Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Being a Tourist in Los Angeles

Our son Michael had the day off today so we decided to have last full day together before I go back to Catania next week...

Time to once again be...
"A Tourist in Your Own Town"!

But First... Dick Bellman and Betty Bright
Seen here at a holiday get together in December of 2007 

It IS the second Monday of the month, so at 8:00 a.m., a group of retired educators from Rio Mesa H.S. held our monthly meeting to catch up on each others lives.

Dick spearheads this monthly breakfast at Camarillo's "Eggs and Things" restaurant.  We purposely convene at this hour because we know that many of our former teaching pals are just starting their new work week at this hour... SWEET!

The big news of the day was that Betty Bright got engaged during the holidays to her long time beau Al Martinez.  Two REALLY nice people, they plan to get hitched in April.

After a light breakfast, well, light for me at least, I picked up Michael and we started our trek to L.A. just in time to come upon a BAD accident on the Ventura Freeway that closed down the road in both directions for 30 minutes!

By the time we got to downtown Los Angeles it was about 12:30 p.m. and Michael had not eaten yet so we just HAD to find him some sustenance!

Pink's Hot Dogs
709 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

A Los Angeles gastronomic landmark since 1939, I have forever heard of Pink's but had never consumed one... until today!

But Which One?

It turned out that Pink's has a rather extensive menu

"Two Brooklyn Pastrami-Swiss Cheese Dogs, Please."

"Oh, and we'd like two Cream Sodas to go with that also, thank you."

Fully sated, we realized that we were only about 10 minutes from one of the newest high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District which is of much interest to our family.

The Miguel Contreras Learning Center

Michael poses in front of the MCLC's gymnasium.  The high school is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and is named after a deceased American labor leader with strong ties to the United Farm Workers Union made famous by Caesar Chavez.

The Athletic Home of the Contreras Cobras!

No water in their impressive Olympic sized pool and a dirt track that only measures 390 meters, not the standard 400 meters but they have Field Turf and nice stands.

The Inaugural Contreras Cobra
Football Team

You HAVE to love their choice of helmet design, I know I do!!!

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Next up, CULTURE as we spent a few hours at LACMA.

From the American Art Exhibit

Post World War I German Poster Art

This reminds me, Laurie and I need to be sure that all of our shots are up to date before we go to Sicily.

This looked INTERESTING...

They use VERY harsh measures here if you commit a stupid penalty.

And I thought the old Fontana H.S. "Slap" was extreme...

Superman vs. Montezuma

In the Latin American Art section, you would think that the Aztec King would have learned to pick his battles a little better after that skirmish with Cortes.

1925, Diego Rivera's "Flower Day"

"Lux Sit"

The Textures of LACMA

Culture makes me hungry, how about you?

Canter's Fairfax Restaurant,
Delicatessen, Bakery and
Kibitz Room Bar
419 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Opened in 1931 in the Boyle Heights area (East L.A.), Canter's moved to its current Fairfax location in 1953.  The Fairfax district is the heart of the Jewish community in Los Angeles, where else would you want your deli?.

When they were still in Boyle Heights my Mom and Dad would often go there for their great pastrami sandwiches.  Who are we to stop this family tradition now that they have moved?

It should be noted that in their famous Kibitz Room Bar, I once saw Rio Mesa H.S. counselor Paul Johnson once play in a band.  Slash from Guns and Roses has played in this very room over the years as well!
And I thought Pink's had a large menu...

Michael tries a Chocolate Egg Cream,
Supposedly Jewish Mafia Leader,
Meyer Lansky's
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage

It was damn good!

Is it possible to have too much pastrami in one day?

Across the street from Canter's is an old time, open air news stand.

These precursors to Border's and the like, are now rare but they used to be all over the landscape of Los Angeles.  I can remember going with my Dad at night after he got home from work and driving to one to see what was new in print.

My favorite one is still open in Hollywood across from Micheli's Italian Restaurant on Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood.  It was right around the corner of the Egyptian Theater where we saw "Ben Hur" in 1958.  What a movie, what a venue!

What a GREAT day, soaking up the old home town with Michael before going back to Sicily!


amada said...

Hello: This message is for George Michael Contreras from Amada Ruiz de Villa. I left a post on a previous blog, please search your older blogs. You may be my first cousin from San Marino, California. If so , I am your first cousin from Cuba who spent time with you and your famili during the summers of the 60's. I would like to get in touch with you and I am sending my email address. adevilla@mac.com

George said...

One and the same, Amadita it IS indeed me, your long lost cousin!

I'll e-mail you today.

I am SO glad that Al Gore invented the internet!

Lyndsey McKenzie said...

Pink's sure is fantastic!

George said...


I can't argue this point at all!