I have spent the vast majority of my life on the East Coast, which means a few things: First of all, I talk very fast. Entirely too fast, to be honest. I talk so fast that my words often end up mushed together like commuters on an 8:00 AM train, usually becoming unintelligible and useless by the second or third sentence that comes spilling out of my mouth. Second, it means I think Five Guys and Shake Shack are better than In-N-Out, mostly due to regional bias and willful ignorance, and I will fight you to the death if you disagree. And finally, it means I was only recently introduced to Huell Howser and his gleeful explorations of California, thanks in large part to parodies of him by The Simpsons and Los Angeles-based comedians like James Adomian.
For those of you, like me, who missed most or all of Howser’s career before he passed away yesterday at age 67, here is a brief description: He was a fixture of West Coast public television for decades, hosting shows with titles like Visiting, Road Trip and, most famously, California’s Gold, where he would drop in on a California landmark (some more famous than others) and describe it in his distinctive voice with the wide-eyed curiosity and excitement of a toddler at his first amusement park, jamming a microphone into people’s faces in the process to pepper them with questions. And that doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, unfortunately. Go on YouTube right now and see for yourself. The man was an odd, giant, smiling American treasure, as the Los Angeles Times explains in this very nice tribute.
I’ve posted one such clip below, of Huell at the aforementioned California staple, In-N-Out burger. His excitement about the whole thing is almost enough for me to rethink my stance on my burger rankings and give the place a fair shake. Almost. And that’s saying a lot, given the circumstances.
Rest in peace.