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Live at 5 

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Now we all love a good car chase. And when it’s broadcast live . . . with a bowl of popcorn, there’s nothing better. The problem is that you never know when a chase is going to be on TV. Enter PursuitWatch Network. Operated by moonlighting Southern California police officer Ken Kuwahara, PursuitWatch is a one-man business that . . . well, the promo speaks for itself. "Do you like watching live TV news broadcasts of police pursuits? We’ll notify you by pager during the next live high-speed chase. Join PursuitWatch Network today."

Kuwahara has signed up 300 customers via his Web site (http://www.pursuitwatch.com) and toll-free number (1-877-SEE-COPS). Last month, subscribers were notified — by e-mail or pager — of four pursuits. At $2 a month — plus a $5 start-up fee — PursuitWatch is not yet bringing in the Benjamins, but Kuwahara, with deliberate vagueness, says he is "in talks" with people in the "production business" to expand. We decided to investigate the growth potential. The CHP estimates 6,000 car chases a year in California. We all know local news stations dig them, but we wanted hard numbers. Okay, it was sweeps week, but even when we got someone on the phone, like Fox 11’s program manager John Frenzel, the conversation went like this:

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OffBeat: "We’ve heard that there’s about three, four chases a month."

Frenzel: "That sounds a bit high."

OffBeat: "Could you tell us about how many you aired last month?"

Frenzel: "There are no statistics."

OffBeat: "About how many? One, two, two or three?"

Frenzel didn’t answer, but we finally got some answers from KTLA news director Jeff Wald, who said stations like car chases because they can show off their techno-toys, such as helicopters and gyro-stabilized cameras. Clearly, the viewers tune in. Enshrined in local station lore is KCAL’s 17 rating for a November 1998 chase. But stations lose ad dollars when they break into programming. Few would argue that car chases have news value. So, will stations stick with them? "My guess is that their thinking goes that the more people they can bring into the tent at times like this will make it [airing chases] worth it into the long run," said Wald. That’s a relief — whoops, there goes our pager. Stolen SUV on the northbound 405! Gotta go!

—Queena Sook Kim

The Next Whisky Bar

 

According to his press release, Lloyd Grant Gordon, 35, is not only "brand ambassador" for William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich and Balvenie single-malt scotches, but also the "epitome of the nineties gentleman." Unaware that there were any gentlemen in the 1990s, I was curious to meet him. I was also curious to try the products Lloyd was in L.A. to promote: the 15-year-old Glenfiddich Solera Reserve ($48) and the 18-year-old Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve ($65). Then there was the Balvenie 1966 Vintage, which is already on the market, but at a cost of $280. (In some bars, it goes for $75 a shot.)

We sat on the terrace outside Lloyd’s hotel room. Lloyd was wearing a gray Etro suit, Maui Jim sunglasses and Crockett & Jones shoes, and on the table were six bottles of single-malt whiskies. Although it was a little early (11 a.m.) to start in on six bottles of scotch, I agreed to taste them. No one said being a journalist was easy. First, though, Lloyd wanted me to "nose" the libations. To do it properly, Lloyd instructed me, you stick your nose deep into the glass, but you "inhale" through the mouth. This removes the alcohol smell, leaving only the whisky’s aroma. The first time, I inhaled through my nose as well as my mouth. The second time, I opened my mouth so wide I looked like I was trying to swallow a tennis ball. But the third time, I’m proud to report, I got it right. I opened my mouth a fraction, and didn’t inhale through my nose.

"It smells . . . great?" I said.

Lloyd did not look pleased. Obviously, I needed to learn the lingo. What I should have said was "Pebble smooth," or "The oakiness is at a premium." But all this was forgotten when I actually drank the stuff. First up was the 15-year-old Glenfiddich, which was wonderfully delicate and light, a judgment Lloyd seemed willing to accept. The 18-year-old Glenfiddich, however, was quite different. The texture was like liquid honey. But I didn’t use the word honey.

"The texture is almost . . . syrupy?" I said.

"Well, to each his own," Lloyd frowned. Syrupy was definitely the wrong word. Still, being a gentleman, he forgave me. I was a swine, but he continued to throw me pearls, the last of which was the Balvenie 1966 Vintage. As they say in England: It went down as easily as a choirboy’s penis. Driving home along Olympic, something felt strange: I was drunk, and it wasn’t even lunch time.

—Brendan Bernhard

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