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A Brief History of L.A. & “Venchuro” Highway…or Maybe Not



autry and horse

It’s amazing to me how so many agents cannot spell the names of the towns and areas they represent. I, of course, am here to give you not only the proper spelling, but the history of these woe begotten areas. If any information seems suspect, perhaps it’s because I am swilling my third martini.

Happy Trails to You! 

“Close to LA Zoo and Jean Autry Museum” (Yes, Gene Autry married Jean Harlow, silent film star. Thus, there is no talking allowed in the museum. He later dumped her for Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Jeanne, three times as horny as most people, wanted to become a polygamist and star on Big Love, so Gene threw her over for Jean Stapleton (aka Edith Bunker.) That was a very passionate union that inspired Autry’s signature song “Back in the Saddle Again.” His horse was Champion. When Wheaties came up with the slogan “Breakfast of Champions,” many people believed it was because Champion had an addiction to cereal. Champion later entered a twelve step program, which he completed quickly, doing  two steps at a time – because he had four legs of course.) 

“Alligator Lizards In the Air”

“EZ Access to Venchuro Highway” (That’s Ventura Highway…unless you mean the intestinal track that channels a Mexican pastry made of fat and sugar known as a  churro. And trust me, that highway will shoot you all the way to Tijuana. It is widely rumored that a batch of extra greasy churros was the inspiration for the song “Ventura Highway” by America. They often sang about their digestive problems, as all good bands do.) 

76 Trombones

“Nice area East of Asousa” (John Phillips Sousa marched to that area of California (now known as Azuza) to form a band and a town. He dropped the Sousa and went by the name of John Phillips, later forming the Mamas and the Papas.  While California dreamin’ one Monday Monday, the Mamas and the Papas invested all their loot in a variety of small stores, hence the origin of the term “Mom and Pop” stores.) 

Dial 911

“Gorgeous home overlooking Sunset Plasma” (This area, just above the Sunset Strip, used to be Sunset Plaza. It is now Sunset Plasma because late night revelers usually wind up there for the ever-popular blood transfusion. The neighborhood motto is, “A vial and a smile.” Some historians thought the area ‘s name was changed to plasma in reference to “matter,” but after a night on the Strip, NOTHING matters but a blood transfusion, believe me folks.) 


“Bungalow in SShatylawn” (This lovely area of Baldwin Park was known as Shadylawn until someone sshat on the lawn. It is rumored that this area was the inspiration for the name of  L.A.’s Forest Lawn Cemetery when actor/director Forest Whittaker once snarled, “SShatylawn would be a great name for a cemetery because everything eventually turns to sshat and dies anyway! The name “Forest” stuck instead of sshat, because one tired assistant director complained, “Forest, can you puh-leeze shoot the sshat later?”) 

Pickalittle, Talkalittle

“ Exclusive  Beverly Hills near famous Pickfare Estate” (No, this is not named after anorexic starlets who pick at their meager fare. This was originally named Pickfair, the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, famous silent film stars. Of course, the spelling of the name may have been changed after Mary retracted her vow of silence and became an obsessive talker. She picked a not-so-silent fight with Douglas, who threw her out. Mary hooked up with Morgan Fairchild, and the two women retained the estate and the Pickfair name  (only after brief consideration of renaming the estate Pickfairchild) . Even the monograms on the towels could remain the same, which was a bonus.  Douglas remained silent about the affair… because he was silent about everything. Douglas Fairbanks went on to a civil union with Michael Douglas and became Douglas Douglas. That name proved difficult because he was a stutterer.  Thus, he later took estrogen and changed his name to Catherine Zeta Jones. 

Bits and Pieces: 

“Cute home on Coolgroove”  (Coolgrove Drive in Downey was Coolgrove until the seventies arrived and everyone was feeling groovy…including the agent who listed this house.)                

