Recalling subjects, sources, $1 sausages of columns past
June 5, 2005 9:00 p.m.
As the school year draws to a close, I am able to reflect on the
many subjects I have tackled, noting some of the successes and
failures I have had at this post.
After writing columns I have often wanted to revisit stories to
look into how situations have progressed, or in some cases,
One of the most exciting culinary delights to hit the streets of
Westwood this year has been U Dog, the inexpensive sausage
emporium, which for some time served up a variety of sausages at $1
apiece (92 cents plus tax). Overnight the place became a
phenomenon, and I chronicled this in my Jan. 24, 2005 column,
“U Dog enhances sense of community.”
Well, times have changed at U Dog in the last month or so, as
prices have risen to a uniform and earth-shattering $2 per sausage.
Gone are the days when the U Dog cooks are treated like “rock
stars,” said cook Sam Costello.
During the heady $1 days, Costello was once flashed by a female
customer in exchange for a sausage. Now U Dog has picketers.
Costello described one picketer, who wears a sign on the front of
his person that reads: “92 cents was great.” On his
back, the picketer wears a sign that reads: “Don’t go
to U Dog. $1.99 a sausage, you are out of your mind.”
Still, Costello said business has improved recently, perhaps as
patrons have slowly recovered from the shock of the new prices.
“It’s been picking up, a lot,” Costello said.
“Thursday through Saturday it is almost like it was at the 92
cents days. But the morning business is a lot slower. Now you do
get more friendly people in the place.”
(Costello said this as a homeless person stood next to me,
talking to himself.) “¢bull;”¢bull;”¢bull;
On October 25, 2004, I wrote about the Westwood Village
Farmers’ Market in “Market rots profits, say Westwood
businesses.” That column explored the tenuous situation the
market faced at the time, as Casden Properties’ development
on Glendon Avenue was set to begin, and disgruntled Westwood
business owners voiced their complaints that the market undercut
After the column printed, I heard from the market’s
manager, Aaron Shapiro, who expressed his displeasure with my
piece. But, Shapiro’s chagrin was eclipsed by the anger of
his wife, Daisy Shapiro, the chief financial officer of the
Farmers’ Market Education Foundation, who left me a phone
message the day the story appeared.
She threatened to set up a meeting with my academic adviser,
pull the market’s ads from The Bruin and threatened legal
Daisy Shapiro did not know that I wear the threat of legal
action as a badge of honor. And the market did not pull its
advertising from the Daily Bruin because at the time it did not
advertise with The Bruin and still doesn’t.
Also, I would have loved to meet with my academic adviser
because this is a public university, and with all the bureaucracy
it’s hard enough for me to set up a meeting with my
While I surely get e-mails from readers expressing views about
my words, this year I often wondered if people who have been quoted
in my columns get some feedback of their own.
I recently learned that after fourth-year math student Adam
Hirsch appeared in my April 18, 2005 column “Honors Program
isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” he got some
very personal feedback.
In that piece, I wrote about the disconnect between some
students who participate in the College Honors Program and the
purveyors of that program. While some student definitely join the
program to learn (the program’s intended purpose), others
participate for perks like priority class enrollment and access to
honors counselors. Some students ““ including Hirsch ““
voiced their disappointment in these benefits.
At the time, Hirsch said, “I’ve taken two Honors
Collegium classes. They were so easy. Ridiculously easy ““ I
barely learned anything. One of them had five books and the paper
topic was on a chapter from one book and that’s all I
Apparently College Honors Program administrators read the column
and noted Hirsch, because when one spotted him in an office on
campus, he said she cornered him and spoke her mind.
Here are his thoughts on the encounter: “I had to deal
with a very annoyed honors counselor because of your supposedly
“˜biased column,'” Hirsch said, while chuckling.
“I felt very attacked and cornered. Maybe it is because I was
literally standing in a corner.”
Finally, I should mention column I wrote on November 1, 2004
titled “Taking stock in the right candidate.” The
column chronicled the Internet-based futures markets that were
being used to bet on the presidential election.
I also wrote about a bet I had with grandfather: If his
political party’s candidate won the election, I would take
him to the Los Angeles restaurant of his choice, and if my
candidate won, my grandfather would be taking me to the restaurant
of my liking.
I lost the bet.
But, every time I try to schedule a dinner with him, my
grandfather hems and haws ““ I think he doesn’t want to
take the little hard-earned money I’ve got.
Maybe he should take me out because he’s the one getting
the tax break.
Miller’s final column will run in next week’s
Graduation Issue. E-mail Miller at [email protected]