End July 9 Column

A Week in LA

I took my annual sojourn down to La-La land last week. Arrived Sunday night and had to spend one night in a tacky joint on Pico, waiting for my room to open up at the Venice Beach House. If you like a bed and breakfast, and find the idea of staying feet from the beach and yards from both Washington and Pacific in Venice, West Los Angeles, then this is the perfect place for you. Friendly and quiet, they put out a fantastic breakfast spread (including eggs and meat!), and have a beautiful place (every bit as nice as the web site makes it seem) that includes (of course) high speed Internet access and lots of places to sit outside, both shady and sunny. It is small, so you may not be able to get in, but this is now my LA residence of choice. Every day I was there I took an hour-long walk on the beach before breakfast. Venice Beach is a great beach: clean, flat, and unbroken for several miles. Wow!

Monday morning, to the San Fernando Valley home of my friend and former colleague Jerry Pournelle. I have the honor of a place in his Chaos Manor column this month; he asked me my opinion of a device from Emerson that makes it easy to burn CDs from LPs. Of course I think this is a great idea! So, my opinion put him over the top. Jerry and I conduct wide-ranging discussions every time I come for a visit, although I suspect he is mildly disappointed that someone as intelligent as myself can still be a liberal. That's OK, I feel the same way about his conservatism. We also walk; sometimes to take his dogs up in the hills behind his house, but always from his house to the Good Earth restaurant, where there is literally nothing on the menu that's really bad for me. We went out for ribs once, but apparently he likes me enough to keep me from doing that to myself again.

Dinner with Neal Vitale, frequent contributor to this column, who took me to Catch, a restaurant in a seaside hotel located at the intersection of Pico and the ocean. Beautiful old hotel, fantastic fresh seafood, and, of course, a lovely view of the ocean. With Neal, of course, it is never about the food or the restaurant, it is about the conversation. True, really, of all the people I dine with in LA.

Tuesday, I devoted myself to preparing for, then taking, the audition test for the forthcoming game show (it starts airing Sept. 10), "Merv Griffen's Crosswords." I'm in the contestant pool; you can be too.

Merv Griffin has a new game show!

Merv Griffin's Crosswords is gearing up and we need some fast thinkers! Win cash and trips! If you live in the greater Los Angeles area or are planning a trip out here and want to be on the show, please email:
[email protected] or call the contestant department at: (323) 762-8282. We love crossword aficionados, so give us a call!

Dinner with old family friends N and C in Manhattan Beach, at their favorite neighborhood restaurant. A pleasure to see them as always, and to swap stories with them of our daughters, born just a few days apart in the same hospital in Berkeley.

Wednesday was consumed by business--in particular taking care of some family business. That took all day. Dinner with an email friend, C, who runs an Internet comedy web site that I have contributed to for 10 years. He is a gas, and a great deal of fun to talk to and dine with. He took me to Taylor's Steak House in West LA. I got prime rib, which I love.

Finally, on Thursday, I had a five-mile walk with J, a friend of mine who teaches at USC; I am a contributor to his web site. I got to spend some time in his beautiful home and his fantastic garden, and then we walked to and ate in the same restaurant in downtown Redondo Beach we always eat in, which is fine with me, creature of habit that I am. Intellectually, I know the only constant is change. Emotionally, I hate change.

I am so grateful that Vicki allows me the time, space, and expense of a week in LA every summer. I have good friends there, and I like staying in touch.