A GOOD DEAL AT WHOLE FOODS?

My friend Natascha keeps insisting there are good deals at that premium natural and organic supermarket monopoly – Whole Foods. There may well be calls for my arrest if I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway – I’m not a big fan.

Call me crazy but I think it’s a bit much the way Libertarian CEO John Mackey and his team of marketeers attempt to make me feel like I’m saving the world by simply shopping there, while they’re really engaging in same old hostile acquisitions and union busting tactics as say, Wal-Mart, for example.

I find it irritating. I’ve even had self-described progressives try to make me feel guilty for shopping at Ralphs. It’s laughable really when you think of the black hat tactics Mackey engaged in to get his hands on Wild Oats, among many others. Even the Bush administration put up resistance to that merger!

But the biggest reason I seldom darken the door of that venerable retail chain is because I find their shelves to be lacking in deals. I used to get a few things here, but since the inception of the biggest economic downturn in my lifetime and possibly in history, forget it.  I’ve been far more likely to be found at the 99 (Per)Cent Store, where, in fact, they often offer great deals on organic items.

Still, Natascha knows a good deal when she sees one. The thing that finally got my attention?  She got a jar’s worth of oregano for 33 cents. That’s right, folks – 33 cents. When she mentioned this figure, I knew I would have to psyche myself up to brave the mobs of hipsters and the impossible parking lot and head on over to check out this incredible deal.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed.

Whole Foods has a sizeable bulk section these days – noticeably larger than it was before the downturn. In this section, you can purchase all manner of dry goods. They’ve got every kind of nut, grain or bean you can think of. They’ve got dried fruits, seeds and various other snacks too. Some of it is really delectable stuff like maple coated pecans and almonds – yogurt covered papaya.

The best deal I saw on these items was on organic chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, for $1.99 a pound.

The incredible deal is on herbs and spices for cooking. Standing in this section, I almost feel like I’m at Oleson’s Mercantile on Little House on the Prairie. The jars are all lined up so neat and pretty.

Here, I can get enough cayenne pepper to fill a typical 1.5 oz. jar for only $1.41. Can’t beat that as far as I know. I guess Whole Foods is conforming to these hard times after all – at least when it comes to spicing things up!

As a post script, please note that I’ve called around Los Angeles and found only the stores listed below as offering this stunning deal on herbs and spices in bulk. They’ve pulled the bulk spices in Torrance, A team member at the West Hollywood location is trying to get them. My advice? Call ahead. Seems like this is an experiment any store could ditch at any time. Drop a line and let me know if you find another store that offers it!

NEED TO KNOW:

Whole Foods Market
Herbs and Spices in the Bulk Foods Section

(Website with Store Locator) 


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REFUNDS FOR SPORTS BETTORS

In the wake of Monday’s NFL fiasco, a Las Vegas casino is actually offering refunds to gamblers who bet on Monday’s controversial Seahawks vs. Packers game. Derek Steven, owner of the D Las Vegas, says that the bad calls made by replacement refs that took place at the end of the game were “unacceptable,” and that refunding bettors money was the “right thing to do.”

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had this to say about the subject of the refs:

Someone made a good point this morning that maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the refs, but blaming the league, the owners, I don’t know who it is. Maybe it’s not just the officials. We’re putting them in tough situations and it can’t be easy.

Although the replacement refs are basically scabs, Roethlisberger’s comment, I think, is insightful.

And what of Scott Walker’s much touted call for the refs to return? Most accounts I’ve read are casting this as a rare alignment of Walker with organized labor, which he’s sworn to destroy. But his call for the regular refs to return does not necessarily mean he wants them to get what they are bargaining for. Most likely, he wants them to return without making any gains in their contract. Still, I suppose it can be seen a modicum of compromise on Walker’s part, since it is a lockout and not a strike.

At any rate, looks like a slew of angry cheese-heads around the country may be the deciding factor in bringing the NFL lockout to a close. Nice if they would do the same for the teachers.

