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Tightwad City

BEST FREE SWING SCENE IN A CAFETERIA

Schabers Cafeteria. Aren’t you tired of that whole fake lounge scene? On weekends, at the last surviving Schabers (built in 1954), you can get a taste of the real deal: big bands that played for the WWII set the first time around. Saturdays, it’s the 17-piece Lenny Burns Big Band performing upbeat Les Brown– and Tommy Dorsey–style swing. Sundays, the amazing 20-piece Bill Davies Band — which did 12 years at the Cocoanut Grove — plays from the original Glenn Miller 1939 charts. Everybody table-hops and feasts on cafeteria comfort fare (mountainous mashed potatoes, mile-high cream pies, five colors of Jell-O) or just a cup of joe. Then, at the first sublime horn rush of "I Got a Gal From Kalamazoo" or "In the Mood," they’re out there cuttin’ a rug — all white-shoed Bennys and Lennys and Shirleys and Bettys, as well as Gloria, the hostess at the Hollywood USO Canteen back in ’43, plus some showbiz types, a slacker or two, and you and your sweetie (if you’re hep). Put down that cigar and get on your feet. It’s V-Day all over again. 12141 Victory Blvd., N. Hollywood; (818) 763-7974 . (Judy Raphael)  

BEST RADIO SHOW

Blues Hotel. Every Wednesday night at 11:55 p.m., I twist a fatty and decap a Rolling Rock, which is precisely what I do at 11:55 every other night. But as my Great-Uncle Paskudnik used to ask at Passover dinner, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" The answer to that ancient question is, "It’s time to tune in to Blues Hotel ." Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, it’s the only authentically freeform radio show in L.A. that manages to be intoxicatingly funny, musicologically eclectic, conversationally intelligent and commercial-free, simultaneously. Hosted by Papa John (who, off the air, is an iconoclastic reprobate named Chris Checkman), with additional repartee by Morris Beef and the mono-monikered Ian, Blues Hotel recalls those pre–Howard Stern days when freeform meant witty as well as outrageous. The show begins with a set of what Checkman calls "liver-pulverizing blues" but also programs large doses of Beatles, Dylan, Stones, Tom Waits, George Clinton, Coltrane and whatever else the spirits move ’em to play. Checkman has an am phetamine delivery and an encyclopedic vocabulary of cultural references, which he mines like no mortal since Lenny Bruce. Morris plays the role of Check man’s punching bag, and Ian functions as the Zen-like sage as the show de-evolves into giddy chaos by 3 a.m. (or 3:30 or 4 or whenever the ambulance shows up). KXLU 88.9 FM, Wed. at midnight . (Michael Simmons)

HAPPY BIRTHPLACE

Jackie Robinson’s Birthplace. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line, and while there’ve been many celebrations concerning this epic event, 1997 wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the old Robinson homestead in Pasadena. (Jackie was born in the South, but his mother journeyed to California, where she raised her children.) Actually, the original place no longer exists, but there’s a nice plaque in front of where the house was. It reads, "Jackie Robinson resided on this site with his family from 1922 to 1946." So there. If you’re lucky, a 70-something baseball fan by the name of Willie Johnson will emerge from his house and show you just where Jackie played stickball in the front yard. 123 Pepper St., Pasadena . (David Davis)

DIDN’T WE MEET AT THE AIRPORT?

International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Hungry for spiritual nourishment? Or just plain hungry and too broke to afford the McBurger special? Then try the Love Feast, a free vegetarian spread hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness every Sunday at 6 p.m. Visitors to the temple are welcome to the free eats, but it’s best to arrive early, because the Love Feast is popular with both Krishnas and non-Krishnas. The food is delicious and healthy, and the hosts are gracious. Questions are answered kindly, and proselytizing is minimal; the meal does, however, take place in a house of worship, so behave with appropriate decorum. And maybe leave your brand-new $400 Prada pumps at home and wear last year’s sneaks — guests are required to remove their shoes when entering the temple, and though you will receive a check chit for your shoes, accidents can happen. 3764 Watseka Ave.; (310) 836-2676 . (Sandra Ross)

