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L.A.’s Playful pastimes 

Wednesday, May 26 1999
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Illustration by TL Ary . . . It’s a bright, breezeless afternoon, when, miraculously, the usually hazy Los Angeles sky is purely clear, like a childhood-remembered Texas sky. —John Rechy, referring to a summer day in Santa Monica, City of Night

Hot, hot, hot. What to do, what to do, what to do during these sweaty days when all you want to do is cool off and have yourself some fun. With beaches, mountains and lakes all within driving distance, plus glitzy amusement parks, nightlife and cuisine, the choices are endless, and the decisions aren’t always easy, so maybe the following suggestions can give you some ideas about how to chill out and take full advantage of the summery moment.

Go Fish

Okay, so you don’t know a rod from a reel, think a jig is some kind of a dance and don’t have a trusty pair of sea legs. Don’t let it bother you. The briny deep beckons in warm weather, and if you’re the outdoor-loving, adventurous sort, there are few activities that offer more fun and excitement than ocean fishing. What’s more, it’s something that can be enjoyed by young, old, just about anyone. And nothing takes the edge off a sizzling day like being out on the high seas with an ocean spray and a cool breeze whipping about, and an iced-over beer in hand. Southern California waters boast some of the best summer fishing anywhere, and with the price of fish these days, a trip or two just might pay off. Besides, if you are planning on some holiday get-togethers, there are few things tastier than barbecued barracuda or calico bass, over which you slosh your favorite sauce. Nearly all commercial sport-fishing landings have on-site shops where you can rent a rod and reel at minimal charge, and purchase any other necessities (hooks, sinkers, etc.). If this is your "maiden voyage," opt for a half-day junket; those all-day trips can be tiring, and the shorter trips are a good way to gain experience. Ask around about what’s been biting and the type of bait being used; it can make a difference as to whether you return with fish or an empty sack. Also, some of the big newspapers regularly publish fish reports — catch totals reported by landing operators. Most of the time they are fairly reliable and will give you an idea of which landings are "hot." Remember, luck and skill both play a part in fishing, and there are as many fish stories about the clumsy greenhorn who bagged the "big one" as there are about the one that got away, so newbies, take heart! A license is required and can be purchased with your tackle, or after you’ve boarded the boat. If you don’t plan on making more than one trip, get the one-day ($6.55), and if you even think you might get seasick, take some Dramamine — or it could be a very long day. Some suggested local landings: Marina del Rey Sportfishing, (310) 822-3625; 22nd St. Marina Sportfishing/San Pedro, (310) 832-8304; Redondo Sportfishing, (310) 372-2111; Davey’s Locker Sportfishing/Newport Beach, (949) 673-1434.

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A Hotsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare would have loved it: a running stream, blisteringly fresh air, unearthly serenity, an outdoor amphitheater terraced into the landscape of a canyon. Toss in a sky ablaze with a full moon, and it’s a too-perfect setting for the magic and whimsy of The Tempest. This summer, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum will bring to the stage the Bard’s frolicsome comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, George Bernard Shaw’s stirring drama Saint Joan, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull and Brandon Thom as’ Charley’s Aunt. If you really want to make the outing special, pack a basket with food and your favorite libation, spread out your blanket, and savor the refreshing night air and rustic ambiance while nibbling before, or after, the show. There’s also a café on the premises that sells coffee, soft drinks and snacks. The place has converted many a theater-hater into a passionate devotee. Be advised, though, that it does get nippy up in the canyon, so dress warmly, and bring along a cushion to take the edge off the stadium seating. 1419 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; (310) 455-3723.

Take a Hike

There are some places you just can’t get enough of. Like the mountains, with their abundance of wildlife, plants in regal display during the warm months, unlike any other time of year, the mysterious quiet in concert with nature’s myriad sounds. Heat be damned! Buy a sturdy pair of boots or shoes, load your camera with film, and get to walkin’. Since 1993, Jost Rhodius has been organizing scenic tours for summer visitors who want to take in some of Mother Nature’s wonders. These walks are perfect family outings and run from three to five hours. Tours include Topanga State Park, Solstice Canyon and Point Dume, Sandstone Peak, and Temescal Canyon, with commentary on the history, plant life and geology of each area conducted in English, French, German and Italian. If the wilds don’t appeal to you, there’s also a four-mile educational city walk, offering a historic overview of downtown L.A. JRT International, (818) 501-1005.

Celluloid Fever

Downtown L.A. is home to some stunning movie houses, and what better way to see and enjoy these historic treasures than by watching a classic film. This summer, the L.A. Conservancy will once again sponsor films and live entertainment in the Broadway Historic Theater District, on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. over a six-week period starting June 2. If you like revivals, this lineup is sure to delight you. The fun starts at the Orpheum, with a screening of the landmark 1933 Busby Berkeley musical 42nd Street, starring Ginger Rogers. Setting the tone for the evening will be live performances by Dean Mora’s Modern Rhythmists Swing Show, featuring singing and dancing to music of the ’20s and ’30s. The lovely Veronica Lake will once again be onscreen June 9 at the Palace, in Preston Sturges’ 1941 Tinseltown satire, Sullivan’s Travels. The evening will include a tribute to Sturges by critic Leonard Maltin. Sci-fi junkies, take a night off from the hype and that galaxy far, far away and drop by the Los Angeles Theater the following week for another glimpse of Robby the Robot and Leslie Nielsen in Forbidden Planet. George Takei, a.k.a. Sulu of Star Trek fame, will be hosting a reunion of cast members before the show, and props and memorabilia will be on hand for viewing. The series rounds out with Aventurera, Born Yesterday and the silent-movie classic It. And heck, why not come early and scout around for a place to enjoy a cold drink and some interesting eats before the show? Downtown on a warm summerly night . . . ahhh! The 13th Annual Last Remaining Seats, 24-hour hot line at (213) 896-9114.

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