BUTT CHUGGING: SEMI-SOCIAL DRINKING IN THESE HARD TIMES

Some young people are coming up with some crazy stuff to do during these hard times. Looking at my own life as well as most people I know and observe, I’ve long thought it to be a miracle that anyone in our society survives their twenties. As time passes, this survival seems to become ever more miraculous in view of the destruction of our environment, and the reduction of access to basic needs for the great majority of people.

I was at the gym this evening, tuning in to CNN as I did my cardio workout on the treadmill. That’s all they offer apart from football; so, there really is no choice.

I was actually thankful when they finally took a break from spreading lies about what is going on in Syria and turned to some sad and sordid human interest stories. These tales came in the form of Anderson Cooper’s RidiculList show.

One of the items on Cooper’s show was about butt-chugging.

Apparently, a frat house full of geniuses down at the University of Tennessee were inserting wine up their rectums when one of them ended up in the emergency room because of it. Cooper said it wasn’t the first time something like this has been reported.

It was news to me; and, once I got home, I read up on it a bit.

Sure enough, there have been some instances of this craziness reported as far back as 2007. One article I saw had a photo of a guy laying on the floor with a plastic tube apparently up his glory hole. He looks like he has lost all motor function. I spotted a comment on another site where a reader advised to “do red because white stings.”

I don’t think this practice is as common as, say, quarters was in my day, but it is certainly not unheard of – except by me, before today. Adherents claim that, unlike having a “drink,” in the traditional manner, i.e., through your mouth, this method bypasses the liver and gets you real tanked, real quick. Another benefit is that you won’t have alcohol breath.

If it suits your fancy, you can also soak a tampon in vodka and insert it into your rectum or vagina. Another attractive possibility.

Really re-defines the meaning of the phrase “social drinker,” doesn’t it? I

SEEKING WHOM THEY MAY DEVOUR: THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

 As thousands of public school teachers rally today in Chicago, it is clear that they know the future of public education in this country is at stake. Despite media coverage that has failed to highlight the true nature of this fight, it is clear that teachers in Chicago and around the country are far from the lazy, money hungry pariahs that the neo-cons hope to paint them as.

In fact, their biggest concern right now is the same reason they got into the game in the first place – to teach young people. The points of contention between Chicago teachers and the school districts at this time all have to do with quality in education: class size, lack of books, the room to measure progress according to each student’s needs and enough job security to follow through on that promise.

Those who would privatize and commodify every last thing on God’s formerly-green earth are on the offensive, seeking whom and what they may devour.

I came across a video of Molly Meacham, a Chicago high school teacher. It’s entitled, “How a Political Poem was Bullied out of Me.”

The truth is that most teachers feel just this passion for their vocation. I have certainly known many who do — and many who have lost their jobs after years of service. This cannot be good for students. It takes a certain amount of time to gain the skills and experience to lead a classroom. It seems to me this is lesson one for a teacher. It is just plain crazy to remove teachers who have gained this skill and replace them with those who have yet to learn it.

Of course, I’m not saying we don’t need new teachers – but, the new can learn from the more experienced – just like in any job. When more senior teachers are removed for the sake of paying less in salary and benefits, everyone loses.

Now, the struggle has been ratcheted up; and, educators are forced to go to bat for the very existence of free education. As for me, I stand with Molly for the integrity of the public school system. All young people deserve a free and quality education.

A WORLD OF IMAGINATION: FREE OF CHARGE

One of my favorite places in the whole city is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A few days ago, I decided it was high time to spell out all the awesome deals on offer there. I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking I knew most everything there was to know about all that‘s available; but, I wanted to make sure. So, I met with Tim Digan, Director of Guest Services at LACMA.  Turns out I didn’t know the half of it.

I covered the Latin Sounds Music Series right here on Deals and Discounts. Many of you already know about the smokin’ jazz on Fridays and chamber music on Sundays — all with no dollars required.