THANK YOU, MR. MONSTER

Forrest J. Ackerman’s Ackermansion. The preeminent archivist of the horror and sci-fi realms, editor of Famous Mon ster of Filmland magazine and coiner of the term "sci-fi," Forrest J. Ackerman ("Mr. Filmonster") has suffocated the 18 rooms of his Hollywood Hills estate (and basement "cemetery") with an overwhelming 300,000 pieces of memorabilia amassed over his 71-year career; from Bela Lugosi’s Dracula cape and Boris Karloff’s life mask to the decaying King Kong dinosaurs, Johnny X the Half Boy’s Freaks costume and Tim Burton’s replica Ed Wood saucers. Now an octogenarian, "Forry" has collected almost as many anecdotes as objects and on occasional Saturday mornings offers tours of his unbelievably stupendous "Ackermansion" to appreciative parties. By appointment. (213) MOON-FAN . (Skylaire Alfvegren)

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY

South Pasadena Public Library . Located smack in the middle of a cozy neighborhood of tree-lined streets and comfortable old houses, the South Pas Public Library looks like a mini-mission, with noble archways and carved columns, old tiled roofs and balconies with fancy wrought-iron railings. But it’s not just surface beauty we’re talking about; this little gem, a Cultural Heritage Landmark, has everything from a daily used-book market, a thriving community room and outstanding children’s programs to librarians who take their job as seriously as little old Nellie Keith, its revered first librarian, did from 1895 to 1935. When the library opened its doors 102 years ago, Nellie’s salary was $12.50 a week, there were 287 books in the collection, and its dedicated patrons consisted of some literary-minded farmers who’d relocated from the Midwest to the land of orange groves. Today, the library’s holdings number well over 100,000, it has expanded to fit the needs of a growing multi-ethnic community, and it’s the pride and joy of loyal South Pasadenans, whose persistent efforts have kept it alive and well in contrast to too many of its crumbling and dying brethren in other communities. Lots of the oak tables and chairs are the same ones that were there back in 1908, and the framework of the original old skylight is still in use. And just to remind you of what a library was meant to be, there’s a photo portrait of Nellie on the wall, with her white hair, silver-rimmed specs and pearls, sitting serenely with an open book and smiling benevolently down upon all who step up to the reference desk. Yup, those were the days — when nobody talked in the library. Today, kids stroll in with bicycle helmets and Walkmans, and videos have taken the place of the dog-eared page. But the spirit of Nellie lives on. 1100 Oxley St., S. Pasadena; (626) 403-7333. (Mary Beth Crain)

CHI-CHI BANG-BANG

The Nethercutt Collection. Liberace’s ghost must wander drooling through these halls! This little-known museum hidden away in an industrial area of Sylmar describes itself as a "world-renowned treasure house of functional fine art." Highlights of the collection include the Grande Salon where over 30 antique and classic luxury automobiles are displayed in chi-chi surroundings — cars with paint jobs costing more than you’d lay out on an emergency bypass for Mom. The fourth floor, known as "Cloud 99," holds an otherworldly collection of mechanical musical instruments, music boxes of all configurations, enormous orchestrions and the jewel of the collection — the mighty Wurlitzer organ. The big organ’s pipes croak at regular intervals thanks to a computer-activated system, and the boxes are hand-tinkled from time to time by the courteous caretakers. Museum visits are by guided tours only, but it’s possible to do a little independent snooping if the spiel starts to feel a bit like Robin Leach panting in your ear. No jeans or shorts allowed in the museum (yes, really); reservations required; no children under 12. 15200 Bledsoe St., Sylmar; (818) 367-2251 . (Reverend Al Cacophony)

BEST MAYAN SHAFT

Mayan Tunnel at Southwest Museum. Most auto-bound visitors to this haven of baskets and bones may never see the newly excavated Mayan tunnel just beyond the main driveway entrance. But you will park down below and climb a vine into this little bit of Chichen Itza in Mount Washington. The long concrete tunnel with the imposing brass doors was built as the elevator entrance during the period-revival craze of the ’20s, then sat dormant for decades. The walls are lined with nearly two-dozen miniature dioramas using twigs, resin and fiber optics to dramatize Southwestern tribal life. 234 Museum Dr., Mt. Washington; (213) 221-2164. (Chris Nichols)

