Things That Are Disappearing

Today’s news chum brings news of three items that are soon-to-be gone:

  • If you’ve ever driven by the corner of Sherman Way and Tampa in Reseda, you’ve seen Lorenzen Mortuary across the street from the Jewish Home. According to the Daily News, they are going to have to relocate. The mortuary at 19300 Sherman Way was founded in 1952 by Virginia and Donald Lorenzen (who later served on the Los Angeles City Council). Virginia died in January at age 92; in early 2009, the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Guardian, serving as her trustee and conservator, received court approval to sell her real estate holdings to pay for her care and expenses. They were sold to Robert Hirsch, chairman of the board of the Jewish Home, who then donated the land. The Home plans to build Senior Housing, and so the mortuary has to move.
  • You might just have driven by that corner in a Chevy. If you didn’t, someone else did. However, if GM has its way, you won’t be able to say that: GM wants people to stop using the term “Chevy” and go back to the full name, “Chevrolet”. Some dealers even have a “Chevy Jar”, just like a curse jar. I’ve seen responses to this that say they don’t think an American car should have a French name. This is something I think GM will have trouble with—it’s like Anheiser-Busch trying to get folks not to call their swill “Bud”. (hmmm, interesting parallel there: Quality automobile are to Chevys as quality beer is to Bud). In other car news, Cadillac has redesigned their logo again.
  • And while in that car, you might have been listening to the radio. Thirty years ago, you might have been turned to KMET listening to Dr. Demento (I know I did in high school). Soon, you won’t be able to do that, at least on the radio. Dr. D is leaving the airwaves after 40 years. He’ll still be streaming a 1 hour show on the Internet. In many ways, though, the nature of novelty records has drastically changed. Nowaday, who makes audio recordings—they are all You-Tube videos.

Writing About Not Writing About Something

It’s a quiet Sunday — the calm before I return to work tomorrow. I’ve been trying to think about what to write about.

I thought about writing about “Wait, Wait – The NPR News quiz”, which has been the subject of an interesting article on CNN and even provided a news quiz about 2009 to the LA Times. But I couldn’t connect that to anything.

I thought about writing about theatre, always a good subject, triggered by a post by Charles McNulty, the LA Times Theatre Critic, about why “Nine” didn’t work on the big screen. It’s an interesting analysis, and exposes well the difference between stage and screen. But again, nothing good to tie it to.

I thought about writing about computer security, triggered by an article in the NY Times about how Cybersecurity is the hot job. The problem, of course, is they are looking for people that know how to stop attackers, not people who know how to engineer less complex and more secure systems.

But in the end, none of these stories made we want to devote a full entry to them. So I decided not to write about them. I hope I succeeded.


News Chum: Dr. Demento Returns, Incandescent Light Bulbs, Vanity License Plates

Well, the feeding frenzy resulting from Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin has calmed down a bit, and a few interesting pieces of lunchtime news chum have surfaced:

  • From the “Pico and Sepulveda” Department: Gary Lycan (who has an excellent radio column in the OC Register) is reporting that Dr. Demento is returning to the airwaves as part of a July 10 tribute to KMET — The Mighty Met — on KSWD 100.3 FM (there was also a July 4 tribute on KLOS 95.5). The good Dr. will be on at 7pm “playing all the songs that became famous on my show at KMET like ‘Fish Heads’, ‘Another One Rides the Bus’, and ‘Pico and Sepulveda.” No word yet whether he’ll be followed by “Flo and Eddie”.

    The Mighty Met was a radio staple during my high school and early college days. Although I wasn’t into the music they played at the time, I did listen regularly to Dr. Demento and I still remember Flo and Eddie to this day (explanation: right after Dr. D was the Flo and Eddie By The Fireside show). When they became “The Wave” and went to lukewarm jazz, Los Angeles lost one of its best music stations.

    (An interesting side note in the article: Merrill Shindler, restaurant critic, is returning to KABC with a new “Feed Your Face” program, 4-7 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays.)

  • From the “A Bright Idea Department: The NY Times has an interesting article on a new breed of incandescent light bulbs — bulbs that have been engineered to be significantly more energy efficient and to meet new efficiency requirements. This is good news for those of us with dimmer switches (CFLs don’t work well with dimmers), as well as those sensitive to the CFL “flicker”.
  • From the “Blue Plate Special” Department: The SF Chronicle has an interesting article about the Golden Gate Special Interest Plates, and how they might not be getting enough subscribers to be made. In general, sales of vanity plates dropped about 20% in 2008 from the year before. But vanity plates are still popular, with the “Kids” plate and the “Whale Tale” plate taking the 1st and 2nd sales position. I have a kids plate, in order to get the ♥ symbol, permitting me to say ♥CAHWYS. Alas, the UCLA plate is the least popular.

