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
BEST REAL-LIFE COURT DRAMAS
Drop by any courtroom on Temple Street and you’ll hear stories as old as the Bible and characters who’ll remind you of the kids you went to school with, because all our actions in life were predicted long ago by the way we responded to temptation, anger and fear as children. Go to Department 30 before noon to see the parade of just-arrested suspects brought before a magistrate to enter their pleas from inside what resembles a giant terrarium. Or visit Judge Marsha Revel’s court in Department 128, where a stream of people appear and bring the judge up to date on their progress in recovery programs, or explain how they are making restitution to the victims they crashed into while driving drunk. Listen to their promises and excuses, and wonder what you’d say if you stood in their shoes. Finally, there are the courtrooms of the ninth floor, which you must pass through a metal detector to enter, even though you’ve already passed through one in the lobby. Their most compelling moments are not the kind you see on TV shows, where a witness breaks down or a lawyer miraculously produces a lost fingerprint. Instead, it’s those quiet moments when a sad judge tries to talk an accused felon out of acting as his own attorney. The defendant, dressed in bright-orange or somber blue overalls, is almost jubilantly confident in his ability to defend himself. The judge says everything he or she can to dissuade the prisoner, knowing that it is useless to try but that at least the accused will feel hope for a little while longer. Criminal Courts Building, 210 W. Temple St., dwntwn.; Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-
4 p.m. (Check for furlough closures.)
BEST BARGAIN DEITIES FOR YOUR HOME ALTAR
I collect deities, and there is no better place for affordable small, colorful statues of Krishna, Radha, Ganesh, etc. than the gift shop inside the Hare Krishna Temple in Culver City. While the clothing here is beautiful and more then a bit pricey, there are all kinds of other, affordable finds. Good incense and Ayurvedic soaps share shelves with real kohl eyeliner priced at only $2. Even better, when you’re done shopping you can feast on the downstairs all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet for a mere 7 bucks. 3764 Watseka Ave., # 1, Culver City. (310) 836-1269.
While late greats from Hollywood and L.A. rest in cemeteries spread throughout the county (notably at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Forest Lawn Memorial Park), for a taste of the red-carpet Golden Age, a trip to East L.A. and the 136-acre Catholic Calvary Cemetery is necessary, along with a visit across the street to its smaller, Jewish counterpart, the Home of Peace Memorial Park. Calvary’s majestic, Ross Montgomery–designed mausoleum is home to L.A.’s old Catholic elite (the Doheny family has a gated crypt located off the main aisle, near oil man Harry Sinclair and his family), as well as the Barrymore acting clan, Lou Costello (sans Bud Abbott), and early film vamp Pola Negri. Silent-screen legend Raymond Novarro and jazz great Jelly Roll Morton are buried outside. Calvary’s rolling fairways are also the final resting place of local Catholic gypsies, whose graves are marked by wine bottles. Home of Peace is less noteworthy architecturally than Calvary, but offers more shade and is packed with such show-business greats as Fanny Brice (she’s inside the main mausoleum, among the book-shaped urns), Curly and Shemp Howard of Three Stooges fame, movie moguls Louis B. Mayer and Carl Laemmle and, most memorably, the Warner Brothers, Jack, Harry and Sam, who are interred in separate family crypts. Legend has it that Jack, the last surviving brother, asked for his crypt to be located as far from his brothers’ as possible. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights. (323) 261-3106, Mon.-Sun., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (5 p.m. when time changes). Home of Peace Memorial Park, 4334 Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights. (323) 261-6135, Sun.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (Closed Sat.)
BEST SWAP AND BYOF
The only thing better than one bargain is two in the same spot. You can shop at the Vineland Swap Meet from early morning until 2 p.m., and by the time you’ve packed your hard-earned treasure into the hatch of your SUV, the Swap Meet will be magically transforming itself into the Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater. By 7 p.m., they’re ready to show Inglorious Basterds on one of four, enormous outdoor movie screens. The Vineland Swap Meet is one of the premier places in Los Angeles to find a great jumble of cheap junk — er, previously owned merchandise, but the food is cheap, too. Last week I saw four pounds of strawberries for $2, six bras for $10 and a Nintendo 64 game console that may or may not work for $12. A quick tip if you take your crowd to see a movie there: Unlike most theaters, it’s OK to bring your own treats to a drive-In. With soda starting at $3 and $3.75 for the smallest bag of popcorn, you’ll save money and avoid the line if you BYOF. Vineland Drive-In and Swap Meet, 443 N. Vineland Ave., City of Industry, (626)-369-7224. Swap meet hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. Drive-in opens 7 p.m. daily.