One of the best things about living in Southern California is the availability of good sushi. It’s something you have to be careful of, because sushi made with seafood that is not fresh can not only be disgusting, but can make you ill. So I always insist on going places that have a trained Japanese itamae, or sushi chef.
Also, I will only eat sushi in places where really fresh seafood is available. I have always joked about starting a rock band named Inland Sushi.
When we go to Honolulu next week, I hope to go some places where I can have sushi and Martine, who wouldn’t touch the stuff, could get something she likes close by. That is possible only in shopping malls like the Ala Moana Center and the International Marketplace and Royal Hawaiian Center. There used to be a couple of Japanese food malls near Waikiki, but they were shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I found out in the most brutal way possible. I was in the endocrinologist’s clinic. The doctor mentioned in an aside, “You know, of course, that you’re sterile?” At that point in my life, I was appalled. Of course I wanted to raise a family, with perhaps two offspring. But it was apparently not to be. I had one major adjustment surviving brain surgery a couple years earlier, but now I had another major adjustment in the offing. No kids. No normal family life.
Upon hearing this several acquaintances (they could never really be my friends) would pipe in with, “You can always adopt!” If I adopted a child, it would be mine only by an act of will stretching decades into the future … to care for someone who, biologically, had nothing in common with me. Okay, so I am not Mother Teresa. I make no claims to sainthood.
I made the adjustment. The women I went out with just assumed that I was telling an untruth when I told them I was sterile, so I went along with it until I went to my doctor who tested me and certified that, yes, indeed, I was shooting only blanks.
Now, in my seventies, I look back on my life and am happy that I did not have to raise any children. My one long-term relationship has been with Martine, a woman who did not ever want to have children. I don’t think I would have been a good father, and as Francis Bacon wrote, “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.”
Martine has always liked good plain food, preferably old-fashioned American chow. There are fewer and fewer places which serve that type of food. One of the best is Philippe’s The Original, which sits at the corner of Alameda and Ord at the edge of Chinatown and just a few steps north of Olvera Street and its Mexican restaurants. Also, it is within walking distance of Union Station.
Philippe’s was opened 114 years ago and has been popular from the first. Whenever there is a home game at nearby Dodger Stadium, the lines could run out the front door. On any given day, you can find policemen, firemen, railroad employees, and God only knows. Everyone could use a great sandwich. Once Martine was there when there were even a bunch of Contra Costa County cops from Northern California chowing down on Philippe’s famous single-dipped roast beef sandwiches.
At a time when there are any number of “creative” chefs building little towers of unlikely ingredients into tasteless messes, it is good to find a place that knows how to (1) keep it simple and (2) keep it tasty.
I do not share Martine’s requirement for simple food, my preferences being Asian and Mexican; but I do appreciate having a restaurant in town where I can take her without giving her a pain in the tum. And I actually like their food, too.
I don’t know if the black cat had anything to do with it, but today was not a lucky day. At least, it wasn’t a terrible day, but it certainly was a wasted one.
Martine had a doctor appointment in East Los Angeles, so I drove her there. On the way, we had lunch at one of her favorite restaurants, Philippe’s The Original on Alameda and Ord Street, just on the east edge of Chinatown. After we were finished, I propose that we walk to the bakery at Homeboy Industries, where gang girls bake and sell tasty pastries. On our way up Alameda to Bruno Street, a black kitten suddenly crossed our path. There was a forced intake of air on both our parts.
Of course, for some inexplicable reason, the bakery was closed today. That was numero uno.
Numero duo was a bit more annoying. We go to the Adventist Health White Memorial medical center on Cesar Chavez and wait for an hour, only to find out that Martine was not expected there, but at some location in Montebello with which we were unfamiliar. Her ophthalmologist had suddenly decided to no longer see patients there.
As I am unfamiliar with Montebello street network, all we could do is reschedule and head home—in rush hour traffic. That black cat sure didn’t help us much.
On Saturday, Martine and I went to the Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum (ZADM) in El Segundo. Martine has always loved Corvettes, especially the classic models of the 1960s.
There were over sixty Corvettes on view, surrounded by Corvette aficionados and the cars’ affable collector/owners. Martine loved talking to the owners about how much she hates bucket seats, and how they should bring back bench seats. That’s not terribly likely to happen because, as one of the owners remarked, you need bucket seats if you are racing on a slalom course (which is not something Martine is likely to do).
The ZADM has become a meeting place for collectors with show cars of various models. I(n a couple of weeks, they will have another show on B-Body cars, which were manufactured by GM originally for Buick and Oldsmobile before spreading to their other makes and models.
