The Past, It Is Just History

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like posts about interesting transitions. I’ve been accumulating the following articles on transitions for a while, so let’s take a walk through memory lane:

  • Earthquake Panorama. The Northridge Earthquake was almost 25 ago. Since then we’ve moved from near Panorama City to Northridge, and almost all the damage has been repaired. But there’s been one building — a blighted high-rise near Roscoe and Van Nuys that has remained standing and unoccupied. Not for much longer, though. Plans have finally been announced for redevelopment of the 1962 Welton Becket designed building. It is going to become housing and retail, with an “open mall” next door. But that’s not all. A large mixed use project on the site of the former Montgomery Ward department store is also in the works, while the recent purchase of the Panorama Mall by Primestor Development has inspired speculation that a major overhaul of the shopping center could be on the way.
  • Albertsons and Sprouts. Talk about a mixed marriage! Evidently, Albertsons and Sprouts are in merger talks. This would be Albertsons (parent of Safeway) buying Sprouts, putting Sprouts in a better pricing tier and meaning more bad news for Whole Paycheck. Here are the details from Bloomberg.
  • Downtown Redevelopment. Panorama City isn’t the only place being redeveloped. There are big plans for Downtown LA, or in newspeak, DTLA. Parker Center would be replaced with a 27-story structure set to include around 713,000 square feet of office space, along with 37,000 square feet of street-level retail. A second office tower would be constructed at the site of the Los Angeles Mall, where one can currently find City Hall power players chowing down on chicken plates and sandwiches from Quizno’s. The project would include 545,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail, and 80,000 square feet of flex space. There is no word on what will happen to the Triforium.
  • New Digs for Valley Outreach. Valley Outreach Synagogue finally has a home. On March 19, in a ceremony 32 years in the making, 400 VOS members attended the grand opening of the Valley Outreach Synagogue and Center for Jewish Life in Calabasas. Formerly a warehouse, the 15,000-square-foot facility, located at 26670 Agoura Road, has a library, a coffee bar, offices and a Meeting and Learning Center. Its high-ceilinged sanctuary seats 500 and features three flat-screens on the walls as well as a Jerusalem limestone-lined ark housing four newly donated Torah scrolls.
  • Dancing the Airport Boogie. Are you ready to dance? Come May, if you fly a number of airlines in/out of LAX, you might need to. There’s going to be a gigantic gate shuffle, with Delta moving to Terminals 2/3, and most of who is in 2 and 3 moving hither and yon. Having been in Delta’s beautiful Terminal 5, the logos and style are going to be out of place for the folks moving in there.
  • Neon Museum Grows. Moving from LAX to LAS, there’s welcome news that the Neon Museum will be growing. They have acquired the ugly building next to them, will be tearing it down, and soon there will be more dead neon signs. Maybe even some new lit ones. Makes me want to go back to Vegas.
  • Remembering TWA. Dead neon is pretty. Dead buildings, less so. But we still have the unfinished Fontainebleau in Vegas, where the Thunderbird used to be. Blame is squarely on Carl Icahn. But that’s not the only thing he killed. He also killed TWA, which was a great airline. I recall many a flight to STL on TW 91. Luckily, there’s a neat TWA museum in Kansas City. It even has a Carl Icahn Voodoo Doll.



Selling It But Good

userpic=corporateHere’s another belated lunchtime post (can you tell I’m clearing out a backlog). This time, the subject is selling and marketing:



From Ground to Grocer

userpic=pastramiToday’s collection of news chum covers the food field, from the ground to the grocer, with the cleanup afterwards thrown in:


Changes That Caught My Eye

userpic=old-shieldSome quick name changes that caught my eye:

Music: Bombshell [The New Marilyn Musical From Smash] (Katharine McPhee): “Never Give All The Heart”


Nood Fews: Sim Dum, Meastbrilk Pollilops, Dacon for Bad, and More

userpic=levysToday brings yet another installment of news chum related to food, or should that be chews num felated to rood?

Music: Blast: An Explosive Musical Celebration (2000 Original Broadway Cast): “Split Complimentaries”


Sheriff John and other History

Item The First. As you have probably figured out by now, I have fond memories of Sheriff John, a childrens television host here in Los Angeles. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to see an update regarding the Sheriff (who’s real name is John Rovick) in Gary Lycan’s Radio column:

Yes, the name “Sheriff John” carries many of us back to our childhood, or if you are younger, maybe your parents who grew up here spoke of the popular local TV personality in the ’50s and ’60s who entertained us daily with his Lunch Brigade show on channel 11.

John Rovick got his start in Toledo radio, so he qualifies for a shout-out here, and I’ve heard from many of you over the years you love knowing whatever happened to your favorites of yesteryear.

So, thanks to David Grudt, who was in Idaho recently and got to visit with “Sheriff John” in Boise. He sent this note to

“He turned 90 last October and is in an assisted living facility. John’s mind is still sharp. My friend and I were there for 90 minutes chatting about his years in the business….John still has that great smile” Grudt had two Imperial Records for “Sheriff John” to sign. One was a blue label 45, “Laugh and Be Happy.”

Item The Second. You may also know that another area of interest of mine is grocery stores, specifically the history thereof. Therefore, I was quite interested when I read in Curbed LA that the historic “Marina” style ex-Safeway (now a Vons) at Santa Monica and Barrington is being torn down to be replaced with a Pavilions. Even more interesting was paragraph:

With this new one, the Pavilions just up the street at Wilshire and Stoner will likely close in the next few years, according to officials. The Pavilions project on Santa Monica Boulevard comes on the heels of two recent mixed-use projects in this area, so it looks like gentrification is rearing its head even during the Great Recession.

