You couldn't accuse Trader Vic's of using the hard sell in its advertising. The Pacoima used car dealer's slogan is: "Miracle Cars--If It's a Good Car It's a Miracle" (see photo).
Actually, the slogan is a throwback to the early 1960s, when Victor Snyder, the late founder, bought and sold cars in almost any condition.
"When the business began, he had cars he would sell for as little as $5 or $10," said Luis Estrada, the current owner. "Some of them you had to push off the lot. He'd take payments of $1 a week from some customers. He'd take anything in trade--a set of golf clubs, an old TV. He even took a dog once."
Estrada said the cheapest car on the lot now runs about $1,900 (and it does run). The price is in dollars, too--the days of bartering have long passed. "The industry's more regulated now," Estrada noted.
The dog is gone, too. But the pooch wasn't resold. "[Snyder] kept it until its death," Estrada said.
SWITCHING SPORTS. . . . Molly Hyman of Burbank noticed a striking church marquee that said "Bungee Jumping With Jesus" (see photo). Puts me in mind of another linking of sports and religion, as told in the touching country song, "Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life."
WAFFLES AND LAUGHS: A funny inside joke aimed at Southern Californians has a couple of L.A. tourists asking for the whereabouts of Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, the small restaurant chain in the movie "Rush Hour." Nothing unusual about the request except that the tourists are Asians, they are searching in Chinatown and the person they ask for directions is Hong Kong-cop-on-loan Jackie Chan.
Roscoe's, you may recall, is also featured in the mystery "Jackie Brown." A false promise of dinner there is the means by which Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) lures one of his hapless underlings, Beaumont, to his death.
L.A. POETRY CONTEST: Gail Thompson of San Diego wrote about a long-ago verse that kids were taught in order to learn the order of the streets in downtown L.A. (in the days when people still walked). It went:
From Main I Spring to Broadway and over the Hill to Olive, and wouldn't it be Grand to Hope to pick a Flower on Figueroa."
It's a verse that captures the spirit of a more innocent time in L.A. But with the next century approaching--my computer says it will be 1900 in no time--we need to think about the future. We need an updated version.
So I'm calling on all you poets out there to send me a sentence of verse that mentions those nine streets--but captures the flavor of life today. As prizes, I've collected many freebies, ranging from a book about petunias (or is it daffodils?) to a plastic surgeon's coffee mug that shows before and after photos of his clients.
You can transmit your work of art by fax, mail or e-mail (listed below). Please--no dramatic readings over the telephone.
Shrewd product placement? A CNN blurb about Monica Lewinsky the other day was followed by an ad for a Woodland Hills cigar shop.
Steve Harvey can be reached by phone at (213) 237-7083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by e-mail at email@example.com and by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, Times Mirror Square, L.A. 90053.