What Keeps Hollywood’s Oldest Restaurant Running ~ The Atlantic

COURTESY OF TINA WHATCOTT ECHEVERRIA
LOS ANGELES—It is 8 p.m. on a soft spring Saturday and the oldest restaurant in Hollywood is packed to the gills. Tattooed hipsters in black jeans and miniskirts share the two bustling dining rooms with oldsters in cashmere V-necks, loafers, and Ferragamo pumps; jazzy standards pulse through the sound system at a volume neither too loud nor too soft; and the glow from the ancient wood-burning cast-iron grill suffuses the scene.

In this sprawling, polyglot culinary capital, where the cuisine ranges across the alphabet, from Armenian to Yemeni, the Musso & Frank Grill, which turns 100 years old in September, has not only endured but also prevailed, with a menuthat still features such antique dishes as Welsh rarebit, chicken pot pie, grilled lamb kidneys, and calf’s liver with onions, not to mention its spine-tingling, stirred-not-shaken martinis—55,272 of them served last year alone.

Los Angeles’s food scene has never been hotter. The Michelin Guide recently announced plans to resume reviewing restaurants here after a nine-year hiatus occasioned by the feeling that the city’s restaurants weren’t quite up to snuff? The Los Angeles Times has just relaunched a stand-alone food section to explore the city’s burgeoning restaurant culture each Thursday? The New York Times has dispatched its first-ever California food critic, Tejal Rao, to sample the region’s bounty?

Most of Musso’s contemporaries among the hot spots of old Los Angeles are long gone, including the Brown Derby (the inventor of the Cobb salad), Chasen’s (supposedly the birthplace of the Shirley Temple), and the Cock’n Bull (the cradle of the Moscow mule).

Yet Musso’s is thriving, and was recently featured favorably in one of Rao’s first reviews; she praised its “impossibly charming dining room,” and called the cocktails and steaks “unfailing” and the wedge salads “dignified.” By most accounts, the food—which was slipping a decade and more ago—is better than ever, and the restaurant has posted consistent double-digit revenue growth in recent years, according to Mark Echeverria, the chief operating officer in the fourth generation of family ownership.

Why? “I think Musso’s is in a time warp that appeals to our occasionally wanting to just strip away the new, the shiny, and the uncertain to simply eat and relax,” Barbara Fairchild, the former editor of Bon Appétit and a longtime Angeleno, wrote me in a recent email. “You don’t come to Musso’s to prove a point. You just come to enjoy yourself.”

As Fairchild also pointed out, “L.A. is an explosion of flavor right now, and our restaurant scene is booming, the best, most diverse in the country,” and diners have nearly infinite options. So Musso’s—a restaurant so old that its “new room,” the overflow dining area and bar, dates to 1955—may be trading on nostalgia in a city “that a lot of people stereotypically think of as the Capital of the Ephemeral,” she said.

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TINA WHATCOTT ECHEVERRIA

But the restaurant is trading on more than that, too. Its real secret is its constancy. It makes no nod to nouvelle cuisine or farm-to-table provenance (no waiter will ever tell you the name of your lamb or the farmer who raised it). But because Musso’s is in California, the avocados are always ripe, the tomatoes juicy, the lettuce fresh, and the vibe laid-back. The waiters—all men, in crisp, red waist-length jackets with black lapels—are professional and polished, and most of them have a tenure of many years, if not decades. Ruben Rueda, a legendary bartender who worked at the restaurant for 52 years beginning as a busboy and who used to drive Charles Bukowski home if the writer was drunk, died  just last month.

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Late-Night Hosts Await Trump’s Financial Records

BEST OF LATE NIGHT

Stephen Colbert said of President Trump’s financial records: “I have a strong feeling that we’re going to find out that the whole time, Eric was just a shell corporation.” Credit CBS

 

By Trish Bendix

President Trump encountered a setback on Monday in his attempts to deny Congress access to his financial records when a federal judge upheld a subpoena of Trump’s accounting firm. The House Democrats behind the subpoena are trying to find out whether Trump inflated his assets, Jimmy Kimmel said.

“Gee, I wonder what the answer to that question is? Of course he is. He inflates everything! This is like trying to find out if Goodyear inflates the blimp.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

Stephen Colbert also anticipated what the records could reveal.

