On Sunday I ventured to LA via train to check out the Corporation Food Hall downtown at 724 S. Spring St. It opened last fall. Ordering lunch at South City Fried Chicken, I came across a situation that was brand new to me. As I tried to hand over a 20 and two 1s, the employee said apologetically, “We don’t take cash. We only take cards, sorry.”
They use the Square payment system. (I use the tiny version that connects to a phone to process card payments for my books.) I handed over my credit card and left with just as much cash in my pocket as when I arrived.
Unless I’m forgetting some previous incident, this seems to be the first time my cash was no good somewhere. I don’t know if any of the other half-dozen food vendors at the food hall take greenbacks, as my sandwich and fries were all I needed (for the rest of the day, in fact).
It makes a certain kind of sense: Most of their hip clientele probably routinely pays for everything with plastic, and then there’s no fear of robbery, or the need to run to the bank for a deposit or change. There may be those who don’t have a debit or credit card, for one reason or another, and yet might like a sandwich or cold drink, though.
I still tend to pay with cash for modest purchases. Have you met up with a card-only situation anywhere? How do you feel about it?
I journeyed to L.A. to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Cinerama Dome. My mind was blown. I write about it in Friday’s column.
Last September I wrote about the foods I tried during my vacation in Germany and the Czech Republic, among them the trdelnik, a pastry I ate in Prague. Two places in Southern California now sell them: one in downtown LA, the other in Anaheim. I hit the road and visit them both for Sunday’s column.
I made a special trip to the Bob’s Broiler in Downey — a classic coffee shop that the Bob’s Big Boy chain rescued — for lunch recently, and got not only a good experience but a Wednesday column out of it. Now that’s satisfying.
Has anyone been there, or know Downey?
On a day off last week, I decided to try a popular restaurant in L.A. known for its long lines (and good food), Howlin’ Ray’s. I thought a weekday would have a shorter line. No such luck. But like with other ridiculous experiences, I thought, well, I can get a column out of this, so I’ll tough it out. The result makes up Wednesday’s column. (Print readers, bless their hearts, will miss out on the tweets embedded in or hyperlinked from the online version.)
A long-lived reader tells me about working for the famous Hollywood theater, Grauman’s Chinese, in 1944 as a young woman. Also: What is the Claremont connection behind the My Lai massacre? Plus Culture Corner items and more, all in Friday’s column.
I met Grauman’s Chinese Theatre fan Kurt Wahlner in Pomona in January for the neon dragon christening. We had a nice chat, aided by the tidbit that a lot of the research on his graumanschinese.org website was done at the Pomona Public Library (long may it wave).
I took his photo by the neon dragon, thinking he might make a good column. Upon further reflection, meeting him at Grauman’s itself seemed like a better photo opp and a chance to go into more depth on the subject. And so, Wahlner and his website are the subject of Sunday’s column.
The first and only film I saw at the theater was 1996’s “Independence Day,” when my parents were in town on vacation. (According to Wahlner’s site, it played five weeks.) I meant to mention that in the column but forgot. So I definitely needed a refresher on the theater, which my meet-up with Wahlner provided.
In 2001, artist Richard Ankrom took it upon himself to fix a Caltrans sign over the 110 Freeway. The agency didn’t catch on. (Courtesy photo)
Remember how I watched two artists work on restoration of a neon dragon from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in a Pomona warehouse? (If not: read about it here.) One of them had a great backstory, a piece of modern L.A. lore involving a one-man fix to a troublesome freeway sign. The story has been documented many times, but it seemed worth revisiting because the perpetrator was right there in front of me, and because it’s so awesome. I set the story aside to run during the dead period of Christmas to New Year’s, where it occupies Wednesday’s column.
I took in the buzzed-about opera version of “The War of the Worlds,” which used parking lots, air raid sirens and Disney Hall in an unusual, fun production at multiple sites. I write about it in Friday’s column. Watch the skies!
I’d never been to the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia until October, when a friend and I met up there after years of idle talk. We met shortly after the 9 a.m. opening on a Saturday that promised to hit triple digits and did by the time we left around noon.
In the meantime, we paid our $9 admissions and wandered portions of the 127-acre grounds. The Arboretum was established in 1948 on Lucky Baldwin’s old spread. Paved paths wind past trees, flowers and native plants, as well as a pond and the Queen Anne home, formerly Baldwin’s, that became famous due to TV’s “Fantasy Island.” Baldwin also imported Australian peafowl. Descendants roam as well, a fun sight even if none displayed its colors for us.