It's time for me to hit the road again and I don't mind saying that my schedule for the next few weeks is pretty hectic. Maybe I should take a cue from my nephew, Jackson, who enlisted some help for an excursion yesterday in a toy Fire Car, a bouncing contraption on springs at his local playground. He jumped right in, put his stuffed animal "Froggie" beside him, and off he went, bouncing up a storm. After several minutes, he became quite upset when his stuffed frog fell to the floor. "Froggie," he yelled, "You're supposed to be handling the stick shift. How can you do that on the floor ...?!?"
Monday, August 30, 2010
It was a weekend of Firsts for my niece, Leah, and nephew, Jackson, here in Massachusetts: Their first, big joint birthday celebration, my niece's first birthday and the first time I, for one, have seen so many gifts under one roof. And the gifts, themselves, represented a number of firsts. Take Leah's motorcycle (pictured above). It's a fully motorized, pink Baby Harley-Davidson. It might be a while before she's ready to fully rev it up, but it's good to know she has the helmet just-in-case. Then there's Jackson, who received his own "iPhone," for his third birthday. Actually it's an iTouch but, thanks to my brother-in-law, it's already loaded with all his favorite songs and applications. It doesn't have a camera, but I can't help thinking of it as "baby's first spycam" ...!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
My niece, Leah, took the cake at her First Birthday party yesterday ... literally. My sister and brother-in-law wisely got a special "stunt cake" from one of the best bakeries in Massachusetts just so Leah could do what every new one-year-old should have a chance to do: grab her birthday cake with two hands and dive right in. Leah had a ball and, as for the rest of us, we enjoyed a special second "Leah" cake, and a third cake, as well, given that my nephew, Jackson, is turning three and yesterday's party was a joint celebration. Jackson, never one to be upstaged, took to the stage to sing his favorite song -- the Cramps' classic Goo Goo Muck -- accompanied by his father's band ...!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Chances are that, like me, you've never heard of Adam Wagner until today. His story is not-at-all uncommon, the kind of thing that tends to happen during tough economic times but can break your heart nevertheless. Adam served two tours of duty in Iraq and returned home only to be told by his employer, Commercial Construction Consulting, Inc. -- a building engineering and construction company in Massachusetts -- that his job is no longer available. His parents were so outraged that they posted their son's story on the back of a truck and have been driving it around New England encouraging people who see it to express their opinion by either calling his old boss, James Kirby, at 617-330-9390, or sending him an e-mail at jkirby@c3Boston.com. I saw the sign this afternoon while driving around Plainville, Massachusetts with my sister and brother-in-law, and couldn't resist calling Mr. Kirby right away. Kirby's company, better known as C-3 (pronounced C-Cubed), prides itself on the fact that "the vast majority of (its) employees have a long tenure, and virtually all of the senior staff have been with the company over ten years." It would appear, however, that they draw the line when one of their own chooses to serve our country. For the record, I did try to get C-3's side of the story but only succeeded in getting Mr. Kirby's voicemail. I encourage you to give it a try, too. And if you're out there, Mr. Kirby, please feel free to chime-in, let us know if there is more to this story than meets the eye. Otherwise, shame on you.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Love was in the air this morning in Plainville, Massachusetts, as I arrived to celebrate the birthdays of my nephew, Jackson, and my niece, Leah. Here's a photo of big brother, Jackson, who is almost three, kissing his sister, Leah, who is almost one. When I told Jackson that he's not the only one with a little sister, that my little sister is his own 'mommy,' he seemed pretty surprised. "But mommy is all grown up," he said. "Yes," I answered, "But she'll always be my little sister!"
