Tag Archives: stan lerner

ROAD TO NOWHERE

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996 black Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked. Continue reading

DOWNTOWN LA FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS

As my thirtieth year approached I sat in my building known as ARTGUILD LA, a building that hosted some of the world’s best-known performance art and nightclub events. If I recall, it was Eden Night, ranked second in the world only to Ministry of Sound, and my friend David Besharat a truly extraordinary human being said something I’ve never forgotten. “You see Stan, at your age you’ve just starting to do everything twice. At my age, I’ve done everything three times—it’s not the same. It’s still good, but every time around it’s a little less exciting.” And the party raged on…

And now I’m David’s age, at the time of his wise words to me, and I’ve done everything once, twice, and thrice. But unlike the last century there is another bugaboo in my dream party life—lack of originality. Has everything been done? The new generation could be called Gen Zero, for zero innovation. “And most disturbing, they seem to think that these watered-down knockoffs of what artists, producers and promoters of the past have done are actually cool. If they could have just seen the original,” I think to myself so often when I’m out in the scene.

Enter the Downtown LA Film Festival. Did the world need another film festival? Surprisingly, at least judging by last night’s screening of “Passing Strange” and Opening Gala at the AT&T Center—YES! I’ve lived in Downtown for almost fifteen years and had no clue whatsoever that the building formerly know as the Trans America Tower had an incredible theater, albeit vintage 1970’s. And if for no other reason, introducing this gem of a venue to a thousand or so people, made this second annual DFFLA worth having. But there’s more… Continue reading

IS AEG BEHIND MICHAEL JACKSON’S MURDER???

In an explosive report delivered this weekend by Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera…Rivera went well beyond implying that Michael Jackson’s concert promoter, AEG, had an interest in the King of Pop’s Death—he used context and comments by Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, to accuse AEG of having the man killed whose comeback tour they were promoting. At the root of Rivera’s allegation is an insurance policy for seventeen million dollars that he reports AEG wants to collect on. And adding a tanker truckload of fuel to the fire, is a deal between AEG and Sony to turn AEG’s footage of Michael Jackson’s preparations for his concert tour into two feature length motion pictures—GERALDO SAYS AEG IS TO BE PAID SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS FOR THIS FOOTAGE!!!

Of course AEG denies Geraldo’s allegations…And I know for a fact that AEG President Tim Leiweke has said that this story is going away today—I assume he’s pulling some of those power strings AEG has paid for or threatening Fox with legal action; take your pick. But what everyone has to be asking right now is why did this very same person said that AEG had no financial interest in Michael Jackson’s funeral event held at Staple’s Center? This lack of financial interest is how Mr. Leiweke justified sticking the city with a 1.4 million dollar bill for event related city services. Trying to dissuade ticket holders from cashing in 50 million dollars worth of tickets + 17 million in insurance money (according to Geraldo) + 60 million dollar movie deal = 127 million dollars of financial interest, if Rivera is right.

So, I’ve gone after AEG for a number of issues ranging from taking 300 million in tax credits from the public and not giving the community the events in the public space it promised to being a bad corporate citizen to being in the blogging business and not properly disclosing the obvious conflict of interest when making Tammy Billings the director of marketing for LA Live also the LA Live Examiner. But turning an enormous profit on the apparent murder of Michael Jackson? I write a pretty good novel every now and then and even I couldn’t dream this one up. Continue reading

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME?

My writing has come to span a variety of topics. And because one can never truly know what lies beyond the next door I, on occasion, write about what was once reserved for my most personal of conversations—politics and business. You see, I admittedly have a passion for both subjects, but in the ideal sense; what people do in the reality of politics and business brings to my heart darkness, and this is for me a source of great frustration. But in this moment of extreme egomania I can’t help but to think that I may say something that will help others tread on a better path…Business in America has lost its way, and government intervention / artificial stimulus aside, it has fallen, appropriately so, on the members of the business community to be the causation of a now much needed, tectonic like shift in the business PARADIGM.

