Lunch for the Caruso Contest Winner
While working at the Palisades News, advisor Bill Bruns came up with an idea to hold a “Guess the Date” for when Caruso’s Palisades Village project would open.
The contest was announced in October 2017 with a promise: “The winner will be treated to lunch at the restaurant of his/her choice in the Caruso complex, joined by the Palisades News publisher, editor and adviser. Who knows, maybe Rick Caruso will join us for dessert.”
Nearly 50 people entered the contest that October, and the guesses ranged from nine in June, six in July and 20 in August to four in September (1, 5, 7 and 22), three in October and three in November.
When Caruso announced that Palisades Village would open on September 22, we had a clairvoyant winner–Michael Talarski, who guessed that exact day. The next closest predictions were September 7 by James Michal, a resident on Radcliffe, and October 7 by Peggy Shapiro.
When we contacted Talarski in Ithaca, New York, to congratulate him on his victory, we thought he might be a college student from Pacific Palisades.
Turned out he has been a lifelong resident of Ithaca, but with an interesting Palisades connection: his mother-in-law, Carol Serling, lives in the Highlands. And Carol is the widow of Rod Serling, the writer who created and produced the legendary “Twilight Zone” TV series from 1959 to 1964.
The Serlings lived on Monaco in the Palisades Riviera and raised two daughters, Jodi (who graduated from Palisades High School) and Anne.
Talarski, who retired last July as an electrician, union leader and business manager, married Jodi in 2003, and they come out every two months to visit her mother, who will turn 90 on February 3.
“I can’t remember why I predicted September 22,” Talarski said. “Maybe a WAG? Or maybe it’s from my over 30 years of dealing with construction deadlines.”
He noted that he has another local connection: he went to high school with actress Mary McDonnell (“Dances with Wolves”), who lives in the Palisades.
Although Bruns and former News editor Sue Pascoe no longer work for the paper that was sold in November to the owner of the Santa Monica Mirror, they made good on their contest promise by taking Talarski, his wife and Carol Serling to Porta Via for lunch on January 2.
Jodi remembered growing up Pacific Palisades and going to the Bay Theater and the Hot Dog Show on Saturdays. “It was so good. It was a different time then.” Her mom joked that she would drop her daughters off in town and pick them up later (no cell phones then).
Talarski said he’s enjoying his retirement. “People ask me, ‘What do you do?’ and I tell them, “I do whatever I want.”
Ever the electrician, while he waited outside the men’s bathroom at Porta Via, he noticed that the wiring had been mislabeled–“a code violation where I come from.”
The women’s bathroom was empty, so he was surprised when a woman came out of the men’s room.
Since he was so lucky with his Caruso opening-day guess, we asked Talarski if he had any predictions for 2019. He joked, “The bathrooms in Porta Via will become unisex.”
Rick Caruso’s spokesperson Jessica Wong emailed Circling the News on January 2, “Our apologies that Rick was not available to stop by for today’s lunch and we hope that you and your guests had a wonderful time at Porta Via.”