BEST STUDENT PRICKS

The Sino-American Medical Research Association’s University of Oriental Medicine . SAMRA is the oldest school of acupuncture in the U.S. But of more interest is how little it costs to be treated like a pincushion by students who are supervised by licensed acupuncturists. The clinic is ready and willing to treat whatever might ail you — aches and pains, fatigue and stress; cigarette, alcohol and drug addiction; excessive weight; allergies. The first visit will run you $30; after that, it’s $20. Allow yourself time, because your first appointment will take two hours, and each follow-up is about 45 minutes. 600 St. Paul Ave.; (213) 482-5000 (Ian Chaffee)

BEST STUDENT BUNS

West Valley Occupational Center Student Bake Shop. The unmistakable whiff of bread, cookies, cakes and pastries can only mean one thing — class is in session. Under the tutelage of 16-year veteran German instructor Bruno Heck, students twist, beat, stir and fluff, churning out bins of quality, baked-from-scratch goodies, which are offered to the public for crumbs. Loaves of fresh bread from white to pumpkin are only 75 cents. Nine-inch deep-dish fruit pies are $3.25; a half-dozen bagels are $1; cookies are two for a quarter. Inventory varies with the curriculum, and the bake shop is open only while classes are in session, September through June. 6200 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills; (818) 346-3540, Ext. 218 . (Nerissa Pacio)

BEST STUDENT CRACKS

The Los Angeles College of Chiropractics . At this LACC — not the one you’re thinking of — chiropractic interns are available to treat common backaches or any orthopedic, internal or sports injuries you might have, and their work is performed under the supervision of licensed chiropractors. The clinic and two health centers that make up the LACC also provide prevention-based nutrition, exercise and lifestyle counseling. Treatments start at $30 for pre-employment physical exams and the like; children under 12 treated with their parents are free. 1425 E. Colorado St., Glendale, (818) 246-8416. 1192 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena, (818) 798-7805. 16200 E. Amber Valley Dr., Whittier, (562) 947-8755. (Ian Chaffee)

BEST STORE YOU CAN’T BUY ANYTHING IN

Jadis. The texture of a sci-fi scene is as important as anything else in the movie, but shouldn’t overshadow it. At least that’s what 40 years of experience will teach you. Jadis proprietor Park Meeks started out as an art deco furniture designer and builder. He likes to work with his hands. He also likes collecting stuff. Mainly science-fiction stuff. I tried to buy an antique microscope case from him, but he wouldn’t sell. Nothing is for sale. Not the reproduction of the "Abbe Normal" jar and brain from Young Frankenstein , nor the reproduction of the Mechanical Woman from Metropolis . Meeks is crusty and gruff, but sincerely interested in showing me around. He starts up a tesla coil for me and points a key at it. Then he gets rolling with dead fluorescent tubes. And the shit’s really flying when he cranks the massive generators and makes those lightning bolts crawl up and down the rods of the machines, hissing and crackling, throwing purple lightning up to the ceiling. Meeks only rents this stuff to studios. He doesn’t have an open-door policy, because he doesn’t need to — not because he’s rich, but because he won’t rent to projects if he thinks they suck. 2701 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 396-3477. (Natalie Jacobson)

GILMORE FIELD’S FOREVER

Gilmore Field. Before the Dodgers came west — heck, before the Angels, the Lakers, the Clippers, the Kings, the Mighty Ducks and the Raiders made it here — professional sports in this city was the Los Angeles Rams and two minor-league baseball teams: the Hollywood Stars and the Los Angeles Angels. These two Pacific Coast League teams played high-quality ball, and both drew thousands of baseball-starved fans into their cozy stadia. The Stars played their home games at Gilmore Field, near Farmers Market, while the Angels played at Wrigley Field in South-Central L.A. Now, thanks to the efforts of several gentlemen from the Pacific Coast League Historical Society, we can pay homage at the former site of Gilmore Field. Go to the CBS complex off Beverly Boulevard, and locate Studio 46. There, on the side of the wall, is a newly installed plaque and an accompanying photo commemorating the Stars and the PCL. If that doesn’t take you back to the days of Steve Bilko, nothing will. Beverly Blvd. & Fairfax Ave. (David Davis)

