid bills, and began leafing through them one by one. "Wait ... stop ... those are mine!," chuckled the Accountant, who turned to me for assistance. "Quick," he joked, "Call the Police!" "I'm on it," I replied, whipping out my Spycam and pretending to dial the authorities. Naturally, I was really just gathering photographic evidence. Meanwhile, as for the unpaid bills, they ended-up back in the Accounts Payable file faster than you can say "Certifiable Public Accountant" ...!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Things were looking up at 7th and Montana this morning, at least as far as the Anonymous Newcomer known as "Skylar" was concerned. For the past two days, Skylar has stood staring into the space near the corner of 7th and Alta. Every so often, he points a camera up into the heavens and takes a few photos. Something tells me either he's a bird watcher or a photographer on assignment for UFO Daily ...!

Monday, June 14, 2010


The Banana Lady -- whose peculiar passion for Bananas raised eyebrows at 7th and Montana yesterday -- was still sitting at the same table this morning. "I guess she never split," said one insider. I watched closely to see if she would once again gently caress, then peel and nibble her banana from side-to-side, but no luck. She reached into her bag several times, but only to answer her cell phone. Too bad. I was counting on another Lewd Banana Incident, if for no other reason than to read her the Miranda Rights. The Carmen Miranda Rights, that is ...!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as an Attractive Blond Woman seduced a Banana. First, she peeled half of it open, then she began eating it lengthwise in small, painstaking bites. At first I thought it was like watching Foghorn Leghorn attack an ear of corn, but Cathy had a different take. She took one look at the photo above -- which was provided courtesy of Robb -- and said, "That woman's a Porn Star ...!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Hurry, Hurry, Hurry ... Step right up! The Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian in Las Vegas is having a sale. At least, I assume it's a sale. I just went downstairs and was astounded to see that no one was on duty. All the merchandise: Coffee, pastries, fruit, yogurt parfaits -- you name it, including the cash register -- was sitting out in full view. The door was wide open, the lights were on, but there wasn't an employee in sight. I waited for close to 15-minutes -- and even found a hotel employee to ask what was going one -- but still, no service. I ended up going to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, instead, but don't let that stop you. A sale like this comes once in a lifetime ...!


My hotel here in Las Vegas -- the Palazzo at the Venetian -- is the largest hotel in the world. Deep inside the 7,000-room complex, they've recreated the streets of Venice including historic San Marco square, where canals and shops wind their way amidst casinos and meeting rooms, beneath a fake sky. It's all a bit creepy. The real San Marco square is famous for its pigeons. Thousands of them flock there to hang out with the tourists. The fake San Marco square plays host to one lone pigeon (pictured above) which somehow found its way into the hotel yesterday. Personally, I think it adds a touch of realism ... but if you ever find yourself here, two words of advice: (1) Don't order the hot chocolate with marshmallows and (2) Avoid standing for too long in one place!

Friday, June 11, 2010


It was "Bananas: The Sequel" last night in Las Vegas as word spread regarding my refusal to pay $2.25 for a single banana at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near my hotel. "Yes, we have some Bananas," said one of the corporate hosts of the meeting I'm attending. She gestured -- in her best Carmen Miranda impersonation -- towards a bowl filled with bananas. "Wow, I'm impressed," I said, "That must be at least several hundred dollars worth of bananas by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf standards." I ate two. What my host neglected to tell me was that less than an hour later, she would be escorting us all to a ten course dinner. The menu included: Maryland Crabmeat Cakes, Potato Samosas with Mango Yogurt Dip, Beef Short Ribs Beignet, Smoked Salmon with Caperberry and Fresh Dill, Tomato Soup, Greek Salad, Dover Sole, a Quartet of Pastries and a Fruit and Cheese platter. "Thanks!," I said to our host, "You've made me feel like a real High Roller. Now could someone please roll me to my room ...?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The rest of the country might be struggling to pull itself out of the recession, but you'd never know that here in Las Vegas. I learned that the hard way this morning at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near my hotel. "How much for a banana?," I asked the Barista-on-Duty. "$2.25," she replied. That's a lot, even by L.A. standards. "Forget it," I said, "That's bananas!" She smiled. The bank opens in 30-minutes. I have half a mind to take out a second mortgage so I can get a cup of coffee ...!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Dear Tony,

I hope you don’t mind my being so informal with you, but I feel like I know you. After all, you’ve visited my living room nearly every night for the past two months. I’ve watched in horror as untold thousands of barrels of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well have gushed into the Gulf each day, and hung on your every word as you’ve updated us all on everything BP is doing to get the situation under control. Rest assured, I know you are doing everything possible to contain the leaks. Not the oil, mind you. BP’s efforts in that regard are abyssmal. I’m talking about your ongoing attempts to control the flow of information, such as:

***Low-balling the estimate on the number of barrels of oil leaking per day, while delaying the live feeds that would have enabled independent experts to assess the situation for themselves. A bold move I must say!

***Forcing clean-up crews in your “Vessels of Opportunity” program – many of them fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened – to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from telling anyone what they’re seeing, while instructing them to keep the media away from the damaged coastline for as long as possible. Pure genius!

***Spending $10,000 a day to purchase the most relevant search terms on Google and Yahoo, so that every time anyone tries to research “oil spill,” “oil leak,” or anything to do with the disaster, the BP website – showing just how wonderful your efforts have been – pops up first. Thank you for that. How refreshing to see a company that’s doing the right thing for the environment!

