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People and Events

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

Maybe it’s not as heart-pounding as the “Nightmare on Elm Street.” But the sign thefts on Shirley Avenue is a case that has long puzzled the city’s Department of Transportation.

About 500 street signs disappear each year in Los Angeles, and Shirley Avenue in Tarzana ranks No. 1 on the most-taken list.

“We’ve had times that we’d put up new ones and inside a month you wouldn’t be able to find any for blocks,” said Dave Royer, principal engineer in the department’s Bureau of Traffic Operations.

Generally, he said, the most frequently pilfered post is one that carries a woman’s name.

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“We don’t know if it’s the boyfriends or what,” Royer said.

Ed Rowe, the department’s general manager, recalled that Fink Street and Fink Place in Hollywood were once popular. That was back in the 1960s when “fink” was the equivalent in teen jargon to today’s “nerd” or “dweeb.”

Traffic Ops says the sign thefts have begun to decrease with the recent installation of heavy-duty bolts in the posts.

But Royer noted that the Ancient Romans had the best anti-theft device.

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“They engraved their street names in stone,” he said. “And they’re still there.”

The Friar’s Club has shut its doors on Gloria Allred again. This time, it was a celebrity roast of Ernest Borgnine in New York. The feminist attorney said she had purposely tried to attend the other day when she saw the event advertised as a “Men Only” bash.

Although she’d been admitted to similar roasts of Ed McMahon and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Friar’s Club in Los Angeles, she was not only turned away but one member reportedly told her to “act like a lady.”

Not unexpectedly, Allred said she plans to sue. Women should have “equal access to important business contacts” at such get-togethers, she said.

Allred previously fought successfully to gain membership to the California Friar’s, giving her reciprocal visiting rights at the New York Friar’s. She managed to have lunch there earlier this year, but that appearance drew growls from comic Henny Youngman, who said that her red dress made her look like an “overdressed blood test.”

As for the club’s argument that women’s ears are too tender for the risque language of roasts, Allred said of the McMahon and Schwarzenegger bashes: “I’ve seen worse language on the walls of women’s restrooms.”

While documentaries and movies about Los Angeles sometimes seem to imply that the kosher burrito is the official food of the city, the United States has no designated national delicacy.

To make up for this serious deficiency, two groups came to Farmers Market on Thursday to circulate petitions aimed at persuading Congress to declare chili the official U.S. food. The groups, the International Chili Society of Newport Beach and the Tulsa, Okla., Junior Chamber of Commerce, parked an empty 7-foot-tall container in the parking lot. The world’s largest chili pot, it’ll be trucked into Rosamond, above Lancaster, for a Sunday cook-off for charity.

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Meanwhile, the zealots said they’ve signed up 700 people in their drive to amass 1 million signatures. That leaves them with 999,300 to go in their bid to establish a national heartburn.

Taxicabs in Long Beach will soon be displaying bumper stickers that say “The Most on the Coast.” But the cabs aren’t admitting that they charge large fees.

The stickers are displaying the city’s newest slogan, which ranks right up there in the literature of the genre with “Tan Your Hide in Oceanside,” “Where the Hell is Norco?” and Bellflower’s “21 Churches, No Jails.”

The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, in a parody of civic boasting, points out that the city leads in such categories as: most plastic seaweed (used as artificial kelp to protect against beach erosion), biggest seaborne crane (in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard) and most beautiful oil islands (disguised wells along the waterfront).

But the city is serious about promoting its growing downtown skyline as evidence that a sophisticated city has replaced the once-rowdy playground of sailors. No longer is it true, as author John Gregory Dunne wrote of 1940s Long Beach, that “a chic haunt (there) was a place where the bartender didn’t wear a tattoo.”


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