California’s Gold

January 7, 2013

in los angeles area interests

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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…he was my guide on trips like Catalina Island

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

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…and The Donut Man.

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

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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.

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R.I.P.

{ 11 comments }

1 allie@sweetpotatobites January 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

What a great tribute- I loved watching Huell and all of his adventures in CA. He will be missed. The donut man episode was one of my faves as well.

2 hippierunner January 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

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!

3 walkinge January 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

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.

4 Gail Flackett January 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm

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..

5 Channing Sargent January 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm

You got to MEET HIM?! You’re so fortunate – I’m very sad that I’ll never have the chance. That New Year illustration of him is awesome.

6 Stephanie C January 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

So nice to see him honored here. I feel as if I lost a relative! Sad day for California :(

7 Jeffry S. P. January 7, 2013 at 10:18 pm

So sad indeed. He showed what CA was all about. He will be missed by many including myself.

8 Lisa January 8, 2013 at 5:20 am

I remember watching his shows when I was growing up. Loved his personality.

9 Gail Flackett January 8, 2013 at 10:36 am

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.

10 Dan Brosamle January 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

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.

11 Eddie Lin January 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

Lynn,

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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