Installment 2 in the iowahawk family L.A. Chronicles
July 24: First order of bidness is breakfast, and when we're in L.A. that means only one thing - Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles on Pico. After perusing the menu for 45 minutes, we opt for the chicken and waffles.
A postprandial photo op with Roscoe!
Re-energized, we decide to drop in at Coop's studio to annoy him at work.
Coop's huge collection of weird Japanese vinyls was a big hit with the ninos.
Aaiiieeee! It is Hedora!
Everybody's favorite smog monster was last seen battling Godzilla in the streets of Tokyo, circa 1971.
Thanks to volunteer shutterbug Coop, the family Christmas card photo. Thanks pal, you just saved us $29.95 at Olan Mills!
Coop's vivacious bride Ruth stopped by the studio and suggested a quick sightseeing trip through downtown L.A.'s Little Tokyo. There we met up with noted L.A. photography wiz Chris Haston and his daughter, who volunteered to lead the expedition. Did you know that pick-up-sticks was a major sport in Japan?
Just behind Ruth, the LAPD was taking some criminal horses in for booking.
Saw lots of awesome shops filled with ginchiest items of Japanese weirdness; Hawkspawn picked up a few Gundam models, and Hawkette a few Harajuku thingamabobs. But everybody's favorite seemed to be the Fugetsu-Do confection shop on 1st Street, which has been selling traditional Japanese candy for 105 years. We load up a few grocery sacks of mochi.
After saying farewell to Ruth and the Hastons we sauntered up to the Sunset Strip to see what was up. More Japanese weirdness!
The real occasion for the journey was for Hawkspawn to check out the vintage guitar room at Guitar Center Hollywood. The lad has been practicing his ass off, and we have a gentleman's agreement that when he reaches a certain level of proficiency he can get a big boy model. This is where we have a slight disagreement: to him, this means the solid gold 1957 Les Paul with moon rock inlays that JFK was playing in the Dealey Plaza motorcade. I gently reminded him that it would be difficult to keep a guitar that cost 4 times more than our trailer home, and besides, he's really not that good anyway. He took it pretty well since I let him pluck on a few of those expensive jobbies when the store guys weren't looking, and we got to see some guitar god handprints out front.
Battled through another late afternoon traffic jam to the Coop estate for cocktails, from where we all headed to Hollywood's oldest restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill. Coop and Ruth have been holding court here every Thursday night for the last 10 years, from the same reserved booth that was once the purview of Orson Welles.
The insides ooze old Hollywood, and remains a low key hangout for movie and TV people. The only recognizable face we saw that night was former SNL guy Chris Parnell, but Sergio (the same waiter who has been serving the Coops for 10+ years) proudly showed us his photo album of himself and Johnny Depp.
M&F's old school fare is deliciously heavy on the meat 'n' taters. When in Rome, as they say, so I order the Chopped Steak a la Sergio and the Potatoes a la Coop (both actual menu items). Vegetarian Hawkette opts for the vegetable plate - with lima beans. How many restaurants still offer lima beans?
In the parking lot, Hawkspawn spots a Ferrari 430 and attempts a pantomime hotwiring. Coop leaves it with a lick mark. Back to the Coop estate for a nightcap, and adjourn to the hotel.
Friday, July 25: It's Long Beach Day! We wend our way down the 405 to "Iowa by the Sea" for a little exploring when we spot a familiar sight:
First LB stop was the Queen Mary, which seemed a bit down-at-the-heels for a such a regal name. What's that creeping up alongside?
What the... we're under attack from the Rooskies!
Holy shnikeys... my own kid, a Bolshevik traitor! I should have guessed it from her band name. Forgive me, America!
Jesse wasn't in town but we got a good peek at some of the shop's neater conversation pieces. This Chebby was a group effort of, among others, Bill Hines, Gene Winfield, and Norm Grabowski.
This Humvee sports a blown rear engine BBC, can do wheelies all day long, and was mostly built in Iraq with help from US Army motor pool personnel.
Back north up the coast, through Palos Verdes, where we stopped at the Wayfarer's Chapel, a neat little piece of Modernist architecture overlooking the Pacific. We couldn't go in because a memorial service was taking place.
Taking this shot, we heard "Halt! Halt!"
Looked around and saw a security guard running after Hawkspawn, who was oblivious to the guard's orders due to the iPod glued to his ears. Hawkspawn had accidentally trespassed onto the funeral service and the rentacop was closing in fast. I snagged him and we hauled ass out of there, narrowly avoiding another conviction on his juvie rap sheet.
Next stop was back in LA at Coco's, the delightful bicycle / vintage variety shop belonging to our friend Mister Jalopy. As luck would have it Mister Jalopy was in, in the back shop with Drew Peitsch (an acquaintance of ours from Bonneville Speed Week) and another fellow Jalopy introduced as "Rye." As always, Jalopy's inventory of awe-inspiring garage sale finds left me green with envy. Check out the Indian and Chinese bicycles, vintage Indianapolis wheels, and biker jacket. The book is the 1967 directory for Bakersfield. If you look close the red silk bookmark bears the logo of Mosrite Guitars (made in Bakersfield at the time) and open page lists under "HAGGARD":
MERLE (BONNIE M) ENTERTAINER H924 HIGHMOORE AV
A similar listing in there later for OWENS, BUCK. Pretty darn neato right there I say.
Unfortunately our time with Mister Jalopy was brief, as he was on his way to the Mojave Desert with his other guest Rye for some sort of project that they described as involving music. As he escorted us back upstairs Jalopy said, "oh, by the way, that's Ry Cooder."
Aspiring guitarist Hawkspawn was duly stunned. Perty darn neato again.
Afterwards we putted over to Burbank to browse the stacks at Autobooks, where we saw maybe the world's coolest vintage (mid-50's?) go-kart. Power was via an ironically English-made JAP engine, with a two speed trans, 8-bar torsion suspension, rack & pinion, and real Hallibrand magnesiums on each corner. Not really a go-kart, prolly a quarter midget that once sported a mini sprint car body. Nonetheless pretty ginchy, and for sale.
Suppertime, and we headed over to Bob's Big Boy Toluca Lake to meet our buddy Gale Banks for double decker burgers and to take in some of the venerable Friday night cruise action.
Hot damn, it isn't everyday you spot a 300SL Gullwing at the local drive in.
Nor one of these -- a 427 Cobra true factory competition, one of 21.
Nice pair of '48 Fords: F-1 and coupe.
Banks strolls by the '57 Ford Fairlane, in my book superior to the '57 Chevy Bel Air. I'm a sucker for these, as my old man used to race his after the service.
Paint on this Chevybomb was about two miles deep.
Bellflower style '59 El Camino, with Supremes and flake roof. Mmmm, come to papa.
After dinner it was finally dark and we finally had our chance to see all those badass cars as God intended it -- under perfect neon.
Time for shuteye, tomorrow is big.