First, the context of my thoughts on today’s downward spiral of business is from the vantage of growing up, born and raised, to do OLD BUSINESS—my father was a World War II veteran who opened a car lot on Whittier Blvd. and later or additionally an auto parts business—he was a straightforward businessman. Because of my age (44) I came to majority as a businessman in the 1980’s the cradle of the commercial digital revolution, which much to my father’s concern I embraced. The net effect being that I think about business today, as everyone should, in terms of what was, what is and what will be. Or more simply put: did the old way yield a better result than the new way or is the inverse true and worthy of evolution?

“When times are good people drink. When times are bad people drink more!” an eloquent and insightful cliché. Do not step into the trap of thinking that clichés are myths in need of debunking, because more often than not a cliché articulates the most universal of truths. However, not all clichés are born from truth and great harm can come from such ideas.

“If you build it they will come,” a paraphrased line from a movie, now a cliché, but not exactly a universal truth. And be frightened, because this flaw of thought has permeated American business culture. IF YOU BUILD IT THEY MAY NOT COME!!! Please feel free to quote this humble writer. And, because my vocation is telling people about things, I am the first to divulge the obvious that it is in my interest to weigh in. That being said, business is as much about perception as it is product—you can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows of its existence, financial challenge will be imminent, and that simple fact, AWARENESS, only broaches perception. A product can be great, people can be aware of it, and it still won’t sell.

 

American Cars For Example: Continue reading

SHORT TRIP, LONG BEACH

Being a writer can be challenging. Being a great writer is a disease. Being a writer with wealthy friends that will let you stay at their vacation homes for free—NICE CONSOLATION!

Some of my earliest childhood memories float through my mind like the fog that rolls toward the California shores, particularly Belmont Shores Long Beach, where my father procured a rental every summer for our family. I was too young to understand that this was not the most tony of beach resorts, but did take note that my father often told other adults that he preferred the weather in Belmont Shores to any other costal city. And my father did have an aversion to big shots and people who fancied themselves chic.

As years passed on, the family vacations came to an end. And as more years passed my connection to Belmont Shores, like so many of the great wonders of youth, became a distant memory relegated to an occasional visit.

I pause to think now about my dream of buying the beautiful brick house that to this day sits on a corner of an island called Naples, which juts into the bay at its most favorable bend. In my lifetime I earned the money many times over to buy this spot so beautifully balanced between the earth and sea, but the foolishness of still larger dreams caused this one to vanish like the sandcastles of children with the rise of the tide.

My friend Ed, EY, Big Ed, or Edward Yawitz, he answers to all cheerfully so, grew up in Montebello a few blocks from I. And his family too escaped the heat of August by family vacation in Belmont Shores—and many other neighbors did so as well, it was the Catskill’s West. Even though many friends of my childhood kayaked in the bay in my company, and broke bread at my wooden table on the patio of The Beach Burger, or stood in line next to me at Woody’s Goodies, it had never occurred to me that their dreams had taken the shape of my own. But unlike my easily corrupted, by greed and grandiosity, vision of existence my friend Ed bought a home on the shorefront of Alamitos Bay, Belmont Shores, Long Beach.

“Why don’t you come down to Long Beach and spend the night? We’ll paddleboard around the island,” Ed suggested whilst we drove around the city smoking Cuban cigars in an American made truck he uses for work on occasion.

“Okay…” said I.

The home, built in 1903, was the first on the peninsula. Originally a Grand Victorian it was the sales office for much of the neighboring beachfront property. Later the first home on the bay laid claim to being the first brothel of the beach. And then came the remodel that converted the magnificent home to an apartment building—with three thousand square feet preserved ground floor, in front, for a hint of grandeur past.

And it is this valuable footage that my friend Ed has turned into a vacation rental. It warms me to think that other families are experiencing the summers as I once did. Ed is a wealthy man, he does not need to rent out such a special place—he won’t admit this. But in his heart I see that he wants others to know what we know about this little part of Earth.

I paddleboarded up and down the bay, after an unfortunate moment in which I attempted to mount the surfboard like contraption—it slipped from underneath and I landed face first in the shallow water. “Warmer than I remember,” I thought to myself, as Ed and several children accompanied by their parents had a great laugh. I chose to make it a teaching moment. And after failing so miserably the first time, I tried again and succeeded excessively.

