sunday morning…everybody is out…so let’s talk stan’s donuts and thin crust pizza for a second or two
I wish I knew topography a little better so I could somehow understand and explain to you why our valley is surrounded by mountains on only two sides. And when you drive north it feels pretty flat until right past Indian Truck Road where the freeway starts descending until in front of your eyes on a clear day you see the incredible basin that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to Riverside, and north from maybe San Marino through the El Cajon Pass and beyond.
But all you really need to know is that it just took us 85 minutes yesterday to get from here to Stan’s Donuts in the village of Westwood, home of UCLA and the many, many empty storefronts.
We drove down here for a film screening, of which they asked that I not write about for a couple of months because it won’t be released until April and who wants to waste good or not so good press? It was actually great, and I think I should tell you something about it. Maybe later.
I’ve had a lot of donuts in my lifetime and trust me that Stan’s is simply the greatest. Or don’t trust me but Forbes Magazine, which took time out of financial journalism back in 2001 to name Stan’s the best in the country. Besides the variety, the size, the quality and fresh ingredients…I believe that what makes it taste so good and sets it apart from the others is the lack of oily or greasy smell and taste. They don’t taste like french fries or egg rolls.
While that could have been Mickey Rourke standing behind me waiting to order his glazed buttermilk bar, I didn’t look twice because if you’ve spent anytime at all in this part of town, celebrity sightings are passe. I was more focused on chatting with Stan Berman, who has been running this shop since 1965 and was damn excited about the twins who were born recently to the grandson and his wife. He had an interesting gift dilemma because he’d committed to getting the crib, bureau and a slider for the mom. With two kids, he was now on the hook for two cribs and two bureaus…but what about the eight-hundred buck slider? Did he really need to get two of them? I asked if the babies were sharing a bedroom and they weren’t, so I told him yeah…buy two.
My wife had heard about this film screening from a colleague who knew somebody that was on some historical association’s board of directors and gave her the number of the producer, which she gave to me, because she hates making calls to strangers to ask them for something. Not me…I’ll talk to anyone. Rob answered his cell sounding like the film dude he is, listened to my rap and told me to bring all the people I wanted to bring, no prob. Couldn’t wait to meet me. I should have asked Mickey if he wanted to join us, but he was intent on wrestling with his buttermilk bar.
Bob Redford directed this period film…you may know him as Robert, but the producers called him Bob so I will too. He didn’t show up which was just fine, but he sent one of his people instead. Do you have people? I don’t. I used to, but not anymore.
I gotta go but first, lets talk New York pizza. After the movie we strolled in the village and looked at some serious bad-shape homeless people (as opposed to the upper class homeless), and walked past those empty storefronts. Where did all the restaurants, clothing stores, record shops and boutiques go? Thirty years ago this next-to-Bel Air/college town was teeming with people. Empty now. Was it the gangs who started cruising the streets and shot that young coed, the fiery and feared LA riots, or simple urban decay and economics that did it in? Well there is a Whole Foods across the street from Starbucks, so maybe it’ll come back.
The pizza joint opened in the early eighties and the thin crust was the best. The sign on the front said “we make the dough with water flown in from New York”. Yesterday after we had a couple of slices, my wife pointed to the new sign. It says: “We fly the dough in from New York”.
And doesn’t that make more sense? I never understood flying in bottles of water…they weigh a ton, take up space, slosh around. Making the dough in New York, freezing it, driving it over to La Guardia, putting it on a plane, landing at LAX, picking it up and driving it to Westwood, storing it in the walk-in freezer until you need it, defrosting it, spreading it out on the counter and putting on the cheese, sauce and toppings…that seems just about right to me.
Oh…that’s right…this is a music site. I’m gonna go walk the dog and listen to some now.