Terry has a cookie business, and a few times a year we do ‘shows’. Our favorite one so far is Artisanal L.A. A couple hundred local makers of artisanal food, crafts, beverages, music, and so on, gather to exhibit their wares to the public. We have had a booth there for a few years where we offer tastes of the cookies and sell them to the craft-minded people who have forked over a few dollars for the privilege. We usually do okay, the goal is to get our brand out in the marketplace, make new friends, and collect names for our mailing list. We also sell a few cookies.
Last year, the show was held in The Magic Box, an event venue on South Broadway. It is quite an experience. Folks show up on Friday with all the fixings for their 10 x 10 space and transform the second floor of The Reef into an amazing festival of locally produced goods. Saturday and Sunday are all-day affairs with thousands of people streaming by asking for samples. We spend a lot of time cutting and offering little cups with a piece of cookie. We might give out 1,500 samples over the two days. The best thing about the shows are the other vendors. We barter cookies for whatever we find interesting, kombucha, beef jerky, cheese, handmade crafts, it’s a lovely community.
These 4 cow-inspired chairs are in the lobby of the building, I shot them on our way out, late Sunday evening after two hectic days. I was in such a hurry to get home, I didn’t check the shot until later, but I kind of like the out of focus look for this one.
We recently got a new brew pub here in Venice. Walker Firestone opened this brewery/bar/restaurant/retail store in what was originally a Sizzler restaurant. Called ‘The Propagator’, they brew some of the beer here on the premises, import some from elsewhere, and have a bottle shop with some of their most popular six packs. You can get a 2-quart growler of most any draft and a big 22-ounce can that they fill and seal right at the bar.
They offer a bewildering array of varieties, some 20 or so, with perennial favorites and a rotating selection of various projects F/W is working on. Wild yeasts, high gravity (read high alcohol, like 14%), blends, fruit infused, and so on. Most of their beer is of the hoppy IPA style that has become so popular. Personally, I find much of it is too bitter. I prefer a darker, maltier brew with the hops in balance, not overpowering. We went shortly after their grand opening. We haven’t been back since. Some of the beer is good, the food so-so. Thus ends the commercial.
These benches are in the foyer cum lobby where you wait for a table. Presumably, some days you can watch the minions going about their brewing chores if you sit there long enough.
I have participated in a few marketing research surveys over the years. Typically, you take a pre-survey to see if you qualify and if you do, you are invited to participate. They usually involve a new product or re-branding of an old one, and you sit in a group from one to 20 and give your ‘input’. The products range from hard drives to healthcare, baby products to beverages. For your time, you are compensated with cash, a check, or lately a gift card. It is an easy gig, I’m pretty opinionated; I wish I could do it at least once a week.
This survey mandated that I bring a friend to participate or I couldn’t qualify. So the two of us trekked to the offices of this company in the Marina. Spacious, well-lit, this company provides conference rooms with audio-visual capabilities, everything is taped, huge wall to wall one-way mirrors behind which sit the faceless minions observing, taking notes or whatever faceless minions do while the public is offering its opinions, and cheerful interviewers. The ‘sponsor’ or client whose product we are evaluating is rarely present, but it’s impossible to know who is sitting in those darkened rooms behind the glass.
This interview lasted a little over half an hour, and my friend and I departed a little richer for simply giving our reactions to a series of slides with graphic designs. That’s all I can say, there is always an NDA involved. I have never seen more than one or two people in the spacious waiting room. This day, there were two folks sitting around the corner, but I especially liked the perspective of this hallway.
This is what was my local bank. I did business with Bank of America for many years with my former business. Originally, we used a BofA that was across the street from our accountant in Westchester and had a spectacular personal banker there named Ellen. She took great care of us and our business accounts. BofA has a lot of regulations surrounding its business accounts, someone once characterized it as a law firm that accepted deposits, but Ellen always managed to make it easy for us. But it was a schlep for me to deposit the checks in Westchester, so I mostly used the ATM at my local branch on the Venice traffic circle. Ellen retired and we changed accountants around the same time so I officially moved our accounts to this branch.
We had a couple of personal accounts there as well. Jake had one and we used our account to transfer money to him occasionally. We never kept much money in there, we don’t use BofA for our primary personal banking.
I”m not quite sure why I was in this bank last year, perhaps to finally close our last remaining accounts. While the lobby isn’t exactly completely empty, it isn’t exactly bustling with activity either. This photo captures two distinct waiting areas and not a customer in sight.
