Hello Wine Lovers

Hello Wine Lovers,
Today, Tuesday, June 30th from 5pm to 8pm Ralphs will be offering another wine tasting.  Tonight, wines ranked 90 points or higher by noted publications in the wine industry likeThe Wine Spectator,  The Wine Advocate and The Wine Journal will be featured on this evening’s flights.  Many varietals have scored 90 points and above, all a person has to do is look through a premium grocery store’s wine section to find the perfect deal on an award-winning wine. Continue reading Hello Wine Lovers

Reflections on the Life of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was the greatest dancer who was also a major singing star ever.  To find his equal you’d have to look at the two biggest dancing stars in film history, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.  (Michael reputedly idolized Mr. Astaire and was deeply moved when he was told by him personally that he was a “great dancer”.)  Mr. Kelly and Mr. Astaire, though popular as singers, could not be considered big singing stars. Continue reading Reflections on the Life of Michael Jackson


I received a text message from one of my sources at 3:00 pm that Michael Jackson, often called the King of Pop, was dead. This was fifteen minutes before the official declaration and by 3:30 pm the calls, text messages, and emails asking me to write something were rolling in. My initial response to all requests was that I had no intention of writing a story about Michael Jackson’s death. My reason being: that everyone was going to have something to say and that I had nothing to add. I have a passion for writing and or talking—I’m a storyteller by nature, but a good storyteller should have something unique to say or at the very least a unique viewpoint.

Over a three-day period I did follow the story. Requests for my attention to it did not cease, some coming from the most unexpected people. As these days passed my response to requests that I write about Michael Jackson’s death changed. I began to tell readers that I might write on the topic of the inconsistent through line that had become so evident in, not only the nonstop media coverage, but among the general population as well. One of downtownster’s most highly educated and respected readers was particularly intrigued by my introduction of the through line concept—and was seemingly not too sure exactly what a through line was. So let me clarify:

A through line is the spine of a story. The concept, first introduced by Constantin Stanislavski, was a way for actors to think about characterization. The idea being that it is not enough to understand what we are doing or trying to do, but rather we must understand our ultimate objective—thus creating a link from action to action that propels us to our ultimate desired outcome.

As I watched the first few hours of cable news coverage each channel and commentator had a take and in some cases several. Fox News in particular filled their time with inaccurate information that was astounding. And of course the vile Nancy Grace was already ranting about the children and custody issues. Michael Jackson in a matter of minutes was called a child molester, a music genius, the loneliest man on Earth, an adoring father, a boy trapped in a man’s body, an icon, in debt for 400 million dollars, on the verge of a comeback, worth a billion dollars, and ABC’s Martin Bashir, who did more harm to Michael Jackson’s reputation than anybody, except for Michael Jackson, made a statement that knowing Michael Jackson was one of the greatest honors of his life. This actually caused me to shake my head. I recalled him saying that Michael Jackson’s home Neverland was not safe for children. But the words genuine or honest do not come to mind at the mention of the name Marin Bashir. Continue reading WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT MICHAEL JACKSON PLEASE

Griffin to Emerge, Sooner or Later

Shaquille O’Neal. Allen Iverson. Tim Duncan. Yao Ming. Lebron James. Dwight Howard. Derrick Rose.

The NBA has seen its share of No. 1 draft picks who reach a level of greatness. The spot has also sprung disappointment.

Michael Olowokandi. Kwame Brown. Andrew Bogut.

Oh, Michael Olowokandi. You’ve done your part for the Clippers “Dream Team.” Danny Ferry. Chris Wilcox. Keyon Dooling. Shaun Livingston. The list of Clippers’ busts somehow overshadows the list of NBA busts. A paradox, I know.

But from 1999 to 2004, the Clips have made nine lottery selections. In theory (more like wishful thinking of Clippers fans) these picks could have formed the backbone of a super team. Even if the organization hit on just half of these selections they would have assembled a formidable starting lineup. Keep dreaming. This is an organization that selected “sure-thing” Lorenzen Wright over the “young” Kobe Bryant.

But maybe, just maybe, the Clippers will see things turn around. Blake Griffin, the Clippers first selection and the No. 1 pick overall in Thursday’s NBA Draft is already making a splash. Continue reading Griffin to Emerge, Sooner or Later

Hello Wine Lovers

Hello Wine Lovers,
Today is Friday, June 26th and we have a special guest visiting our wine tasting-table from 5pm to 8pm tonight,  
Joe Montoya.  Joe, who represents Chateau St. Jean  Winery in Sonoma County, will be pouring wine for our tasting tonight.  The winery produces several wines under different labels around Sonoma and Napa.  Chateau St Jean is a part of a large beverage corporation called Foster’s Group, which in addition to its California wine interests is the largest Australian beer conglomerate. A gentleman named Wolf Blass is the CEO of the corporation.  (Foster’s also owns Meridian in Paso Robles and Berringer in Napa County, plus a host of wineries in Australia.)

A few years back, the Wine Stewards of Ralphs were hosted by Foster’s Group on a Northern California “wine country” trip. Continue reading Hello Wine Lovers

Three Things To Miss Downtown

When it comes to Downtown , downtownster puts most of its effort into telling people what to do, but recently I’ve come across some what not to do’s. And with so many good choices Downtown I’d hate to see you waste your money on anything less than a great experience. SO BE WARNED!!!

Unhappy Hour At Chaya

About a month ago downtownster Shannon and myself stopped by Chaya Downtown to take a look around. The manager of the swank establishment asked us to come visit as his guest anytime. A couple of nights ago we took him up on his offer or at least what we thought was an offer.

