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Westside Watch

Trying to Set Up Shop in a Scary Post-Quake L.A.

January 27, 1994

As aftershock follows aftershock, some Westsiders continue to favor unconventional workplaces, just to be safe. Last week it was Doug Imscher of Santa Monica, who wrote job-search letters in his car after the quake rocked his San Vicente Boulevard apartment building.

This week it was Santa Monica resident Dominic Ortega Jr.

Ortega, a part-time contractor and writer, lost faith in the structural strength of his apartment building, which fronts the boardwalk. So on a recent morning, Ortega was seen pecking away on his typewriter in the great outdoors, the beach in the background.

"I type outside because I'm afraid of my building. And I sleep in my car," he said. "There's an aftershock every day . . . That kind of stuff totally rattles my cage."

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ELVIS LIVES: We have found the guy who upset Acting City Atty. Joseph Lawrence by entering a red-tagged building to salvage a cheap ceramic bust of Elvis.

He is Robb Gabriel, who said the recovery of The King was only a side-trip during his real mission at the evacuated Champagne Towers on Ocean Avenue--the rescue of a neighbor's pet parrot. On the way out, Gabriel said, he stopped at his own unit. In the middle of the rubble was a turquoise-and-gold bust of Elvis--perfectly intact.

Gabriel could not resist grabbing it as a symbol of survival. "You're going with me, Elvis," he said.

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REINDEER REDUX: Female reindeer do have antlers. It is something we will be writing on our blackboard 100 times.

On Jan. 9 in this space, we reported that the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the city's holiday decorations, removed the antlers from the reindeer closest to Santa Claus on the sleigh display over the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. The chamber's goal was to ensure female representation.

But as we were reminded by Academy Award-winning actor Charlton Heston, Beverly Hills school board President Lillian Raffel, Jim McNally of Marina Del Rey and Deborah Pollack of the Los Angeles Zoo, female reindeer do indeed have antlers.

Heston, a Beverly Hills resident, took exception to the biological gaffe and the chamber's attempt to be politically correct, saying he was "alternately amazed, outraged and convulsed with laughter . . . "

"People, PC is humor, not a guide to decision-making in the real world," Heston wrote. "Santa's sleigh is not real; it's part of a children's story."

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