LABJ's LA Stories

Map Madness

Santa Paula City Council voted unanimously last week to boycott the Los Angeles Times albeit for just one day to protest the paper's removal of the city from its daily weather map.

Santa Paula Mayor Dr. Gabino Aguirre was appalled.

He said the action "literally takes Santa Paula off the map in the minds of the 1 million Times readers each day."

In retaliation, the Ventura County city, which is 70 percent Latino and known as the "Citrus Capital of the World," urged advertisers not to buy space in the Times on Monday, Jan. 26 Saint Paula's Day.

Martha Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the Times, said Santa Paula was dropped because the weather data from the city's fire station was often inaccurate.

"If they could find a more reliable source, we would put them back on the map," she said.

Kate Berry



Does Humor Translate?

Think the United Nations has become a laughingstock? Well, check out the Ambassadors of Comedy, a stand-up review at the San Gennaro Caf & #233; in Culver City, where comics from more than a dozen countries poke fun at their own and everyone else's national quirks.

"I didn't even see the show but I loved the concept, so I went on my gut feeling," said Jay Handal, the owner of San Gennaro. "The ability to laugh at yourself is the greatest ability in our society."

The Friday and Saturday night shows are hosted by Jamaican comedian Jeff Hodges, and feature comics from Russia, Africa, Mexico, India (Gerry Bednob (photo), the Turban Cowboy) and elsewhere. There's a $10 cover and a two-drink minimum.

Matt Myerhoff



You're No. 2

L.A.'s top AM station, KFI (640), has surpassed New York's WABC-AM as the news and talk station with the nation's largest audience. And the KFI folks didn't hesitate to contact their Big Apple counterparts and rub it in.

Last week, Mary Brennan Stich, corporate counsel for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, sent a memo to Phil Boyce, director of WABC, to drive that point home.

"We would like to inform you that WABC has lost its bragging rights for 'America's most listened to news talk station," the memo read. "Kindly cease and desist from referring to WABC as America's most listened-to news talk station."

Boyce could not be reached for comment, but Robin Bertolucci, KFI's program director, said WABC has stopped using the tag in promotions.

"(Boyce) is a pal. We had fun with that. We sent it with a little wink," Bertolucci said. "We don't really care what they do in New York because we know that we are No. 1. We are definitely excited and we're screaming it to everyone."

KFI has also added "America's most listened-to news talk station to its promos.

Darrell Satzman



More for Carnivores

"The beef is back," said John Blanchette, publicist for Harry and Marilyn Lewis, owners of Gardens on Glendon in Westwood and Kate Mantilini's in Beverly Hills and Woodland Hills. Marilyn Adams had pulled all beef items off her menus after recent reports of mad cow disease. But upon further consideration, the three restaurants are now serving any and all beef and steak products.

"Customers were complaining," Blanchette said. "They missed the meat loaf, beef short ribs, the hamburgers and all the other wonderful cuts."

Adams had also said she didn't expect to restore T-bone or rib-eye cuts to the menu, because they were too close to the animals' spine for her comfort. But Blanchette said she's changed her mind.

"Everything is back," he said.

Steve Silkin

The Roving Eye

Tax Rap

In his bid to use the initiative process to pass a half-cent sales tax to fund regional law enforcement, Sheriff Lee Baca has found an unlikely ally: a do-rag-wearing, gold-bedecked tattooed rapper named Won-G.

The Haitian-born rapper and about three-dozen members of his posse met with Baca recently to discuss how they could help collect the 200,000 signatures needed by June in order to put the measure on the November ballot. A department official said Baca was considering Won-G's offer.

Members of the musician's marketing group, "Street Teens," sell his records using guerrilla promotion methods including 20 trucks papered in Won-G pictures that cruise around town and would utilize their enterprising style to get people to sign petitions.

Given many rappers' attitude toward the police, such an effort may be surprising. Not for Won-G, says his manager, Bob Murray.

"Won-G's supporting this because what he feels he is doing is protecting our neighborhoods," he said. "Everyone supports him and supports the sheriff and wants to protect the safety of our city."

The 26-year-old musician came to the United States with his family in 1978, when he was known as Wondge (Haitian for "One True God") Bruny. His first CD was released last February and he has since done well enough to move to Bel-Air and drive a Rolls Royce.

Should the initiative pass, one-third of the proceeds would go to the Sheriff's Department, one-third to the Los Angeles Police Department and one-third to other police departments in the county. It's estimated that the money could fund 5,000 more officers.

"What he really wants to do with all his new money is be a philanthropist and help out," said his publicist, Mary Kaye Daniels. "I think he's really smart. I think he's going to be a really big well-known guy."

Steve Silkin

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