A Limo to the Show
One of the nicest men the news business has ever seen was Loren Nancarrow. When he lost his battle with brain cancer, the city mourned.
Loren always had the green thumb, and one of the things he wanted was a garden at the Scripps Radiation Therapy Center, so patients and family had a place to visit other than a parking lot or visiting room with Highlight magazines from 1983.
That would cost $500,000 and money was needed.
Lots of people stepped up with various auctions and donations. At one concert at the Belly Up Tavern, I was glancing at the various auction prizes. One of them included a tour of the Fox 5 studios by one of the news anchors. I figured the pot might be sweetened if we could add to that. I told the organizers that in addition to a tour of the Fox 5 studios, I would pick the winning bidder up in a limo, and we’d grab dinner and a movie. The organizers wanted to make that a separate item to bid on, which was fine.
At first I regretted that decision when Loren’s family was on Fox 5 and mentioned some of the auction items. They included things like a locker room visit with the Chargers. His daughter excitedly said, “Your movie critic Josh Board also said he’d take a winning bidder out to dinner and a movie.”
That gave newscasters Erica Fox and Raoul Martinez a good minute to make fun of somebody bidding on “a date with Josh Board.”
Now, that was hardly how I billed this item to the organizers. It was a “going to see a movie, with a movie critic…including dinner and a limo.”
Seriously, who would want a prize where I’d pick them up in a ’78 Buick LeSabre to go see the latest Nicolas Cage flick? It would certainly sound unprofessional to say “Meet me out in front of the ticket booth.”
I had to start calling places to see if anybody would help out with these items, or I’d be out of pocket a big chunk of change. I made a phone call to two friends that drive limos. Neither of them could help me out. That’s when I decided to start calling limo services randomly. The first place was called Masterpiece Limousine. Eddie runs it and told me they already do a number of charity events and that he was sorry he couldn’t help. Then he asked, “Who did you say this was for?”
I said, “A local newscaster named Loren Nancarrow. He always…”
I was interrupted as Eddie said, “If it’s for him, we’ll do it. I’ll give you anything you need.”
He went on to tell me how nice and classy a guy Loren was, and how a few of the Padres players that were clients had also spoken highly of him.
After securing a ride, now I needed a restaurant. I called owner Charles Kaufman of Bread & Cie in Hillcrest. I met him at a party years ago and we became friends over our love of movies and comedians. He agreed to provide the dinner for us.
I got a little worried when a few days later there was a story about boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard doing a charity auction. He offered up the prize of having lunch with him. That went for $50,000.
I was pleasantly surprised when Susan Taylor called me a few days after the event to give me the name of the winning bidders. I wasn’t told what their bid was, but it’s a safe guess that it was thousands less than the meal with Sugar Ray (my ego won’t let me think it was probably $49,000 less).
The winning bidder was Sylvester, the owner of Freedom Guitar on El Cajon Blvd. His wife is Nisha Catron, a local comedian, singer/guitarist, and actress. We spoke a few times on the phone when trying to arrange this, and I remembered her mentioning Janis Joplin being her favorite singer. I took a Joplin album out of my collection and had it framed for her. Thought she could put it on the wall of her studio.
I threw a few other promotional things that movie studios had sent me recently, too. I’m guessing Sugar Ray didn’t throw in boxing gloves or anything!
When I was waiting for the limo to arrive, it occurred to me that Masterpiece Limousine might just send a black Lincoln town car. Even though they were hooking us up for the Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden charity, I still wanted the winners to see a decent sized limo show up in front of their house to make the neighbors jealous. As those thoughts were swirling around my head, I saw an SUV limo show up longer than anything I had ever seen. My estimation was it was the length of two school buses.
The driver was a sweetheart. The only thing she did that disappointed me was when I asked about her favorite limo scenes in movies. It’s a question I ask people of various professions, since they often hate how they’re portrayed on film. I thought about comedian Dom Irerra playing a limo driver in The Big Lebowski…Bruno Kirby in Spinal Tap. Even the recent, horrible Cronenberg film Cosmopolis had a bizarre limo scene with Robert Pattinson.
She didn’t have one, but when we arrived to pick up the couple, she said “I can tell you the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in the back of one of my limos. It was you!”
I asked her why and she explained, “Most people are excited, they’re looking around, messing with everything. You just sat back there reading the newspaper the entire time.”
I didn’t want to disappoint her and tell the story about being in my 20’s and taking a limo to a concert with the DJs I worked with, and sticking my head out the roof and yelling obnoxious things in the parking lot. But I digress.
As Sylvester and Nisha walked up, she had had the same sarcastic line I used on our driver.
“I was expecting a bigger limo.”
We immediately opened the wine, and they suggested we go to the top of Mount Helix. The view was breathtaking.
On our way to Bread & Cie, the conversation flowed wonderfully (and not just because of the wine). We talked about our favorite movies, comedians, and guitarists.
I found out one of her songs was lipsynched by actress Julie Strain in the early ‘90s, around the same time she had come into a radio station I worked at for an interview. I hope Nisha wasn’t insulted when I laughed after she told me the title of the movie — Witchcraft IV: The Virgin Heart.
Sylvester and I talked about our favorite guitarists. I agreed with everyone on his list but Jeff Beck.
He told a great story about seeing a stoned Jimi Hendrix at the Hollywood Bowl, and Elvis Presley in Las Vegas.
We all talked about our favorite movies, which ranged from comedies like Caddyshack, to dark dramas like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Nisha told a story about a party up in the Hollywood Hills where Sam Kinison and Chris Squire (of the band Yes) showed up. Kinison didn’t want to get out of the limo, until food was put in front of his face and brought inside the mansion.
Sharing all these stories about the debauchery we had seen at various parties, made me think we should’ve done something crazier in the limo; especially since she’s the singer of the band CalAmity (with local legend Cathryn Beeks).
The limo pulled up right in front of Bread & Cie. We took up the entire block on University.
I asked the limo driver what her favorite kind of pastry was. She said we didn’t have to bring her anything, but I insisted. She admitted to liking lemon. I got her a few of the many lemon things I saw in the display case, which puts any other restaurants in town to shame (please, save your letters praising D.Z. Akins).
Our food was delicious, as it always is there. My only regret was…after they had finished their piece of pie and I devoured my flourless chocolate cake…we should’ve pulled a Sam Kinison and brought all the yummy grub into the limo.
As we were climbing back in, a guy that looked homeless came up to me. I thought he was going to ask for money, or the treats I had for the driver. His mouth was open wide, and there were a few awkward seconds of silence before he finally muttered, “Is that your limo? That thing is huge!”
And as we drove off, a thought occurred to me. Why didn’t we go to the drive-in in this thing?