See a sandwich dance and sing and more at my LIVE SHOW in LA on THE 21st night of SEPTEMBER (and 22!) http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/258274 NOW!
Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ the Day – A zillion trillion PHOTOS from my sold out Super Ball Bounce Back Review concerts!!
On May 8 and 9, 2012 I had one of the greatest experiences of my career performing my Super Ball Bounce Back Review at King King in Hollywood. It not only was only the second and third performances I’d done since jumping off the stage in the middle of my own show in 1974, but was an attempted – and I’m happy to say TOTALLY TRIUMPHANT – comeback after one of the worst experiences of my career seven months before when 90% of the technology my first attempted comeback show was dependent on failed. But I knew that I had to get back up and practice what I preach: From some of the worst situations come the greatest miracles and I had proven to myself time and time again that, if nothing else, I was someone who had the courage to make lemonade out of big, fat lemons.
So I’m happy to report that I have risen from the ashes and had two of the greatest nights of my life bouncing back as a performer in a major way. I can’t thank everyone who came enough. And I can’t thank everyone who worked with me on the show enough.
So I leave you with a whole lotta photos from both nights, videos to come and a big, loud Badeya-say-do-you-remember there never has to be a cloudy day as long as you have sunshine inside. ENOY THE SHOW!!
If you’re just jumping aboard The Wienermobile, please exit through the rear and check out Part 1 of my adventure with Susan Olsen,a.k.a. Cindy Brady, and Charles Phoenix, without which Part 2 lacks context. Wagging the tail without the (hot) dog as it were.
Now, assuming you’ve fully digested part 1, join us aboard the Wienermobile as we head east from the Brady Bunch house…
…to another iconic wiener in the neighborhood, Larry’s.
The Wienermobile ate up quite a lot of real estate in this four- table parking lot eatery.
So we turned the vehicular wiener towards another vintage hot dog-related gem a few blocks away:
Isn’t this where you would go if you were a hot dog?
We knew Chili John’s has very early hours but we jumped out anyway, praying the chili palace still might be open:
If you haven’t been to this place, spit out your food and head there now. It’s as authentic as the day it was born in 1941:
The counter is (perfectly and beautifully) makes up the entire restaurant.
You can see the handpainted mural that runs the length of the restaurant better in this shot with Charles:
Up close it’s apparent that the artist, Mr. Chili John himself, captured each and every crevice of the exploding Vesuvius terrain as possible. Perhaps this was to illustrate the constant lava-like flow of chili that runs through his namesake establishment daily.
While we were there, there was an incredible photo opp for The Wienermobile:
With hot dogs and chili under our belts, it was time to move on to burgers. Very few food symbols are as iconic as The Wienermobile, but surely the Big Boy at Bob’s a few blocks away on Riverside has an equal place on the mountaintop.
The sheer magnitude of these two sculptural icons together was overwhelming for kitsch lovers such as ourselves.
So we took lots of photos:
But, alas, the sun was starting to set and there was one place we knew we had to hit while The Wienermobile was still under our control:
The Circus Liquor neon clown, on Burbank Blvd. just west of Chili John’s, has been in countless movies and tv shows, not to mention I’ve dropped coin in there every time I need a bottle of anything, just so I can visit the clown.
The height of the Wienermobile was an INSANELY perfect fit. If only the clown were permanently mounted on top of it.
With the evening approaching fast we headed back to Willis Wonderland,…
…already upset that our Wienermobile afternoon would soon be but a memory, albeit one grilled into our braincells forever.
When we dislodged from The Wienermobile we got some parting gifts:
Some Wienermobile whistles, some of which were glow-in-the-dark, a plush toy Wienermobile, as well as this larger plastic one:
It was like we had all been dropped out of a time capsule. I’m someone who likes to have a good time but once I’m done with an activity I gotta clear the house and get back to work. But it was as if we all knew that when we separated we would somehow have to settle back into reality, hopefully just little bitty pieces at a time, that’s how strong the magnetic pull of the Wienermobile was for all of us. So was only natural we sat down to a hot dog dinner to extend the wiener coma we were all in.
