Location, Location, Location.

Some days, Los Angeles seems to be hanging on by its fingernails.

When they write the obit on Hollywood, which is about a week away, they will talk about the greed, the lack of taste, the union strife. Historians will wonder how, during this renaissance of television, the whole big wad of muck could collapse like it has. Much like Rome once did. Or the Pac-12. An entire colossus, gone overnight.

Yet, life goes on somehow. Western Sunset Boulevard, a ribbon of crystal light that dips into the sea, seems bulletproof to the whims of idealistic writers and greedy moguls. It’s as if this area has its own glowing capitalism.

In particular, the Pacific Palisades — that social experiment in suburban perfection – thrives these days. Its streets are brimming with Lambos and flat-tummied school kids off to get coffee together, in roving packs, their jackets hanging just so off their shoulders.

Mayberry for millionaires, this place, where mothers in $150k Mercedes honk at the other mothers taking too long to park.

Beep, beep, beep — the soundtrack of late-for-lunch affluence.

One modest 900-square-foot house, nothing much really, just sold for $2.7 million, more evidence that the Palisades real estate continues to cook.

And in a gallery on Sunset, down by the Mexican joint, an artsy piece of fabric featuring sailboats lists at $37,000.

To be sure, it’s a nice piece of art, like something your talented high-schooler might’ve done, then stored in the corner of the garage. Yep, $37 large for something you might make in a weekend with some leftover t-shirts and Elmer’s glue.

You can probably sense the envy dripping in every sentence. I live in a good suburb, nicer than some, but everyone’s income would have to triple for us to match the beauty and refinement of the Palisades. Really is idyllic.

Just remember, envy is a form of flattery. Not a healthy one, perhaps.  Never said I was anything close to normal.

Still, I think the Palisades will survive all this. The situation is not as dire as I make it out, though I recently paid 12 bucks for a blueberry smoothie, and a cheeseburger at the stylish Hank’s will set you back almost 30 very American dollars. Don’t try to share the burger either. It’s not that big. Basically, it’s about the size of a child’s watch.

Just remember: location, location, location. Plus, vocation, vocation, vocation.

As you walk the wet, sprinklered streets, you start to wonder: What do all these people do for a buck? There can only be so many entertainment lawyers and strip-mall kings. I doubt many of these folks teach math or play the violin. But maybe. If there were any humorists around, they were keeping their heads down (as humorists should).

Sure, there is a healthy sprinkling of celebrities – approximately two per block. Tyra Banks used to live on that bluff off De La Paz that looks out to Japan, and they tell me Kobe once camped at the top of the bejeweled hill over there. In any case, the exodus west out of Beverly Hills now seems almost complete. So much riff-raff. So many killer smiles.

Now, they’re about to tear down the Palisades’ greatest landmark, Gladstone’s, most likely for public health reasons. Or maybe the sea just finally swallowed it, the pounding surf being the only local willing to be seen there.

Me, I liked Gladstone’s. I mean, no one could flub a table reservation quite like they could, and the food seemed double-fried, as if it hopped from one boiling vat of oil into another. Sizzle. Kerplunk. Sizzle.

But didn’t you love the foil swans? 

Old restaurants feel like old friends. Reportedly, Wolfgang Puck will be putting up something nouveau here, with a vision he and Frank Gehry sketched on a cocktail napkin. No doubt, it’ll be somewhat exclusive. Beg a reservation, offload some Apple stock, that kind of place.

Just remember, that outside deck is public domain, somehow. You can plop there any time you please.

If there was anything I really liked about Gladstone’s, it was the accessibility. Anyone could eat there — even writers, even surfers, though we barely did. You went only with the kids, or out-of-town guests. Even then, somewhat reluctantly.

I sure hope my pal Wolfgang continues the playful foil swans, though I doubt he’ll serve shrimp in portions that allow those tugboats of leftovers. For 50 years, Gladstone’s wasn’t shy about overfeeding us. They left diners robust and happy, while we gazed out at the cellophane sunsets and that queen’s necklace of headlights winding down from Malibu.

“This ain’t so bad,” you always thought. “’Nope, not bad at all.”

For past columns and sensibly priced books, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com. Email the columnist at Letters@chriserskineLA.com.

