IMG_5415I got ripped off and I have no one to blame but myself.

It began a couple months ago when I bought a pair of Danner boots for work, pretty much one of the most popular brands of footwear for those in my profession.

When they arrived I plotted a course to take them to a place south of Downtown called Code 7, my go-to place to get ’em shined up right, since I’m the posterboy for How To Suck At Shining Boots.

Trouble was, I found out that at some point between my academy adventures and the present, that particular branch of Code 7 had closed down (in fact their website still lists the LA location), leaving their only one other store waaaay down in Long Beach.

So I employed the inturnet to find me a suitable local replacement, which lead me to Willie’s on La Brea south of Olympic. The place looks amazing; spacious and chock full of old-school equipment to make or repair any manner of footwear, I dropped off my boots for their standard $12 shine but was intrigued by the proprietor’s pitch for his Cadillac service. Costing $42 it amounted to the boots being left for a week wherein they receive six coats and polishes resulting in basically a pair of leather mirrors on your feet.

I picked up the $12-shined shoes a couple days later and was satisfied with how they looked. Not Code-7 dazzled, but they’d do. The proprietor even blamed it on the boots, noting that the Danners I’d bought were made in Taiwan (what’s up with that Danner?) with a leather not of the same quality as those made in the USA. That fact of course gave him the opportunity to re-pitch me to fork over the green for the Cadillac treatment. He said it would take that type of work to really make them truly glow. So the seed that had been planted got fertilized. I was simultaneously intrigued by the concept of spending almost half of a hundred dollars on a shine as I was repulsed by it.

But the intrigued side of me won out and a few weeks ago when the $12 shine had looong worn away, I dropped the boots off with the promise that a week later I’d be in total freaking awe.

A week later, I wasn’t in total freaking awe. Certainly they looked all right, but really not much better than the $12 shine. Coincidentally (or conveniently) the proprietor was not on-hand, so it was a surprised shop employee who had to endure my brief line of rhetorical questioning, which consisted of “I paid $42 for this?” as I stormed out.

Let it be known that the irony is not lost on me that for the $42 I threw away, I could’ve driven them down to Code 7 in Long Beach with that amount of money in my pocket, waited for them, bought lunch, tipped the server, paid for the shine, tipped the shiner, driven them home and still had about $10 left.

To make matters worse whoever did the quarter-assed job at Willie’s applied polish to e-v-e-r-y leather aspect of the eight-inch uppers of the boot — a complete waste of time, material and effort since those parts of the boots reside unseen under the pant legs. The only thing that work accomplished was to piss me off further because it meant that pulling the boots on or taking them off left black waxy residue on my fingers. The only thing I hate more than a crappy ridiculously expensive shine is to have to scrub off proof of its complete over-priced failure from my digits twice a day.

Now you’d think I’d’ve been steamed enough to march them back to Willie’s, fling them in the proximity of the proprietor’s head and either demanded a refund or at least a make-good, but instead after wearing them on-duty just one day I was so ashamed at being such a total sucker that I chocked it up to being an expensive lesson learned and instead dumped them into the bottom of my locker and went back to wearing my old trusty boots. Once out of sight and mind the Danners sat until yesterday at end of shift when I hauled ’em home and this morning deployed my meager skillset in stripping them and starting from scratch.

Suffice it to say that at the end of that ordeal, they still need a boatload more of elbow grease, but at least my Chrysler-level work (seen at the top of this post) looks far better than Willie’s so-called Cadillac.


Thursday afternoon, I biked downtown to the Music Center to pick up tix for “War Horse” waiting for me at the Ahmanson’s box office. I forgot to turn off the handlebar cam on my bike and as a bonus it snapped me in my Hollywood Bowl Driving School tee, a favorite shirt of mine that has sat in the drawer unworn for a couple years because from then up until just about last week (thanks to my diet) it fit far too snug around my bel-lay (click it for the bigger picture):

More info on why I created such an (overpriced — hey it’s unique) article of clothing.