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "The Veiled Lady," the woman sitting next to me today on United Flight #347 to Boston. Truth be told, there was nothing particularly unusual about her, but experience has taught me that it's always a good idea to whip out the Spycam early-on in a flight, just in case your seatmate does something nutty later on. The only problem is, she somehow figured out that I was taking her picture. "What are you doing?," she asked, "Taking my picture?!?" I couldn't very well try to pretend I was using my cell phone at 30,000 feet, so I just smiled and said, "Now why would I want to do something like that? Not that you're not photogenic, of course." She smiled at me, but I don't think she was convinced. Faster than you can say 'Privacy Please,' she pulled a sweatshirt out of her carry-on bag and used it to cover her face for the rest of the five-hour flight. Was it something I said ...?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Man's Best Friend was out of control at 7th and Montana this morning. And if you don't believe me, just ask "Fletcher the Fetcher," a regular at Our Favorite Starbucks who is kept on a very tight leash ... by his dog. The fun began when "Fletcher's" car alarm went off. "That's my dog," he explained, "He's learned how to set off the alarm when I leave him in the car. It's his way of reminding me that I have to bring him a Blueberry Scone." And with that, Fletcher ran inside, bought a Blueberry Scone, and rushed it to his dog. The whole thing made me wonder, what does Fletcher's dog do when nature calls, ram on the accelerator and pull into the nearest rest stop ...?!?
Monday, August 23, 2010
It was a case of Indecent Exposure at 7th and Montana this morning as a pair of gentlemen walked abreast up and down 7th Street. Correction: Make that four breasts. You see, they weren't wearing shirts and between them they sported enough cleavage to make Dolly Parton jealous. "Get a load of those boobs," said one witness. Too bad that liposuction clinic -- Hypoxy -- moved out of the building across from Our Favorite Starbucks ...!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as Neighbor Nicole showed off her latest gadget: A Doggie Water Bottle, ideal for giving pets a quick drink on-the-go. The concept is simple: A small, plastic "trough" is attached by a hinge to an ordinary water bottle. When you turn the bottle upside down, the "trough" is filled with enough water to satisfy any dog's thirst. She demonstrated it on her Golden Doodle, Bernie. "That's amazing," said Robin, "What a great idea!" "Yes," said Nicole, "I really need it. If you can believe it, the other day one of the Rangers in Palisades Park chased me all the way down the street, yelling at me for letting Bernie take a drink from the water fountain." She went on. "It's not like those fountains are clean, anyway. Minutes after Bernie was done drinking from one of them, a pigeon swooped-in and took a bath in it." "Sheesh," I replied, "Don't the authorities have anything better to do than chase after you for letting Bernie take a drink?" I can't imagine what put them in such a state of High Alert ...!
It was the Dog Days of Summer last week at Palisades Park as an Anonymous Dolt insisted on letting his Standard Poodle take a not-so-standard drink from the public water fountain. "What do we have here?," I asked, "Your dog sure is thirsty!" "Yes," he laughed, "He's just taking a little drink." "Well, it's the best photo opportunity I've seen all day," I said, "Let me get a picture so I can e-mail it to my friend." The Dolt smiled and held his dog in position while I took a photo. Little did he know, my "friend" was the City of Santa Monica Sanitation Department. While we were talking, I used the "GoRequest" application on my iPhone to send the City a photo and alert them to this public health issue. Meanwhile, as for the cleanliness of our water fountains, the whole thing was enough to give me Paws ...!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as a Blond Bombshell made the scene teetering on stilettos that made it look like she was walking on stilts. "I just don't understand why women wear those Spartacus Shoes," said Joyce. "Spartacus?!?," I asked, confused. "Sorry," Joyce corrected, "Everyone else calls them Gladiator Shoes ... but I call them Spartacus Shoes." I took a closer look at the shoes, with their six-inch heels and tight, leather straps. Frankly, if this is what the Gladiators -- including Spartacus -- wore, no wonder the Roman Empire fell ...!