“I have a strong feeling that we’re going to find out that the whole time, Eric was just a shell corporation. Nothing in there.” — STEPHEN COLBERT, referring to one of Trump’s sons

Credit Video by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

“The judge rejected the White House claim that Congress does not have legitimate oversight, pointing to precedents involving James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Or, as history will remember them, bizarro Mount Rushmore.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

In what late-night hosts saw as a delightful irony, Trump’s appeal of the decision (“That right there is the first time a sentence has included both the phrases ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘appealing,’” James Corden joked) could be heard by Judge Merrick Garland, whose Supreme Court nomination by President Barack Obama was blockaded by Senate Republicans.

[Imitating Trump] You can’t trust an Obama-appointed judge. Take it from me, a Putin-appointed president.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“It’s like if Donald and Melania renewed their vows, and the minister was Stormy Daniels.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

“Now for the first time since 2016, he can wake up and say, ‘It’s a good day to be Merrick Garland.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’ Debuts at Cannes ~ NYT

From left, Margot Robbie, Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt at Cannes. Credit Loic Venance/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

When news broke that Quentin Tarantino would be taking on the Manson murders in his latest film, I admittedly winced. Tarantino’s love for over-the-top gore, for painting the screen red, seemed a bad fit with the ghastly 1969 murders of several people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then married to Roman Polanski. What was entirely unexpected was that “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, would be such a moving film, at once a love letter — and a dream — of the Hollywood that was.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – Official Teaser Trailer

Well-received at its first press screening — no cheers but no jeers — the film revisits that crime through parallel, not-quite equal story lines: one involving Sharon (Margot Robbie) and the other centering on her next-door neighbor on Cielo Drive, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a television star. On the verge of permanent cancellation, Rick spends much of his time with Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), his best pal and sometimes stunt double. There’s a whole lot of Rick and Cliff — a buddy movie in the making and mutual support system — whose antics, while shooting shows or just the breeze, give the movie a lot of its light, infectiously pop pleasure.

For a long stretch, Tarantino has fun with Rick and Cliff as they tool around Los Angeles in a cream-colored Cadillac, the radio blasting. Every so often, the friends hit a beloved landmark, like the Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, where gimlets are served with sidecars and the waiters are as old as the movies themselves. At other times, Cliff drops Rick off at a studio, where the actor sweats, forgets his lines and sometimes proves he’s still got it. Cliff just gets up and goes, baby, driving around looking cooler than Steve McQueen (Damien Lewis), who briefly shows up at a party where Sharon and all the beautiful people frolic as the nights grow darker.

‘Photographing unreal people in unreal settings at real moments’: Unpublished photos form Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ ~ The Washington Post

Photo Editor

May 22 at 6:00 AM


Production manager Claudio Mancini, as Harmonica’s older brother, filming the flashback in early August 1968, between Monument Valley and Mexican Hat, Utah. (Angelo Novi/Reel Art Press)

Portrait of Jason Robards, who plays the bandit Cheyenne. (Angelo Novi/Reel Art Press)

There’s a new book out this month by Reel Art Press called “Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece” that will tell you just about everything you want to know about the Italian director Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western.

If you’re like me and are a fan of Leone’s movies, which also include “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “A Fistful of Dollars” and “Once Upon a Time in America,” that fact alone might entice you to pry open the pages of the book, which is 9.5 inches by 11 inches and 336 pages. But beyond the ample information detailing the making of the movie — including texts by Leone himself, Quentin Tarantino and the world’s foremost expert on Leone, Christopher Frayling — the book appeals to me for other reasons.

Leone’s movies have been favorites among photographers (both still and moving) for many years. They are known for the complexity of their shots and the beauty of the color panoramas, among other things. One of my former bosses in the photo industry in New York even had a Leone poster on the wall of his office. To top it off, this book takes us behind the scenes of the construction of the movie’s legendary scenes. And many of the photos, unpublished until now, were made by Italian photographer Angelo Novi.

In the book’s preface, Frayling notes that before working on movie sets, Novi had worked as a photojournalist for several Italian news agencies since 1952. Leone and Novi first started working together in 1966 in Spain on the set of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Frayling goes on to say that Novi’s “specialty became capturing the working atmosphere of actors and film crews on location, through close attention to detail. In particular, he enjoyed photographing Sergio Leone in action — miming for the benefit of his actors, lining up complex shots, boosting morale on the set, wearing a cowboy hat in the hot sun. Novi liked to say that having specialized up until then with photographing real people, he was now concentrating on photographing unreal people in unreal settings at real moments.”