The downtown Brooks Brothers store is closing, reportedly due to unrealized plans to relocate to a new space in the long-delayed Grand Avenue project. Most will mourn the end of that branch of the upscale clothier’s 71-year-old Los Angeles tradition, and normally I would too. But this time it’s a bit personal. So instead I will mourn for those who’ve lost their jobs, but say good riddance to the establishment in my most begrudging, bitter voice.

One of my first revolving lines credit was with Brooks Brothers. I got it in 1986 or ’87. It wasn’t much, a few hundred bucks, but I was proud of it. Fast forward to when my first marriage broke apart there were a lot of reasons, but one of the prevailing ones was we were just plain young and stupid with our finances. We bought a pair of top-of-the-line VW Jettas, we splurged on laptops and desktop computers. My first cellphone was in 1988, an in-car Mitsubishi job that cost $1,200, and back then there were no free minutes — in fact you were lucky if the per-minute charge was 20 cents.It didn’t take long to run up a bill close to $1000.

That was just one example of the ridiculous crap that we couldn’t afford and wouldn’t have had except for the the scary level of credit we’d been able to build up as little more than 20-somethings with no assets.

When bills came due and past due and past-past due and then the credit cards got canceled and creditors started calling, the one company that never bothered me was Brooks Brothers in large part because at that time I owed them nothing… but that didn’t stop other companies with which I maintained zero balances from sniffing the wind and closing accounts.

When all was said and done and I’d fully scorched my credit card landscape in the early 1990s, I’d gone from having a Dayrunner organizer stuffed with plastic, to a simple wallet that held my driver license and my Brooks Brother credit card.


With a few minutes to kill I logged into my long-dormant account at and did as I’d said I would a couple days ago: turned the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics badge image captured at a car show by my friend Frazgo into a tee (click it for the bigger picture):

Then I ordered one for me and one for him — no charge Frazmatazz, since I couldn’t have done it without you!

Want one? Didn’t think so, but you can check out its Zazzle page here.

Previous entries here: Leonardo, Vote, Midnight Ridazz

No, not this Batman currently breaking box-office records in all its awesomeness, that one. The one that started it all. The one with the campy Caped Crusader and the campier Joker and the campiest songs by Prince.

Don’t know how old the oldest shirt you have in your collection is, but though there’s some cracking and peeling evident, this one’s still in surprisingly good condition considering it dates back to Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Freakin’ Nine. When the smallest portable cellphone was the size of a brick and twice the weight, when the intarneight was barely more than a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, when you could go to the airport with someone leavin’ on a jetplane and wave at them from the gate while they waved at your from inside the plane.

Good gosh: my daughter still had a couple months to go before she was born.

I’m pretty sure I bought this one at the old Burbank Miller’s Outpost that used to stand across the street from NBC, and damn if I didn’t wear it proudly in the days leading up to the film’s June 23 opening — and to the theater, too.

And today.

I’m not totally committed to such a, ahem, bold fashion statement yet, but on tomorrow’s epic 63-mile July 4 ride — the backbone of which will be a complete end-to-end traversing of the 27.65 miles that make up (George) Washington Boulevard — I may very well be sporting the following relic, dug out from the bottom of my dresser drawer that still holds the long-unworn Lycra garb I doffed when cycling way back when:

Most jerseys are decidedly less outrageous than this star-spangled spandexness, purchased a long time ago (in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to be exact) in a fit of genuine love o’ country and pedaled around town with pride. Speaking of fit, it is remarkably less clingy now then the last time I wore it on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

Previous entries here: Leonardo, Vote

If I had to pick one absolutely favorite Midnight Ridazz ride of the couple dozen I’ve been on, it would have to be La Noche De Los Biciclistas Muertos, from November 2006. Not only was it an awesome excursion that went from Los Feliz to East Los Angeles and back along the 6th Street Bridge, but it drew one of the largest crowds in Ridazz history. On top of that the organizer had the stroke of genius to make up these shirts (that he sold at a rock-bottom price) utilizing the perfect artwork of the incomparable José Posada:

My Flickr photoset from that marvelous ride can be viewed here.

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