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Give us this day, our daily bread
Sportscaster Jim Hill appears baffled by the loaf of pumpkin bread he has just been handed by Councilman Tom LaBonge during his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremonies. Gary McCarthy Staff Photo
Sportscaster Jim Hill appears baffled by the loaf of pumpkin bread he has just been handed by Councilman Tom LaBonge during his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremonies. Gary McCarthy Staff Photo

Politics & Culture: That’s not a football Tom LaBonge has just handed off to Jim Hill...

In his wildest dreams, it may be that Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge imagines himself giving a moving sermon atop a hill, possibly with the Hollywood sign just behind him. And after finishing with his beatitudes:

Blessed are the Marshall High Barristers: for theirs is the dream of a city championship every year.

Blessed are they at USC: for they shall rebound in the fall.

Blessed are the Dodgers; for they shall inherit the West.

Blessed are they which do...

And all the while, LaBonge’s aides are circulating around the multitudes, feeding all thousands of them from the four loaves of pumpkin bread he has brought along.

It is, after all, special pumpkin bread. Or why would LaBonge be so insistent that wherever he goes, especially if there is someone to laud or commend, he is sure to also present them with a loaf of his favorite pumpkin bread.

USC Coach Pete Carroll, when honored at City Hall for each of the Trojans’ two national champions, found himself handing LaBonge a signed football in exchange for a loaf of pumpkin bread.

Some trade. The USC football had names like Leinart and Bush. The name on the loaf of pumpkin bread read Monastery of the Angels.

The cloistered Dominican nuns at the monastery just north of Fountain Avenue at the foot of the Hollywood Hills make the pumpkin bread daily.

These nuns have taken vows of silence, so their story — and that of the fabled pumpkin bread they bake — isn’t something they talk about.

And poor, devoted Tom LaBonge, for all his dedication to these constituents of his council district, rarely gets the chance to tell their story because usually the person he gives the pumpkin bread to doesn’t have time to listen to it.

Or is too baffled trying to figure out what they’ve just been handed.

When LaBonge was visiting Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard, the Eastside Congresswoman, in her office in Washington, she first thought the gift was a gag.

“But the more she thought about it, the more she understood the thought behind it,” recalled an aide.

Mary Anne Farley, mother of late comedian Chris Farley, got a loaf of pumpkin bread from LaBonge along with the city proclamation — and was visibly moved to tears.

But then LaBonge has also presented a loaf of pumpkin bread to Godzilla on Hollywood Boulevard.

For good karma, no doubt, because the devotees of the pumpkin bread are legion.

The gift shop at the monastery where the pumpkin bread is sold Mondays through Saturdays is often swamped for requests.

“The pumpkin bread is special,” says restaurateur Lucy Casado, whose family has been buying loaves for years. “It is made by the hands of nuns who are close to God.”

“Holy Pumpkin Bread” is what someone called it on the Internet where the monastery ranks as a Hollywood attraction, and someone at TripAdvis-er.com went so far as to claim that:

“The cloistered nuns that live here bake a pumpkin bread that tastes like Jesus himself baked it. It is so moist, with huge walnuts baked into the top.”

A KPCC 89.3 FM radio listener called it “Holy Pumpkin Bread” and went on poetically about “the smell of baking bread [that] hangs over Beachwood Canyon some mornings.”

Imagine all that from pumpkin bread, and imagine finding Matt Leinart — or someone who sure looked like him — ringing the bell at the gift shop door, which was closed that day.

A little keyhole opened first, and then one of the few nuns permitted to talk asked what he needed.

“I’m here to buy pumpkin bread.”

A moment later he was inside. Five minutes later, he left with four loaves and a sweet blessing from the nuns.

Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Tom LaBonge does every time he hands out the pumpkin bread himself.

Tony Castro can be reached at tcastro@laindependent.com.

Tony Castro Archives


. . . more pages . . .
27.SEP.06 Heaven help me: I married the Black Dahlia
05.SEP.06 Villaraigosa Waits for the Fat Lady to Sing
30.AUG.06 The mayor's stepping stone to the future
30.AUG.06 Antonio reaches for the political heavens
23.AUG.06 Is L.A. squelching the public’s voice?
02.AUG.06 Anti-Semite Passion of the Road Warrior
26.JUL.06 The melancholy prince of undercover cops
19.JUL.06 Too many guns, not enough rosaries
05.JUL.06 Monica Garcia: The female Villaraigosa?
28.JUN.06 Sopra Spuntini & Bar: Romantic L.A.
14.JUN.06 Hollywood Black Film Festival opens
14.JUN.06 The NFL: Coming to Villaraigosa's house, if not L.A.
07.JUN.06 De León rides Villaraigosa’s coattails
07.JUN.06 What the election means for Villaraigosa
31.MAY.06 AD 45 and the political legacy of Antonio
31.MAY.06 Adelphia to WeHo: Pay until it hurts
31.MAY.06 AD 42: Will Abbe Land move on or stay?
31.MAY.06 In the footsteps of an American Idol
24.MAY.06 Just call Antonio L.A.'s 'Jetset Mayor'
17.MAY.06 WeHo to Antonio: Hold your horses
17.MAY.06 Give us this day, our daily bread
10.MAY.06 Looking for Hemingway
26.APR.06 Political 'vision' or political Waterloo?
05.APR.06 Young gods: Immortality and youth

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