Huell Howser, 67

THE WORD of Huell Howser’s passing has really struck a chord around town. No one was more enthusiastic about Southern California and its sense of place than Howser, the long-time host of KCET’s California Gold. With his folksy, earnest manner, he was able to tear away at a good deal of the superficiality that so many people felt defined Los Angeles.

Here’s a remembrance from Robert Lloyd. The L.A. Times T.V. critic.

Farewell, Huell.

Sheriff John Rovick, 93 — “Bye For Now”

IF YOU grew up in Southern California as a Baby Boomer, or on the very tail of that designation, you’ll remember Sheriff John. The kindly be-starred fellow who led the “Lunch Brigade” on KTTV Channel 11 and who would, if you were lucky enough, sing his signature celebratory song “Put Another Candle on My Birthday Cake” and embroider your name within it.

All of us hoped he’d mention us on our big day and even if he didn’t, it felt like he would have if he had had enough time — L.A. was such a big place with so many folks to remember . . .

We had a host of television hosts in the Southland — from Hobo Kelley to Miss Mary Ann on Romper Room — but there was something straight-forward about Sheriff John that was different and he was there until the last round-up in 1970 when the called him in, cancelled the show.

And though Rovick years later moved to Phoenix, the Sheriff and the show lived on. Natives from around these parts sing lines from the birthday song as some sort of verfication — we were here, that existed, and it seemed to be  a simpler place to navigate — but “careful when you crossed.”

The Sheriff would like that.

Kevin Roderick over at L.A. Observed has a lovely remembrance of “the Sheriff”

And below you’ll find a tribute video that Kevin also posted that gives you a sense of the show — from cartoons to civics lessons with a smattering of safety rules.

Bye for now, Sheriff John….

And below, another signature song: “Laugh and Be Happy”

** and this in — Robert Lloyd’s eloquent remembrance in the L.A. Times

“Homecoming”

AT FIRST, I watched this commercial out of the corner of my eye, thinking — I already know what it’s supposed to be representing. I’ve seen ‘it’ too many times, so I don’t need to look again.

But only in the last week or so have I really paused to sit down and study it closely. It isn’t quite the same old story.

Cars are so much about status, particularly in a place like Los Angeles where we don’t often brush up against one another directly. People here then aren’t just judging a book by its cover, but by the shrink wrap covering the cover. In this sense telegraphing who you are is tricky.

Ultimately, what pulled me in was that the on-the-face of it imagery plays with our pre-conceived notions. Where is this young man “on his way to” with that intense, steely expression? You’ve got that deep-bass blooming around the edges, a foreboding soundtrack coupled with his difficult-to-read side-glance to the “little homies” on the sidewalk? What’s he up to?

Sure enough, where this young man is “going” is back home. To his mother’s arms. (Those “little homies”? He was one of those little boys, not so long ago.) And the car — Chrysler wants us to believe — telegraphs that he hasn’t forgotten what “home” means: dependable, familiar, practical — but with a little bit of down-to-earth American style. His face melts when he sees her — his Mom, and then moves toward her open arms — their smiles connecting them before their embrace.

It’s subtle and layered and surprising. A far-cry from the pop candy J-Lo commercial for the new Fiat 500 that often seems to be running in the same rotation, but sends exactly the opposite message: this flashy car says, “Yeah, I’m all that. Loud, bright and then some…” I’ve grown weary of it already. Make it stop.

Chrysler’s quiet message is built for times like this. Keeping it together is keeping it real.