Updated bear book signing calendar:

Oct. 3 Vroman’s on Colorado, 7 pm

Oct. 4 Barnes & Nobel, the Grove, 7 pm

Oct. 6 Pages book store, Manhattan Beach, 7 pm

Oct. 7 Mammoth Library, Mammoth Lakes, 2 pm.

13 thoughts on “Location, Location, Location.

  1. Beautiful descriptions of a place I last visited in my adolescence. Certainly an idyll where the ultra rich can shut out the cares of the rest of the world. Well, at least we don’t have to worry about our homes sliding into the sea. Mother Nature: The Geat Equalizer.

  2. Excellent. Memories of 40 years ago and a young couple living at Sunset and Hayworth could drive their 69 VW to PCH and have exactly what’s in your photo, a chowder sourdough bowl and a beer and feel good about new married life. Wish I could take her with me there again. Only in memories…

  3. When we come back from a trip, it is almost reflexive to re-examine the familiar, and envy and appreciation are often mixed in that assessment. Chicago and the Palisades—what a parlay! Me? I’m going to repeat your odyssey to Chi Town, for a re-union. Will La Jolla seem like a bullet proof Camelot upon my return?


    Another glorious September
    Anthem of a day sings in the air
    Outside the windows as I lie here
    Contemplating the swift trip ahead
    From the sea to the lake—Chicago
    Where my life took shape in an almost
    Casual way many decades past
    As time seemed remote, happening
    To someone else, a dream the light watched
    With benign interest, focussing
    On the distractions of the hours
    While the years slid by, barely noticed;

    The seven decade dream did confer
    A kind of luminous glow—transfer
    To the morning eye an atmosphere
    Of radiation—memory’s bed
    Like steam rising in the long ago
    Vapors of recall, the risen ghost
    Of childhood telling stories that last
    Far beyond the chemistries that sing
    In the moments now, their lovely cached
    Explosions ready for un-dressing
    At a class reunion, the flowers
    Of the mind once again in bloom; and kissed
    By the slender darling at my side
    Who would not go, wonder, let time abide?

  4. Gladstone’s
    Thought I’d mention a Pasadena connection. RJ “ Bob” Morris was the founder owner of Gladstone’s. His creative business model was abundance & fun! Huge portions & encouraging drinks!
    He and 2 partners John Wilson & Al Erhinger, had invested in some old buildings and sparked the birth of Main St in Santa Monica as a historic shopping & dining destination.
    They decided that they could maximize their success in Pasadena and acquired multiple historic buildings centered around. Fair Oaks Ave & Colorado Blvd. The City’s original downtown.
    John Wilson was the flamboyant visionary of the creation of Old Pasadena. Unfortunately they encountered some financial duress and had to sell most of their interest in what became One Colorado. The centerpiece of Old Pasadena.
    I was their retail “Wizard”. Wilson’s description.

    1. Guys like you have such an impact on quality of life. Love Main Street in Santa Monica, and Old Town Pas is OK. The Palisades scraped away its history and character with that Caruso “upgrade.”

      1. All things considered regarding downtown development, I think Rick Caruso does a good job. Not perfect, but much better than most.

  5. Ahhh…Drat! Another landmark bites the dust. I loved Gladstone’s! No joy in the historic anymore…

  6. I had only been in Irvine for a week after moving from Phoenix when I got fixed up with a date. “Where would you like to go?” “Gladstone’s” “Is that near South Coast Plaza”? No, it was on the other side of the world. My date was a sourpuss, too. I put my swan in the trunk and forgot about it. This was 40 years ago. I’m sure that whomever is driving my VW Rabbit can still smell the halibut.

  7. Thanks as always, Chris. In my 30 years as a Malibu resident, I went to Gladstone’s two or three times – usually at the request of friends or family who were visiting. You can’t beat the view, but everything else (except the swans of course) was indeed double fried and pretty ordinary. If WP takes over, it will be another restaurant that I only see from the outside. My splurge restaurant in Malibu is Mastro’s, and I try to go once a year. My favorite view restaurant by far remains Malibu Seafood, and we are getting to the eight months of the year where there’s not a 1 hour line to get in and place your order for the best fish and chips this side of Kerry County on the Emerald Isle. For me, it’s the ultimate Malibu place.

  8. Chris,
    It’s sad to think another classic bites the dust. But honestly our family go to place for years has been “The Reel Inn” right down the street past Topanga. Yea you gotta stand in line to order your food and then go up to the counter pick up same but it’s kina funky but fun.

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