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People and Events

<i> From staff and wire reports</i>

Phoenix disc jockeys Glenn Beck and Tim Hattrick are mindful of the George Strait song lyric about a Los Angeles earthquake creating “oceanfront property in Arizona.” And they’re trying to do their part to increase land values in the Grand Canyon State.

Beck and Hattrick held a contest that will culminate today when the four winners--all Arizonans weighing in excess of 250 pounds--will perform jumping jacks on Venice Beach (where else?) to rile up those ol’ tectonic forces. The earth-shaking attempt, which will be made between 6 and 10 a.m., will be broadcast back to Phoenix by the two visiting disc jockeys, whose show is known as the Y Morning Zoo (they’re on station KOY-FM).

Today is, of course, the day that 16th-Century French wise guy Nostradamus allegedly predicted that the Big One could befall Los Angeles, according to some sources.

Tom Morgan, a Mesa, Ariz., security guard who is one of the Big Four, said he doesn’t have a grudge against Los Angeles. But, he explained from his Marina del Rey hotel room, “I’d just like to get some of this ocean breeze back in Arizona.”

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Alas for landowners in that state, the efforts of the visiting heavyweights are not expected to succeed. After all, ever since 1978, when gubernatorial candidate/conceptual artist Lowell Darling hammered nails into each side of the San Andreas Fault in Sylmar and laced them with rawhide, Southern California hasn’t suffered a single 8.0-plus temblor.

“Makes the whole office cheery on down days,” began the winning entry in a Secretary of the Year contest sponsored by a downtown newspaper. It was chosen at random from among 30 paeans sent to Downtown News by bosses during Secretaries Week. The winner, who works at the law firm of Kindel and Anderson, was also praised for solving “problems in a rush situation.”

All in all, a “good man,” the firm said of its Guy Friday, James Becker.

The Shenandoah Restaurant in Long Beach, which specializes in Southern food, recently posted a help-wanted sign for a “Fritter Girl.”

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When Andrew Pansini opened his downtown business in 1917, he didn’t attract a customer for five days. His friends weren’t surprised. “People told him that no one was ever going to pay to have their car parked,” recalled his daughter, Mary La Haye.

And certainly not for the outrageous sum of 5 cents per day.

Pansini, generally credited with opening the city’s first parking lot, finally lured a customer onto his lot on the sixth day and pocketed 25 cents--the fee and a 20-cent tip. After all, attendants couldn’t upset car owners by screeching tires back in the dirt-lot era.

La Haye has just finished writing, “It Started With a Nickel,” a biography about her Italian immigrant father who went on to found the Savoy Corp., a parking and real estate concern.

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She said her father came up with the revolutionary idea one day when he spotted “a peg-legged man watching cars on the street. People would throw him dimes when they came back to their cars.”

Pansini leased some property and the rest is history. The asphalt-based industry was later immortalized in a Joni Mitchell song inspired by the demolition of the Garden of Allah apartments in Hollywood: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Ironically, in a town producing ever more automobile-docking spots--there are about 125,000 downtown, according to one study--Pansini’s landmark lot is no longer a pay-parking area. It’s owned by Pacific Bell. And there isn’t even a historical marker there.


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