Vegetarian Means Vegan, Right?

Actually vegetarians tend to differ from what Vegans consider themselves to be. The exact reasons for why, evade me at the moment.

I eat plenty of vegetables but also enjoy eggs so I think this means I may be a vegetarian but I am not a vegan because eggs are not on their menu. I need to watch my calories and weight.

Veganism, if I may, seems to be more like a religion than just a healthy eating regime. I think the term is applied to not only eggs but even to wearing things that may have once been alive, like leather.

I have no feelings on this one way or another and think our life choices are just that, our life choices.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ciro's Nightclub: An Icon Of Entertainment History

By Ross Everett

Today, the Comedy Story sits on the same spot and has for over twenty years. In it's earlier incarnation it was Ciro's, and it was for a time the center of the entertainment universe.

From the early 1940's until it closed on the eve of the 1960's, Ciro's launched countless entertainment icons along the path to superstardom. It was one of the first major venues to host Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin before they took over the comedy world in 1950. A year later, an unheralded opening act called the Will Mastin Trio stole the show from the headliner. This was due in large part to a young entertainer that would before long outgrow his membership in the group--arguably the most talented entertainer in show biz history, Sammy Davis, Jr. After the car accident that cost Sammy his right eye, it was the site of his return to live performing. Countless other top entertainers performed there, from Sinatra sidekick comic Joe E. Louis to Nat King Cole.

The audience at Ciro's was frequently more star packed than the stages at most venues. The clientele represented the very top of the entertainment world starting with Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart and all of their "A-list" contemporaries including Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Jack Benny and countless others. Ciro's was the "in" spot for stars and would be stars, making it the hottest ticket in town.

In a more civilized time, there was a circuit of world renowned nightclubs that featured the best entertainment in the country in an atmosphere of indulgent luxury. In Las Vegas, the Copa Room at the Sands became the place to be in the 1960s but before that there was the Coconut Grove in Miami, the 900 Club in Atlantic City, the Sam Giancanna owned Villa Venice in Chicago. Even during the early 1940s, Ciros was part of this top tier of clubs. What would later become the Holmby Hills Rat Pack was already holding court nightly at Ciros, then owned and operated by Billy Wilkenson. From Bogie and Bacall to George Raft and Betty Grable, it was L.A.s hottest spot. Like most clubs, however, it began to cool off a couple of years later and by 1942 owner Wilkenson was hard pressed to provide worthy entertainment for the celebrities that patronized his club. Customers were defecting in droves to the jungle themed Mocambo across the street. For a time, Ciros closed its doors. It wasnt dark for long when Herman Hoover put together a plan to reopen the club.

Hoover had considerable experience in running a night club. He cut his teeth at New Yorks Silver Slipper, which was a prohibition era joint owned by Arnold Rothstein and Charles Lucky Luciano among others. He would later run Harlem's famed Cotton Club before heading west to Los Angeles in 1936.

On December 26, 1942 Ciro's re-opened to a packed house including Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Lucille Ball and Cary Grant. The headliner on opening night was Sinatra's longtime friend and opening act, comic Joe E. Louis.

Hoover had hosted Dean Martins wedding in 1949, and Martin and Lewis debuted at Ciros in 1950. They always felt a deep debt of gratitude to Hoover and his club, and even when they were pulling down an astounding (for the 1950s) $100,000 a week to perform they insisted on holding their fee at Ciros to what they were originally paid--$7,000 a week. In 1951, Sammy Davis, Jr., along with his uncle and father"the Will Mastin Trio"tore down the house. Several years later, in what may have been the biggest event ever at the club, Davis returned to the stage following a car accident where he lost his right eye and nearly lost his life. Following an introduction by Frank Sinatra, Davis put on a scorching performance before an adoring and emotional crowd of the biggest stars on the planet.

It was the growth of "The Radiant City" in the Nevada desert--Las Vegas--that would eventually seal the fate of Ciro's and nightclubs like it nationwide. With huge revenues afforded by legal gambling, Nevada casinos were in a position to lure away the best talent for its showrooms. Entertainers liked the fact that they didn't have to travel, and Las Vegas afforded them a 24/7 playground. By the late 50's, Ciro's was forced to close its doors and was sold at a public auction in 1959 for a mere $350,000.

The end of Ciro's also represented an end of the glamor that characterized Los Angeles in the early to middle 20th century. Sunset Boulevard remained a busy main street, but before long became populated with as many strip clubs and tattoo parlors as upscale restaurants and nightclubs. The tradition of launching new stars, however, continues to this day at the Comedy Store which has operated on the Ciro's site for almost 30 years. A 'who's who' of comedy have gotten a start at the club from Jay Leno, David Letterman and Andy Kaufman to modern comics like David Chappelle and UFC commentator Joe Rogan.

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