“Near Placenta High School”   (Can we get this straight once and for all, folks? It’s Placentia, as in “pleasant place to live,” not placenta, as in something attached to a fetus. This city has nothing to do with birthing babies, although a few notable people were born there. Director James Cameron is probably the most famous artist hatched there, whereas the punk group Agent Orange is probably the most mind-numbing biological weapon available without a full tilt body search. So remember, it’s Placentia…an afterthought perhaps, but not an afterbirth.

And that’s Hollywood for ya’ – test on Tuesday, students.

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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  1. Matt Stigliano

    February 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Gwen – We always called Sepulveda by it’s rightful name – Sepultura, usually because whenever we found ourselves driving down it, we were heading to the Sunset Strip and that meant listening to our favorite Brazilian metal-heads, Sepultura. Once Max departed the band and formed Soulfly, the name kind of slipped into obscurity, but I thought I would give you a history lesson of your ever-fascinating town.

    Never thought I’d hear Agent Orange mentioned in a post on AgentGenius. Mark one more thing off the “things to hear before I die” list.

  2. Gwen Banta

    February 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Great visual, Matt…and did you know that the band you mentioned – Soulfly – is named after a gnat that has been known to suck out the souls of Hollywood’s denizens? The only antidote is copious amounts of alcohol, which explains our fashion sense, as well as freeway excess. Our motto is: Hit the gas or lose your a–!

  3. Joe Loomer

    February 27, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I almost decided to spell my name wrong just to post a comment. Maybe something like “Joe Fruitoftheloomer” or “Loe Joomer” – but I decided it was best to just leave sleeping logs die. A great post, Gwen, and dang-nabit I’ve missed ya! Was in the Big Easy (no, I won’t be the same) for about five years – uh, days. Limited access to anything – please don’t go there – so hence I missed last week’s post.

    Lasseiz Le Bon Temp Roulleux or whatever the fuex!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

    p.s. walked in to Harrah’s – won a bean on a dollar slot, cashed out – why am I telling you and AG? Heck, I’m telling everyone!

  4. Gwen Banta

    February 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Missed you, too, Joe – you were enjoying the Big Easy while I explored Savannah (love that place!) The next time the devil comes down to Georgia, you better be there, my friend!

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Business Marketing

Tired of “link in bio”? Here is a solution for Instagram linking

(MARKETING) The days of only one link in your Instagram bio are over. Alls.Link not only lets you link more, it gives you options for marketing and analytics too.



Woman checking Instagram on phone

If you’re like me, you’ve probably swapped out the link in your Instagram bio 100 times. Do I share my website? A link to a product? A recent publication? Well, now you don’t have to choose!

Alls.Link is a subscription-based program that allows you to, among other things, have multiple links in your bio. I’m obsessed with the Instagram add-ons that are helping business owners to expand the platform to further engage their audiences – and this is NEEDED one.

With the basic membership ($8/month), you get up to 10 customizable Biolink Pages with shortened links (and you’ll be able to choose your own backend). You also get access to Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for your pages. With the basic membership, you will have Alls.Link advertising on your Biolink Page. Plus, you’ll be allotted a total of 10 projects, and Biolink Pages with 20 customizable domains.

With the premium membership ($15/month), you get link scheduling for product drops and article releases, SEO and UTM parameters, and you’ll have the ability to link more socials on the Biolink Page. With this membership, you’re allotted 20 projects and Biolink Pages with 60 customizable domains.

If you’re unsure about whether or not Alls.Link is worth it (or which membership is best for you), there is a free trial option in which you’ll be granted all the premium membership capabilities.

Overall – premium membership or not – I have to say, the background colors and font choices are really fun and will take your Biolink Page to the next level. Alls.Link is definitely a program to consider if your business has a substantial Insta following and you have a lot of external material you want to share with your followers.

The day-by-day statistics are a great tool for knowing what your audience is interested in and what links are getting the most clicks. Also, the ability to incorporate Google Analytics into the mix is a big plus, especially if you’re serious about metrics.

If you have a big team (or manage multiple pages), I would suggest going premium just for the sheer quantity of domains you can customize and link, though there are various other reasons I’d also suggest to do so. Take a look and see what works for you!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?



blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.



Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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