The dogs were cooked, as I said in part 1, on my newly acquired 1958 golf ball barbecue:
It was comforting to have such statuary in the yard, softening the blow of the departed Wienermobile as it disappeared into the night.
Thank you, Hot Doggers Traci and Yoli. You drove the Wienermobile like it was a delicate little Smart Car and put up with three drooling adults for longer than anyone deserves to be in ecstasy.
And thank you, Mark Blackwell, for documenting the trip, and I mean Trip.
Susan, Charles and myself are forever grateful to have such a childhood and adult dream fulfilled, especially one that provided such insanely magnificent photo opps.
And we are grateful for the joy of celebrating a junk food that was a building block of nutrition throughout most of our lifetimes. Truth be told, although it has killed me, the foolishness of subsisting exclusively on such foodstuffs is starting to be rectified in my old age. But even Martha Stewart enjoys munching on a good wiener every now and then.
The Wienermobile experience was pretty heavy.
But alas, all things must end.
We love you, Wienermobile. Until we meet again…
I’ve only waited a lifetime for a ride in the famed Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and last Wednesday, December 14, my dream came true!! Susan Olsen, a.k.a. Cindy Brady, the youngest of the B. Bunch, Charles Phoenix, Mark Blackwell and I hopped aboard and rode the wiener to some of our favorite kitsch spots in the San Fernando Valley. When one is onboard such a vehicle, photo opps are not to be missed!
It’s hard to look bad in a photo with The Wienermobile. So there’s going to be A LOT of them in this post, probably enough to serialize the adventure so check back later in the week or beginning of next for more. With that in mind I’ll start slowly, like how we all color-coordinated to look as fabulous against the backdrop of the transportational hot dog as possible. I threw my outfit together last minute but was happy with my choices, picking up all the essential colors of hot dogs, mustard, relish and mayo.
Here’s a closer look at my vintage Legionnaires shirt, made from that kind of expensive 1950’s satin that feels like you’re going down a cashmere slide:
I know there’s no Oscar Mayer at KFC but it was the closest thematically of any shoulder bag I had. My T-shirt was much more on the nose…
… as were my shoes:
The first thing I did once I was dressed was to roast some wienies. It gave me a perfect excuse to test out my recently acquired 1958 golfball barbecue:
I cooked up sixteen dogs so we could stuff ourselves throughout the day. Here’s the first one, literally, on the grill:
First to arrive at Willis Wonderland for our big wiener ride was Mark, who documented us throughout the wiener day:
Next was Susan, appropriately dressed in wiener red:
And then Charles arrived, dressed in a dead-ringer Wienermobile matching suit and carrying a banner bearing our favorite brand’s namesake.
This also doubled as a fashionable cape.
It’s obvious we all passed the color test:
We took many such proof-of-concept photos:
There are so many obvious ways one wants to pose against such a stunning background:
When the Wienermobile first pulled up I wept with joy. I had forever envisioned it in my driveway. Alas, the wiener was too plump to actually fit so it rested nicely in front until we boarded.
Before stepping into the vehicular hot dog we ran inside for a quick wiener ingestion:
They don’t actually serve food in the Wienermobile so we brought the leftovers with us. But we were so excited to finally board the hot dog we had all been dreaming about since we were born that we forgot and left them on top of my car:
Our Hotdoggers, college interns who serve a full year driving the wiener wondermobile, were Yoli Bologna and Tailgatin’ Traci:
You could literally hear an audible gasp from each of us as we entered the Wienermobile for the first time.
It’s got six seats, a mustard floor,…
… an appropriate floor mat…
… and a sky roof.
The seats were LITERALLY the most comfy car seat any of us had ever sat in. Plush yet solid, with armrests that made you feel like you were waiting in a highchair for a jar of hot dog baby food. We didn’t stop yapping about them the entire afternoon.
