People and Events

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

Californians have a reputation for being rootless. Even their statues can’t stand still.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the fourth move for the 81-year-old bronze sculpture of former U.S. Sen. Stephen White (1853-1901). Now he’s migrating from the corner of 1st Street and Grand Avenue downtown to the front of the Cabrillo Museum in San Pedro.

San Pedroites have long complained that few Angelenos could identify White, the man who led the turn-of-the-century fight to establish Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro.

So, it sounds like justice is being done--but what about the resulting statue gap downtown?


In the vacated spot, the county plans to install a bust now in the Hall of Administration. This time, officials are taking no chances. It’ll be an “easily recognizable individual,” said Mitch Maracich of Supervisor Deane Dana’s office.

Even most Angelenos know Abe Lincoln.

Once, Nikola’s Restaurant was the local politicians’ hangout. But no restaurant, or politician, is an incumbent forever. A wake of sorts is being held Thursday and Friday to mark the sale of the lower Sunset Boulevard eatery, founded in 1955 by the sons of Nikola Rasic.

The joint’s trademark was a bar wall littered with company and government nameplates, including, “Los Angeles County District Attorney,” donated by the then-prosecutor, the late Joseph P. Busch.


Mounted on another wall was the Ernie Debs Swordfish--donated by the former county supervisor. A male reporter was once said to have grabbed it to fend off an angry husband.

Nikola’s biggest break was the Dodgers’ move to nearby Chavez Ravine in 1958--and owner Walter O’Malley’s subsequent visits.

“Yeah, Walter,” co-founder Pete Rasic said fondly, “White Label on the rocks, splash of water.”

It was also a Trojan hangout.


Jay Berman, a former political aide, recalled sitting at the bar and cheering for a visiting Soviet basketball team on television. “I said, ‘Way to go, Vladimir,’ or something like that, and this big guy sitting next to me said, ‘You’re rooting for the Russkies?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re playing UCLA.’ ”

But some of Nikola’s glamour faded after a deputy district attorney was arrested for drunk driving after leaving the restaurant in a well-publicized episode in 1975. “The drinking laws have scared the hell” out of a lot of the former regulars, Pete Rasic admitted.

The refurbished restaurant--to be called Nikola’s Grill--will feature a French chef in an apparent attempt to appeal to a more haute crowd than political and media types.

No one knows what’s happened to the Ernie Debs Swordfish.


Rush-hour alert: The 35th annual Hog Call competition at the Los Angeles County Fair, just off the San Bernardino Freeway in Pomona, is set for 4 p.m. today.

Object is to see how many, if any, of the porkers can be lured into a small ring by the microphone-enhanced bellowings of contestants.

“You see some strange things,” fair spokesman Sid Robinson said. “One year, a mayor out here mooned the pigs. Didn’t get much of a reaction.”

“From Agriculture to Aerospace,” a show celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, was staged downtown Tuesday by Town Hall, a public-issues forum.


What better time, then, to reprise some of the golden oldies of chamber types attempting to lure souls out here before the turn of the century?

All together now, repeat the following:

“In Los Angeles, the rain falls mostly at night.”

“Epidemics seldom occur.”


“There is no section where good cement sidewalks in cities and towns begins to compare with those of Southern California.”

“The blast of the wild horn of the mosquito is forgotten music here.”