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A CHRONICLE OF THE PASSING SCENE : One House, With Wheels

October 30, 1992|SUE REILLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If you want to buy a house with at least one car in the garage, check out Sal Forlenza's deal.

He's offering to sell you his house (for $399,950, negotiable). As a bonus, he'll buy you any car you want, (for less than $10,000).

The car, of course, is a selling tool. He thinks if he can get people to see the house, it will sell itself.

Forlenza bought the home on a curling, tree-lined avenue in Woodland Hills in 1990.

Then he bought the franchised athletic memorabilia shop, Field of Dreams, in the Topanga Mall. He says the store is a sports nut's dream.

He was living his own dream.

It didn't last. The economy began its now-famous nose dive, and the house went on the market, posthaste.

"My business, like everyone else's, was hurting, making it became impossible for me to make the mortgage payments on the home I'd bought for $410,000," he says. Forlenza told his loan officer he would have to sell.

His loan officer replied "Good luck."

Three years later, the house is still on the market. After listing it with a couple of brokers, he decided to hang out his own "For Sale" sign.

"I wanted to get people to come and look at the house, so I decided to throw in the car as part of the deal," he says.

And if you don't need a deal on wheels, he'll take $10,000 off the sale price.

Okey-Doke Okie Girl

Mary Lynn Chess, owner of the Okie Girl restaurant just off Interstate 5 in Lebec, is no stranger to promotion, and her latest is an Okie Girl logo look-alike contest.

The winner is Lindsey Kapella, 45, who Chess says is the spitting image of the Daisy Mae-ish lady on the logo that goes on everything from the restaurant's menu to its homemade beer.

Kapella's prize, in addition to the honor, is--what else?--a trip to Oklahoma that includes the company of Chess, 53, who was born in Oklahoma but has been a Californian since she was 6.

The contest was another in a long line of celebrations of her August, 1991, victory over Caltrans in which the courts awarded her $32,500 in punitive damages and ordered the agency to put up her sign.

The tussle with the state started in June, 1990, six months before the restaurant was opened, when she applied for a freeway sign.

"I asked Caltrans to put up one of those blue signs that tells motorists there is a restaurant at the next off-ramp, and Caltrans declined," she says. "First they went ballistic over the use of the term 'Okie.' Then they objected to the Okie girl I have on my logo. I went to war."

After flooding Caltrans with "fistfuls" of letters from Oklahomans who said they were proud to be called Okies, she says Caltrans dropped that line of attack. Then, she says, they objected to the Okie girl on her logo, which Caltrans contended could be considered morally incorrect.

She says the girl is wearing cutoff jeans and a halter top, something any high school girl would consider tame, and she is sitting in a pose that even Tipper Gore would consider less than provocative.

Jim Drago, a spokesman for Caltrans in Sacramento, said maybe it's been too long since he and other Caltrans officials were in high school.

Drago said that, although Chess was aggressive in her defense and came out the winner over Caltrans, he harbors no ill will.

"Not too long ago my family and I stopped in at the restaurant and really liked it, although I didn't have the nerve to tell Ms. Chess who I was," he said.

Heavyweight Matchmaker

Is there is a little hyperbole, a little truth stretching, in those ubiquitous personal ads?

Or is it realistic to believe that every other male is a lonely-but-buff Range Rover-driving doctor and every woman is a fantasy love slave dying to cook three squares (read: gourmet meals) a day?

Ron Watters of Burbank read through some personals more than five years ago, and just shook his head. "I figured there were real people out there who might appreciate a helping hand to intercede with their personal problems in finding people to date and love," he says.

The Pudgy Love dating service was born.

Neither Watters nor his wife Vicki are overweight or have a degree in counseling or human relations. But they thought pudgy would be a good market to help.

They placed a newspaper ad. The calls for information, Winters said, started rolling in.

Clients pay $60 to be listed with Pudgy Love, which qualifies them for 10 introductions a year.

Predictably, most of his clients are plumpish to obese, but there are a number of less weighty people listed with his service. "It seems a lot of men are turned on by a woman of size," Watters says. "We list them too."

Carving Out a Laugh

Artist Robert Graham warned the audience he was no public speaker, then proceeded to make a liar of himself.

He went on to get the laugh of the afternoon.

The event was last week's CalArts Trustees' awards, a garden party and homage to two CalArts benefactors, Roy E. Disney and Dr. Franklin Murphy. It was held on the green lawns of CalArts President Steven D. Lavine's Encino home.

The gathering was heavy with academic and artistic notables, including Graham's bride, actress Anjelica Huston.

Before introducing Murphy, Graham, one of America's preeminent sculptors, warned he was better at chiseling than speechifying.

"I hope you will forgive my reading from prepared notes," the artist said in opening. "I am trying to avoid becoming the second coming of Admiral Stockdale."

Overheard

"The way I see it, it's always Halloween around our house. The kids are always in costume, their dad is always handing out goodies, and I'm the resident witch."

--One mom to another over coffee at Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks

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