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Cool Options for Dog Days

Ignore the heat. The Valley offers plenty of amusements from drive-in movies to fiddle parlors to just feeding the ducks.

August 22, 1996|James E. Fowler

It's August, in the Valley. Friends on the other side of the hill are making it clear that they feel sorry for us. OK, it's HOT. We'll give you that.

But living in Encino and elsewhere in the Valley is just fine, thank you. Save your pity for people who don't have a smorgasbord of entertainment options. And we're talking about things you can do practically free on a weekend other than float motionless in your pool.

The Valley Weekend staff recently sat down in an air-conditioned room and brainstormed the things they like to do on days when Venice Beach seems just too far to go. Options, think of these as options. Options without Westside price tags, we might add.


11 a.m. Saturday--The pond in Reseda Park is just the right spot for a late morning outing with my 7-year-old daughter Nikki. First, we stop at the supermarket and buy a cheap loaf of white bread. Then we sit on the benches near the pond's edge and pass the time talking and slowly doling out bits of bread to the ducks, geese and other assorted birds that live there.

Nikki says feeding the ducks makes them so happy that it makes her happy too.

Nikki gets really excited when she finds her favorite duck, a small black male with a bluish green, rainbow-colored head, and he gets rewarded with more than his fair share of bread. I have to keep reminding her where the pond's edge is, so she doesn't fall in.

Some people enjoy dropping bread on the ground near the edge to lure the birds out of the water to watch them waddle hurriedly for the food. But Nikki and I have no desire to stress out our little friends.

Reseda Park pond, at the northeast corner of Victory and Reseda boulevards.


2 p.m. Saturday--I first started visiting Glendale's Brand Library in 1978.

All of my earthly possessions had been lost when a U-Haul truck I rented to move cross country was stolen in Phoenix. Gone in less than the time it takes to say "grand theft auto" were my clothes, photographs, furniture, musical instruments and an enviable record collection.

Because I was a professional musician at the time, the records meant a lot to me, and I didn't have the money to replace them. So, visits to Brand Library became part of my monthly routine.

The exotic library has a wonderfully incongruous look in an otherwise predictable suburban setting. Constructed over 90 years ago as the home of Glendale pioneer and developer Leslie C. Brand, its design was based on the East India Pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

Originally named El Miradero, the 10-room mansion has Tiffany windows, silk-damask wall coverings and carved woodwork from Italy. It has lovely broad lawns and symmetrical rows of palm trees that line the main driveway. But, really, it's the collection of more than 30,000 LPs, 8,000 CDs and an enormous amount of sheet music that are the library's primary lure for me.

Patrons can borrow up to 10 CDs and 15 LPs at a time. Also, the library has phonographs and CD players available if you want to listen while visiting the beautiful library grounds. All you need is a Glendale Library card. And you don't have to be a resident of Glendale to get one. You just have to ask.

Brand Library and Art Center, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale. Call (818) 548-2051.


7 p.m. Saturday--The Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor is not your average music store. No synthesizers or computer-driven drum machines. No high-powered amplifiers or conga drums. No plush carpets or designer decor. No pretensions or highfalutin attitudes.

There's nothing slick about this place. In fact, everything looks a bit disheveled. But there's nothing amiss about the laid-back, friendly atmosphere, the expertise of the staff or the bottomless pot of hot coffee.

The Blue Ridge is the unofficial center of the local bluegrass music community. When you walk through the front door of this unassuming storefront on Saticoy Street in Canoga Park, sometimes you'd swear the place even smells like wood. Maybe it's the instruments hanging on the wall--guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, dulcimers--acoustic instruments made of natural stuff making natural sounds. Not a wah-wah pedal in sight!

The store sponsors Saturday night jam sessions once or twice a month. Kids and beginners can participate early in the evening and the more advanced players come out later. The public is welcome. It's a great time to play, sing or just listen. And the price is undeniably right.

Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor, 20246 Saticoy St., Canoga Park. Call (818) 700-8288.

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