BEST FREE SPANKINGS

Magick & Fetish Shop. Since the Magick & Fetish Shop is essentially a popless mom-and-pop store, the only person qualified to administer customer discipline is Mom. Every second Thursday of the month, Mom (a.k.a. Edie Ishii) hosts a safe, fun bondage and spanking social for couples and singles. If that isn’t motherly enough, if you stop by on your birthday (or within a week of it), you’re qualified to receive a free spanking with your choice of weapons of pleasure, including traditional leather whips, rubber Euro-trash floggers, domestic wooden spoons or furry love gloves. Polaroids are available. This perverse sort-of-gallery also showcases local artists, and sells various items for sensual and spiritual needs, all with Mom’s stamp of approval. 3934 Sunset Blvd.; (213) 660-1575 . (Liam Finn)

"TAKE"

Free Samples at Whole Foods. At my local Whole Foods Market (part of the chain that used to be known as Mrs. Gooch’s), I find a basket of bread chunks, an open jar of some exotic cheese spread, another of fresh-from-the-grinder peanut butter and a hostess with a glowing "eat, eat, my child" smile. At the back of the store, I find an open brick of warm, runny Brie and more bread, ready for the sampling; on the side, there’s an open tin of smoked trout; in the café, where you’re supposed to be paying for lunch, there’s a basket of quartered tuna sandwiches and a sign that says "Take." Mother tells you never to go food shopping hungry. Whole Foods makes that impossible. 11666 National Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 996-8840 . (Alan Rich)

HAPPY TRAILS

Sierra Club Hikes. To see people moving in L.A. without their cars, go to the lighted parking lot above the merry-go-round in Griffith Park at 6:40 p.m. on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening. There you’ll see 150 to 400 people gather for the Sierra Club’s hikes through some of the park’s 53 miles of trails. There are different hikes for different levels of intensity, so you can pick the leader you like or the destination you prefer. A fast group might go to the Hollywood sign (Mt. Lee, about six miles in two hours); most hikes last one-and-a-half to two hours. The first Wednesday of the month includes a potluck barbecue in the park. While some of these friendly folk have been hiking in the same groups for 20 years, they welcome newcomers. You don’t have to be a Sierra Club member, there’s no pressure to join, and it’s free. Wear hiking shoes with good soles. And bring water — while there’s a designated "sweeper" in each group to make sure no one gets left behind, there’s a story of someone who got separated from her group and panicked; this being L.A., she pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. For more information, call (818) 352-3632 or (818) 247-7710. (Karen Cusolito)

BEST FREE STUDENT AUTO LABOR IN THE VALLEY

West Valley Occupational Center. Call a lot of these student auto-repair schools and you find they only do simple tune-ups, alignments and brakes. Here, at L.A.’s largest occupational school, you can get an amazing variety of work done, everything from fixing a faulty turn switch to reupholstering the whole darn buggy. Unlike community colleges, which generally use only a few cars a semester, WVOC takes in five to 10 cars weekly per class. You pay for parts and a $20 work-order fee, but after that, you’re home-free (a principle that works best on, say, a major tune-up, where you might easily save $200 on labor). One major caveat: You have to leave your car there an average of two to five days. 6200 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills; (818) 346-3540 . (Judy Raphael)

TIGER’S FIRST HOLE-IN-ONE

Tiger Woods’ Birthplace. A realtor would list this place as a "3 bdrm. tract home, corner lot, good neighborhood." But don’t let that unassuming description fool you. This Cypress house is where Eldrick Woods was raised before he became Tiger Woods and went off to Stanford U., the PGA and Nike millions. While you’re in the area, you can take a small tour of Tiger’s life, a sort of "This Is Your Golfer’s Life": There’s the McDonnell-Douglas plant where Tiger’s father, Earl, worked; the nearby Navy Courses in Los Alamitos, where Woods first alleged he encountered racism on a golf course; the par-3 Heartwell Golf Park in Long Beach, where Woods got his first formal coaching lessons; and, of course, his alma maters, Orangeview Junior High and Western High schools. Oh, and don’t bother knocking on the door. Though the family still owns the home, Tiger now resides in Florida, thus saving himself a few hundred thou on his taxes. (There’s no state income tax in ef-el-ay.) 6704 Teakwood St., Cypress. (David Davis)