What is that car doing in the waiting room? Oh, wait, it’s the showroom for Santa Monica VW. This is the beautifully appointed part of the dealership where they actually sell you the car. You wait here for your sales associate to come out of the depths of the building to introduce you to your new set of wheels. They ply you with beverages and snacks, take you on the test drive, negotiate the deal, and have you wait while the finance department prepares your paperwork. Once you have agreed to buy the car, they usher you into a small, bleak, airless cubicle where the 3-foot long contract comes spitting out of the antique daisy wheel printer, along with the opportunity to add a myriad of options, protection plans, upgrades, and service contracts. An hour later, and several more hundreds of dollars poorer, you emerge with the keys to your new car.
I was here with my Mom shopping for a new station wagon for her. She has driven station wagons, and only station wagons, for as long as I can remember. In the 60’s it was a brilliant blue Chrysler behemoth bigger than a Hummer. I learned to drive in that gigantic thing. In the 70’s she drove a metallic pink Toyota. For the last 13 years a metallic green VW Passat with orange flames on the fenders and rear panel. We found her new car, a lovely dark silver VW loaded with all the latest technology. More like a computer on wheels.
The last new car I bought was my ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Full-time four-wheel-drive and automatic everything. What a great car. It took me to work in Burbank through epic floods. It took us to the snowy summits without having to get out and grovel in the snow putting on chains. It took us on many a memorable camping trip from the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains to the blazing deserts of Death Valley and Joshua Tree. I currently drive a 15-year-old Lexus that I inherited from my Dad. It hums along, quiet as a top, and rarely needs any service beyond routine maintenance. I expect I won’t be seeing the inside of a car dealership waiting room for several years.
Shopping can be exhausting. Trying on clothes is a part of that exhaustion. Take off the pants, pull on the new pants. Do they fit? Do they look good? Yes? No? Take off the new pants. Pull on a new pair of pants. Ask the same questions. Rinse and Repeat. Fortunately, this store provides a handy bench to rest your weary bones while your shopping partner persists in his or her quest.
Saw this patient little doggy waiting for his person in the Bank of America last year. I was taking care of some old banking business and couldn’t resist. I think dogs spend a lot of their time waiting, but not in the self-aware kind in which humans wait. I don’t think they know what they are waiting for, or that they are even waiting. Like a cat who crouches under a bush waiting for a bird to land, they are simply doing. What do you think?
The Santa Monica Sears and Roebuck has been on the corner of Colorado and 4th street for as long as I can remember. It used to span 4th street, with the Automotive center on the east side and the main building on the west. There is a little booth at the top of the building where a parking attendant used to sit and direct cars to the vacant spots. In its heyday, Sears was the place, the store was modern and you could get most anything there.
Not much of that glory has faded. The automotive center was demolished to make room for the Santa Monica terminal of the newly extended Expo line, the parking guy in the sky is long gone, and the whole store seems a worn and a little seedy. I still like going there for the Craftsman tools in the basement, but little else.
Now Land’s End has an outpost in the store itself, and I was there getting some Dockers Khakis, the only brand that actually fits me. I had ordered them online, and while I was waiting for someone to fetch them, I browsed the shirt section just to kill the time. They had the well-made pique polos on sale so I got a few. After completing the sale, I was directed to this string of chairs. If you order online for in-store pickup, this is where you will wait while they fetch your merchandise. It was only a few moments before a courteous employee emerged from the stainless steel clad door with my pants, sealed in a plastic bag and tagged with my order info. Fairly painless, the pants were on sale online, and I didn’t have to pay for shipping. Such a deal.
Last year I travelled to North Carolina for my niece’s wedding. I flew into Charlotte and picked up a car at the airport. The cavernous waiting area serves all the rental car companies in the common building directly across from the terminal. I think I went with Dollar. I had my car and was on my way to Boone, NC in a matter of a few minutes. The recent trend of having all the car rental companies under one roof produces giant structures that house the waiting areas as well as the garages for all the cars. I guess it is more efficient than having each company have its one lot and service center, but these gigantic rooms can be a bit disorienting at times. Like when you get off your plane after a 5-hour flight and still don’t really know what time zone you are in.
Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, the drive north was through beautiful country and I arrived safely. The wedding was lovely, I had a chance to sample some of the local barbecue on my way back to the airport, and I found myself returning my car to this very same building in a couple of days. All in all, a whirlwind trip to the North Carolina mountain country.