Post paddle, I took a luxurious hot shower. This particular cascade of pleasure can only be experienced by walking directly from the sand to the shower bath—and even an adult must smile at the sand that washes down the drain after finding its way into the most inappropriate of places.

Ed took Frankie (another of his friends) and I to dinner on Second Street. Continue reading

NO DEFENDING LA LIVE

Funny, that hundreds of thousands of people have read my blogs either about LA Live or LA Live tenants and only two people have ever bothered to offer a comment in disagreement with the facts as I’ve presented them—that’s a pretty amazing statistic. So when the first comment of the two was submitted I had my doubts about its legitimacy, but I let it go. Yesterday, we received the second comment that disagreed with the facts as I’ve presented them with respect to LA Live, actually we received it twice, so please read both and note that the comment is referring to my blog “LA Live’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”.

Comment 1:

“do you really think bashing la live is going to get you anything?  we as a community should be supporting everyone and talking bad about someone on a BLOG.  you’re a jerk.”

Comment 2:

“oops, typo. 

we as a community should be supporting everyone and NOT talking bad about someone on a BLOG.  you’re a jerk.”

Now most of my readers know that I take being part of the Downtown community pretty seriously—I’ve lived Downtown for fourteen years and of course I founded downtownster. I was also a major supporter of LA Live until the time I concluded that AEG had betrayed the community and my trust. I met with Michael Roth, LA Live’s Vice President of Communications, he made promises that he did not keep—I’ve been more than fair to LA Live, I was willing to give them a second chance, and frankly for the good of the community, still would. But not by compromising on what I believe is right. And certainly not because of comments that call me a jerk.

AND WHAT ABOUT THAT COMMENT FROM THE CONCERNED MEMBER OF OUR COMMUNITY?

Here’s the problem for big corporate, corrupt, America—the Internet and blogs like downtownster have become the great equalizer. So now big corporate, corrupt, America is trying to defend itself—by lying. That’s right, companies like AEG either own their own blogs or employ people to post bogus comments in order to defend their interest around the Internet. AEG owns the examiner.com, which allows them to examine their own interest favorably. And apparently their tenant Outback Steakhouse Inc., the owner of Fleming’s at LA Live, has a bogus commenter doing their bidding—because, although the comment above was posted anonymously a trace of the IP address identified Outback Steakhouse Inc. 2202 N. Westshore Blvd. 5th Floor Tampa, Florida 33607 as the origination source. And yes we even know the name of the person whose workstation the comment came from, Patrick.

HOW DID A GUY WHO SENDS EMAIL FROM FLORIDA BECOME PART OF OUR COMMUNITY?

He’s not…And frankly, I can’t imagine what type of whore a person like this must be to throw away their integrity to defend a company from the truth…Hear this well bogus commenters…downtownster writes the truth and exemplifies why the founding fathers were such advocates and protectors of free speech.

So dear readers, to discourage corporate America from trying to interfere with the truth that we work so hard to bring to you, I’m going to repost at the bottom of this blog “LA Live’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”, “Three Things To Miss Downtown”, and “Why Pay To Bury MJ?” I urge you to read them, and use our share function at the bottom of each post to send this post to all of your friends—this helps to move the content way up on search engines and corporate, corrupt, America loves this.

Also, while downtownster loves getting legitimate comments, I promise the next bogus commenter that we will not only post your work address, we’ll post your full name and make sure everyone knows that you are fraud—Promise.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO READ THE THREE POST’S THAT SOME VERY RICH PEOPLE DON’T WANT YOU TO READ!!!

LA LIVE’S SAINT PATRICK’S DAY MASSACRE Continue reading

THERE’S A NEW DON IN VEGAS

My history in Vegas dates back to the “Good Old Days.” If you know what I mean? And because of this, I’ve met a few Don’s in my time. But perhaps the most interesting of them all has recently come to power in Downtown Sin City, 624 S. Las Vegas Blvd—and that would be the extraordinary Don Vicente of Don Vicente Cigar Co. A robust man, born on the Pinar Del Rio tobacco plantation in Cuba his hands can roll a cigar with the magic possessed only by those born and raised breathing Cuban air, drinking Cuban water, and learning the craft from their fathers.