BEST EVIL CORPORATE BANK’S HISTORY MUSEUM

Wells Fargo History Museum. The past lives! The Wells Fargo History Museum on Bunker Hill is a nicely laid-out room full of all the Gilded Age junk that you can imagine rolling in from Gold Country on one of those famous Express coaches: mining stuff, record-setting gold nuggets, tools, plus an actual stage coach. There are lots of photographs and documents from the period, with items relating to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, plus a Wells Fargo log book (they abbreviated chickens as "chix" then, too). When you recall how stages made their way down through our own Valley and into L.A., and that Wells Fargo still basically does the same thing today, the past starts to feel less distant and comes, as they say, alive . . . 333 S. Grand Ave., downtown; (213) 253-7166. (Suzy Beal)

THANKS, OLD TIMER

The William S. Hart Park and Museum. Here you have well-preserved 1925 Spanish-tiled architectural treasure with a roomful of original Russells and Remingtons, Indian art and silent-movie memorabilia, as well as 265 acres for hiking, riding, picnicking or just roaming, plus a gift shop, an antique train station and even a small herd of Disney-donated bison! And it’s all free! The reason? Hart, who filmed his Westerns here along with Tom Mix, deeded the ranch to the county, "to pay back all the people who paid to see me," with a "nickel-and-dime clause" in his will forbidding admission charges. Even the events — concerts and the upcoming "Harts of the West" powwow and Western arts festival — are free. Come December, the mansion, decorated and lit up like Christmas Past, is a heartwarming sight. 24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall; (805) 254-4584. (Judy Raphael)

BEST LUNCH FOR WINOS

San Antonio Winery. Hundreds of miles from Wine Country, L.A.’s last producing winery in "the heart of the old pueblo" provides a neat place for lunch and a little field trip into the past. Visitors to San Antonio usually start off in the tasting room, with dozens of Maddalena, San Antonio and imported wines available at wholesale prices, plus delicious flavored oils and vinegars. Yum. Then guided (or self-guided) tours of the facility: just a few rooms, really, but cool and inviting, with enormous aging barrels looming in the semidarkness. Reasonably priced lunches (sandwiches, pasta and salads) are served right there among the casks. A true L.A. curiosity, and a charming "getaway." 737 Lamar St.; (213) 223-1401 . (Suzy Beal)

BEST HISTORY COURSE

Ralph W. Miller Golf Library/Mu seum. It’s doubtful that you’ve ever heard of the late Ralph W. Miller, even though the L.A.-based attorney managed to amass one of the most complete private collections of golf books and artifacts west of Augusta, Georgia. In 1977, the City of Industry acquired Miller’s collection, and in 1979 it opened the Ralph W. Miller Golf Library/Museum. Located in a resort hotel (just a pitching wedge away from two excellent public courses), the museum is a vast trove of golfdom, with more than 5,000 books and tons of periodicals. Miller specialized in pre-1900 material, including the first book about golf, called The Goff , written in 1743 in Scotland. Due to budget constraints, the library hasn’t been able to expand much over the past few years, but it remains one of the best places in the country to tee it up and do research on all golf-related matters. Fore! 1 Industry Hills Park- way, City of Industry; (818) 854-2354. (David Davis)

BEST INDESCRIBABLE WALL ART

George Yepes. Muralist and painter Yepes is Los Angeles’ greatest living Baroque artist. He proved this three years ago with his Tepayec de Los Angeles on the front of St. Lucy’s Church, City Terrace — images of the Virgin of Guadalupe combined with Michelangelo’s Pieta in a memorial to all victims of gang shootings. Now he and his atelier of barrio youths have created an even more marvelous piece that I won’t attempt to describe, on the front of White Memorial Hospital’s parking garage. St. Lucy’s, City Terrace Dr. at Ramboz Ave., City Terrace. White Memorial garage: north side of Cesar Chavez Ave. at State St., Boyle Heights. (Marc B. Haefele)

