Haggen – dumb as a fox? No, just dumb. And greedy. And not worrying about 8,000 employees in California alone losing livelihoods because, well, that’s the way unfettered capitalism works, folks.
I heard one employee at the Ocean Park location speculate that the company could make more from auctioning the stores than they paid for them.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Their accumulated debt is at least double what they could salvage from asset sales. They paid more than $300 million for the 146 stores they bought from the merging Albertsons/Vons, to go with the mere 18 they had been operating for decades in the Pacific Northwest, and they had to get them up and running in 120 days. In the toughest, most competitive market in the nation. Toward the end they were losing $400,000 a day.
“Nobody thought they could pull this off,” said David Livingston, founder of supermarket research firm DJL Research.
They had been acquired by Florida investment group Comvest in 2011. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “Haggen may have set a speed record in going from a big deal with Albertsons to bankruptcy, said Burt Flickinger, manager director at Strategic Resource Group. ‘I’ve never seen a supermarket or retailer file bankruptcy as quickly after the deal closed as Haggen.’”
So now Haggen is suing Albertsons for a billion dollars, claiming they were misled by them about pricing and stocking. Are you kidding me? You took your vital operations information from the company that wants you, as their new competition, to fail, instead of doing your own market research, and now you’re crying about it? You didn’t even notice that it wasn’t very long ago that Fresh & Easy fled California with their tail between their legs to the tune of a $2 billion loss?
God save Santa Monica from out-of-state speculators who want to milk us dry.
In A Gadda Da Vida, honey
I’ve changed my tune, a little, about used-to-be-great bands running around with the same name but with few (or any) original members. I’m still highly skeptical. But now I think it can be worth it sometimes.
I’ve always felt, should have seen them in their heyday, the original line-up. Why settle for close, when your brain keeps twitching with every off note of those so-familiar songs? I say, stay home and crank up the original disc.
Of course there is nothing like live music. So what’s the trade-off?
Depends. Most instrumental parts can be closely mimicked by top pro musicians, so the singer is usually the most important. You can’t be drawn in unless it sounds very, very close to the way it sounded when it first hit your ears. Even missing John, George and Ringo, a McCartney show is a blast because of That Voice.
There are exceptions to my rule of skepticism. LA ’60s band Love, revered for their groundbreaking contributions, play their rare shows now with only one original member, guitarist and co-founder (with Arthur Lee) Johnny Echols, often covering note-for-note their legendary opus “Forever Changes.” A near-impossible task, for many reasons. But they absolutely nail it. (Last June, Elks Lodge, Santa Monica.) The Zombies, with the two main guys plus another original, played a very satisfying set on the pier a year ago August.
A lot depends on how much you’re investing for a ticket. Being on the guest list helps.
I was invited a couple weeks ago to see a band called Crazy Mary, from New York. They were opening for Iron Butterfly on the August stage of the Whisky a Go Go, so it was hard to resist. It could be a blast (or just a bomb).
Crazy Mary is a rockin’ band with good original songs, great energy, excellent musicians and a dramatic stage presence. They came to LA, to the iconic Whisky and its discerning, tough, sometimes snotty Hollywood mostly-musicians crowd, and they rocked it. Mission accomplished.
They’re not 19-year-olds looking to top the download derby; in fact, charismatic electric fretless fiddler Walter Steding is three times that, plus – a sight, as he whips his gaunt torso around the corner of the stage, all in black and topped by big shades and a very wide-brimmed hat that looks like a UFO from a black hole landed on his head. (He was a painting assistant to Andy Warhol, who produced albums for only two artists: the Velvet Underground, and Walter.)
New York rock vet guitarist and songwriter Charles Kibel didn’t form this band (along with drummer Nick Raisz) until the late ’90s. They felt then that the soul of the edgy Manhattan rock scene had been sucked dry, and they wanted to carry the torch. Seven albums and a frenetic Ozzie singer (Em Z) later, this is the same band, taking their chops and original songs to the Sunset Strip and getting out alive and with heads held high.
As for Iron B, who followed them, there’s a colored bar chart that shows you the service time of everyone who’s been in the group. What you want to see is at least a couple of those bars stretching nearly from beginning to end. With Iron Butterfly – forget it.
There are 64 who have called themselves Butterflies. The group I saw? Five guys playing together a year or less, only one of them ever in the band previously. Another chart shows every different IB lineup over the years, and there are 51 of them. 51. But this “IB” was, to my surprise, worth hearing, simply as a really good rock band, name not important. Loud, tight, each player forceful and skilled.
Let’s face it, IB songs were not very good. But their 17-minute “In a Gadda da Vida” was perfect for the psychedelic moment. It only reached number 30 as a single but kept the album on the charts for more than a year as it became the first platinum album ever, and the 40th-highest selling album of all time. One song, creating decades of work for all those musicians.
I didn’t get to hear them play it. I’m sure they were saving it for last, but after four songs our mostly young group unanimously decided hanging on till 1 a.m. was not a worthwhile investment. We heard them, they were excellent, we dug them, no Garden of Eden needed.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Informed decision-making comes from a long tradition of guessing and then blaming others for inadequate results.” – Scott Adams (Dilbert)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org