We especially loved the embroidered Wienermobile on the back of each seat.
None of us could figure out if the hot dogs on the dash had any purpose other than an as an exceptional decorative touch.
We thought we only had a half hour in the Wienermobile so we headed to Ventura Blvd., the street where we thought there’d be the most foot traffic so we could wave to the masses like beauty queens on a float. Charles mentioned that the real Brady Bunch house, the one used for the exterior shot that pops up in every episode, was probably only blocks away. Not only did I have no idea it was in the hood but Susan – an actual Brady – said she had never even seen it herself! How could this be??! Cindy-I-mean-Susan explained that as a wee star she couldn’t compute that a house that was clearly two stories…
…was in reality only one.
So the Wienermobile, a deceptibly agile vehicle, whipped a U-ie and headed east toward Dillon St. As the top of the A-frame house poked into sight we started going nuts.
And we SO weren’t the only ones. There were already some sightseers there, dying that not only were they at the Brady house but now the Wienermobile had entered the picture AND a real Brady emerged out of it! Only God could have put a blessed tourist here at this moment.
Needless to say, we took a lot of photos.
With Susan’s 35 year identity crisis rectified, our Hotdoggers, Yoli and Tracy, told us we could drive around for as long as we wanted.
Elated, we immediately discussed iconic snack food related establishments in the immediate area to best frame us and the Wienermobile. First we headed to a hot dog,:
followed by some chili,…
… a hamburger,…
…and a little something to wash it all down with.
But, alas… I have Christmas shopping to do, three song deadlines to hit, an outline overdue for my new live show, a contract to read, a cat scratcher turntable to assemble, a portrait commission to paint, a bunch of publishing crap to get together, not to mention that I’m supposed to be on vacation in sunny Monterey. So Part 2 of our Wienermobile adventures will appear in a few days.
Until then, eat lots of hot dogs as you kick off the holiday season!
Proceed to Part 2
Bright and early the weekend before Thanksgiving Prudence Fenton and I hopped in the mustache van and drove up the coast to San Luis Obispo.
If you’ve never been to The Madonna Inn there, drive, fly, walk, bike, whatever mode of transportation it takes, and go there NOW!
I don’t care where you’ve been to see your architectural kitsch, this is one stop shopping of infinitesimal magnitude. I’ve blogged about this place many a time before but one post, even a hundred, could never cover the staggering detail present on the 2200 acres that appear mirage-like on the side of the 101 freeway.
The whole place was designed by this guy…
…. for this lady:
Alex Madonna, a construction magnate and entrepreneur who among other things built the section of the 101 the Inn sits next to, built this palace in 1958. These portraits of Alex and his wife Phyllis’ hang right outside the main dining room.
You need a closer look at that mother of all grape lamps in between them. Eight feet of barrel and the most magnificent assemblage of resin grape clusters anywhere:
This hangs right across the cave from this stairway, one of the subtler ones at The Madonna Inn:
Every time I drive up north taking the 101, I stop at The Madonna Inn to eat. Usually I’m in a hurry and just have time to hit the coffee shop. By the way, coffee always tastes better when the sugar is in one of these two forms, available only here:
The pink crystals and rock formations look especially good on the all copper counter and tabletops…
…which are surrounded by all copper decorative trim…
…which makes sense as this is the name of the coffee shop:
But if I’m not in a hurry to get where I’m going I try to park myself in the main dining room, The Gold Rush Steakhouse. I think you can see why:
Here’s another reason:
That’s one big ol’ slab o’ beef! As an animal lover I don’t like to think about this but the beef is grown mere feet from the restaurant. Here I am posing at midnight with the subject of my meal:
I always love a restaurant that starts you off with a relish plate:
Far from the usual celery and carrots and olives, this one has salami and a big brick of cheese thrown on top. Also thrown in for my birthday festivities was Nancye Ferguson, who drove up to join us.
