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Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

L.A. Stories / The Roving Eye

L.A. Stories

Safety Chutes

Less than a year after Sept. 11, Emergency Evacuation Systems has begun marketing parachute systems specifically designed for jumping out of burning buildings to local rescue teams. The company is producing two parachute lines one for civilians, one for rescue workers at about $1,650 each.

The Malibu company, originally called Airsurf, was formed early last September to produce kites for the sport of kiteboarding wind-aided skateboarding but switched direction after the terrorist attacks.

“We wanted to see if a parachute could be manufactured for someone with no skydiving experience,” said Jeremy Ireland, co-founder of Emergency Evacuation Systems. “This parachute works it can save lives.”

As part of its move away from the recreational, the company conducted numerous test-jumps, though none locally.

“We tried to do a jump off of 1100 Wilshire Blvd.,” said Ireland, who has footage of live jumps from buildings near the company’s plant in the Czech Republic. “But between permits, the cost of cameras and production crew, it would’ve cost $100,000.”

Soundtrack to the Stars

Tena Clark has penned hits for Patti Labelle, written jingles for McDonald’s (“Have you had your break today’), and produces enhanced CDs for United Airlines and Air Force One.

But Clark says her latest project that has given her the most satisfaction. She was recently hired by NASA to come up with a theme song for the space program.

Fittingly, Clark wrote the tune, “Way Up There,” at 30,000 feet somewhere between New York and Los Angeles. The song proved so popular that it has also been adopted as theme song for next year’s “Centennial of Flight,” national celebration being sponsored by NASA and several corporations.

She’s keeping mum on names, but Clark said that four well-known musicians would record the song in collaboration during the next couple of months.

“This has been very personal for me. It’s much more than just another song,” Clark said. “If you think of how many places this song will be played from the Kennedy Center to Kitty Hawk it’s very special.”

Sweet Truths

Bad news for cookie monsters.

After holding steady for 18 years, Diddy Riese Cookies in Westwood is hiking its prices from 25 cents to 35 cents a cookie.

“We knew that at some point in time inflation would catch up with us,” said Mark Perry, owner of the store started by his parents on Broxton Avenue in 1984.

What many people don’t know is that Diddy Riese cookies originally sold for 35 cents apiece back in 1984. Then Mrs. Field’s Original Cookies came into the Village and started selling its goods for 45 cents each. “We went down to a quarter a few months later,” Perry recalled.

Talk about inflation. Mrs. Field’s cookies are now selling for $1.49.

Go-Going Back

Who better to write and perform the theme song for a show set in the 1980s than the Go-Go’s?

The reunited Los Angeles pop band, known for such anthems as “Vacation” and “We Got the Beat,” has composed a song titled “Do It Over” for “Do Over,” a sitcom set to debut on the WB network next month.

The show is about a 34-year-old salesman who gets a second chance to go through high school by being transported back in time to his 14-year-old self. The series is set in the early ’80s.

Executive producers Warren Littlefield, Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz approached the Go-Go’s about creating the “Do Over” theme.

“The band we felt best epitomized that era was the Go-Go’s,” Littlefield said in a statement. “My rock n’ roll fantasy has been fulfilled.”

Danny King, Claudia Peschiutta, Darrell Satzman and Deborah Belgum

The Roving Eye

Movable Books

Pop-up books aren’t just for kids.

In fact, the oldest book in the current display at the L.A. Central Library is Federicus Chrysogonus’ “De Modo Collegiandi, Prognosticandi, et Curandi Febres” published in 1528 and a cosmological research book for scholars.

“In the 1500s, you had to be very wealthy to afford books,” says Toria Aiken, exhibition coordinator for the Los Angeles Public Library. “The advent of children’s books wasn’t until the late 1800s.”

All told, the library’s “Pop Up: 500 Years of Movable Books” contains 300 examples, most from the collection of Waldo Hunt, the recently retired founder of Intervisual Books in Santa Monica.

Hunt, who produced pop-up books for Random House, Walt Disney Co. and Hallmark before starting his own company, founded a museum in 1984 to house his personal collection, much of which is on loan to the library until the show ends in January.

“He’s the pop-up king,” Aiken says of Hunt.

To get a sense of the paper engineering that goes into pop-up books, the library has a companion exhibition, “Leaping Off the Page: Building Pop-Up Books.” Another display, in the children’s area, provides hands-on examples from the library’s collection of more than 1,000 pop-up books.

Visitors will learn the difference between volvelles (revolving discs), peep show and panorama, as well as various other pop-up styles. All the exhibits are free and open seven days a week during regular library hours.

“It’s really quite amazing,” Aiken says of the intricate mechanics in some of the books. “We do a lot of exhibitions, but this will be one of the most fun.”

Darrell Satzman


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