watt’s picture of the week – wednesday, july 23, 2014


here’s a shed on the south end of ports o’ call in san pedro, ca on july 23, 2014. there’s talk of “redevelopment” which ain’t westside slang for “getting promenaded,” is it?

photo by mike watt

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mike watt’s hoot page

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Introducing the Umami Dog

Umami Dog

When we first met Adam Fleischman, the founder of Umami Burger, flipping patties at a food event, he seemed like a real nice guy. When he took over Burbank’s local landmark Papoo’s Hot Dog Show he proved what a good guy he is by leaving the kitschy facade alone and just upgrading the interior. The old plastic seats have morphed into luxe seating with a steakhouse vibe. There’s even a chandelier! The servers are super friendly and handled all of my questions with great patience and good humor.

The menu includes hot dogs as a nod to Papoo’s. This location is the only Umami Burger serving hot dogs. Each of the specialty dogs echoes one of the specialty burgers, such as the Hatch, the Manly, and the Cali. The wiener itself is all beef with a natural casing and no nitrates.

Other than the dogs and unusual decor, this restaurant boasts everything you already love about Umami — the beet salad,  Umamified fries smothered in beer cheese sauce, short ribs or bacon. Besides the usual Cake Monkey desserts, they also have Cool Haus ice cream sandwiches. They have fat tire amber ale and French champagne. So what are you waiting for ? Get your ass down here! They are open til midnite.

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Fritzi Dogs: Hot Dogs? I’ll Give You Hot Dogs!


All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

If you want to change up your eating experience at Farmer’s Market, or in general, there’s Fritzi Dogs nestled in the northeast corner of the Market. I spent a good hour there for a special tasting a couple weeks back. The charming young hostesses gave me a sizzling overview of a wide selection of Fritzi Dogs’ hot dogs. I was treated to a veggie dog with a special marinated roasted carrot smothered in brussel sprouts that was surprisingly hearty and delicious. There was the Slaw dog, the Memphis BBQ Dog (howl!), Spicy Dog (Hot-cha Cha Cha!), Venice dog (pretzel bun), the Salsa Verde dog (sizzle) and a new take on the Corn dog: all do new great takes on taste for the dog of your choice. You can have your dogs customized and fine tuned to your taste to enjoy in the Farmer’s Market ambience. These artisanal dogs, created by Iron Chef-winning Neal Fraser, will intrigue and delight. Everyone of these tasty K-9s will set your tongue to dangling and taste buds dancing. Check out these fine dining weeniers!

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Meet the Family Behind Pink’s Hot Dogs

Here is an interview I did with the Pink family back in 2010. Learn the history and secrets behind the iconic hot dog stand. And yes, I know I sound like a drunk 13 year-old when I do interviews.

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What’s Better than a Slaw Dog? THREE Slaw Dogs!

21-ChicagoFor National Hot Dog Day, Slaw Dogs in Woodland Hills, Pasadena, and Duarte are offering a special trio to share with friends, or to start training for your upcoming throwdown with Takeru Kobayashi. For just $9.99 you get an “L.A. Street Dog (bacon wrapped, pico de gallo, sautéed peppers and onions, home made garlic mayo)” and “L.A.’s Best Chicago Dog (poppy seed bun, pickle spear, onion,  tomato, celery salt, bright green relish, mustard, sport peppers)” plus the “New York Dog (sauerkraut, grilled onion,  spicy mustard).” All three are made with premium 1/4 lb Vienna Beef Dogs. Don’t forget to order the sweet potato fries, perfectly crisp and completely greaseless, or the umami bomb known as truffle, Parmesan and garlic fries.

Photo of Chicago Dog courtesy of Slaw Dogs

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Where to Find a Ripper in LA

The RipperIn honor of National Hot Dog Day, we have a tip for you Jersey transplants. You can find a ripper in LA. Most of you are probably wondering, “What the hell is a ripper?” A ripper is a hot dog that has been cooked in the deep fryer. The name comes from the splits, or “rips” in the casing of a fried dog bursting at the seams. This cooking method makes for a crisp exterior and juicy interior.

So, where does one find this East coast delicacy? At Fab’s. Not only do they deep-fry the hot dogs, but their dog is “a natural casing beef and pork dog flown in from New Jersey that is especially made for deep frying.” Fab’s has three locations — one in Westwood, Reseda, and Valencia. We like ours smothered in chili, but Fab’s will adorn your meat with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Previously on The Beat:

Wednesday is National Hot Dog Day

Dog Haus Opening in Canoga Park Kicks off National Hot Dog Month

Japadog is Here! In LA!

Dog Haus Opens a Second Location in Pasadena

More Slaw Dogs!


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The Purge: Breakout

Over the last few years the horror films slated near Halloween have been artsy fartsy duds or disasterous reimaginings of old 70′s and 80′s classics. These movies are all sold with glossy saturation ads which are often misleading and leave you with little more than a few jump scares and a sour taste in your mouth. The big summer releases are often low budget, high concept efforts that put the viewer in a relatable situation.