When it’s your birthday at the Madonna Inn your table is marked with a balloon:
Tables with balloons get free cake for dessert:
I had seen the 9″ high pink champagne cakes in the coffeeshop earlier…
So I got a big hunk of it:
Cake always tastes better when it matches the decor.
It’s even better when the decor is decorated for Christmas.
At this time of year, any place there’s room to stick a Christmas tree at The Madonna Inn there is one:
Angles guard over every table:
Some of the most famous rooms at the Madonna Inn are the bathrooms. The most famous is the men’s room. I finally got the balls to sneak in with Jim Burns, a.k.a. Sgt. Frank Woods in Call Of Duty-Black Ops, who also joined us.
Although the giant clam shell sinks are fantastic…
…the legendary waterfall urinal is the main attraction:
Though sans waterfall, the ladies room next door has its own unique charm:
In another bathroom off of the coffeeshop, little girls get their props. You can’t tell the scale from this photo but the toilet is teeny tiny tot sized…
…and matches the mini little girl sink in the middle of the big gal facilities:
All of this pales next to the bathroom in The Madonna Suite, where I tended to the needs of my roast-beef-sugared-champagne-caked body.
Here’s a little closer look at the sink, though it’s hard to see detail amidst all the rock. Water trickles down all the troughs dug out of the rock.
A full tour of The Madonna Suite tomorrow…
I’m pretty religious about celebrating one’s birthday all day from the strike of midnight through the next 24. Years that I haven’t observed this rule I’ve been miserable. If I’m stuck working I don’t concentrate on the work anyway, too resentful that I didn’t stick to what I had laid down. This year, my festivities are taking place a week late at my favorite place on earth, The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, with the little group I spend each and every birthday with, some of whom joined me on my big night last Thursday at Bar Marmont.
That was just the little hamburger teaser so the day itself, November 10, would not go un-celebrated. But Bar Marmont didn’t happen until 9 PM. so there were many hours to fill with birthday escapedom building up to it. So I spent the day tooling through East LA and beyond photographing my favorite vintage and kitsch spots, eating tacos and picking up treasures at every 98, 99 and dollar store I could find. On my way, I passed many signs like this:
I love handpainted beauty salon signs. Especially because of the portraits, featuring ‘Familiar’ hairstyles of decades gone by, evidently still sculpted inside, and very macho looking men.
I love how massive the male’s head is on this next sign compared to the diminutive female’s that’s sporting the illegitimate hairstyle child of Jane Fonda circa 1967 and me for the last 2 1/2 decades:
Even more than bad art on beauty salon signs I love when a nice Grecian pillar holds up nothing:
Especially if the windows around it lead to nothing but brick.
Windows aren’t the only thing I like painted on walls:
A nice ghoulish girl in the middle of a desert dressed in trashy lingerie sucking on a can of beer is nice too. And I always love a nice family painted on windows. This one kills me because look how perfectly the actual table outside fits in with the grill that silicon-injected mama is cooking on for her family in the mural:
I think you need a closer look at silicon-injected mama. Of course, her upper torso hogs all the attention but can we discuss the size of her thighs and how, if her entire body were painted, she would be 14 feet tall?
It’s always a nice touch when something that should be one word is split up into two. Especially if one of the syllables is ‘high’ and it’s painted to preserve symmetry so that one enters the mar-ket.
I love when letters are missing from signs:
One doesn’t have to look far to discover the mystery here. What’s missing from church is a ‘u’.
One of my favorite genres of signs are these 1950’s style ones on a stylus that contain many different signs to make up one master one.
This one is very faded but I love motels so much that I always like when each letter earns its own space:
In its heyday, this one must’ve been a killer:
And I always love when these sectioned signs end up in a 1960 cascade of lights at the top:
I agree that softserve ice cream is important enough to cap off this honey:
Of course, when a sign is carved into the shape of what it is that they’re selling inside it always gets extra points:
But perhaps no sign has had a more pervasive effect on the American culture and landscape than this:
The very first McDonald’s in the world, built in 1953 and featuring Speedee the Chef, is still standing and serving today in Downey, CA.
