By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Typically the show is the exclusive domain of low-end vendors hawking aluminum siding, hot tubs and lifetime-guarantee cookware. This year, though, the two-inch ad in the L.A. Times promised a “Survival Expo” featuring “Everything you need to help keep your family safe!” Shertzer seems to be the Expo’s number one flogger: A sign posted over her table reads, “Your chance of survival could depend on how â little you leave to chance.”
Shertzer’s booth is piled with Mail Room and Home Mail Safety Kits ($39.95 for a one-month supply), consisting of rubber gloves, paper masks and a plastic bag with a Day-Glo orange sticker that reads, “CAUTION SUSPECTED CONTAMINATED MAIL CONTAINER Do Not Touch!”
But the item that excites her the most is the combination hazmat (hazardous materials) suit and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection mask. “What we are promoting is emergency preparedness for homes and offices,” she says. “We believe everyone deserves to arm themselves with these suits and masks.” Shertzer has two types of gas masks for sale: the Mark II mask with suit, which goes for $500, and the Mark IV mask (a slightly more durable model) with suit, which is $600. “A special promotion,” she emphasizes, “available only at the Home Show.”
But Home Show attendee Arlene Chapelle is skeptical. “I’m just thinking you’re giving people false security,” she tells Shertzer. “If they bomb, this ain’t going to do no good.”
Over at the booth for Canoga Park– based Mediterranean Heating and Air Conditioning (for your “total indoor comfort”), sales engineer Brian O’Donnell explains the virtues of the “Steril-aire” — a device about twice as long as a shoebox that purports to remove anthrax from the air. “This is going to give you the cleanest, purest air you can get,” he says. “It gets rid of everything.”
According to the brochure, “UVC Emitters from Steril-aire use ultraviolet light — not the familiar A and B, but UV-C. It kills all known microorganisms, penetrates their DNA and kills them. No filter or ozone generator or electric air cleaner can make the air that pure. There is no toxic ozone or fumes or secondary pollution.” The Steril-aire retails for about $800, installed.
I point out that in order for the Steril-aire to work, the anthrax already has to exist in the ventilation system, which means everyone in the house has probably already been exposed. O’Donnell concurs. “If you’re infected it’s not going to make you un-infected,” he says. “It’s not like the magic Star Trek thing where you walk through the light and you’re okay.”
CHP officer Rick Miler, manning a booth near the entrance, dismisses the heavy-handed approaches of his fellow conventioneers and suggests a much cheaper alternative — a simple pair of rubber gloves. “This is all you really need, for your basic safety,” he says. “You don’t know who’s touched that mail anyhow, just for basic cleanliness.” As a safety video plays in the background, he continues, “You get a letter with anthrax in it, you’re not going to die. Be cautious, but don’t panic.”
Ghost Talk: Unhaunting the Spanish Kitchen
On the night that Laurent and Fabienne Dufourg received the keys to the new salon they were about to open on Beverly Boulevard, Fabienne wanted to be sure to lock the place up right. “I held the handle on the door to keep it shut as I locked it,” she explains. “But I came back the next day and both the handles, inside and out, were gone — they were hanging on the wall inside!” Somewhat spooked, the Dufourgs employed the services of one of the customers from their original salon, La Cienega, who claimed that she could “clear” the rooms of spirits. The client came and identified eight of them residing upstairs.
Before you jump to the conclusion that the Dufourgs are the kind of people who immediately think ghosts are to blame for every odd thing that might happen to them, it should be noted that their new salon, Prive, is in an unusual, even historic, Los Angeles location. Their salon is in the space that was once the Spanish Kitchen, the site of one of Los Angeles’ great and enduring tales of mystery and intrigue.
In its day, the Spanish Kitchen was a great celebrity hangout and margarita joint, an oasis of cool. Then, one night in 1961, Pearl Carreto put a “Closed For Vacation” sign on the door and the place never re-opened. Rumors of mob murders, and tragic love stories, circulated for years. Finally, in the late ’90s, family members explained that Pearl, a onetime silent film actress, closed the restaurant so she could take care of her husband, Johnny, who had Parkinson’s disease. After Johnny died, in 1964, Pearl, who died in 1994, lived in an apartment above the shuttered restaurant, until about 1980. Others tried to open a restaurant and a piano bar in the space, but for various reasons only the occasional pigeon and transient took up residence until the Dufourgs fell in love with the property, bought it and began restoration. “No, it wasn’t filled with the famous furnishings and all,” Fabienne says. “It was empty. Five years ago, someone cleaned everything out. It was four bare walls.”