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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|Patricia Ward Biederman

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.


Saturday afternoon--I think of it as the happiest building on earth. Say you are driving home to the San Fernando Valley from Glendale along the Ventura Freeway. Suddenly, you are smiling. Because there, alongside the freeway, is the Disney Animation building in Burbank. Los Angeles is a city hungry for landmarks: There is the Hollywood sign, yes, and the Capitol Records building and Mann's, once Grauman's, Chinese.

But, for the most part, this is the land of discontinuous architecture, a city that looks as if each of its buildings fell at random from the sky like propaganda dropped by enemy bombers during some ugly war. Not the Disney Animation building.

Designed by architect Robert A. M. Stern, the 2-year-old structure is as whimsical and charming as architecture gets. The building is a monument to one of the genuine treasures of American pop culture--the Disney animated feature.

Was there ever a soul so dead that it didn't tremble at the thought of Snow White succumbing to the poison apple or 101 Dalmatians ending up as a rich matron's coat?

The signature feature of the building is the conical hat worn by Mickey Mouse, America's bumbling Everymouse, as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in the film, "Fantasia." Behold, and grin.


Saturday afternoon--Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee is one of the Valley's treasures, a video rental store that stocks the obscure as well as the boffo. This isn't Blockbuster. You won't find 40 copies of "Goldeneye," but you will find knowledgeable staff who will help you find that one precious copy of a great Soviet art film you remember with enormous fondness, but without much precision as to its title.

The North Hollywood shop, which serves the local entertainment industry, also stocks vast amounts of TV-related material. Don't forget to rent what you want by 5 p.m. Saturday, because Eddie Brandt's has better rates than hours.

Movies rent for $2.50 for a half a week, $5 a week. But the store is only open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee, 6310 Colfax Ave., North Hollywood. Call (818) 506-4242.


Sunday afternoon--Nesting has become the great American pastime. How else to explain why the indefatigable Martha Stewart is a millionaire, not a murder victim? For more and more of us, leisure means labor at home, including doing the kind of short-hoe work in our gardens that, were it involuntary, would result in revolution.

The Valley has dozens of alluring garden centers where you can browse among the impatiens, feel up the herbs and ogle the bougainvillea. But Sassafras in Topanga Canyon is unique. You park your car on the road and hike down to a cool, lush plant playground, where an expert staff is happy to initiate you into the horticultural mysteries.

Even this time of year, even in the Valley, there are things you can plant, a Sassafras staffer assures. Cosmos, for example, has a fighting chance of survival and, thus, has the potential to make you feel like a life-giver, not someone so out of tune with nature that even her cacti die. Take it home to plant in the cool of the evening and water it like crazy. Don't you feel better already?

Sassafras Nursery and Landscaping, 275 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Call (310) 455-1933.


Sunday evening--The weekend is waning. Tomorrow it's back to DOW (Dumb Old Work). The relatively new Bristol Farms in Woodland Hills is a great place to go to grab yourself some upscale take-out--Moroccan lamb salad perhaps--or to buy a few things for the coming week.

At some point in your life, you discover that you no longer save money by buying things in bulk, and that's the point at which you can enjoy this luxe West Valley supermarket without guilt.

Granted, it costs more than the Vons around the corner, but, then, it carries mushrooms the size of baseballs and yellow tomatoes prettier than Matthew McConaughey.

Eventually, you come to think of groceries the way you think of the people in your life. You want just a few and only the best. Bristol Farms is there for you.

Bristol Farms, 6227 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. Open daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

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