Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Kitschlicious Riverside, CA.

Last weekend I drove to Riverside to see a performance of The Color Purple, the musical I co-wrote. I tend to pick and choose the performances of the show I see based on how good the thrifts shops and vintage architecture is in the cities it’s playing in.

Riverside is only a little over an hour east of LA and has at least two blocks of nothing but thrift shops so that being a target city was pretty obvious. Besides, it gave me a chance to go to one of my favorite barbecue joints on the planet:

It’s always a good sign when your favorite joint is pushing your show as hard as the deep-fried turkeys and hams.

I discovered Gram’s Mission Bar-B-Que Palace, at the time in its original location two blocks west of where it is now, the first time I ever went to Riverside in the late 1980′s. Paul Rubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, and I took my van for a weekend thrift shop extravaganza. We stayed overnight at the famous Mission Inn, an architecturally historic hotel where Ronald and Nancy Reagan spent their honeymoon, and then, starting in Riverside, we hit every significant thrift shop between there and LA.  My bed at The Mission Inn was directly under an astronomically huge stained-glass window of Jesus Christ. I woke up about 8 am. with Jesus’s light raining down on my body, which now itself looked like a stained glass Jesus. This felt somewhat blasphemous as a Jew so I ran to a open window across the room to get some air and there, rising like a miracle before me directly across the street, was a big ass barbecue smoker with plumes of rib greased smoke billowing out of it. I can’t even tell you how fast we bolted down there.

The only thing better than the ribs, fried chicken, catfish, meatloaf, yams, greens, mac ‘n cheese and cobbler we inhaled was the bridge table next to us that was covered with an extra long shag fake fur chessboard and foot tall handcarved chess pieces. I know I have a rib grease stained photo of it somewhere but all I can put my hands on right now is a photo of the cover of the menu.

All categories of chewables featured on the cover are excellent at Gram’s.  By now, after all these years of coming here, I think I’ve only missed one thing on the menu:

Back to this trip, I left Gram’s stuffed like the pig that used to be attached to the ear and hit the thrifts. This spectacular 1950′s pushbutton ashtray was one of my more significant finds, especially as it was only $16 and I already own the matching desk fan and calendar.

Here’s Riverside on the ashtray:

For $1 I also got this incredible 1950′s beer and parfait glass.

Fish were a very popular design motif in the 1950′s.

Thank God, a few other things from the 1950′s abound in Riverside like these incredible vintage neon signs:

This sign isn’t neon but beautiful and 50′s nonetheless:

The matching restaurant is even better:

Thank God it was dark by the time I got back to the theater…

… because I parked just across the street and changed in the back of my van. I like having a van because not only does it accommodate any size of  thrift shop purchase but it’s a portable dressing room as well. This would not have been the case had I been driving this vehicle that whizzed past me on my way back to the theater:

All in all, my day was fantastic. The show, the food, the sights, the thrift finds, all fantastic. So what’s not to love about a day trip to Riverside? Especially when everything but a Pigs Ear awaits me.

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Categories: Food, Forgot to Categorize, Furniture and Housewares, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Place, Sign, Transportation, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch’ O The Day – Vintage Shrimpmaster and Dinner at Street

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I am so absolutely not a cook so the fact this 1950′s kitchen tool de-veins and peels a shrimp in one fell swoop isn’t what I cherish most about it but, rather, the gorgeous aesthetics that grace the box. From the pre-psychedelic background pattern on the lid…

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Categories: Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, People, Place, Political, Self expression, Street, The Color Purple

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Allee Willis’ Kitschen O’ The Day – Susan Feniger on Top Chef Masters

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Last night I went to the launch party for the new season of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters at Street, the restaurant I co-own in Los Angeles and home base for one of the competing TCMasters, Susan Feniger.

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Categories: Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, Party, Street, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Vintage Church Fans

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I’ll be waving one of these  all day and night today as these are the final two performances of the First National Tour of my musical, The Color Purple. The  whole 4-1/2 years I was writing this with Brenda Russell and Stephen Bray we waved these church fans and others from my collection of 60 from the 1950′s and ’60′s daily. I’ve been stuck on songs before but being stuck on a song for a musical when one has to consider way more then the singer or the content of the song like the plot, which we were writing at the same time as the songs, the dialogue, whether something should be musicalized or spoken, is there dancing to it or not, does the wig guy have enough time to make the wig changes, on and ever-increasingly on…, let me tell you the sweat pours down and these church fans, totally organic to what we were writing other than a couple decades too late, came in mighty handy.

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Categories: Accessories, Advertising/ Promotion, Afro, empowerment, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Memorabilia, Music, Religion, The Color Purple

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – The Day After… The Color Purple Opens In LA

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Can’t even move I’m so stiff and a little pissed as well as me who usually travels around with four cameras, different resolutions for different occasions, only had one on me last night at the opening of my musical, The Color Purple, back in LA for the third time, and after many years of faithful service this camera just handed in its resignation and quit. I suppose that could be considered Kitsch, the co-author of the show’s camera rebelling at the opening no less, leaving a master archivist, me, with little other than words to describe the UNBELIEVABLE NIGHT it was.

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Categories: Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Party, People, Photograph, The Color Purple

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“Shug Avery (and The Color Purple) Comin To Town”

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No official Kitsch O’ The Day entry today as I’m getting ready for the opening tonight of the last stop on the first national tour of my musical, The Color Purple. The second tour begins in March but it’s a whole new production and whole new cast. I will miss my amazing Color Purple family of the last five years BEYOND IMMENSELY!

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Categories: Afro, Art, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Songwriting, The Color Purple

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THE COLOR PURPLE coming back to LA. Feb. 10-28

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Fantasia as Celie. Fantastic cast, many from the original Broadway production. Five years of my life into the making of this baby. I’m very proud of it. If you’re in LA come to the Pantages.

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Categories: Afro, Art, Awards, Book, Celebrity, Civil Rights, Creativity, Dance, empowerment, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, LPs, Music, Nature, Self expression, Songwriting

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