Gene Simmons and I love to eat at Mulberry Street Pizzeria. Ellen DeGeneres and I shop at Carpet Concourse & Design Center and when Al Pacino and I crave a great sandwich we go straight to Domingo's Italian Deli & Grocery.
I don't actually know any of these people. In fact, I've never even seen any of them. However, I do regularly enjoy their smiling, autographed photos on the walls of my regular neighborhood haunts.
Those friendly celebrity photos—Don Johnson's kind smile on the wall at Haskell Cleaners or Paula Abdul's demure glance from above the blank keys at Plaza Lock & Key—are pure Encino. They are an amusing little touch that make mundane errands here a little more interesting.
True, it's often a celebrity's assistant who does the actual schlepping. But not always. Simmons and Steve Carell really do eat Mulberry Street pizza. Michael Magnanimo, who with his father Anthony and brother Tony Jr. own Domingo's, remembers when he was a boy helping out at the counter and Frank Sinatra himself came in several times.
"One bodyguard would stand by the door and the other would follow him in," Magnanimo recalls. "I used to have bright red hair and he'd always pat me on the head and mess it up."
As for me, when I was a kid I used to count the famous photos on the wall at the Genesta Avenue Post Office. Pre-iPhone and DS, there wasn't much else to do while stuck in line with my mom. I was glad when the station moved to White Oak Avenue after the 1994 earthquake because Dick Van Patten, David Hasselhoff and Vanna White were relocated there too.
Unfortunately, they and the rest of the 8-by-10 glossies were recently removed. Hundreds of tiny nail holes are the only evidence that they'd ever hung there. According to the postal clerk I asked, the photos were taken down a couple of months ago when, out of nowhere, one fell off the wall and nearly landed on a customer.
Most brushes with framed fame are less threatening, although they can occur at seemingly unlikely places. My now retired ob-gyn had a signed picture of Heather Locklear on the wall above the scale at his office.
Showcased in the front window of the Encino Allstate loan office is an eclectic gallery of celebrities including George Lopez, Max Casella (who played Neil Patrick Harris' pal Vinnie on Doogie Howser, M.D.) and a woman I've never heard of named Lucy Boryer. My kids don't recognize her either. Another entertaining aspect of celebrity photo decor is guessing who somebody is.
We Googled Boryer and found out she's appeared in guest roles on several TV series. Given that one person's celebrity is another's random pretty face, I suggest it would be a great April Fools' Day joke to offer up photos around town of an unsuspecting spouse or co-worker, then send him or her to run errands. Now that I've given my kids the idea, I hope they don't decide to punk me.