They’ve also got a film series running year round in conjunction with Film Independent and the New York Times. Tickets for the general public range from free to $10 and free to $5 for LACMA members. The series includes new releases, classics, documentaries, and discussions with filmmakers. Sweet! You can purchase the entire film series as an add-on to membership for $50 for the whole year.

A Basic LACMA membership runs $90 for two, with an Indie Membership for singles at $50. Students pay only $25 annually. The museum offers several opportunities to take in the exhibits at no cost. Los Angeles residents can enter free from 3 to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from 3 to 8 pm on Fridays. Anyone can get in free on the second Tuesday of the month and that deal goes all the live long day. Target Free Holiday Mondays, sponsored the program’s namesake, gets you in free on any Monday that is also a federal holiday.

Guest artists and lecturers visit the campus often, presenting talks on all manner of interesting subjects, often for free. Go to (link- LACMA Calendar) – http://www.lacma.org/visit/calendar where you can click on any day and scroll through all the good stuff happening on that day.

The campus itself is truly a gem. Aside from the exhibits inside the museum itself, there is so much more to see. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. There’s plenty of lawn and trees, as well as ongoing outdoor art. Folks can go and have a picnic or just sit and read. There are several eateries, ranging in  price and free wi-fi is campus-wide.

LACMA is a great place for kids. In fact, there are over twice as many kid members as adults. The Arts for NextGen Program caters to these young members like nobody’s business. The program offers free entrance for anyone 18 or under as well as one accompanying adult.

On any given day, the Boone Children’s Gallery is abuzz with kids trying their hand at creating art. Upon arrival, kids receive a basic instruction on art making and then dive in. They are welcome to use as many materials as they wish and it is all free. Budding artists can take their creations home or leave them for display in the gallery. The walls are lined with the colorful creations of those who’ve come to enjoy this experience.

LACMA hosts dozens of special events. Guests of all ages will no doubt enjoy the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest coming up this Saturday. Last year, some 2,000 people attended this free event where celebrity judges pick the best pies. You can sample the pies and judge for yourself and you can even enter the contest for a $15 entry fee. If you wear your apron, you’ll not only look cute, you’ll also get free general admission. Delicious!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Tim let me in on a couple of little-known happenings going on at the museum. Seems there’s a real nifty gathering that takes place at Dagny Corcoran’s Art Catalogues Bookstore. When scheduled, it takes place on a Sunday at 4 pm in the Ahmanson building on Level 1. This salon-like artists’ dialog and reception is on the cutting edge in the city, with guests such as  John Baldessari and Jarrett Gregory. For now, it is absolutely free.

Another little known gem is the opening receptions that take place in the Art Rental and Sales Gallery. Here, the work of a juried selection of emerging Southern California artists is featured on a Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm. You can rub elbows with the artists themselves and ask them about the source of their inspiration. All pieces are available for purchase or rent. Apparently this event has been going on since the 1950’s and has remained a primary source of fundraising for the museum. Keep an eye on the Calendar at the website to catch these groovy events.

For my money, I say LACMA is really something special. In these hard times, it’s good to find a place where a person can enjoy the gift of human expression in all its many forms — without paying an arm and a leg.

NEED TO KNOW:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/YgHvA

LACMA is open every day except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Hours:  Monday 11 am–5 pm Tuesday 11 am–5 pm Wednesday Closed Thursday 11 am–5 pm Friday 11 am–8 pm Saturday 10 am–7 pm Sunday 10 am–7 pm

General Admission Tickets

A one-day pass to LACMA’s galleries and exhibitions, excluding specially ticketed shows

Members Free

Under 18 Free

Seniors & Students $10

Groups of 10+ $12

All other guests $15

Parking: LACMA’s lot is accessible from 6th Street and is not a deal at $10. Parking is free after 7 pm. There is plenty of metered street parking in the area as well as a lot of free street parking. Do observe “Permit Only” signage, as it is in abundance, but not everywhere.

(web) www.lacma.org