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When did Johnie’s, that diner at Fairfax and Wilshire, go out of business? Is it ever going to reopen?

Illustration by Jason Schneider I hope so—I was a fan of those Hawaiian banana burgers. The 57-year-old coffee shop with the electrified butterfly roof stopped serving in 2000, when the...

Did Cleopatra really bankrupt its studio and force the sale of the back lot?

Photograph courtesy julianstark-moviesandotherthings.blogspot.com Twentieth Century Fox purchased a large property in the hinterlands near Beverly Hills in 1926. By the 1950s, studio chief Spyros Skouras realized the city had...

Were there ever any antelope in the Antelope Valley?

Photograph courtesy flickr/drewavery Lancaster and Palmdale were indeed where the deer and the antelope played. “When the settlers first came out here, it was teeming with antelope, elk, and...

When I see the Chris Burden installation at LACMA, I wonder, Where are L.A.’s oldest streetlamps?

Illustration by Jason Schneider Let Ask Chris shine some light on this. Most of the 202 lamps that make up LACMA’s landmark Urban Light installation are from the 1920s and...

Why did I see men dragging chains on broom handles across  the Vincent Thomas Bridge?

Photograph courtesy flickr/sherrymain Those were engineers trying to identify cracks in the San Pedro bridge’s deck. They perform the process, called “chaining” or “sounding,” twice a year. Good pavement...

Driving on Ventura in Sherman Oaks, I’ve seen lines of guys waiting to get into a store called Primitive. What’s in there?

Photograph courtesy Primitive Shoes Sneaker pimps rush to this skatewear shop when fancy kicks drop. Co-owned by Nike-sponsored professional skateboarder Paul “P-Rod” Rodriguez III, son of actor-comedian Paul Rodriguez, Primitive...

Near 1st and Broadway, just south of the criminal courts building, are the remains of a structure. An iron gate looks like it leads belowground. Was this a jail?

Photograph courtesy wikimedia.org That was formerly the 13-story State Office Building. It was built in 1931, in the Public Works Administration moderne style, but five years after it sustained irreparable...

Why can motorcycles blast our eardrums but cars get ticketed when they emit that level of noise?

Illustration by Jason Schneider Motorcycles aren’t supposed to get special treatment, but I, too, have had my face melted by some monster choppers. Cars and cycles are permitted an...

Why is there a thoroughfare in Pasadena named Lake Avenue? There’s no lake nearby.

Photograph courtesy City of San Marino Well, there’s no longer tar on La Brea Avenue, either (brea being Spanish for “tar,” you know). The lake in question once sat between...

Armored cars seem to park wherever they want. Are they exempt from regulations?

Photograph courtesy Money Blog Newz Unless you’re driving an ambulance, fire truck, or police car, there’s no free pass. In defense of those manning the rolling bank vaults, no...