I don’t know what this structure is hidden behind the fence right next to it but I’m hoping it was some kind of gas station where burger-chompers could fill up their tanks and ingest fumes from the gorgeous 1950’s chariots they were being served in.
Now here’s something I would love to get my hands on. I’m sure Norms was no competition for the almighty McDonald’s just a block away, but this little Dutch-gone-Atomic structure with the big saltshaker tower in the middle was probably what I would have steered toward if given the option back in the day:
I passed a ton of stunning and thankfully still standing architecture on my drive, like this old movie theater very close to the ch rch a few photos back.
The new slapped-on colors are oh so wrong and it’s a shame that a construction company inhabits this instead of a projector and an incredible candy counter, but at least all the details have been preserved
I’m incredibly partial to Deco architecture because I live in such a structure. That these two buildings are still standing on Soto Street is a wonder of anti-wrecking ball nature:
Just as impressive as gorgeous architecture is gorgeous foliage, especially when carved into the shape of what the architecture holds inside.
I’m not sure if the Del Rio Lanes in Downey is new or old. Although the architecture screams 1950s, the paint looks brand spanking new, refurbished in a way that a Marge’s or Ruby’s diner looks old but is inescapably and cheesily retro new.
The sign looks like the real thing but then there’s something again about the way it’s painted that makes me think otherwise:
None of that really matters to me because they have the good sense to keep the bushes appropriately trimmed:
When it comes to appropriate landscaping. There’s nothing I like better than a nice burger, fries and a coke up on the roof:
I’m not sure why the hot dogs escaped sculptural interpretation…
…but they make an excellent roofline nonetheless:
Last but certainly not least, I love a company that sells one thing but moves into a building that represents an entirely different thing in the same genre. This is where I’d want to go if I was interested in cement blocks as a fence, not chain-link.
Even better, what does the elephant have to do with anything??
Perhaps it’s there to remind me that elephants have extraordinary memories, and that I should always remember what a blessed life I have in that I understand that all these things that have crossed my eyeballs through all these years are gifts to make me smile and remember that one thing I love about life so much is that people get to express themselves in all different ways. And most of them make me happy. Which is a nice thing to experience every day but especially on your birthday.
Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – My Sunday Drive With Charles Phoenix – In and Around Inglewood, CA.
If you’ve got the good taste to be a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I enjoy my Sunday drives with Charles Phoenix. As much of a kitsch enthusiast and expert as myself, our trips occur at a higher level than just sightseeing. They’re fact-packed, full of junk and ethnic food, and meeting the people who create the great kitsch the first place. A couple of Sundays ago we headed down LaBrea towards LAX. I always love taking that route because we get to pass this building. Too far for me to go to get my clothes cleaned but I can never get enough of the color scheme or the atomically-poked cement blocks.
A couple miles down, after you swing right on Stocker heading toward La Tiera, we reach our first destination, the legendary Pann’s, coffeeshop extraordinaire that has blessedly escaped the dreaded wrecking ball that all too frequently swings around LA.
You can tell from the sign that this place is the real deal. At night, everything white lights up turquoise.
This has to be one of the longest continuous lunch counters left in LA. You can’t see a bunch of it in this photo but it’s that great tufted white leather that makes eating a cheeseburger while parked upon it even more pleasurable.
All of the light fixtures are original. The overhang isn’t bad either.
These long slim tube lights are directly across from the counter.
And these sconces pepper the rock walls.
I’m not going to say much more about Pann’s now as it deserves its own post. But I will say that we were there the day before Halloween and I always love a pumpkin whose features aren’t carved but drawn on.
Should you go to Pann’s, get the fried chicken.
And definitely top it off with this:
Upon exiting any restaurant it’s lipstick reload time. I also take any opportunity to get my 1950’s pizza purse into as many photos as possible.
