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.