Leo Carrillo rides the Paradise Cafe mural.
Courtesy Photo

Mayor Caruso?: As if shopping mall magnate Rick Caruso doesn’t have enough on his plate trying to get the Miramar hotel rebuilt, he’s thinking of running for mayor-of Los Angeles, that is.

If Republican Caruso, who owns the Grove mall in L.A. and the newly opened Americana, takes on Demo incumbent Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, next year’s election shapes up to be a major big-bucks battle. Caruso’s admission that he’s pondering the race has sparked a fund-raising frenzy among Villaraigosa’s strongly Democratic Hollywood biggie friends. In L.A., being police chief is as political as it gets. Chief Bill Bratton is said to be loyal to Villaraigosa but also a pal to Caruso, who threw a lavish party at his Brentwood estate the night the chief was reappointed.

On the Beat

Meanwhile, Caruso fired off mass emails to Montecitans last week, grumbling at a delayed Miramar hearing and hinting that he might walk away from the project if foot-dragging continues.

Folks are talking about Rob Kuznia‘s noozy summation of the Miramar situation on the Noozhawk blog. He points out that the county delayed the June Montecito Planning Commission hearing until mid-July because of a barrage of around 100 letters on the subject. Even ex-News-Presser Kuznia’s long piece was followed by loads of strongly opinionated posts. When the hearing is actually held, it should be a humdinger, with opponents of Caruso’s plan sharpening their knives.

Belle Epoque for Sale: No, not that you could buy back that peaceful European period during the late 19th Century that lasted until World War I. I’m talking about the 12,000 square-foot mansion Gateway co-founder Norm Waitt Jr., built in French Country style in Montecito and modestly named Belle Epoque. That was after he paid $12.6 million for the property and tore down the house. How many $12 million tear-downs do you hear about? Anyway, he listed the new place for $24.8 million more than a year ago (it was his ex-wife’s project, after all) and when that didn’t produce action he dropped the price to $19.7 mil. Now he’s taking sealed bids with a June 25 deadline. Waitt left Gateway in 1991 and was an executive producer of the hit-and highly profitable-film My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Paradise at 25: How many restaurants a block off State Street survive for a quarter of a century? The Paradise Cafe (702 Anacapa St.) is celebrating its 25th birthday and going strong. Its patio is a see-and-be-seen spot for the City Hall crowd, journos, and local VIPs. Sue and I were there Sunday night, chatting with owner Randy Rowse about the fight at City Council when he wanted to keep the neon sign after taking over the old La Paloma Mexican restaurant. (Neon verboten downtown). Randy won, thanks to help from the late Tom Rogers. The funky building dates to 1915. La Paloma, home of the cheap enchilada lunches we poverty stricken News-Pressers used to enjoy, is known as where local kid, later movie star, Leo Carrillo used to tie up his horse after Fiesta parades and come in to put on the feedbag. It opened in 1938.

Save That Oil!: Question: How long could the county’s fleet of vehicles run on just the amount of oil Greka has spilled this year?

Old Wicked Songs: This current Ensemble Theatre production is not only beautifully written but is carried by the skill and passion of a great actor, Kenneth Tigar. Tigar, who plays the Austrian singing professor Josef Mashkan, and Denis Butkus, as Stephen Hoffman, the arrogant young American pianist, just closed their run of the same play in Vienna, where the action takes place. It’s about two men from different generations and nations who learn to overcome their differences, with horrific memories of the Holocaust looming above them.

Wonders of Water: In connection with World Ocean Day, the Santa Barbara Zoo plans a Wonders of Water day Sunday, for families to learn about conservation. It includes zookeeper talks, a walk-through “ocean,” water crafts, storytelling and more. It’s free, with zoo admission.

Grand Old Man of Education: City College’s flag is flying at half-staff this week for Sam Wake, who developed the Adult Education program into a model widely copied around the nation. Sam died last week at 93.


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