***Launching a $50 million ad campaign to tell us all how committed you are to paying every LEGITIMATE claim related to the disaster. It’s nice to know that in such troubled times, you have your very best lawyers on the case. Who knows, perhaps your efforts might inspire the Federal Investigators looking into BP to follow suit. Federal Environmental Protection Agency statutes allow for misdemeanor and felony prosecutions of corporations and individuals stemming from hazardous materials seeping into the environment. Don’t you just love lawyer-speak?

***Hiring Dick Cheney’s former press secretary – Anne Womack-Kolton (as well as her former PR agency, the Brunswick Group) – to beef-up your communications efforts. Brilliant! Let’s take a page out of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” handbook. Perhaps you had your doubts on this one. Sure, Anne’s slick … but is she oil slick? Not to worry, my friend, I'm sure she’s had plenty of relevant experience. Valerie Plames, Oily Plumes … what’s the difference when you’re sweeping something under the rug!

Speaking of clean-up jobs, Tony, I’m afraid your biggest challenges lie ahead. Their names are Scott West and Jeanne Pascal. They're former EPA officials who have started leaking details about BP’s track record of safety violations. “BP is notoriously known for cost-cutting and putting dollars ahead of employee safety,” said West in one recent interview, “I’ve never investigated other oil companies like Shell or Mobil … I haven’t had to.” West was a top investigator for the EPA for 19 years. A Federal Prosecutor went so far as to call BP “a serial environmental criminal” and that was years before Deepwater Horizon. The good news, Tony, is that you have no shortage of weapons at your fingertips to dispose of these critics. A strategically-aimed Junk Shot right down their throats ought to do the trick … and if that doesn’t work, why not put one of your extra Containment Domes to good use? You must have a thousand tricks up your sleeve.

On a personal note, I know how difficult these past few weeks have been for you, Tony, and you have my deepest sympathies. You want your life back … and you deserve it. For your sake – and the sake of us all – I just hope your future is Beyond Petroleum.

Your friend,

Monday, June 7, 2010


It was a Three-Ring Circus at 7th and Montana this morning as a crew of workers transformed the nearly-empty building across from Our Favorite Starbucks into a colorful Big Top. Actually, inside sources report that they're fumigating like crazy before the Subway sandwich shop moves in. "Hmmmm," I said, "This puts Patty's Pizza in a whole new light." Patty's, which vacated the premises several months ago, had a nice, crunchy salad on the menu if I remember correctly. Let's just hope it was made with Pine Nuts. Meanwhile, as for me, I've traded one Circus for another. I just arrived in Las Vegas for a series of meetings at the Palazzo, which is part of the Venetian Hotel.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Well, folks, the day has finally come ... someone has called me to task on my blog. Neighbor Carole politely chastised me for being "a bit mean" to people and compared me to an "8th Grader." "I see your point," I said, agreeing with her, "Perhaps I should give the whole thing some more thought." Speaking of getting blasted, an Anonymous Gasbag let loose a Fart for the ages this morning at 7th and Montana. It was the kind of Trumpet Blast that would make Louis Armstrong proud. Was it the man on the left, who quickly and discretely buried his head in the newspaper; the Woman in the Center who stiffened-up and looked suspicious; or the man on the right who seemed strangely transfixed on the Apple Fritter display? I don't know ... your gas is as good as mine!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Hold your nose and look the other way, folks: The Diaper Dude rolled into town this morning and something tells me he means business. "What would possess someone to take up a career as a Diaper Dude?," I asked, "God only knows what his duties are." Actually, it appears that the Diaper Dude specializes in selling men's-style diaper bags including one in Gold Lame that's on clearance for only $50. His slogan -- "It's not just a bag, it's a movement" -- seems especially appropriate given the subject matter. I, for one, can't help wondering whether his Bright Orange Diaper Mobile is powered by Natural Gas ...!

Friday, June 4, 2010


It was a sad day at 7th and Montana yesterday as Barista David -- famous for his positive attitude and his Stoner Avenue Review blog in which he reviews marijuana dispensaries throughout the greater Los Angeles area-- announced that he's leaving Our Favorite Starbucks. Yes, it's true. Sometime this morning, he boarded the Metaphorical Canni-bus and headed due East to his new stomping grounds: The Starbucks in Burbank near the corner of Barham and Cahuenga. I happened to be in the area for a meeting today, so decided to swing by and check out his new digs. Trust me when I say, the Grass isn't always greener. Actually, it wasn't half bad, even though it did lack a certain neighborhood feel. Good luck, David ...!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Eyes were popping in front of my office on Sunset Strip this morning as a suspicious-looking truck sporting a "Bullets & Bitches" logo pulled-up to the front door. "I'm telling you," I said to the security guard in the lobby, "Life sure has gotten a lot more interesting around here ever since the Trousdale Club moved in downstairs." The Trousdale is Hollywood's latest hot spot. Lindsay Lohan made the scene there shortly before being fitted for her alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet. But today it was the "Bullets & Bitches" Mobile. Moments after its arrival, out popped a bevvy of beauties -- some in skintight leather, others in practically nothing at all. Then came a telltale procession of trailers, food carts, camera equipment and porta-potties. And, yes, there were celebrities ... but at least this time they didn't bring an entourage. They were the entourage. It turns out they were shooting an upcoming episode of the HBO series, Entourage.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


It was Pedal Power to the max at 7th and San Vicente this morning as an Anonymous Lug Nut made the scene in a contraption that looked like it was straight from a 1970's cartoon. He drove a three-wheeled, bright yellow, fully equipped pedal-mobile. I don't know what kind of mileage he gets, but he didn't seem to be in any rush to get anywhere. "You're blocking the intersection," I pointed out. He glared at me. I blame BP for this ...!