“If you place your order in the next two minutes you’ll still get the Happy Hour price,” said the hostess.

“Classy,” I thought to myself. “And this place is dead,” I thought still further as I looked around at the not happening Happy Hour scene.

Shannon asked if the manager was there. We were informed that he was, but he was upstairs too busy doing paperwork to answer the phone. Apparently he didn’t realize that we were actually in the restaurant when giving this brush-off. Because about fifteen minutes later he was in the restaurant milling around—uncomfortably surprised to see us sitting.

I ordered the Tuna Melt and some Fish ‘n’Chips. The Tuna Melt, which was literally bite-sized, does not compete with Subway on its worst day. The Fish ‘n’ Chips were a soggy mess that seemingly came out of the frozen food section at Costco. Amazingly, our server was completely baffled when I asked for some vinegar—to give this cardboard concoction some taste. A few minutes later I was brought vinegar—not of the Apple Cider / malt variety, but of the clean your window ilk. Shannon had a sushi roll, which was unremarkable, and beer that was thankfully not skunked. This waste of time and calories totaled $25.86 plus tip. Seriously, with every restaurant in town offering Happy Hour, skip this one.


If the Fish ‘n’ Chips served at Chaya for Happy Hour aren’t soggy and tasteless enough to make you never want to go to the UK—Flemings serves up the same Costco style frozen fare as a lunch special. So much oil went into my meal that OPEC had to raise its production for a week to make up for it. Thankfully, and I use this word dripping with sarcasm, the lack of taste one might find at Chaya was replaced by a freezer burned smoky flavor at Fleming’s. Continue reading Three Things To Miss Downtown

Regreso de Manny

Manny is back.

Sort of.

The Dodgers’ slugger is nearing the end of a 50 game suspension instituted by the MLB for Ramirez’s use of banned substances. Manny is scheduled to return to the Dodger lineup on July 3 at San Diego. He is currently working his way back into playing shape with the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate

In his first game with the Topes, Manny was without words.

“I aint talking today, baby,” Ramirez said. “Write what you want.”

Manny isn’t some young player intimidated by the limelight. Rather, he knows what kinds of questions the media will throw at him. And having not played in sometime, his bat speed is a little slow. Keep that elbow in, Manny. Continue reading Regreso de Manny

Wait Til You Hear This…

Have you seen the latest episode of Gossip Girl? Read National Enquirer lately? How about People Magazine?  Decrying gossip may seem quaint today, but with over one hundred magazines, TV shows and websites selling gossip, maybe we ought to remind ourselves of its dark side.

The more we value something the more specific we are in discussing it. For instance, to me, flour is just flour.  However, if I’m shopping for my wife I am forced to differentiate between unbleached, bread, whole wheat and various other types.

The Bible contains many different words for ways to communicate because it places such high value on human connection.  These words are not interchangeable; each has a specific meaning.

Leviticus 19:16 is commonly translated as:

Do not go about spreading slander among your people…

The Hebrew literally reads as:

Do not peddle gossip among your peopleContinue reading Wait Til You Hear This…


Iraq.  Baghdad.  Insurgents.  IED.  EOD.   These terms have swirled around in the world and in our minds for some years now, but what do we know beyond what the media feeds us?  Do we really know the scope and magnitude of the emotional and physical battles being played out every day in the war?  Do we really know or understand the magnitude of the insurgency bombings that take place on a routine daily basis?  How many of you know what an EOD is?  Or what an EOD squad actually does?  Screenwriter Mark Boal does.  Director Kathryn Bigelow does.  And now, thanks to them,  you will get the closest thing to experiencing a war zone first hand, and the unsung heroes of the EOD squads, with THE HURT LOCKER – a riveting, nail biting, action-packed, tension-filled film  that pounds the screen with jack hammering intensity.  Powerful.  Visceral.  One of the finest war movies of all time that will find a home in history among the best of the best.


Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) squads are our first and last line of defense against Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: THE HURT LOCKER


A Blogside Chat With Sonny Astani

Concerto: an instrumental work that highlights a soloist.

Councilwoman for the 9th district Jan Perry graced downtownster’s first blogside chat. Jan, as we’ve come to know her, was an easy choice because her district is, as previously stated, the core of the biggest city in the largest state in the most powerful country on Earth.

Sonny Astani is a real estate developer, he owns the best location in the biggest city in the largest state in the most powerful country on Earth and he’s built a place for people to live there—Concerto (9th & Fig).

For almost 14 years I have dwelled in the building known as The Skyline (9th & Flower), which for the last two decades laid undisputed claim to the best address in South Park. Over the years I wondered if anyone would ever have the vision and courage to develop the sprawling parking lot immediately to the east of The Skyline’s elegant landscape. And then the word came one day that the empty parcel had been bought. With a signature, thirty million dollars was paid and the end came to a woeful parking lot too long the symbol of unmotivated land speculation. This struck a note.

An optimist by nature I just assumed something worthy would be built, and then proceeded with my own existence. So elated was I over Ralphs opening for business opposite my own abode I hardly noticed the asphalt being broken and carted off one block down. The good times were at their peak when I did notice the fence and deep hole—a lot of costly to move expensive earth had been displaced. And then there was a very tall crane from which a banner hung, which read Astani—and a second note sounded; this one more profound than the first. A plethora of individuals can buy, but few can build. Continue reading A BLOGSIDE CHAT WITH SONNY ASTANI PART ONE