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Marcus not-so-Wellby, M.D.," a relative newcomer to Our Favorite Starbucks who I suspect won't be returning anytime soon. The Good Doctor took one look around him this morning -- from the buffoon belting out Opera Tunes in the doorway to the Newspaper Thief stealing the Los Angeles Times behind him -- and put his hand on his head as if to say "Get me out of here!" By the time he left, he looked ready for the Emergency Room in more ways than one ...!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Something fishy was in the air at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Young Urchin -- a girl known locally as "Neptune's Daughter" -- made the scene with a Starfish in her hair. "Look what washed ashore," said Richard. "I always knew there was a lot of Star Power around here," said Genevieve. "Good God," I muttered, "I think it's alive." Miss Neptune, of course, didn't realize that we were talking about her, and perhaps that's for the best. The last thing I want is to make anemone of her ...!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
It was a taste of the Paranormal at 7th and Montana today as word spread that Our Favorite Starbucks is haunted. "There's a ghost in here who keeps playing with the blender, turning it on and off, on and off," said one insider on the night shift. "That would be me," said "Barnacle Bess," taking full responsibility, "I'm a ghost ... I've been dead for years." No one argued, but I couldn't resist making a special request. "As long as you're hovering around the blender, would you mind making me a Frappuccino ...?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It was Lean Times at 7th and Montana yesterday ... and I'm not talking about the economy. An Anonymous Nincompoop made the scene, intent on getting up close and personal with the light pole in front of Our Favorite Starbucks. He leaned up against it again and again, as if to whisper sweet nothings in its ear. Some say it was a match made in heaven, but I think there's a method to his madness. He's probably on one of those Fad Diets: "Eat all the Apple Fritters you want and we promise to make you lean ...!"
Monday, August 16, 2010
Rigolatte -- the Local Loon who alternates between handing out biblical literature and belting out opera tunes at Our Favorite Starbucks -- met his match this morning at 7th and Montana. There he was, preaching to the masses, when Barista Kenisha firmly but politely told him he cannot conduct a religious service at Starbucks. "Pray for Faith ... Pray for Faith ... Pray for Faith," he repeated in a curious monotone. And then Kenisha's warning sunk in. He pursed his lips and twitched as if fighting off one final "Pray for Faith," then disappeared. Poor Rigolatte. If you're out there, try not to let this get you down. Just think of it as another Exodus ...!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It was Obama-rama at 7th and Montana this morning as three huge military helicopters flew directly over Our Favorite Starbucks. They were flying so low you could practically wave to the pilots. At first I thought they were coming after the Notorious Neighborhood Newspaper Thief who, for his part, jumped on his getaway bike and pedaled away as if his life depended on it. But then I realized that they were probably here for the President's visit. President Obama will be in town tomorrow for a fundraising dinner at the home of "West Wing" and "ER" Producer John Wells and his wife, Marilyn. Nancy Pelosi is joining them and you can, too, if you're willing to spend between $2,500 and $30,400 per person. The President arrives tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m. via Air Force One. As for the helicopters, they're probably here to fly all the money he raises back to Washington ...!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
The stars were out at 7th and Montana this morning. The only problem is, they were plastered on someone's rear end. An Unfortunate Fashion Victim made the scene wearing skin-tight, translucent white pants with five pink stars emblazoned across her behind. "Get a load of the Star-Spangled Buttocks," I said, as I whipped out my Spycam and crept up behind her. I wasn't sure whether to salute or take her photo, so I opted for a little of both. She turned around and nearly caught me in the act, but thank God I had the presence of mind to pretend I was sending someone a text message. Something tells me if she knew what I was up to I'd really be seeing stars ...!
