Tag Archives: muffia

Deidra’s Damn Dram Wham-Bam

LionsTail cocktail editedMy friend Deidra likes vintage everything–vintage clothes, vintage men (not too many of them in LA, sadly) and vintage cocktails. She also likes to experiment and go off the recipe reservation when it comes to vintage cocktail recipes. Maybe she thinks if she dresses and drinks the classics, she’ll attract Cary Grant.

In any event, here’s her Damn Dram Wham-Bam and it packs a wallop. No wonder the Muffs like it.

2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. allspice dram

1/2 tsp. gomme syrup (or more to taste)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour or sprinkle all this into a shaker with ice and shake it, baby. Then strain into a cocktail glass. Decorate the rim with crystal sugar or an orange slice and mmmmm wham-bam. 

#16 – Spy Games


Rather than wait for Jack–the guy who’d opened the door of the illegal business a couple of days before and my prospective employer– to call me, I decided to knock on the door again to press my case. Dressing in clothes that mimicked those of the laptop-toting employees, I headed out the front door but before I reached the sidewalk, Buddy intercepted me. He bolted out his own front door and stood between me and the Monster house. I suspected he must have a telescope pointed at my house too. Sure it was creepy but it was also sad. Didn’t he have anything better to do?

“Claudia emailed me,” he said.


“Yeah. I wouldn’t go in there.”

“Why not? I might be able to get proof of the business, which is what that Phoenix person at Building & Safety keeps saying we need to shut it down.”

“It’s dangerous.”

“It’s not dangerous,” I said, getting an idea that, if acted upon, would be guaranteed to provide fireworks. “Come with me.” Then I thought better of it. “Actually don’t. You need to go back in your house and watch the camera feeds. Now.” I looked around. “I shouldn’t be seen talking to you. By the way, they know about the telescopes and the cameras and if they see me with you, they’re not going to hire me.”

“They’re not going to hire you anyway,” Buddy said.

“What makes you say that?”

Buddy jerked his head. “Look.”

Behind me, Jack was pulling up in one of the three identical white BMW M5s that belonged to the guys running things at the house. Maybe they got a deal. I waved but he didn’t wave back.

“Thanks a lot,” I said to Buddy, as insincerely as I could.

“I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye on what to do about these assholes,” he conceded. “But going in there was risky at best, not to mention a waste of time. I don’t think they would have hired you even if they hadn’t pulled up just now. Like you said, they know that we, meaning the neighbors, are trying to get rid of them. They’d be idiots if they thought you weren’t in on it.”

He had a point but I wanted to believe I’d charmed Jack into thinking I wanted a job more than I wanted them out. I did need a job, after all.

“Where’s that blog you were going to start?” Buddy asked.

“I guess I’ll go start it,” I said. “I’ll join the millions of other bloggers on the Internet hoping to find people who have nothing better to do than read blogs.”

“Yeah but you’re not blogging about warm and fuzzy feelings, like half of those people,” said Buddy. “Your blog will have a point to it. You’ll be righting wrongs and standing up for justice.”

I didn’t stand up for the warm and fuzzy bloggers as I probably should have. Some days, reading an uplifting blog post had saved me a bout of depression. That was the point.

The House Next Door #8

Unknown“Did you see what’s going on at the monstrosity this morning?” Buddy asked me one overcast day, stick in hand, as we converged upon Lily’s library.

“Why—what’s going on?” I asked, completely unaware of what he was talking about.

Buddy always seems to think “something” is going on at the monstrosity, something that shouldn’t be. The thing is, Buddy knows everything that’s happening in the neighborhood and most of it, in his opinion, is not good so when he says something’s up, I hesitate to believe him. And since he started saying there was an illegal business operating from the giant monster house, the entire ‘burb of Woodland Hills had become a Hellhole as far as he’s concerned.

From my perspective, right next to the eyesore, the house and its occupants had been quiet, even if it had remained atrocious to look at. And that’s despite all the cars arriving every morning, at 11 a.m. for “work.” Then again, maybe the reason they’re so quiet is precisely because they were doing something illegal. Ugh, now I was thinking like Buddy.

“Go look,” he told me. “Anyway, you’ll pass it on your way home. There’s one of those huge Time-Warner trucks parked half on the driveway and half in the street in front of the place.”


“Yup. Really,” he said, nodding.

“Is that odd?” I asked. There was some hidden meaning in his demeanor but I couldn’t discern what.

“Yes, it’s odd.”


“Because it’s so big!” said Buddy, like Clifford the Big Red Dog might upon waking, realizing he no longer had a backache and discovering the reason: his doghouse was finally the right size .

I paused to consider what this meant. I hadn’t seen any truck—big or small—when I’d left for my walk but certainly one could have arrived while I was out. But even if a big truck had shown up, I couldn’t have figured out what that meant.

“I meant why is it there, Buddy? What’s odd about it?”

“Well,” he started, “when has a residential servicing required ‘the big truck’?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think I ever noticed the size of truck they send out.”

“Never, that’s when,” he said with authority. “That’s your answer. There’s no need for it. They send vans to residences.”

“What if all the vans are being serviced?”

“Would never happen,” he said like I was a six-year-old. “And if it did, the overseas operators from Time-Warner would call and reschedule your appointment giving you another giant, inconvenient window of time when their technician is supposed to show up at your house.”

That much was true. Those companies loved giving giant windows during which they kept customers housebound with threats that the “next available appointment” was over three weeks away. The last time they came to my house, they were late after failing to make the five-hour window they’d given me and had left a DVR for me to try as recompense. I still hadn’t set it up a year later. Maybe I needed to watch more TV.

“So what does that mean?” I asked. I wondered why Buddy needed to be so—so—Buddy.

“It means”, he said, smug-faced, “that they’re putting in industrial cable, able to handle huge streams of data at one time.”


“I’ve seen it before,” said Buddy. “The good news is, a big industrial cable means they’re definitely running a business.”

“Isn’t that the bad news?” I asked. “I mean we don’t want the business, right? It destroys property values and is in violation of zoning laws—that’s what you said.”

It was then that the first of the cars, driven by one of the “employees” drove by en route to the monstrosity. Buddy stood up straighter, ready to reveal how I’d so perfectly let myself be drawn into his web when he could have just told me what the big truck meant from the get-go.

“Yup. And this will prove there’s a business going on there, get it? Now we can get the city to shut ‘em down.”

Note: This is the true story of the house next door in my corner of the city of L.A. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.