The story begins with a call from my life long friend Fat Andy. “You’re coming this weekend?”

“I don’t have reservations anywhere,” I replied, feeling a little sorry for myself.

“Stay at Dave The Jew’s,” suggested Andy.

“I don’t know…” Dave is a bad influence on me. And I thought I recalled him mentioning that five or ten attractive young ladies were going to be staying at the house for the weekend…Not easy to explain to my girlfriend.

“Come on.”

“Okay…I’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

 

THE NEXT DAY

 

I pulled up to Dave The Jew’s sprawling single story—I’ve stayed there so many times, it actually feels like home. Fat Andy greeted me at the door and with the help of a couple of servants that Dave apparently traded an ipod for, I was settled in—in no time.

“My boy!” shouted Dave upon entering the living room. “Let’s go smoke some cigars.”

I nodded toward the sliding glass windows, thinking that we’d be smoking poolside.

“No…we’re going to Don Vicente’s,” insisted Dave before I could get a word out.

“Is he related to Gambino?” I asked.

“Not that kind of Don. He opened a cigar factory on Las Vegas Blvd.—Downtown.” You’re going to love this place. It’s the best cigar for the money I’ve ever had and I’ve smoked the best.”

Now Dave The Jew may not work much, but when it comes to the finer things in life, he knows what he’s talking about.

We hopped into the SL and headed for the Strip. Continue reading

SPECIAL GUEST BARISTA

A FEW MONTHS AGO

“Another Jack and Coke,” I said, ordering my fifth drink—I try to drink minimally at Lakers’ games. “Look Ray, you have to have an espresso machine at the bakery,” I urged.

“We’re going to have coffee,” responded Ray politely. He’s from Denmark they’re polite.

“That’s great, but you have to have espresso.” I wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Look how busy the Starbucks right around the corner is.” Referring to Starbucks at 11th and Grand. “You could take half their espresso business in your first month…They don’t even make their drinks by hand…And they still get the orders wrong half the time.”

“I don’t know why I come to these games,” chimed in Ed, as in Ed Yawitz our host. “Stan’s right Ray, you have to have espresso drinks.”

“Hell, I’ll be your barista—no charge, if you’re worried about the extra staff,” I offered getting carried away in the moment.

Ed nodded. “Stan’s a world class barista—I’ll come every day.”

Ray hadn’t had as much to drink as I. “Okay, I’ll put in an espresso machine, but you have to come in as our barista, not all the time, but…”

I held up my hand. “I’m there. I’ll be your special guest barista and I’ll train up some protégés.”

A FEW MONTHS LATER

Ray opened Hygge Bakery (1106 South Hope St.) and if you’ve read my blog “Let’s Hygge” you know that I was there crafting a very fine story, which I later wrote while on vacation in Las Vegas. Oh and while I was on vacation I launched downtownster’s sister site blogsincity.com a must read before any trip to Vegas. And if you haven’t read my blog “Let’s Hygge”, you should!!!

So on my way back from Vegas I received a text from Ray. “We’ve got the espresso machine.” I texted him back, that I’d be in the next day. Continue reading

Bottega Louie

If you’re reading downtownster you might already have a feel for our style—we’re not a news blog, meaning that we don’t run around and look to break the latest greatest story in less than six hundred words. Frankly we leave that to Ed and Eric at blogdowntown. No, our mission at downtownster is to find stories and get involved in them—we’re storytellers, each with our own unique voice / point of view. And as of the time of this blog I’m pleased to say there are now fifteen downtownster writers working on stories.

            That being said, David Kean (The Realtor) mentioned to me this morning that Bottega Louie was doing a soft opening today, the official opening being next week. Three years in the making all the usual words have been written. I did however want to stop by to see if Bottega Louie belonged on the downtownster story list, so here I sit—literally. Am I breaking a story and the downtownster mission? Yeah. Funny thing that I can’t even not break my own rules.

            Why? I walked into the space and ran right into Leslie, formerly of Roy’s fame; the tour began immediately. Words and phrases came to my mind with blistering rapidity. Continue reading