Friday, August 13, 2010
All eyes were on the Accountant -- the man known for spreading his confidential client paperwork all over Our Favorite Starbucks -- this morning as word spread that he's replaced his usual armload of loose papers with an actual briefcase. "Get a load of that," said one witness, "Papa's got a brand, new bag!" The briefcase, a stylish, black leather number with loads of compartments and two combination locks, looked like a portable Fort Knox. "Hmmmm," I said, "Perhaps he's under the impression that people have been reading over his shoulder. I guess you can't be too careful these days." For those of you who weren't at 7th and Montana this morning, his papers are now stored neatly in the briefcase. As soon as he writes a check, he seals it in an envelope and files it away in one of the compartments. Outgoing mail has its own slot and his "action pile" is securely stored in a file of its own. There's just one catch: He walked away and left the whole thing unattended this morning while he was in the Men's Room. Moving forward, I guess if anyone wants to know what the Accountant is up to, they'll have to offer him a Bran Muffin ...!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Congress may have just passed a crucial, $10 billion education jobs bill, but Starbucks has one-upped them by unveiling its own, sure-fire stimulus plan for our nation's schools. Starting today, they're encouraging kids to "Go Back to School with VIA!," the Starbucks brand of "coffee in an instant." "Just what I need," said one teacher, "Now my classroom will be both overcrowded and overcaffeinated!" New in-store signage promotes VIA as a "refreshing" treat for the classroom. Just add cold water and, voila, it's Iced Coffee for the kiddies! An illustration (pictured above) shows a bunch of smiling, young faces nearly popping out of a school bus. That's one way to make the wheels of the bus go round and round ...!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Palmer," the Local Loon who has taken to walking up and down Main Street disguised as a Palm Tree. I ran into him last week near the Chaya Venice restaurant. He was leaning against a Palm Tree and standing on stilts that were designed to look like tree trunks. His face was painted brown and his hair was covered with Palm Fronds. Suddenly, without warning, he leaned over and yelled "Howdy!" I nearly had a heart attack. "What the Hell are you doing?!?," I asked. "Making a living," he replied. I would have asked him what possessed him to dress like a tree, but the answer is obvious: He's Barking Mad ...!
It was Snap, Crackle and Pop at 7th and Montana on Sunday as an Anonymous Nincompoop crashed his "Smart Car" while attempting to parallel park it across from Our Favorite Starbucks. Despite the fact that he had all the space in the world -- there weren't any cars in front of him -- he backed right into a Silver Acura with a resounding thud. "Ha, Ha, Ha," he laughed, noticing that he had an audience, "My car might be Smart, but the driver's another question." I didn't argue. He was quick to add, "There's no damage at all to either car." Indeed, I checked and he was right. "Not to worry," I muttered, "This will be Our Little Secret ... !"
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
It was "heigh-ho, Silver, and away" at 7th and Montana this weekend as an Attractive Newcomer made the scene with strands of shiny, metallic thread in her hair. "Poor thing," I said, "Maybe there's too much mercury in her diet." The look was somewhat festive. Strands of silver were woven intermittently into her hair, giving her the appearance of a Christmas Tree. "Where do you think she had that done, Santa's Workshop?," asked one witness. "No," I replied, "I'm sure it was a local job ... she probably had it done somewhere in Tinseltown!"
Shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as word spread that "Norman the Narcoschleptic" -- the man who has been sitting in front of Our Favorite Starbucks in a semi-catatonic state since June 28 -- moved to a table inside. "How is this possible?," I asked. "I don't know," said one insider, "One minute he was outside, as usual, and the next minute -- poof -- he had moved." Everything else was the same: the same blank expression, the same hands resting atop the same head, the same hint of rigor-mortis. All I can say is, either someone moved him or he's been sleepwalking ...!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana yesterday as Kathy let the cat out of the bag regarding her recent trip to Australia. Evidently, she brought back a rather unusual souvenir: A pouch made from the scrotum of a Kangaroo. She promptly gave it to her Personal Trainer as a gift, but that didn't stop her from showing off another new bag. "This one isn't made from Kangaroo parts," she joked, holding it aloft. Who knows ... perhaps she got it from an Elephant Preserve in Botswana. As for her trip to Australia, rumor has it she had a ball ...!