TOOLS OF THE TRADES

American Society of Cinema tographers. Walk into this splendidly domed 1903 Mission Revival house, secluded behind wrought iron on a quiet side street off the Boulevard, and you’re in old Hollywood. Once the home of silent-picture actor Conway Tearle, and occupied by the ASC since 1936, it was recently restored to its elegant, early-movie-era glory. Walls throughout several rooms are filled with historic pictures of Erich Von Stroheim, D.W. Griffith and "Fatty" Arbuckle and others at work. In the bar and library, you can find such fascinating antique instruments as Technicolor three-strip cameras, an original Lumière Brothers hand-cranked camera and even 3-D glasses. Most charming, perhaps, is an 1890s Edison Kinetoscope — the kind once used for viewing strips of film in penny arcades. 1782 N. Orange St., Hollywood; (213) 876-5080 . (Judy Raphael)

BEST WAY TO FIND OUT IF YOUR DATE CAN MAKE A TOURNIQUET

Greek Theater concert trek. For the brave, strong and fearless, there’s a really cool way to check out concerts for free at the Greek Theater — but you have to earn it. There’s only one hill with a view of the stage, but we had to cross three hills to find it. And it’s no easy climb — we’re talking a treacherous hike, grasping tiny roots for leverage and finding footing in the soft dirt. We embarked upon the (first) hill with plastic bags full of chips and bottled drinks, ready to enjoy a Gipsy Kings performance. By the time we had climbed up and down the first two hills, the plastic bags in which we had our snacks had torn apart, and our drinks and food were tumbling down the hill; our flashlight had broken, and most of our group was scratched up and bitter. But finally we reached the top of the third hill, and it was worth all the trouble. There were about a dozen other hikers/music fans/tightwads who had made their way to the top and were reaping the rewards, grooving to the music. I nearly dislocated my hip on the way down, and the bottom of the hill was so steep that we all slid down on our behinds. But if you have sturdy sneakers and a strong will, this is a great way to enjoy a show. Save yourself some trouble: Start from the main parking lot and climb only the hill that’s closest to the amphitheater itself. (Bonus: You can smoke up there, which is prohibited inside the amphitheater itself.) 2700 N. Vermont Ave. (Sandy Cohen)

BEST STUDENT THERAPY

L.A. County–USC Medical Center’s Adult Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic . Good therapy may be hard to find these days, but it’s even harder to pay for. That’s where County–USC Medical Center comes in. With a topnotch team of psychiatric residents and clinical-psychology interns on hand to lend you an ear — all supervised by licensed instructors, of course — you’ll be up and running in no time. Fees are charged on a sliding scale, so lifting your spirits won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The clinic is operated by the USC Department of Health Services and caters especially to folks who live in the downtown area, East L.A. and Boyle Heights. So what are you waiting for? Kick off those shoes, relax on that couch and start spilling your guts. 1937 Hospital Pl.; (213) 226-5754. (Andrew Sargent)

BEST (ONLY?) FREE VIDEOS

Videos At Central Library. A unique selection of videos can be checked out free of charge on your library card, and you can either take them home or watch them on the spot. Visit one of six monitors in the Fletcher Jones Language Learning Center to view foreign-language instructional videos from Amharic to Yoruba. Then try the second floor, where art videos and documentaries include such titles as the 30-tape JVC Anthology of World Music and Dance , Backstage at the Kirov and Body Shock (which features tattoos of the Yakuza). Too artsy for you? Drop down a few levels to the science department, where you’ll find Einstein’s videography shelved near Polynomials and How To Butcher Wild Game . Documentaries and informational videos can be checked out for a week, while all other films have a two-day limit. 630 W. Fifth St., downtown; (213) 228-7000. (Nina Gregory)

MRS. FIELDS’ WORST NIGHTMARE

Diddy Riese. Forget Mrs. Fields’ expensive (and smaller) edibles. For a piddly pile o’ pennies (25), get a bigger bite at Diddy Riese cookie shop. Located just around the block from a Mrs. Fields, Capt go and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, this UCLA student fave concentrates on the classics: semisweet-chocolate-chip, cinnamon-sugar, oatmeal-raisin and peanut-butter. About as fancy as you’ll find are the multicolored M&M’s, white-chocolate chips or a sprinkle of nuts. Diddy also offers greasy jumbo hot dogs and not-that-great ice cream, which tastes a lot better when slathered between two cookies to make a high-calorie ice-cream sandwich for only a buck. 926 Broxton Ave., Westwood; (310) 208-0448 . (Nerissa Pacio)