Now, I remember when that Pavilions went in. It was during the reconstruction at Wilshire and Stoner that replaced a Ralphs with the new store; that Ralphs was previously a Market Basket (I know all this because my parent’s office was at Wilshire and Barrington, right above Diamond Jims). At the time they built that store, it was to serve the senior community at the Barrington Plaza. I guess those seniors have up and died, because no senior is going to be able to walk the hill past Uni Hi to Santa Monica.


Wednesday Link Chum: Delis, Shamu, Universal Studios, Helen Keller, Fresh & Easy, and other Nonsense

It’s been a busy day, but not so busy that I haven’t got some chum for you, my, umm, chums….

  • From the “Do Not Make a Stingy Sandwich, Pile The Cold Cuts High” Department: The NY Times has an interesting article about a dying breed of restaurant: the Kosher-Style/Kosher Deli. They have fewer customers, especially as folks become more health conscious. I should note that even the NY Times mentions our local deli, Brents, in the article. Anyway, I have noticed the clientele becoming leaner at our local faves… and I hope this is an institution that doesn’t fade away. So what’s your favorite deli?
  • From the “Shamu and Beer” Department: St. Louis Today is reporting that Busch Entertainment has been sold by AB In-Bev to Blackstone Group. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, let me translate: the corporate parent of Seaworld and Busch Gardens is no longer owned by the beer company. To me, Busch Gardens will always be the one that used to exist in Van Nuys.
  • From the “Valley Theme Park” Department: Speaking of San Fernando Valley themeparks, the Daily News is reporting that Universal Studios is getting a makeover. It doesn’t look like it will touch the themepark, but will touch most of the area around the studio, including some new roads between Burbank and US 101.
  • From the “But Could She See It” Department: CNN is reporting that Alabama is replacing one of their two statues in the senate with a statue of Helen Keller. Keller’s statue will replace one depicting Jabez Curry in the Capitol Gallery. Curry was a Georgia native who served as president of Howard College, which later became Samford University in Birmingham. They are keeping the statue of Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Wheeler, a Confederate general during the Civil War who, three decades later, volunteered to serve in the Spanish-American War at age 62 and attained the same rank in the U.S. Army. He was the only one of 425 Confederate generals to do so.
  • From the “Fresh and Easy” Department: One market that we have grown to like is Fresh and Easy, which has a nice selection of gluten-free foods. Alas, the LA Times is reporting that they are still losing money, to the tune of $259M in the last fiscal year. Ouch!
  • From the “Be A Clown” Department: Lastly, for you silly folks out there, the NY Times is reporting that nonsense can sharpen the intellect. So do something nonsensical every day. Narf.

Friday (uh) Thursday News Chum: iPhones, iPods, Hummers, Caltrans, Supermarket Wars, & Tax Increases

Today’s the last day of the conference, and as I’m getting on the road immediately afterwards, I thought I would share some chum from this morning’s reading of the news:

  • From the “At Least It’s Not an Edsel” Department: The NY Times is reporting how the iPhone is overloading the AT&T networks. My favorite part of the article is the line, “Slim and sleek as it is, the iPhone is really the Hummer of cellphones.” Irrespective of the iPhone issue, its interesting to note how certain car names become symbolic of greater woes. The Edsel is representative of something that just was a bad idea, badly designed, badly executed. The Gremlin is an idea that goes up in flames far too easy. The Hummer is something that just wastes too many resources.
  • From the “Making Hay While The Sun Shines” Department: This weekend the Bay Bridge is being closed while some major work is being done. What’s interesting is that Caltrans is doing it right. While the span is being replaced, they are taking advantage of the closure to do other repair work and train first responders. For all we complain that the government gets things wrong, it is nice to note when they get things right (and why I like the conference this week, which is all about another area where the government is getting things right).
  • From the “It’s Dead, Bill” Department: Microsoft is killing the Zune, discontinuing it once the Zune HD comes out. For me, the interesting part of the article is related to Apple, “Does the Zune’s discontinuation signal the end of the iPod Classic, as Gizmodo posits? I don’t think so. Even though iPod sales fell 7 percent in the last quarter compared to 2008, Apple still sold 10.2 million iPods.” The thing about the iPod Classic is capacity. There is no other music player out there with a triple-digit GB capacity. When I fill up my 80GB iPod, I’ll likely replace it with a 120GB iPod.
  • From the “It’s a War” Department: Evidently, an old staple of SoCal is back: the Supermarket Price War. Worried about the loss of customers to Walmart and Target, LA area supermarkets are lowering prices. Of course, many of us won’t notice, as we’ve just given up on them, moving to TJ’s instead. The surprising thing in the article were the statistics: Ralphs is the largest chain, controlling 18.2% of the grocery market in Los Angeles and Orange counties through the first quarter of this year. Vons is second with just under 14.8%. Albertsons is third with 12.4% and Trader Joe’s is fourth with 6.3%. Stater Bros., which has a greater concentration in the Inland Empire, is No. 5 with 6.1%.
  • From the “Manipulating Taxes for Fun and Profit” Department: Lastly, a report of how politicians are under manipulation pressure to protect industries. We’ve seen it before in the health-care debacle, where the pressure to get rid of the public option is coming from the private insurers who do not want the competition. The LA Times is reporting on how the cable industry is pushing to add a 5% tax on satellite TV, to match the 5% tax they have to pay for digging in the streets and stringing poles. Never mind that satellite don’t need to build that infrastructure. The cable companies just want it to protect their industry. Will a cash-strapped legislature bow to the pressure? Stay tuned. They may sneak it under the radar: Cable’s tax-the-other-guy proposal is being shopped to legislators with the idea of adding it to a noncontroversial bill, currently focused on Indian gambling, that is close to winning final passage and being sent to the governor.

[Edited: This was originally “Friday News Chum”. Attribute it to a brain slip.]