It was Ace Photographer Kovar's lucky day today as he began two weeks of dog-sitting for the friendliest dog in Santa Monica, Lucky. Lucky, however, seemed less than thrilled. The normally cheerful Golden Retriever moped around Starbucks this morning as if he were counting the hours, just waiting for his best friend and master to return. Kovar even took Lucky to the wine bar at Santa Monica Place last night for a little hair of the dog that bit him, but no dice. Cheer up, Lucky, things could be a lot worse ... you could be on a two-week tour-of-duty with the Notorious Newspaper Thief!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Fruit Loop, a local loon who seemed to be on continuous loop last week when he made the scene at Our Favorite Starbucks shopping for fruits and vegetables. Indeed, he spent more than a half-hour examining the meager "produce section" and slowly, painstakingly grilling the baristas on each item. I wasn't there at the time, but Genevieve sent me a photo and filled me in on the details this morning. "Barista Amanda deserves a Halo for taking care of this guy," Genevieve said. Apparently, the man grew increasingly agitated and threw a Fruit Cup at one of the new Baristas. Amanda stepped in, calmed him down, and helped him fill his shopping cart with glorious Starbucks fruit. She's a real Peach, that Amanda. As for the Fruit Loop, he's just plain Bananas ...!
Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning ... but decided to keep his distance from the crowd. Instead of pressing the flesh, as he occasionally does, he simply remained in his Zippy Silver Porsche and gave us all a stern salute. That didn't stop us from peppering him with questions. "Where's my tax refund?," asked Richard. "How's that budget coming?," asked Bob. "What's your take on Meg Whitman?," I asked. He turned a blind eye to us all. Speaking of Blind Eyes, I evidently didn't recognize 1980s' teen star Molly Ringwald when she walked right by me this morning. Rumor has it she's been hanging out at 7th and Montana for weeks now, but I wouldn't know her if she stuck Sixteen Candles on her head and convened a meeting of the Breakfast Club at the Espresso Bar ...!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
It was Peter, Paul and downright Scary at 7th and Montana this morning as a pair of Anonymous Musicians made the scene, intent on transforming Our Favorite Starbucks into their own, personal Woodstock. One man played the guitar and sang folk tunes, while the other occasionally whipped out a harmonica and shoved it into his friend's mouth. "Get a load of the Hootenanny," said Bob, as they launched into an offbeat rendition of "Tell it on the Mountain." At first it was all very entertaining -- especially watching the 'assistant' hold a harmonica in his friend's mouth -- but after a while it started getting on my nerves. By the third set, neighborhood dogs were barking to beat the band. "If I had a Hammer," I began ... but there was no need to finish my sentence. The musicians somehow sensed they had worn out the welcome mat and headed due East. No doubt they were going to Peet's (Seegers, that is ...)!
Friday, August 6, 2010
It was Many Happy Returns at 7th and Montana this week as Neighbor Nat celebrated his birthday. Happy Birthday, Nat! Also, Kathy made the scene, renewed and refreshed after two weeks in Australia. In case anyone doubts that she really was in Australia, she sent me a picture (below) of herself and her friend, Laura, holding a cuddly Koala. Speaking of returns, I'm pleased to say that I'm back up and running with my blog after a five-day absence. In case you were wondering what happened, a new security patch was installed on my computer that made it so secure I couldn't connect to the Internet. To make matters worse, I was busy with back-to-back meetings all week, which meant that I couldn't address the problem until today. Sorry for the brief hiatus. I guess I'll just have to make up for it by finding twice at much weirdness at 7th and Montana this weekend ...!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Toots Galore," a local woman with an unusual gift: She farts with military precision. I was walking behind her today on 3rd Street and I couldn't help noticing that on every fourth step she let out a little toot. It was 'Fart ... two, three, four; Fart ... two, three, four" and so on all the way from Idaho to California. I finally caught up with her as she approached Wilshire. She looked at me. I looked at her. Rather than blow the photo opportunity, I whipped out my spycam and pretended to make a call. "Hi, it's me," I said, holding the spycam to my ear, "I'm heading to the Promenade, want to join me? It'll be a real Gas ...!"