Saturday, January 28, 2006

LA Trip #8: Fusion

Finally, after two grueling weeks, my last night in LA. My aunt Lea, who had come to help her older sister move and then help me clean out The Palace of Ancient Dust, was also leaving the following day. My father's old real estate partner Jeanet, who would now be selling his house, wanted to take us out for dinner. She asked what kind of food I liked and I said Seafood and Fusion were my favourite categories, as any reader of this blog knows. Fusion is what you expect in Vancouver's better restaurants but Jeanet seemed to have trouble finding a restaurant specifically billing itself as Fusion in the Valley. Thankfully, she found Roy's. The lit torches outside reminded me less of Hawaii than the Tiki Room at Disneyland, but it did say Hawaiian Fusion on the sign outside.
Things did not start off well. Lea wanted soup and a salad, not really what you go to a Fusion place for, and her soup, one small shrimp in a vast bowl was far too spicy. She had to exchange it for something else. I got drenched when the standing menus collapsed on my glass of water, preparing me for returniing to rainy Vancouver the following day. I could have used the instant Niagara to drown out Roy's signature seared Ahi appetiser. I wasted a glass of good chardonay putting out its fire, but thankfully my entree, shrimp and scallops went superbly with my 2nd glass. Jeanet enjoyed her duck, and told us tales of eating duck in her native Denmark for holidays and other festive occasions. For desert, I had Roy's coffee, which was quite good, and Jeanet and Lea had some colourful fruit. It was great to wash all that dust away and do something else instead of filling dumpsters for a few hours.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LA Trip #7: Another Grade, Another Proto-actor

I particularly liked third grade. We got to listen to Vin Scully call the Dodger victory in the World Series on a transistor radio in the class room instead of a lesson. And school was good too. Discovered the Egyptian civilization, which continues to fascinate me. Got to do science projects- made a slide projector and other stuff as the US trembled in fear of Sputnik and suddenly we could study Interesting things for a change. Also met Tom Carey. Like Billy Katt, the son of a prominant actor who became an actor himself. Unlike Billy, never mistaken for me. Had a great voice. I couldn't stand listening to his older brother's Dylan albums with Dylan's hideous voice, but when Tom sang the same song, it was enchanting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

LA Trip #6: Lunch with Satch

I was lucky enough to get away from family business for a few hours to have lunch with my old friend Tom Satriano, aka Satch. I hadn't seen him since 1997 and he seemed to have gotten younger. He had just come from the funeral of his old USC baseball coach, and was famished. At his suggestion we met at The Cheesecake Factory inside the remains of the old Valley mall, the Galleria. The cheesecakes looked amazing, but I was more into having lunch. Thankfully so was Satch. He had some sort of salad. I heard the waitress say "Tataki" which is a Japanese ginger'd fish preparation, but I couldn't find it on the online menu. I had the Chicken Madeira, which the menu claims is its most popular chicken dish. I try and order the stuff the restaurant boasts most loudly about. This was very good. A lot of cheese. I love cheese as much as any galaxy of mice but this was even a lot of cheese by my standards. I took some home, along with the mountain of potatoes Satch insisted was worth preserving.
Satch said he was down to the same weight he had as a college baseball player about the time I was playing in Kester and Chandler. Maybe the next time I see him, he'll have devolved to his kindergarten weight. Careful with those salads, Satch.

LA Trip #5: If I could talk to the animals

Perhaps Mrs. Gruen ran out of material to teach us. At the end of first grade, instead of further teaching, she read us the first Dr. Doolittle book. I was entranced. Up until then, reading was painful. I did not care about Dick and Jane and their boring pets. My parents used to read me stories about imperilled animals that made reading seem even less appealing. Suddenly, there was the story about a man who could talk to animals. Maybe reading wasn't such a bad idea. Thanks, Mrs. Gruen.

LA Trip #4: The Wrong Cat

After Kindergarten, my parents moved to another part of Van Nuys and I began elementary school at Chandler Unfortunately, the school isn't actually on Chandler Blvd, my favourite street in the Valley with its tall trees shielding you from LA's relentless sun.
Driving around the Valley at dusk on this trip, I was reminded how wonderful that time used to be to me when I was a kid. The time between the end of school and the time I had to be in the house for dinner was MY time. It still retains its magic all these years later.
In first grade, I looked exactly like another kid, named Billy Katt.
Billy was always getting into trouble and I wasn't. On one occassion, Billy's mother was summoned to remove the troublemaker from school She grabbed me instead. It was only when she got home that she finally realised what I had been telling her, that she had the wrong cat.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

LA Trip #3: Kindergarten

Kester Elementary School was a short walk from our apartment. All I can remember about attending Kindergarten there was that I was reluctant to attend. I particularly objected to "nap time." Later my feelings about naps would change.

LA Trip #2: The Kester Circle

When we moved to Van Nuys from Saskatchewan, we lived at an apartment on Kester Avenue. I think it was this one, although it looked different in January, 1956.
My visit to LA in January, 2006 was to move my parents to another place on Kester. First and last abode on Kester Avenue: does that mean something?

LA Trip #1: Mexico North

Back in LA again. Great to see my old friend, Cliff Kahn, the Sultan of Orthopedic Surgery. Cliff and I were at Chandler Elementary School together but didn't know each other until we went to Milliken Jr. High. I rememeber him as the Big Kid from Chandler, but he doesn't remember being that big. As neither of us is Mexcan, naturally we went out for Mexican food, to Las Fuentes. Cliff had turned me on to Las Fuentes in Jan 05 and we ordered the same menu items, Consome de Pollo and Chile Relleno. The stuffed pepper tasted the same, but the soup this time featured lemon instead of lime. I missed the lime. The lime drink I had with the feast was thirst quenching but didn't make up for the soup's missing ingredient.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Beachside Cafe

Fumiyo surrounded by Minakos and Bobs at the
Beachside Cafe
Fumiyo met the first Minako when she first came to North America in 1974. The follwing year I was teaching English in Vancouver and went to see the Hollywoody "Japanese" flick The Yakuza with 3 of my students. Sitting behind me was Minako, whom I knew as the girlfriend of one of my students, and another woman I soon learned was named Fumiyo. Later that year her last name was also mine.
Now Minako and her family live in Berkeley. Their visit to Vancouver was a good reason for Fumiyo to invite her new friends, another Minako and her husband, also named Bob, to the Beachside Cafe where Fumiyo and her friends had enjoyed the food.
We did too.