Signs of the Times

A late lunch today–I’ve been busy. A few quickies (no pun intended) that, in my opinion, reflect the times very well:


In The Early Morning Chum…

Some early morning chum, gathered from a scan of the papers before I go downstairs for breakfast at the hotel:

  • From the “Does Hot Air Cause Global Warming?” Department: According to the Los Angeles Times, Conservative Talk Radio is on the decline in California. Ratings appear to be down, and stations are turning to syndicated hosts to save money. I don’t know how much of this is ratings, however. Look at what happened to KLSX: they dropped their talk format, not because it wasn’t doing good in the ratings, but because talk radio is expensive. Each show has the hosts, the screeners, the producer, and any ancillary staff. Getting rid of those for syndication simply saves a lot of money, and with ad revenues going down, they have to do that. Next, I predict, will be a shakeout as some of the weaker talk stations move to automated formats to stay alive.
  • From the “Not Staying Alive” Department: Alas, some things don’t stay alive, and so I must report two passings: Altovese Davis, the widow of Sammy Davis Jr., and Ron Silver, who I remember from shows such as West Wing and Chicago Hope.
  • From the “And Some Are In Limbo” Department: As the economy gets worse, the airline industry has been cutting flights. So what happens to those planes? According to the LA Times, they go to scenic Victorville and Mojave (and likely Tucson as well). The aircraft boneyards are filling up with planes that are being furloughed in hopes of resale or the economy picking up and their going back to work. Hmmm, just like a GM worker. Anyway, the planes are drained of fluids, have their engines removed, and just sit, watching soap operas and game shows all day. OK, I made up that last bit, but they are parked and maintained. If they don’t find a new life, they get chopped up and recycled. I’ve always found these aircraft boneyards fascinating.

And now, off to a quick shower and getting down to breakfast….


I Remember When…

Today’s lunchtime news chum all seems to come from the “I Remember When” era….

  • From the “I Remember When Bozo Meant Something More Than an Insult” Department: One of the earliest children’s TV performers was Bozo the Clown. Originally devised by Capitol Records for children’s records, he moved first to children’s TV on KTTV in Los Angeles, then later many local copies and syndication through Larry Harmon productions. One of the most famous and longest running Bozos was the Chicago production, and the Chicago Tribune has a nice piece on where Bozo and his props are today. Many are still at the station, or awaiting the new home of the Museum of Broadcasting in that area. But Bozo, even today, still seems to hold a fond place in people’s hearts.

    In other children’s TV news, Freight Train Wayne from the Engineer Bill show has died.

  • From the “I Remember When Schools Had Chalkboards” Department: The Sacramento Bee has a nice piece on what may be the last school in Sacramento County to have a chalkboard. It appears that chalkboards, and even whiteboards, are disappearing from schools, being replaced with electronic whiteboards with touchable computerized screens. Some teachers don’t care. Some prefer the old fashioned chalk that permitted you to combine colors (something a whiteboard doesn’t do well), and can produce shading, and can be done without requiring power.
  • From the “I Remember When Leykis was political talk on KFI” Department: Radio in Los Angeles is ever shifting, and it appears another shift is happening Friday, when at the end of Tom Leykis’ program at 5pm, KLSX 97.1 will drop talk radio and become Top 40. Evidently, all host contracts have been cancelled, and the talk is going. Some, like Adam Carolla, will be moving to podcasts. I don’t know what is happening to Leykis (may be NSFW) — Westwood One has already dropped his syndication, but when I caught a bit the other day, he seemed to be promoting his show. No great loss, really, as his show had become a parody of itself. I miss his KFI days, though, when he actually did political talk quite well. As for what KLSX is becoming: The format, described as playing “all the hits,” will also be online at (don’t visit if flashing does you in). Artists will include Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Rihanna, T.I., Kanye West, Usher, Britney, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Katy Perry, among others. Needless to say, I won’t be listening to it.
  • From the “I Remember When The Mets Played at Shea” Department: They did, but they can’t anymore. The last piece of Shea Stadium came down yesterday. Now what will the pilots use as a reference?

Stuff Happens

Well, you probably thought I would write about tonight’s Battle in Nashville. Well, I was debating it (pauses), but something else in the news caught my eye.

Tonight’s news brings a report of the death of Lloyd Thaxton. Some of you will be going “Lloyd Who?” Still others will remember Lloyd from his work on David Horowitz’s Fight Back, or his teen dance program on KCOP 13. But that’s not how I remember Lloyd.

I remember Lloyd as a voice on KABC radio every Sunday afternoon. I would listen to Lloyd as a high school student, driving back and forth to Wilshire Blvd Temple where I was student teaching. His weekend show was all humor and fun.

So, as we go on with our political and life discussions, let’s pause to remember the very funny Lloyd Thaxton. I’ve already left a condolence note on his blog.


Coming Full Circle

Many years ago, I lived in Sepulveda North Hills, and enjoyed listening to the News/Talk station we lived under, KGIL AM 1260. Shortly after we moved in, Saul Levine (of the ever changing radio formats) bought the station from Buckley Broadcasting, and started toying with the format. Some I liked (all showtunes), some were weird (all Beatles), and none were successful. Still, I always missed News/Talk Radio, and hosts such as Carole Hemingway and the folks that did the morning show. LA hasn’t had decent talk since Michael Jackson (not that Michael Jackson) left the airways.

Guess what?

KGIL AM 1260 is coming back! As News/Talk radio. Saul Levine is bringing back News/Talk after AM proved to be unsuccessful for classical. The call sign KGIL will be restored. Further, Michael Jackson will be a lead anchor. Other hosts include CNN star Larry King, nationally syndicated libertarian host Neal Boortz and radio psychologist Joy Browne.

I’m actually looking forward to this.