BEST CRIME SCENE

Sheriff’s Museum. You might not think that a museum dedicated to law en force ment would be frequented by petty criminals, but the curators of the Sheriff’s Museum in Whittier aren’t taking any chances. Even before you open the door, the admonitions begin, with large signs advising, "Warning! Your visit is monitored by a closed-circuit TV security system. Please enjoy the exhibits, but be aware that thieves or vandals will be fully prosecuted." The law-and-order mood is further enhanced by the presence of deputized mannequins guard ing each of the six galleries. Show pieces of the museum include a ’38 Stude baker patrol car, a three-wheeled ’50s Harley-Davidson used for parking enforcement, and a cut-down search-and-rescue chopper staging an emergency airlift of a mannequin who has dislocated her flocked Styrofoam wighead. Also featured: an Old West jail mockup, in which the rustler is condemned to forever repeat a motion-activated spiel testifying to the fairness of the man who put him behind bars. And don’t forget the "Action Gallery," which contains possibly "offensive" materials. 11515 S. Colima Rd., Bldg. B, Whittier; (562) 946-7081 . (Reverend Al Cacophony)

MOST PERVERSE CABLE-ACCESS SHOW

Guttervision High-Defiance Television. "And if my thought-dreams could be seen/They’d probably put my head in a guillotine," sang Bob Dylan before he performed at bankers’ conventions. Frank Czajka, who creates the best half-hour of cultural atrocities on public access, would also be doing a Robespierre impression if the powers that be weren’t held in abeyance by that pesky little amendment known as the First. Guttervision is a videozine that presents the work of the weirdest, and most offensive, cutting-edge artististas. There are rock videos deemed too perverse for eMpTy-V. There’s footage of rocker G.G. Allin relieving himself onstage prior to his OD, and an interview with the Duchess de Sade in which she laughingly details a fistfight between her and Allin. There’s a poetess named Mona Jean Cedar who, wearing nothing more than duct tape over her censorables, recites (and signs for the deaf) a poem about artistic freedom, and another poet named Bert who proclaims, "I would chop my head off and feed it to your Doberman pinschers for food, for an electron from an atom from the sewage pipes under a house in a state near your state." There’s an interview with photographer Dean Karr, who blends S&M with religious iconography in photos like "Pig Christ." All of this is wrapped together with psychedelic swirls and found footage. Oh, and subliminal messages that I can’t make out, but it doesn’t matter, because suddenly I feel compelled to leap off the side of this build . . . Century, Media One, TCI and CVI cable systems. Check your local listings. For info, call (818) 753-6668 . (Michael Simmons)

BEST CONTACT HIGH

Spiritualist Center. Before there were New Age "channelers," there were "mediums." And before mediums, there were Kate and Margaret Fox, sisters in Hydesville, New York, who in 1848 began having dialogues with the un-alive by tapping out responses to a wall-thumping poltergeist. Members of Hollywood’s Spiritualist Center, a Spanish-style bungalow serving as a spectral gateway since 1972, still retain the style and vocabulary of the Victorian séance. Services consist of a brisk message by the center’s founder, Mrs. Lee Jones, followed by hymns, recitation of a creed, and a blessing offered for a lengthy roster of individuals enrolled for "absent healing." (A surprising proportion of these are needy cats and dogs.) Then it’s the congregation’s turn to soak in the healing vibrations during a 10-minute silent meditation guided by healers stirring invisible energies and an organist in the dining room providing a backdrop of funereal roller-rink music (occasionally including numbers such as the Carpenter’s "Top of the World"). Mediums also deliver spontaneous spirit-messages directed at individuals seated in the congregation, and after services offer private sessions, counseling, blessed water and flowers. And don’t miss the Center’s permanent rummage sale, of small and mostly unrelated collection of knickknacks, as well as grapefruit fresh from the trees in the yard (just 10 cents!). Anointed healings first Wednesday of the month, 8 p.m.; weekly services with message every Sunday, 2 p.m. 6417 Lexington Ave., Hollywood; (213) 856-8646. (Reverend Al Cacophony)

