Mayoral Reprieve

During his second inaugural address last week, Mayor Richard Riordan spoke of Angelenos' optimism, vision for the future and ability to meet any challenge.

In particular, he mentioned City Hall garage attendant Louis Moreno, who Riordan said volunteered numerous hours after work in the days following the 1994 Northridge earthquake delivering food and water to quake victims. Riordan then asked the large crowd gathered for the inaugural ceremony if Moreno happened to be present.

No response.

"He's parking cars like he should be," Riordan concluded, and then, with the timing of a Johnny Carson, added: "So I don't have to fire him."

Divorcing Barbie?

Mattel executive Fermin Cuza could be trading in his Barbie dolls for a badge. Word is that the toy giant's trade v.p. is being talked about for the top job at the U.S. Customs Service, which will become vacant when current Customs Commissioner George Weise steps down later this summer. The buzz in L.A.'s trade circles is that Cuza could be a shoe-in. Before joining Mattel where he deals with Customs regulations and trade barriers Cuza worked for Customs on the enforcement side. By the time he resigned, he was in charge of all four border crossing points between California and Mexico.

Slicing, Dicing Nominee

The National Informercial Marketing Association last week announced 14 nominees for its Lifetime Achievement Award. And, guess who California's only nominee is?

Here's some hints: the Pocket Fisherman, Hair in a Can, and the Veg-A-Matic. They are all creations of the godfather of informercials Ron Popeil, chairman and president of Beverly Hills-based Ronco Inc. The awards ceremony is Sept. 16, and if Popeil wins, odds are he'll give the acceptance speech on a Mr. Microphone.

Fear and Signing in L.A.

Angelenos flocked to West Hollywood's Book Soup on June 27 on the promise that gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson would be signing copies of his new book.

Trouble was, once they got there, fans were informed by fliers that Thompson wouldn't actually be signing books. Instead, those who bought the new book got a pre-signed sticker affixed to the inside cover of the volume.

What's next, books not actually written by famous authors? Ooops, guess they've been doing that for some time.

Watery Wonder

It's a good thing we have the Metropolitan Water District, provider of water to much of Southern California, to remind us just how good we really have it here in L.A.

In a recent press release, the proud agency proclaims itself "an American utility industry icon and global leader," putting itself in the same class with such other industry icons as Disney, Toyota, Motorola and AT & T.;

The basis for its assertion is a recent study, "Service in the U.S.," by three professors at USC, the University of North Carolina and the London Business School.

Motorola and Disney executives are no doubt thrilled to learn they're in the same class with the MWD.

Smog Police

A new weapon for smog fighters was unveiled last week by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and AirTouch Cellular.

The weapon is a program under which AirTouch subscribers can phone in free of charge to the AQMD smog line when they sight spewing vehicles on the road.

The concept is all fine and good, but it wasn't enough to convince one frequent smog reporter, Brad Reichman, to make the switch from his current carrier, AT & T; Cellular.

Reichman, who drives a convertible and hates getting caught in other peoples' smoke trails, makes a couple of calls each month to the AQMD to report polluting vehicles. But he's sticking with AT & T; because he doesn't want to change the number on his business cards.

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