Continuing on, Charles and I were too stuffed to partake of the treasures inside Randy’s.
So we headed down Crenshaw past this excellent 60’s building:
A closer look at the details:
This building a little east of Crenshaw isn’t bad either. Don’t miss the plaster boot kickin it on the facade.
After 63 years, Sparkling Cleaners finally closed. The sign has been picked dry…
…but the structure with that great rounded overhang and freestanding letters is still intact.
Churches aren’t supposed to discriminate:
Speaking of churches, one of the grandaddies in LA is the Academy, on Crenshaw and Manchester:
Designed in 1939 by S. Charles Lee, this is as original and beautiful today as the day it opened.
Original details like these still exist:
And that’s just outside. Taking photos inside is discouraged but I snuck this shot. The beauty outside is even more magnified inside.
Don’t start me on how much I want to do a show here. It’s purple, it’s Deco and it’s beyond soulful, the makings of a perfect stage for a future Soup to Nuts extravaganza.
For one last thrill-seek of the day Charles and I were tempted to hit this little honey parked right outside the church:
But no Randy’s meant that stomach contents had been held to the waterline. So we just headed back down Crenshaw and called it a (very good) day.
I’ve blogged about Riverside, CA before. I hit it at least once a year because my favorite soul food restaurant in the state is there.
You can read more details about Gram’s and see some incredible old vintage signs like this that are thankfully left standing in this post as well.
On a typical trip, I also try and hit all the thrift and secondhand shops that are further into town on Market Street once you hop off of the 60. But this was a very short trip, just to eat at Gram’s and see The Larry Dunn Orchestra, he formerly of Earth, Wind & Fire and who played keyboards on “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” for me at my recent Allee Willis Soup to Nuts live show.
So on this trip I just took a closer look at Market Street in the heart of downtown Riverside. I don’t know what this building was but the shimmering powder blue stone edifice is beyond gorgeous. I shudder to think what that construction fence around it means…
Here’s an excellent use of Chrysler-Imperial-as-awning. Perhaps I should do something like this with my 1955 Desoto Fireflyte:
Despite being a health food store now, The De Anza Theater is a still knockout:
The Mission Inn, a hotel built in 1876 and where the Reagans were married, is Riverside’s top historical landmark. But I’m much more interested in the topiary that tops the columns on the backside of the hotel. If you have any idea what this is let me know. They’re all over the place.
I’m guessing this one is a boxing pig:
A little further out on Market, there’s a little time-warp street that intersects it, right before the secondhand shops start.
I know this foot establishment isn’t vintage but I can never resist a name like this:
Leaving the street for a moment, I’ve never seen a Bereavement Center inside a thriftshop before but such is the case at the Goodwill at the top of the block:
Just a hop down the 91 in Corona is this excellence in architecture and signage. Though I would imagine that any Greek might be mystified that a restaurant representing that heritage would feature roast beef and quesadillas.
I always love a good trailer park…
… especially one featuring a curved wall of cutout Atomic cement block.
I love that two trains form the wings of this building. Too bad it’s not a diner and is wasted on a driving school.
I also can never resist the charm of a nice porta-potty in the front yeard. I love the elegant door on this one, as if that makes it more acceptable to be plopped where it is.
I could have used that facility at the point in the drive I was. Luckily I made it back to the hotel and up in the elevator before duty called.
Be back soon, Riverside.
Although when I was in Boston the week before last for the fluffilectable Fluff Festival, all I did was participate in all things Fluff, I did manage to get in an hour of sightseeing, at least the only kind of sightseeing I’m interested in, which is looking for the best and most kitschtastic signs and edifices a city has to offer. I nearly lost my choppers when I came across the Hilltop Steakhouse on Route 1 outside of Boston. This place was so astounding – from this greatest sign I’ve ever seen, at least 40 feet high and I can’t even imagine what it looks like it night, to the herd of plastic cows grazing outside – that I’m going to give it its own post. I’m shooting for tomorrow but with all the work I still have to get done for my grand performance on the 18th, only time will tell when I’ll actually get that done. But trust me, it’s coming.
