L.A. Stories

No Debate

It's no secret that Gov. Gray Davis, the Democrat incumbent front-runner for governor, has been reluctant to debate his challenger, Republican Bill Simon. He's only agreed to two debates.

So KFI AM 640 radio hosts Ken Chiampou and John Kobylt decided to try to lure Davis in for a two-hour on-air debate with Simon by offering $10,000 to the Davis campaign fund.

"We read so many reports about this 'pay-to-play' governor," Kobylt said. "We saw our non-cash offer to the governor got nowhere. So we hope the money will provide the needed push."

The Simon campaign picked up on this immediately, publicly upping the ante by pledging to kick in $20,000 of their own.

Davis didn't bite. So on each succeeding afternoon, Chiampou and Kobylt added $10,000 to the kitty. As of late last week, the total stood at $60,000.

"On the outside chance he accepts, the station management has authorized us to turn the money over to the (Davis) campaign," Kobylt said. "In the meantime, we're making our satirical point."

Davis' staff did not return calls.

Two-Time Spammer

She did it again.

For the second time, Anaheim's Cheryl Ankeney came up with the winning entry at the Los Angeles County Fair's Spam Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe Competition, which was decided Sept. 14.

Those with more refined tastes may not be impressed, but Ankeney earned $150 and a chance to enter a national competition by creating Creamy Spam Broccoli Pastry Shells.

"She enters a lot," Wendy Talarico, spokesman for the L.A. County Fair, said of Ankeney, who won the contest in 1993.

Other top entries included Touch-of-Gold Spam Rice Salad and Spam Egg Rolls. The winner of the national contest gets a free trip to Minneapolis, $2,500 to spend at Mall of America and their recipe printed on 5 million Spam cans.

"The little puff pastry shells looked really pretty," said Talarico of the winning dish. "But I didn't taste it. I'm pregnant right now so not a lot of things are appetizing."

Letter Bombs

At last week's UCLA Anderson Economic Forecast conference, the topic de jour was infrastructure and why it's so difficult to build the roads, power plants, sewers, housing and schools.

State Assemblyman Rod Wright, D-Los Angeles, placed the blame on the state's leaders and the overall political and environmental climate. And that's when the acronyms started flying.

"Of course there are the NIMBY's," Wright said, referring to "Not In My Back Yard" that has entered common parlance. "But my favorite is 'BANANA', or 'Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone,' Wright said.

Wright also had politicians in his sights. "You want to know why we don't have political leadership to build these infrastructure projects? It's because of this 'NIMTO' thing 'Not In My Term of Office,' which has really come into its own with term limits."

Not to be outdone, L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive Rusty Hammer then chimed in with his offering: "NOPE," which he said stands for "Not on Planet Earth."

Towering Torta

In celebration of Huntington Park's 10th annual "A Taste of Beautiful Mexico," restaurant chain El Gallo Giro is making what city officials believe to be the world's largest Mexican Torta. The sandwich, which will weigh 650 pounds, will be on display at the plaza on Pacific Boulevard just south of Gage Avenue on Oct. 4, the opening day of the three-day festival.

"There's no official record for a large torta, so we wanted to do one," said Dante D'Eramo, executive manager for Greater Huntington Park Chamber of Commerce.

For those looking for more food, a 504-pound birthday cake will also be featured at the plaza. While "La Torta Gigante" will go to a local charity at the end of the day, the cake will be cut into pieces for visitors.

"There should be plenty for everybody," said D'Eramo.

Howard Fine, Danny King

The Roving Eye

Fishy Festivities

Lobster are about to invade San Pedro. More than 30,000 pounds worth of the popular crustacean will be sent from Maine for the fourth annual "Lobster Festival" on Oct. 4-6 at Ports O' Call Village.

Lobsters will also be hitting the streets in the form of dogs and humans dressed as lobsters or other sea creatures during the "LobsterDog Pet Parade."

Festival organizer Jim Hall says the parade is a tribute to "Bob the LobsterDog," who, according to local lobster lore, helped guide a fleet of fishermen back to shore one stormy night with his barking.

"You have Chihuahuas dressed up as fish tacos. You have beagles made up like shark sandwiches," Hall said. "If your pet is reluctant, dress yourself up and carry your pet. I don't care."

Another feature of the festival is the lobster-calling contest for kids, an event that celebrates a tradition Hall says is as old as "the days of bounding men and ships of yore." Past competitors have tried everything from the "Lobster Macarena" to an Egyptian lobster call.

Other activities at the festival will include cooking demonstrations, an art show, musical performances, crafts booths and games and rides. There will also be a 4-foot-deep tank for scuba diving.

About 40,000 visitors are expected to attend this year.

The best lobster caller and best-dressed parade participant will each win $500.

Event sponsors include The Daily Breeze newspaper and KKJZ-FM (88.1).

The event is said to be the largest lobster festival in the world.

Claudia Peschiutta

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