This Building Has a History of Grave Concerns


I’m not sure how this will affect the retirement concerns of workers, but Charlotte Eiser of Montebello reports that a new Social Security office in Alhambra was formerly a mortuary. Of course I’d be more concerned if the opposite were the case.

“Duh!” awards: I can’t really argue with the recent winners in the Wacky Warning Label Contest sponsored by the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.

One was this reminder on a pesticide consisting of dried bobcat urine: “Not for human consumption.” Another was a warning on a toilet brush: “Do Not Use for Personal Hygiene.” A third was this cautionary note on a heat gun and paint remover: “Do not use this tool as a hair dryer.”


Still, I’m a little miffed that none of this column’s “Duh!” submissions from readers over the last year received as much as an honorable mention in the contest.

Eminently worthy is a set of unusual ironing instructions, a pedestrian notice snapped by Larry See, a frozen dinner tip sent along by Adam Fritzal and a half-baked warning spotted by Sue Casillas (see accompanying).

Annals of unusual crimes: The police log of the Seal Beach Sun recently carried this item: “Someone rang the caller’s doorbell. He said this happens every time his wife is out of town.” Is he better off answering it or not answering it?

Name game: Mention here of a Venice artist who had renamed himself O -- just O -- brought a note from my former colleague Chuck Hillinger, who delighted Times readers for 46 years with tales of his encounters with unusual characters.

Hillinger recalled running into a waitress named Who Me, a car rental agent named Ernie UU and a man named The Owl. Of The Owl, Hillinger said, “That was his name on his driver’s license and all his legal papers. He started out with a regular name but became so enamored with owls later in life he changed it to The Owl. He lectured about owls to school kids.”

But not putting too many to sleep, one hopes.

Come to think of it: I once wrote about a poet in Laguna Beach whose legal name was Number One unnamed Archer. (Yes, I checked his driver’s license.) “My parents gave it to me,” he explained. “They didn’t expect twins.” His twin, he said, was Number Two unnamed Archer.


“That’s because he was born after me,” Number One said.

miscelLAny: In the book “Eccentric California,” author Jan Friedman reports coming across Dr. Buzzard’s Court Case Bath and Floor Wash at Farmacia Million Dollar Botanicas in downtown L.A. It’s a good-luck potion for legal appearances. “If you’re going to court,” Friedman writes, “pour it in your bath. If it’s your business that’s being judged, pour it in the water used to wash your firm’s floors.”

Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LATIMES, Ext. 77083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012, and by e-mail at