People and Events
It was a year that seemed to have everything from A to Zsa Zsa.
The late Jimi Hendrix failed to materialize at a rock guitar seance in Hollywood. The homeless march on Malibu didn’t transpire despite Honorary Mayor Martin Sheen’s invitation. And actor James Garner declined to run for governor, despite the urging of Democratic state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal, who said his party didn’t have any exciting candidates.
But there were so many memorable events that did materialize: A doggie ice cream made its debut in Hollywood, a Topanga group started the first nudist pen pal’s club, lawyer Thomas White opened an office inside the Valencia Car Wash, and a snooty billiards parlor featuring valets and a no-smoking section was launched in West L.A.
It was, perhaps above all else here, the Year of the Fax, with the machine’s uses ranging from press releases and restaurant orders to wooing members of the opposite sex. West Hollywood business executive Anita Gittelson even received one assistant’s resignation via a fax machine from Syracuse, N.Y. “It was a bit strange,” Gittelson said. “In fact, it’s strange that she was even in Syracuse.”
Pay-telephone lines also proliferated. An investigation of City Hall found $8,000 in worth of phone calls had been made to a dial-a-porn service with such offerings as “Call Me, I’m Michelle--Live.”
Cultural life, as always, was active here. Long Beach held a skateboard art show, the Max Factor Museum in Hollywood was nominated for landmark status, and pianist Sandra Tsing Loh, backed by the Topanga Symphony Orchestra, serenaded the grunion on the beach at Malibu.
Alas, the rock group Poison, known for the hit album “Open Up and Say Ah,” was forced to cancel a concert at the Sports Arena. The lead singer had bruised vocal chords.
Inevitably, there were some bruised feelings too.
L.A.'s new federal Metropolitan Detention Center surrendered its distinction as the world’s first no-smoking prison after the inmates trashed their cells in a mass nicotine fit. (One problem: The ban hadn’t applied to guards or other personnel.)
Temple City officials objected to a quip by broadcaster Paul Harvey that an army of wire-eating ants who knocked out some traffic lights in the city had enjoyed a “power lunch.”
The Hell’s Angels, contending that their ghoulish trademarks were used without their permission in the movie “Nam Angels” responded in full force. They sued.
Physical fitness guru Jake Steinfeld took Cable News Network to court in L.A. over an underground tape allegedly produced by CNN employees that spliced segments of Steinfeld’s fitness show with the purported sex tape of actor Rob Lowe.
Southern California’s most celebrated driver, Zsa Zsa Gabor, was convicted of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer who pulled over her Rolls-Royce. A Melrose Avenue eatery saluted her and a fellow defendant, New York hotel queen Leona Helmsley, with “Lobster Zsa Zsa” and “Lobster Leona"--shellfish served with tiny handcuffs.
Meanwhile, actress Jane Fonda and Assemblyman Tom Hayden agreed to divorce, prompting someone to quip that Fonda’s next fitness tape could be titled: “It Didn’t Work Out.”
In an effort to reduce courtroom tensions, an L.A. lawyer on the state Bar’s Board of Governors proposed a “Code of Professional Courtesy” for attorneys including these vows:
* “I will return telephone calls.”
* “I will not be late for court or for appointments.”
* “I will never take cheap shots.”
Naturally, there was some fine print in the code: It would be voluntary.
Meanwhile, the usual tensions were present on the roadways--and even spilled over into the parking lots.
Two chauffeurs exchanged gunfire after vying for the same spot outside a supermarket in Redondo Beach. Then there was the screenwriter who sued Clint Eastwood, claiming that the actor-director rammed her car after finding it parked in his space at Burbank Studios. Visitors to Ronald Reagan’s offices in Century Building found to their surprise that he doesn’t validate.
Traffic was slower than ever. Some of the notable hindrances were a shipwreck on Culver Boulevard, a spill of 864,000 cans of vegetables on the San Gabriel River Freeway, a fallen load of catcher’s masks on the Ventura, Rolling Stones ticket scalpers standing on the Harbor Freeway, 27,000 pounds of almond shells on the Foothill, a surfboard on the Artesia, and a body that fell out of a coroner’s van on the Hollywood.
The roads could have been even more unsafe. But a woman who plowed into the wall of a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Glendale during her driver’s test was denied a license. “We didn’t even get to the parking part,” her stunned examiner said later.
There were other wrong turns too.
Irwindale celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day by flying Hungarian flags. TV Guide magazine placed Oprah Winfrey’s head on Ann-Margret’s body in a cover illustration. The Long Beach Unified School District advised students to avoid wearing Natas clothing because the name “spelled backward is Satan”; the notice was rescinded after it was learned that Natas is the first name of a famous skateboarder.
After numerous parents’ protests, a Paramount businessman halted the nationwide distribution of “Chilly Bang! Bang!” a pistol-shaped juice container imported from the Philippines.
One citywide disruption drew few protests from Banning High students in Wilmington. In the senior class poll, “Best School Activity” of the year was judged to be the L.A. teachers’ strike.
Pepperdine University students did some instructing themselves while visiting Germany. They scaled the Berlin Wall and taught the natives to do “The Wave” cheer.
The L.A. City Council also drew some cheers when it voted in February to cut back the time that a member can speak on one issue from five minutes to three. In October, the council reinstated the five-minute limit.
Meanwhile, one County Board of Supervisors meeting dragged on so long that, at 5 p.m., the county’s security guards delivered a subtle message. They removed the metal detector at the entrance to the chamber and left.
This year’s Lincoln-Douglas Debate Award goes to Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Deane Dana for this angry exchange, which followed Dana’s turnabout on one vote:
Schabarum: “Some guy calls you up this morning and says, ‘Holy cow, dabba dabba dabba dooo. . . .’ ”
Dana: “Some people call up you and dabba dabba dooo.”
The debut of still another oldies’ radio station plus innumerable retrospectives on the Beatles, Woodstock and other nostalgia led to the formation of a protest group, the National Assn. for the Advancement of Time (NAFTAT). Its slogan: “We want to end the 60s in your lifetime.”
OK, so maybe this is the right time to say goodby to the 60s.
And, hello to the 70s!
Dabba dabba dooo!