IF YOU DON’T LOOK GOOD, WE’VE GOT 10 PEOPLE WAITING BEHIND YOU

Vidal Sassoon Academy. The Beautiful People pay up to $250 for a haircut, while even the Average Looking pay $40 to $75. If your wallet won’t accommodate such prices, don’t go putting a bowl over your head and handing your buddy a pair of scissors. You can get your hair cut at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Beverly Hills for $15 ($20 Saturdays). The Rodeo Drive salon normally charges $58 to $82, depending on the stylist. But you can get the same cut by an assistant who’s been through rigorous training at the Academy. First, you go in for a consultation, where the assistant decides which of the 24 Sassoon cuts would look good on you. Make an appointment — generally on another day — with one of the assistants who’s practicing that cut. It helps to be flexible: My stylist, Sergio, wanted to give me a very short cut; we settled on a chin-length bob. An instructor checks the work before you leave. These stylists-in-training have been known to recruit people off the street to use as models. "We don’t use just anybody," says Sergio. "If someone comes in with frizzed out, waist-length hair and only wants half-an-inch taken off, we don’t do it." Color or highlights are available for around $30. 321 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 393-1461. Also available at the salon at 405 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-9994. (Karen Cusolito)

IF YOU DON’T LOOK GOOD, WE DON’T GET JOBS AT VIDAL SASSOON

Marinello School of Beauty. Heavy on professionalism and light on your pocketbook, Marinello offers the whole cosmetological shebang — perms, manicures, relaxers, waxings, colorings and the like. (If it ain’t on the menu, just ask.) A basic haircut will run you a mere $4.95, a facial $5.95, and a facial with mud or honey pack just $2 more. Don’t worry about getting your precious tresses butchered; Marinello students have to go through 10 weeks of basic training before they’re allowed on the cutting-room floor, and even then they’re supervised by licensed instructors. Just think: You can look like you’ve spent a fortune on your hair — for the price of a week’s bus fare. 6288 W. Third St., (213) 938-2005. 240 S. Market St., (310) 674-8100. 716 S. Broadway, downtown, (213) 627-5561. 6219 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hollywood, (818) 980-1300. (Andrew Sargent)

 

BEST BIG BANG, IN THEORY

PAWS Afro-Cuban Drum Workshop. Created by some of L.A.’s most talented players, Percussion Artists Workshop (PAWS) provides an opportunity to explore the deeply spiritual and influential Afro-Latin musical tradition. The hands-on workshops can be enlightening and inspiring. For three hours, skilled musicians such as Richard Marquez, PAWS founder Angel Luis Figueroa and folkloric master Lazaro Galarraga lead the class through a wide spectrum of African, South American and Caribbean ensemble rhythms and vocal arrangements. Participants learn the roles of conga, timbale, cow bell, shekere (dried gourds covered with intricately tied beads) and many other colorful instruments. When played together, these instruments create an often trance-inducing rhythm, one which, according to the African-rooted Lucumi religion of the Caribbean, serves as a vehicle to higher spirituality — a link between heaven and earth. "The drums represent the things that make life worth living," says business director Jake Alba. "Fun, family and dance." Afro-Cuban workshops held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Purple Art Gallery, 12255 Venice Blvd.; (213) 390-7297 . (Joe Taglieri)  

BEST WAR MEMORIAL

S.S. Lane Victory. Boston has the U.S.S. Constitution. England has HMS Victory. Los Angeles has the S.S. Lane Victory, a rare, 500-foot, gray-painted 10,000-ton survivor of the thousand-ship cargo fleet that carried American productivity to WWII. The Lane is fully maintained and crewed by vintage Merchant Marine veterans, who sometimes spin yarns about faraway ports and dodging torpedoes. A delight to small boys of all ages and genders. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Berth 94 (under the Vincent Thomas Bridge), San Pedro; (310) 519-9545. (Marc B. Haefele)


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