Friday, February 28, 2014

Project Cubbins: Hat 278 - Spago Amigo Edition

Day 278 / Hat 278: White, baseball-style cap with details in light carmine pink - including the bill, a button on the crown of the hat and embroidery on front that reads: "Spago."

The final hat in the Russ Parsons series, it turns out I truly did save the best for last. Minutes ago I asked Parsons about the provenance of the hat. He laid this awesome (and timely) tale on me:

"I got it from working on the line during Swifty Lazar's Oscars party." Parsons said, "I served pizza to Jimmy Stewart and George Burns and  made a special fresh tomato pasta for Audrey Hepburn."

Parsons explained that it was in service to a story he wrote for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. "It was the year that Sean Connery won his first Oscar -- for a movie like 'Russia House' or something."

That would actually be Connery's only Academy Award win to date -- in 1988 he took home the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for "The Untouchables" (1987) -- but we're giving Parsons the pass for the awesome back story. (Not too mention that we'd have gotten things all jumbled up too if we'd had the honor of preparing particular pasta for Ms. Hepburn.). Based on my sleuthing, that would have been the evening of April 11, 1988.

Irving "Swifty" Lazar, for those of you unfamiliar, was an agent and Hollywood deal-maker of legendary caliber. His Oscar-night soirees were equally legendary -- and the hardest-to-score A-list bash around. A three-decade-long tradition that had started in Beverly Hills, had called Spago home on Academy Awards night from 1985 until 1993 (Lazar died, at the age of 86,  in December of that year).

Although not as star-studded, I have my own memories of the original Spago which was perched above a car rental place at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Horn Avenue in West Hollywood. When the future Bride and I moved to town in '95 (or was it '96? That part's hazy), we lived one block west -- on Larrabee Street -- and memorably dined there with the in-laws.

I put two things in my mouth that night that I will never ever forget -- and probably fork-stab a family member for. One was Puck's smoked salmon pizza with dill crème fraîche and caviar and the other was the little ice-cream-cone-shaped miso comes filled with spicy tuna tartare.

(The restaurant's name is explained this way in a 2013 Departures article by Kevin West: "The word 'spago' means 'string' in Italian, and Puck has explained its almost mystical personal significance, evoking the way that a piece of thread has a starting point but seems endless as it unspools continually from a bobbin.")

Hats off to you Mr. Parsons for a hat-tale with some serious legs - you get a deep bow as well as a hat-tip -- with the assist to Wolfgang Puck for decade-plus of delicacies I've digested at his Hollywood parties and restaurants from Malibu to Las Vegas.

PC 277: Lax Attitude
PC 276: Herald and the Hot Dog Hat
Lights out on the best party in town (L.A. Times)

Q: OK, nice hat -- but what exactly is Project Cubbins, anyway?

A: One man's homage to Dr. Seuss and his second book, "The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins," which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its publication in 2013, Project Cubbins is an attempt to document the wearing of a different hat or piece of headgear every day for 500 consecutive days. No do-aheads, no banking of hats, no retroactive entries. PC started on May 27, 2013 with Hat 1
Got hats? If you loan 'em, you'll get e'm back safe and sound!

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