Thursday, May 25, 2006

Like, Oh ma gawd

You are looking at a picture of Westwood Theater. Westwood is home to U.C.L.A.

And home to my teenage years.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 60's and 70's, there were only a smattering of things you could do on a Friday or Saturday night.

And, yes, cruising down Van Nuys Blvd. was one of them. It's true, no cliche. It was like a rite of passage. We'd start at one end, and work our way down to the an Italian restaurant with the best garlic rolls imaginable. We'd go inside, buy the rolls, and gather in the parking lot.

We were actually pretty good kids...just wanted to eat and flirt. That's it. Innocent really.

But, what if you wanted to see a movie? Back then it was actually referred to as a "first run" movie. A brand new movie.

No such thing in the Valley. If you wanted to see a first-run movie, you had to go into Westwood.

Going from the city to the valley (or vice versa), is referred to as a trip over the hill. No, there's no passport required, no toll booth collecting money, no border patrol. You just get in your car, and make the trip. But the difference between valley folk and city folk continues to be a sort of war of the classes. The city folk maintain a sense of culture and sophistication. While valley folk, remain tasteless, know-nothings.

So, the trip to Westwood was essential, if you wanted to see a brand new movie. I can remember waiting in line for hours to see "The Way We Were" the rain, no less, because that's just what you did.

When the Exorcist came out, I had a part time job doing "marketing research". This meant, that at the age of 18...I actually got paid to go into Westwood, interview people coming out of the Exorcist, to garner the opinion of the masses.

Now, that was a tough job! I even recruited a couple of friends to do this with me. So there I was, doing what I would normally do on a Friday or Saturday night, and getting PAID for it. Not a bad gig.

After seeing a first-run movie, the rest of the evening always went the same'd promenade around Westwood, going in and out of shops.

There was Wherehouse Records. There was Stan's Donut shop. And a little swapmeet that was paraded out every Friday and Saturday night. We'd stroll the streets, laughing, eating, but mainly, and most importantly...looking for boys to flirt with.

When we had eaten enough donuts and flirted with enough boys, it was time to make the trip back over the hill.

But when you're in your teens, hunger is the operative word. Donuts was just an appetizer to what would come to be our staple for the late night hours.

DUPAR'S...the evening would end with a trip to the home of the best pancakes, this side of the Mississippi. And coffee...had to have lot's and lot's of coffee.

Dupar's still exists, although not the one that I frequented. That has become a deli. Not the same.

Now, you can see any movie you wish in the valley. In fact, the truth is, you never have to leave the valley. There are plenty of restaurants, and movies, and malls.

I suppose that's good for people dwelling in the valley. Less driving. Less time wasted on the freeway.

I have lived in several cities since those days of growing up in the valley.

But I'm grateful for where and how I grew up...for those drive's over the hill,

and the memories of my youth.

(this post inspired by a seemingly innocent comment on Wanderer's last post...go read it and see if you can discover the inspiring comment)


Ezzie said...

Valley KICKS City. :) (stupid city snobs... it's almost like being in NY)

jackt said...

I live in the Valley now. I love LA. Even West LA in small doses. The Valley's got some good stuff these days. I'm sure the westside elitists still think elite thoughts though. O well I hang out on the East Side a lot, which except for a few towns is snubbed more than the Valley.

Nice story!

kasamba said...

Your memory lane sounds a heck of alot more interesting than mine!
Thanks for the trip!

torontopearl said...

In the 80's, I, in Toronto, would make fun of Valley Girls, by imitating the mannerisms/speech patterns. (sorry!)
Pray tell, do you know how the Valley Girl phenomenon originated, Randi? Not that you have first-hand experience, but like maybe there's like a big building, like a museum, like where you live, that deals with Anthropology and Valley Girls...? Like you know what I mean? Fer sure. (I only went as far as mimicingthe speech patterns, never the clothes!)

Mia said...

When I was in my teens I always read those American high school romance books and wished that my parents would let me go for an exchange year to the States. I dreamt of watching movies in the car, eating donuts, being allowed to drive a car with 16, going to malls, dating a quarterbacks and being a cheerleader. It never happend, I was only allowed to read the books and watch the movies. Oh, how I wished to be a valley-girl just like you :D

Head over heel said...

Thanks for sharing. I remember we used to hit the old town on Sat. night and there was this one road about a mile long and we walked it up and down. So you started with a group of about 5 friends and kept on meeting other friends along the way, so by the end of the eve. we were somewhere around 15 people. That was fun!!!

Ezer K'negdo said...

Wow, such a different world from where I grew up! This is a great country - so much to see and so many different places!

wanderer said...

Valley Go Home! That's what us Westwood locals used to say to you valley folks. Don't get me started when Val-surfers used to show up on our beaches (in Santa Monica and Malibu)!

For you New Yorkers - closest thing is Manhattanites and the Bridge & Tunnel crowd (only without the beautiful beaches we have here in SoCal.)

It's ok Randi - you can still come over the hill any time! (Hmmmmm, and could an innocent comment on my blog have helped spark this post?!?!)

Sweettooth120 said...

Like no way, CM, fer sure, like did my reference to Valley Girl give you the idea for this bitchen post? : )

leonard said...

Brings back memories

cruisin-mom said...

Ezzie: you are a smart man.

jackt: we should have rumble: the valley and the city!

kasamba: I don't know how interesting, but there were some fun, memorable moments, like fer shur

t.p.: the funny thing is, all that valley girl stuff came way later, after I was an adult.