Of course, whenever a name has “hilltop” in it and it’s not on a hill, not to mention that it’s sitting on the side of a flat freeway, it’s astounding kitsch time.
I don’t care where it’s located, any pizza place with a leaning tower is where I’m going to munch Italian. That it’s next door to Giggles makes it even better.
I love when plaster flags that are constructed in “blow” motion.
I also love vintage stacked signs like this:
“Cocktail Lounge” and a working clock make it even better. That John Sebastion is performing at a Chinese restaurant, even better. But best of all is the massive hunk of the Kowloon itself:
Giant tiki = giant kitsch. If I ever Fluff it up again, I’m going to see if the portions inside loom as large.
You can’t really appreciate this next sign, especially blocked by that pole. But 15 feet of sake can’t be bad.
I love, love, love the Dairy Castle, miniature golf and baseball compound sign, all structures and features of which it beckons you to seemingly untouched since the 1960’s:
This angle is great:
You can spot a rocket ship, dinosaur and this happy Humpty facing the highway from the golf course:
Other than vegetarians, who doesn’t like hot dog signs, especially when an attempt is made at mustard and toppings, and it’s been boiling since 1958?
The Karl’s building is pretty great too, almost as if they couldn’t decide on the exact style of architecture they were going for so they went for everything. Though 1950’s and 60’s are most predominant in the house.
And last but not least, Ferns, where you’re lucky if you can get the “new room” – only one? – and a Whir Poo. Though I don’t think I want to participate in anything Poo happening in a motel.
Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – My Saturday Drive/Food Fest With Charles Phoenix – Torrance and Inglewood, CA.
As we are oft to do, Charles Phoenix and I took another one of our kitsch spins around LA and environs this past weekend. We were dressed smartly for the occassion, at least from the ankles down:
Our first stop was at Johnnies Pastrami on Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City:
Johnnies hasn’t changed a lick since it was built in 1952. Counter, stools, booths, jukebox, etc. are all original.
This was confirmed by the man himself, Bob Bass, who built and still owns Johnnies, and who has eaten lunch at his regular table every day since.
I’ve always loved restaurants that park a loaded pickle bowl before you as soon as you sit down.
Charles and I pondered the menu.
But I always go for the same thing, the 1950’s-grilled-to-soda-shop-perfection cheeseburger:
The french fries snap when you sink your choppers into them.
The cole slaw, eternally shredded a tad long, drips with creamy sweetness.
Charles and I were perfectly positioned behind the pie rack.
And although we stared at the bulging slices throughout the meal…
…we had to save room as we always make a donut shop stop on our driving trips.
Circus donuts are good…
…but I much prefer Spudnuts. Which makes sense as judging from the drink station, I think lottery tickets may be bigger business for Circus than donuts.
Next we went deeper into Torrance and hit King’s Hawaiian Bakery on Sepulveda. King’s is not only spectacular for the entrance to the dining room…
… but because of what we go there to buy.
Here I am experiencing a moment of panic upon seeing empty shelves.
You would be too if you knew this was what was inside of the packages we were looking for.
Thankfully, we got the last six loafs of the Rainbow Butter Bread.
All day long we passed beautiful architecture:
I wish all Baskin Robbins still looked like this one on Crenshaw Blvd.:
Nothing great architecturally about this IHOP but it’s spectacular that a horse is used to sell pancakes.
Though I guess it makes as much sense as a bear selling wheel alignments:
There was much beautiful signage along the way.
Although not as dramatic as the previous photos, I always enjoy a sign that employs peculiar use of quote marks:
If “On The” are the two most important words you can spotlight about your burgers, I’m sticking to Johnnie’s. Also featuring two words is the name of this Thai joint:
What a great day! Dinner, thankfully, wasn’t until 10:30 pm.
Photo credits: Denny McLain and me.