You can try something different every time. It’s a really well done special occasion type of place. It’s been a tradition of ours to go there since we were doing the holiday season in L.A. It’s always been reliably great.
When I go back to the UCLA campus it really takes me back. I had five of the best years of my life there. I say five because I went there during my senior year in high school.
Santa Monica Beach
When the water’s warm enough I’m a boogie boarder. I’ll also be found there on the nights the grunions run. I started going to the grunion run as soon as I realized it wasn’t a joke. I’ve been going for years and years.
It’s probably my favorite non-classical music venue in L.A. right now. They have a certain tendency to bring in a lot of artists from New Orleans, which is musically my favorite place on the planet. I love them for that, but it’s also a comfortable place to be or to play.
One of the great jazz songwriters and piano players, who is really under-recognized for his talent, is a guy who used to live in L.A. and would only visit to play at the Jazz Bakery. His name is Dave Frishberg. It’s a memorable show.
Memorial Park Gym
I play basketball at the gym. I’ll walk in and see who’s there. Usually there’s pretty good action. I’m equally questionable at every basketball move.
Sunset Blvd. Between Vine and Gower
That area always takes me to back to when I was a child working in show business, before the business moved to the Valley. I was on The Jack Benny Program occasionally for eight years. Jack Benny was the most remarkable person to know in show business at the time, and he was great to me, personally.
If you live in the neighborhood and pester them enough, they’ll let you take food out. That food is amazing! My favorite item on the menu is the Shanghai Lobster.
Capitol Records’ Studio A
It’s worth mentioning because of its emotional power and because it’s always on the brink of not being there. Most of the studios where historic recording were done aren’t standing anymore, and Studio A is one of the few that is. Everybody from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys to people of the modern era has recorded there. My wife was doing a record there and she said, ‘Oh gee, there’s a cigarette burn on the Steinway.’ They said, ‘Oh, that’s from Nat King Cole.’
I used to go there all the time, and I’ve always loved the atmosphere there and always loved the hang. I named Santa Monica “the home of the homeless,” a while back, and when it turned out that they had promised [Chez Jay owner] Jay before he died that they would leave the place as is, and then reneged on the promise four years later, I renamed Santa Monica the “home of the rubber promise.”
Walt Disney Concert Hall
It’s the most amazing place in Los Angeles in terms of its ambition and its success at realizing that ambition. It’s unparalleled sound-wise, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful building.
Photographs courtesy (in order): Dan Dion (1) melisse.com, (2) flickr.com/RictorNorton&DavidAllen, (3) flickr.com/elfidomx, (4) themintla.com, (5) jazzbakery.com, (6) googlemaps.com, (7) googlemaps.com, (8) wolfgangpuck.com, (9) capitalstudios.com, (10) chezjays.com, (11) laphil.com