Mia: that's so funny, I guess we always wish for something we don't have. I wanted to be Madeline, French with a cool hat.

HOH: that sounds like a blast. That's what being a teenager is all about.

E.K.: maybe you will tell us how you grew up?!!!

Wanderer: we used to hang out at Sorrento and Teez in Santa Monica. We'd actually put on baby oil and burn all day long..can you imagine that today?!!! And, yes, read the little addition at the bottom of my post.

Sweettooth: well, I have to say, it was wanderer's direct shot at this valley girl that spurred on the memories...but you always inspire me!!! (just because you are my eastcoast clone)

Leonard: thanks for stopping by. Glad it brought back memories for you.

treppenwitz said...

What a fantastic post! I love when people write [well] about their lives as kids and teens. There is that nostalgia and longing there, so close to the surface you can almost touch it. More of that please. :-)

cruisin-mom said...

Thanks Trepp! Glad to see you here. I have lot's of stories throughout my blog about my childhood and past. I really love the challenge of turning something from my past into a story. I really didn't think anyone would even comment on this post,(not being modest, just didn't think it would interest anyone) so I'm glad it has somehow triggered a memory for others.

Jack's Shack said...


This Encino boy remembers well when Westwood was Westwood. I miss those days.

I used to love going in. What was it, every 10 minutes that the Hari Krishnas used to dance down Gayley.

So many good memories wrapped up in this one.

I drive up Van Nuys boulevard on my way to work, past the hospital and to the 101.

cruisin-mom said...

Jack: I knew you would like this post! Loved the Hari Krishnas. I could have gone on and on about Van Nuys Blvd (like the fact that we used to see a double feature for 65 cents) and Westwood. I think when the 3rd st. Promenade came in, it kinda killed Westwood. Glad it brought back memories for you.

Jack's Shack said...

The gang issues in Westwood didn't help either.

cruisin-mom said...

Actually, that was the beginning of the downfall, and then Promenade just sealed the deal. Do you remember DB Levy's restaurant Jack?

wanderer said...

Actually, it was Darryl Gates' LAPD that killed Westwood Village by outlawing the street performers (and the Hare Krishnas). There was some gang activity that came in the late 1980s, but by then the streets had emptied out quite a bit anyway. Darryl Gates just had a problem with people congregating, whether peaceful or not. He made a lot of bad assumptions about a lot of things.

Its really a shame - it was a real fun street village (I used to skateboard around), and now we have to go to these corporate pseudo-pedestrian malls like the Promenade, the Grove, Citywalk to see the same stores over and over.

cruisin-mom said...

Not sure about what happened with Darryl Gates at the time...but I do remember how much it changed. It was a great place to go, and I loved those days.

Jack's Shack said...

DB Levys?

Yep. I climbed the steps up to that place many times.

cruisin-mom said...

Jack: and they had a million sandwiches to choose from.
But the all time best was Stan's donuts (I think it's still there)

Jewish Sexpert said...

Nice job!

Jack's Shack said...


Stans- got a lot of free donuts there. I knew a couple of guys.

cruisin-mom said...

Jack: I'm jealous as hell. After I graduated college and moved to W.L.A., I found a new "donut home" called Arlene's Donuts, on Santa Monica and Ohio...guess what it is now?


Dagny said...

I miss the drive-in.

Up north the war is between SF and everywhere else, but especially the East Bay. Of course I have friends in Oakland who like to refer to SF as the West Bay.

RR said...

What a great blog this is! You certainly have a knack for storytelling- and the best part is, they're all true!

I've just spent some fun time reading some of your past posts- let me just say, I really thought that pic of your hubby WAS Paul before I read on and realized it wasn't!

I've never been to LA, never been "out West", but I've always wanted to go. I'll get there one of these days! Love your descriptions, you really bring the places and times to life!

Neil said...

What type of car did you cruise in?

cruisin-mom said...

Dagny: welcome! You must have come here by way of Neil, right? I miss drive-in's too for lot's of reasons (that's a blog post all by itself). Yes, I've heard about the wars "up north"!

rr: what can I say, I'm blushing...really, you are so kind. I write cause it just sort of pours out, and if someone enjoys, that is icing on the thanks! Come on out's beautiful.

Neil: was my mother's car...a pontiac, huh?

Sweettooth120 said...

Have you ever heard of a donut shop called The Fractured Prune?

Just goes to show ya, there's a market for everything.

Sweettooth120 said...

Trep, if you love this post, you should defnitely check out, "I'm a perfect A*#hole" if you haven't done so already. It is hysterical, and reminds me of one of my other favorite blogger's writings. Hmmm? : )

cruisin-mom said...

S.T.: Woah, that looks amazing!!!

and, hey, thanks for referring Trepp to another are kinda like my blog pimp ;)

Sweettooth120 said...

Blog Pimp? Show me the Money, Baby!

BTW, wearing it today, and it's GORGEOUS!

cruisin-mom said...

S.T.: show you the money? I'm not the one wearing that ring!!!!

Ralphie said...

Isn't it really called the Village Theater? Still a great place to catch a flick. But not great enough to warrant dealing with parking in Westwood.

cruisin-mom said...

Ralphie: probably is the Village Theatre...I haven't been to a movie in Westwood in 20 years. (i'm old)