There is more to Hawaiian cuisine than the simple “plate lunch,” but it is as typical for Honolulu as Hamburgers and French Fries are on the mainland. Typically it consists of:
A meat serving, such as kalua pork in the meal on the right
One or two scoops of plain white rice
What you don’t see is a salad. You get meat and a ton of carbs. Usually it tastes pretty good, but it drives haolies (mainlanders) nuts not to see their favorite grindz (food) on the menu. So many of them stick to hotel restaurants that cater to their expectations.
Oh, yes, there’s also poi, made from taro leaves.
Actually, poi is supposed to be very nutritious—even if it resembles slimy purple goop. I’ve never had any, but promise to sample some when Martine and I go to Honolulu later this year.
There are several other Asian cuisines that are part of Hawaiian food, especially Japanese and Chinese, with a hint of Portuguese in the form of their excellent linguica sausage.
Since Martine flat out doesn’t like Chinese food, and will only eat one or two Japanese dishes, I suspect we will eat mostly plate lunches (but no poi for her) or whatever mainland American chow she can find, even hamburgers and fries.
The above picture shows a steady water leak under a parking sign at Amherst and Ohio in West Los Angeles The area around the parking sign sometimes looks to be wet (but today it looked as if it had evaporated), and there is a steady runoff over the curb and on to the storm drain.
We are currently in the middle of a drought. Governor Newsom is perennially on the verge of dictating mandatory water cuts but this, being an election year, makes it unlikely.
The leak looks as if the sign had somehow pierced a water main. If that’s true, the leakage could cause problems to the multistory apartment building adjoining, especially as they have an underground garage.
Being a conscientious citizen, Martine did her best to inform the proper authorities. Instead of appreciating her efforts, the bureaucrats merely brushed her off. First, she called the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, who promised two weeks ago to look into the matter. Next, she tried the Los Angeles City Hall where there was a help desk; but it seems it no longer exists. The Police suggested that she try the Department of Water and Power on Hope Street. There, she met with a security officer who brazenly lied about the employees working at home. What gave the lie to his assertion was the arrival of several employees while she was talking to him and the fact that the building’s outdoor parking lot was full of cars.
On a number of occasions, Martine has made several trips to Santa Monica’s City Hall over on a number of issues, and she was happy to see that they acted quickly to resolve them. Los Angeles, being ever so much larger, apparently is too large to be efficient or even respectful toward a citizen who is trying to help them.
Martine has read this post and suggested that a copy be sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti showing him how badly he is served by the bureaucrats under his control.
I fought long and hard, but Covid-19 finally caught up with me last Friday. I was super tired and couldn’t get up from bed without effort. At the same time, I had developed a wicked sore throat and a racking cough. At the time, I thought I had just developed a bad cold; so—lacking a pituitary gland—I upped my normal dose of hydrocortisone to help me fight the illness. (Without a pituitary gland, I have no adrenaline.)
On Saturday night, I got a call from a nurse friend of mine who suggested I get tested for Covid-19. Fortunately, I had sent away for free test kits, so I administered the test to myself. Sure enough, I had contracted the coronavirus.
I have no idea how I could have caught it, unless one of my vaccinated friends had it without presenting any symptoms. Or it could have just been a wild fluke, something in the air that suddenly took hold.
Fortunately, I have been vaccinated and boosted, so that by now (Tuesday), my symptoms have grown less; and I even had the energy to read again. Unfortunately, Martine caught the virus from me and has more severe symptoms. She, too, has been vaccinated and is not likely to wind up requiring medical care.
It’s a good thing that vaccines were quickly developed to fight the virus. Else both of us could easily have been at risk of a severe respiratory response.
Yesterday, Martine and I drove to the L.A. Police Department Museum in Highland Park. When we were in Vancouver some years back, we visited the local police museum and were enthralled with what it said about the differences in Canadian vs. U.S. culture (or lack of same).
The 2½ floors of exhibits covered a wide range of subjects, but the best exhibits were all on the second floor:
The 1997 robbery of a Bank of America branch and the ensuing gunfight with the two well-armed burglars
My Martine is as sweet as sweet can be, but her heart can be steel-plated when it comes to street hooligans. On most days, she takes a long walk in the neighborhood, keeping a weather eye out for what she calls “tiny treasures.” Sometimes these are foreign coins or interesting lanyards or any number of things.
Lately, however, some of her discoveries have been on the alarming side:
Two baseball bats, near a bus stop ad that had been vandalized
A bolt cutter
A large sledgehammer
In each case, she walked the item to the Santa Monica Police Station and handed it to the officer on duty. I cannot help but think that the local police are wondering what she will bring in next. Will it be an AK-47? An RPG (that’s rocket propelled grenade)? A box of land mines?
The streets of West L.A. and Santa Monica are getting rougher each year, and that’s reflected in what she finds.