After working on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Novi would go on to photograph the rest of Leone’s films. And according to Frayling, Novi even picked up some on-screen time — “he acted the part of a Franciscan friar in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and had a small role in ‘My Name is Nobody.’”

Novi’s work photographing movie productions was not limited to Leone’s sets. He also documented the making of films by other Italian directors, including Roberto Rosselini and Pier Paolo Pasolini and Bernardo Bertolucci. According to Frayling, Novi’s “huge collection of on-set photographs is now housed … by the Photographic Archive of the Cineteca di Bologna.”


Filming the construction in Monument Valley, an iconic location for Westerns, at the side of the track between East Mitten and Merrick Butte. (Angelo Novi/Reel Art Press

Henry Fonda, playing against type as the vicious killer Frank, has downtime on the set of “Once Upon a Time in the West.” (Angelo Novi/Reel Art Press)

“And you think you had a long winter…” thanks Doug Rovira

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Caretakers at Grizzly Reservoir outside of Aspen had memorable winter in avalanche country

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Nobody in the Aspen area had a tougher winter battling the elements than Glenn and Kim Schryver, the year-round caretakers at Grizzly Reservoir.

Consider this:

• The Schryvers were snowbound for 16 days.

• Avalanches caused minor damage to the water diversion facilities they oversee at the reservoir, roughly 17 miles southeast of Aspen.

“We plowed through 14 avalanches. I broke the dozer twice and had to weld things back together to finish.” — Glenn Schryver

• The closest slide deposited debris within 100 yards of their house.

• It took them 13 days to plow out 6 miles of Lincoln Creek Road from the reservoir to Highway 82. The job usually takes them three or four days.

Glenn said this was one of the most challenging winters they have faced in the 11 years he and Kim have been caretakers at what’s known as Grizzly Camp.

“I hope we don’t have another winter like this as long as I’m here,” he said.

Highway 82 is closed for the winter 6 miles east of Aspen. Lincoln Creek Road starts another 5 miles east of the winter closure gate, and the Schryvers’ home is about 6 miles up Lincoln Creek, so there’s no way that route gets traveled in winters.

Instead, they drive through the 3.8-mile water diversion tunnel that bores underneath the Continental Divide and hooks into Highway 82 on the Twin Lakes side.

The route outside the tunnel was snowed shut during the first week of March, when the Schryvers recorded 71 inches of snowfall at Grizzly Reservoir.

“The highway over there (in Twin Lakes) was blocked by four avalanches,” Glenn said in an email interview with The Aspen Times. “So we were stuck here for 16 days. When we did try to get out, the east end of the tunnel was blocked by snow.”

The heavy snow resulted in an incredibly active avalanche cycle in their neck of the woods — which is surrounded by numerous jagged peaks topping 12,000 and 13,000 feet. On March 7, a slide pushed debris halfway across Grizzly Reservoir.

One of the biggest slides came during the night during a snowstorm. While they didn’t hear the actual slide, Kim recalled hearing the dogs whining outside and they couldn’t figure out why.

They had the bedroom window cracked open and realized the next morning that the avalanche blast had blown snow into the room.

“It was jaw-dropping when we walked out the next morning,” Glenn said.

“On March 8, two more avalanches slid at the same time and came across our gatehouse, the building that controls the flows into the tunnel,” Schryver said.

The gatehouse is built like a World War II pillbox so it escaped damage inside, but the slide wiped out the exhaust from the generator and caused damage to the mechanism used to control water flow.

“We spent a couple of days digging out to the gatehouse so we could control the water flows,” Schryver said. The deep snow debris from the avalanches settled into concrete.

Slides off of Green Mountain, a majestic peak west of Independence ghost town, wreaked havoc in the Highway 82 corridor as well as Lincoln Creek drainage. It produced massive slides in both directions. In the highway corridor, it came roaring down the mountainside, covered the road and bowled over scores of aspen trees on the north side of Highway 82.

By late March, the Schryvers were able to resume travels through the tunnel to access Highway 82 on the Twin Lakes side. Their duties also required them to ride snowmobiles down from Grizzly to Lost Man Reservoir to take snow measurements. They saw more of Mother Nature’s raw power along Lincoln Creek, where several designated campsites are dispersed.

