California’s Gold

One of the reasons I love LA is that although it’s a huge city, it can feel also feel like a small town. My ambassador to all the neighborhoods, the diverse culture, the hidden gems – was Huell Howser, host to several local PBS shows — who I’ve written about many times, since the beginning of this blog.


Surreal that this text message about his death arrived from Abe while I was having some tea/candy and reading the Larchmont Chronicle, the local paper for the neighborhood I live in; where Huell Howser did as well.


Here we are at the Farmer’s Market two years ago (he’s in the red sweatshirt at 11 o’ clock, talking to the Cheese Crisps vendor). I had Abe sneakily snap this photo because he’s like a celebrity to us. We actually met once – at The Bungalow – where I shook his hand and gushed like a teenager afterwards. And he often stopped to say hello to Julius during our walks.


Huell not only showed me things about my own ‘hood, like the Christmas Cookie buffet at our dry cleaners…


…he was my guide on trips like Catalina Island


…and inspired some of my funnest food adventures, like the pickle tour of Kruegermann’s


…and The Donut Man.


He even helped me mourn the loss of my father, by introducing me to the Hazy Moon Zen Center.


I could watch anything he hosted (and I pretty much have) but here are some of my favorite moments that come to mind:

  • Big Fish – Huell meets a guy in a pet store whose fish is too big for the tank. They go to Lake Shrine to set it free.
  • Ferndell – This may be the very first time I saw Huell. At first I was like, “Who is this Southern guy shoving his mic in everyone’s face?” Then I realized he was in my neighborhood, visited the beautiful park he was talking about, and fell in love with the genius!
  • Willie’s Shoe Shop – My friend Beth was on this episode. She didn’t know who he was, but I freaked out.
  • Musicians Institute – School of Rock, with Huell as Jack Black. The music video at the end…priceless.
  • Occidental College – Huell visits Barack Obama’s college dorm and interviews his former classmates.
  • The Bunny Museum – My friend Mayuka and I went here before Huell visited. I was so glad he seemed as weirded out by the whole thing as we were.
  • Cow Tongue – Huell makes some not-so-nice remarks about eating tongue, which prompts this culinary journey around Los Angeles.




11 thoughts on “California’s Gold

  1. hippierunner

    I’m really sad to hear that! I grew up watching him and was never able to run into him though he did always show up on tv in places in town I knew. This post was a nice way to find out the news though, as it’s really sweet and thoughtful- thanks!

  2. walkinge

    Thanks for posting this tribute. I’ve struggled with this loss all day – feeling as if it was a personal friend that I had lost. He will certainly be missed.

  3. Gail Flackett

    I feel sad too after reading your blog and seeing him in your clips. I recall Abe and you saying it would be great for Huell and I to meet. I am flattered because he seemed to be such a sweet and enthusiastic person. What a loss to you and his followers..

  4. Gail Flackett

    I had a chance to see a couple of his shows last night in a memorial from PBS; one when he was quite young, interviewing an elephant trainer, and more recently , Cochitella (can’t pronounce). He was quite adorable. Now I am sadder. He was 67. Thanks again for sharing this.

  5. Dan Brosamle

    He made you feel like you were with him on his adventures. A very special talent. Huell took us to so many places that we’d never have known about. He will be so deeply missed.

  6. Eddie Lin


    Very lovely tribute. We are both lucky to have had met California’s biggest fan and most down-to-earth guy. I’m sure he thought you were “AAAaaamazzing!” ; )

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