In order to capitalize on that trope, Blumhouse Productions in association with the Black Out Haunted House Team that almost harkens back to the old days when William Castle would get the audience into the act with gimmicks like flying Skeletons in “House On Haunted Hill” and vision-enhancing ghost viewers in “13 Ghosts.” In this case, the immersive horror comes in the guise of a traveling roadshow of four semis and some clever marketing. The Purge Breakout is an interactive horror experience more like the “Saw” franchise than “The Purge,” but it does invoke the same urgency to get to safety found in the wholesale murder movie.

The managers warn you at the outset that this is not a haunted house and well, it is and it isn’t. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be much of a payoff. And it’s designed so that very few survive the maze and its time limit for bragging rights to beating the game. You  are led in groups of six, often with strangers, to the basement of an obese serial killer named Big Daddy who intends to torture and snuff you out when “the purge” begins. As the public service announcement counts down your thirty minute to “purge time,” you hear the cries of a young woman held captive. Your first puzzle is to find the keys to releasing her hand and jaw restraints so she can help lead you through the grimy carnage. The puzzles are hard and require the effort of everyone. The cramped space serves to bolster the adrenaline of it all. It’s very dark and nasty in there and every five minutes or so you get an update on your progress.

The last couple of rooms are a real bitch requiring several keys, locks and brain busters that only one percent figure out. But as a reward, you get the scare and a candid photo. “The Purge: Breakout Experience” has been touring the country since May. Dates sold out quickly in Los Angeles, prompting the owners to hold it over for another two weeks until August 3rd. If the deal is still going on, you can enter PURGE10 in the checkout code box and cut that 20 dollar ticket in half. Click here for location and time slots left. They sold out last week in a matter of hours.

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Wednesday is National Hot Dog Day

Chili Cheese dog. Photo by Edward Simon for the Los Angeles Beat.

Chili Cheese dog. Photo by Edward Simon for the Los Angeles Beat.

As the expression goes, “as American as baseball, Mom, hot dogs and apple pie”, tomorrow, July 23 is National Hot Dog Day. In Los Angeles, there are many places to get a great hot dog to celebrate the holiday. There are very few things people are as passionate about as hot dogs and in each region of the country there are favorite ways to make them.

As a student at Cal State Northridge, Cupid’s Hot Dogs had a location right across from the Speech-Drama building where I had the majority of my classes. It was easier to go to Cupid’s for a dog and some of their delicious fries than to haul cross-campus to the Student Union for mediocre food.

Later on when I went to a lot of music clubs, after going to see a show at the Roxy or the Whiskey a Go Go, hot dogs were the best thing to wash down an evening’s full of drinks. That was when I first discovered Pink’s and the original location of Oki Dog on Santa Monica Boulevard.

My years in Hollywood for the studios meant that I worked a lot of night shifts. If it wasn’t too late, dinner was usually at Pink’s for a chili dog or three. When I did a true night shift, Oki Dog on Fairfax became my restaurant of choice. Two dogs, chili, pastrami wrapped in tortillas, the description of the Oki dog doesn’t do justice to the taste and the size. To this day I still need to get an Oki dog fix once in a while. And you never knew who you’d run into there! Continue reading

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Middle-Aged Rebel: The Stooges


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Southland Tales: Taxi Cab Confessions

Photo by Michael Essington

Photo by Michael Essington

Years ago I was watching an episode of Taxi Cab Confessions (remember that show?). And one of the guys that hopped into the back of the cab was a subway cop. Like they did, they baited the guy long enough until they got him talking.

One of his worst experiences while working the subway was this:

A guy was standing too close to the edge and was somehow pushed over and onto the subway tracks. While he was on the tracks the subway came and hit him. The lower half of his body was stuck under the tracks. When the train hit him it twisted the top of his body completely around. Now the subway cop had the horrible job of going down onto the tracks and telling the guy that he is alive at the moment, but once they attempt to remove him that his body will spin back around and sever his spine and he will die instantly.

I can’t think of a more horrible task. The guy is alive, though traumatized, and looking at you, understanding your words, but trying to comprehend the fact that if moved he is dead.

I’ve never had to deal with death like that. Most of the people that I’ve known have gone very quickly.

In 1984, while in barber school, I was leaving through the back door one day at lunch, when, about, twenty feet away from me I heard a small cherry-picker whirring away and lifting a guy up into the air. The guy got out of the picker and was attempting to wrap a belt around himself and a telephone pole.

I watched him leave the cherry-picker, loop the belt and then I saw him fall and hit his head on curb. For a second every one of the four other pole workers yelled, “Oh my god, shit,” etc. Then everything went insanely quiet. For the next five minutes it was like the city shut down.

I watched, after what felt like hours, as one of the crew members ran to the truck and radioed for help.

I stood there for a little bit, kind of, stunned. And not really able to move, then all at once the world started again. Cars flying by, the crew started chatting to bystanders. In an instant everything was back to normal, with the exception of a guy lying in the gutter with his head on the curb.

It was all very surreal. I had to return to school. At 2:30, when I was leaving, the crew was gone, as was the body. That night I popped on the news and there was no mention of the guy. Kind of sad.

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