“There was a ton of damage down the canyon, mainly by campsite 7 but also campsites 5, 8, 9 and 11,” Schryver said. “The beautiful grove of aspens at the base of Green Mountain is totally gone. Most of the slides slid down the mountain and up the other side, knocking timber down on both sides.”

Each spring, the Schryvers plow out Lincoln Creek Road from the reservoir to Highway 82 so they can tend to the diversion system and because they cannot drive through the diversion tunnel when it is at full capacity. The plowing is a job that usually takes them three or four days, he said. It was a tough 13 days this April before they finally broke through to Highway 82.

“We plowed through 14 avalanches,” Schryver said. “I broke the dozer twice and had to weld things back together to finish.”

He estimated they plowed through hundreds of trees and rocks. The biggest tree trunk measured 120 inches at the base, clearly driving home the destructive force of the slides. A huge boulder was imbedded by campsite 7.

The biggest challenge was locating the road under deep, rock-hard snow. The trees and land features they were used to checking to keep their bearings while plowing were either buried or destroyed by the avalanches.

While the snowfall was above average, what really made the winter memorable was all the snow falling during the first week of March, Schryver said. All that snow loading on weak underlying layers resulted in huge slides not only near Grizzly Reservoir but in Maroon and Castle Creek valleys and Marble and Conundrum Valley, where the granddaddy slide of them all occurred.

“It will be interesting to see what things look like when all the snow melts,” Schryver said of the Lincoln Creek Valley.

Nepalese Sherpa Sets Mount Everest Record (Again), Climbing Mountain Twice In A Week

A Nepalese mountain climber has now climbed Mount Everest a record 24 times — and he’s hoping to do it one more time before he retires. Kami Rita Sherpa, 49, has been climbing Everest since 1994.

“It’s also the second time in a week that he’s made the arduous trek,” NPR’s Sushmita Pathak reports from Mumbai. “The 49-year-old Sherpa guide had already broken his own record on May 15, when he scaled the summit for the 23rd time.”

Rita started his most recent climb just three days after his 23rd summit of Everest. Early Tuesday morning, he stepped on the tallest peak in an area known as the roof of the world, leading a team of Indian police officers on the climb, according to The Kathmandu Post.

The highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest’s summit is more than 29,000 feet above sea level. The first time it was successfully scaled was in 1953 — and the southeast route that was taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay is the same one Rita and many other climbers still use today.

In addition to Everest, Rita has also climbed a number of other imposing mountains, including K-2 and Cho-Oy.

Mountaineers who hope to climb Everest have a brief window each May in which weather conditions are most favorable. In the current season, 381 people have received permits to carry out expeditions on the mountain, as part of 44 teams, according to Nepal’s Department of Tourism. Of those climbers, 14 are natives of Nepal.

As of Monday, at least 75 climbers had reached the top of Everest in the current season, according to The Rising Nepal.

‘Filth Elder’ John Waters Says There Are Still ‘Plenty Of Rules’ Left To Break

Cult filmmaker and self-described “filth elder” John Waters, 73, has plenty of ideas about what older people should and shouldn’t do.

The worst thing, he says, is to get a convertible: “Because believe me, old age and windswept do not go hand in hand. It’s really a bad look! You can’t be trying too hard to rebel [when] you’re older.”

Waters knows about being a rebel. He became famous for his 1972 film Pink Flamingos, in which the characters compete for the title of filthiest person alive. That film became a midnight movie classic and led to other films, including Female Troubleand Hairspray.

Along the way, Waters became accepted in the mainstream more than he ever expected. Hairspray was adapted into a Broadway musical, and he has also given acommencement address and had museum retrospectives.

Though he jokes that he can’t be anarchist — “I have three homes!” — he adds, “There’s plenty of rules that you can still break. … I think you have to use humor and you can’t be so angry about it.”

Waters looks back on his unlikely path to respectability in his new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.


On growing up in Baltimore and being inspired by “bad kids”

It was the opposite of me, and I still like to be around people that are the opposites of me. … We didn’t have juvenile delinquents in my school, in my preppy grade school. … But I always was kind of just amazed to see these supposedly “bad kids” hanging out. I went to the Elvis movies, Jerry Lee Lewis — all that stuff. So I knew about juvenile delinquency.

