For the first news chum of the year, here is a late lunch posting of a few articles highlighting things we have lost, or are losing, as the year turns. I’m not going to mention the big ones — such as plastic grocery bags in the City of Los Angeles or new 40 or 60 watt incandescent light bulbs. However, these are important to some folks:
- An Acting Loss. In the last couple of days, we’ve lost a significant actor. I’m not referring to James Avery of Fresh Prince, but rather Michael Levine. Michael was a regular actor in the Santa Clarita area, at both Canyon Theatre Guild and at Repertory East Playhouse, where I met him. I will always remember his portrayal of the grandfather in Jewtopia, his direction of A Few Good Men, and his performances in dramas such as Proof, On Golden Pond, and To Kill a Mockingbird. As I’m an audience, not an actor or creative, I never had the pleasure of working with him, but I always enjoyed him on stage and when I talked to him before a show.
- A Dining Loss. Tonight, the penultimate Hamburger Hamlet closes as the Pasadena location is replaced by a – dare I say it – Dupars. I used to always love eating at the Hamlets in Palms, Brentwood, and Westwood — all long gone, and occasionally at the Pasadena and Sherman Oaks locations. I recall having the Rex Harrison, which was a fancy Bacon Cheeseburger, “Those Potatoes” (hashbrowns and sour cream), and wonderful French Onion soup. Lots of fond memories, but a dining style and menu that doesn’t resonate with many today. I’ll have to get down to Sherman Oaks while it still exists, and I won’t forget those sides. The closing has provoked a number of remembrance articles: LA Observed, LAist)
[*: There may still be an East Coast location in Crystal City VA; the one in Bethesda MD (if it is still open – Yelp is ambiguous) is essentially a Dupars. The website also lists a Larchmont (Los Angeles) location, but that closed in December. There may also be a “Hamburger Hamlet XP (Express)” location in NoHo.]
- A Television Loss. On 12/31/13, SoapNet ceased programming. Now, I never really watched the channel, but I do remember the heyday of both the daytime and the primetime soap operas. My grandmother loved to watch the soaps on NBC (I would watch them, as a kid, when she babysat). I remember the evening soaps — Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, and others — and I still watch the new Dallas. The death of SoapNet is a harbinger of the death of the genre as originally constituted, although I guess one can find the equivalent on Lifetime Network.