I was always corrupted by Life magazine because we got it every week and it always covered beatniks, drug addicts. Everything that I was interested in I would read every word of it. And then my parents got the encyclopedia — the World Book Encyclopedia, I think — and that had everything in it! I would look up everything in there that you weren’t supposed to. So I was corrupted by the things that my parents brought in for educational reasons in our house — but not for the educational reasons they had in mind. … Everything about trouble in the arts I looked up.

On whether his parents’ death changed him

I don’t think I’ve ever changed, Terry. I think I’m the same as when I first started. I mean, my first film was called Hag in a Black Leather Jacket and it was about a black man and a white woman being married by a Ku Klux Klan preacher on the roof of my parents’ house. And the last film I made was A Dirty Shame, which was this sexploitation movie that got an NC-17 rating. …

The only thing I could think about my parents dying [was] thank God my mother doesn’t have to read [my book]. … But my parents had a happy marriage for 70 years. They both lived to be about 90. I’m wondering why I’m kind of as nuts as I am, really, because I had … pretty good role models from them.

On how his parents reacted to his being an eccentric child

I was obsessed by car accidents, and I “played” car accidents. My mother would take me to junkyards and walk around with me and I’d be like, “There’s been a terrible one over here! Look at this!” And I think [now], what did the junkyard or junk man think? What is this little ghoul? … I don’t know [what my mother thought]. That wasn’t in the Dr. Spock book of “What to Do if Your Kid is Obsessed By Car Accidents.”

[My parents] didn’t know what to do, really, but they didn’t freak out too much. They were confused by it. And what parent would be happy their child made Pink Flamingos? Really, none. …

Some of the people that I would bring home, my friends, [my mother] would be horrified, but she was polite. I remember when we made Multiple Maniacs [a 1970 film about psychotic killers who perform in a traveling sideshow] at my parents’ house and filmed the “Cavalcade of Perversion” [the sideshow act] on the front lawn. Divine came in afterwards in a bloody one-piece white woman’s bathing suit carrying an ax, and my mother served us tea, as if Princess Di had come over!

On getting paid for work that doesn’t get made

I have been paid three times to write sequels to Hairspray — real Hollywood money. I was paid to do a children’s movie called Fruitcake that I never got made, but I was paid to write it. So I keep getting paid to do them, but they don’t get made — which I feel fine about.

I’ve made 17 movies. It’s not like I haven’t spoken. … And at the same time, the books do better than the movies and I just need a way to tell stories. … But mostly with independent movies, a movie that routinely used to cost $7 million now they want you to do it for $2 million or $1 million. And I can’t go backwards! I don’t want to be an underground filmmaker at 73. I did that. I went through all that. And Hollywood treated me fairly. I don’t have any real complaints.

On collecting unusual contemporary art

I bought a painting — if you could call it that — by Karin Sander, a German artist I like, and what she did, she has never touched this painting or seen it. She gave her American art dealer a blank canvas, and told him to leave it outside in the Hamptons until it got mold all over it. And then the mold dried in kind of a beautiful way. It looks like a Robert Ryman white painting. But then the dealer said, “I can’t bring it in the gallery. And if you want to buy it, I have to get it treated.” So he got it treated, and then for me to buy it, which I did, I thought, “Isn’t this great? If I don’t have it treated it could wreck my house. It could make me sick. It could maybe kill my guests. It might disappear one day. It’s ugly, and it’s really expensive. And this is perfect! This is the perfect contemporary art!” … It hasn’t spread. None of my guests have been rushed to the hospital from it. But I liked the idea that it’s a dangerous painting.

On his plans to be buried in Baltimore, in the same cemetery as his friends

It’s a small little graveyard. They handled Divine’s funeral very well. … Mink [Stole] is going to get buried there, Pat Moran … all my friends, so we call it “Disgraceland,” and really I like the idea of being buried with your friends. Most people do not do that.

Vincent Peranio, who does all the set designs for my movies, I said, “Maybe you could design [a tombstone] for me that looks old. That has moss on it or something,” but I don’t want any jokes on it, no. I just want the day I was born and the day I died and my name. I don’t want like, “That’s all, folks!” or anything like that.

 

 

John Waters: A Bad Influence Picks His 'Role Models'