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Cleaning Up Opponents of the sign/sculpture promoting the Studio City Hand Car Wash may not get to clean up Ventura Boulevard, but they can get their car cleaned on the house. Ben Forat, owner of the car wash, who has been battling the community over a sculpture that shows a Corvette atop a big hand, is so pleased at the L.A. City Planning Commission’s decision to allow him to keep the sign that he is offering a free car wash on Oct. 7. “It’s a big thank you,” said Jack McGrath, a spokesman for the company. Forat had come under fire for the sign, which residents called an eyesore and which is larger than city guidelines allow. But the planning commission said the unusual sign is in keeping with the culture of Southern California, so it can remain. The freebie washes are expected to cost Forat about $1,400, but McGrath said the cost is negligible compared to what he has already spent in fines ($400) and attorney fees ($25,000). One neighbor, however, will not be lining up for a free car wash. Polly Ward, vice president of the Studio City Residents Association, who led the community’s protest against the sign, said she will definitely be a no-show. “If he didn’t lynch me, my own membership might,” Ward said. Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun When Calabasas financial planner Julie Sulser Stav realized that women tend to hold onto their stocks too long, she decided to do something about it. Stav, author of soon-to-be-published “Get Your Share,” about six years ago began teaching women how to approach investing. Since then she has helped to form numerous investment clubs with such names as Dow Dolls, Well Stocked, and Stocks and Blondes. Women, Stav says, tend to put their investments away in a drawer and never look at them again. “We are very loyal creatures, and we marry not only stocks, but the company and its concept. And that’s something we need to separate,” Stav said. “I teach them, as long as you are having a good time, you are along for the ride, and the minute that it’s over, you kiss (the stock) goodbye.” She founded her company, Retirement Benefit Systems, to provide financial planning services, but soon found she could not keep up with the demand. She now works only with her existing clients and focuses most of her attention on seminars and helping women to launch their own investment groups. Stav’s next workshop, which will be held Oct. 16 at The Castaway in Burbank, is entitled “Don’t Marry Your Stocks, Date Them.” The seminar covers such topics as how to get started in the stock market, read financial tables and buy and sell online. “We look at it all with a great sense of humor,” she says. Women tend to be frightened of investing, she said. Humor helps them feel comfortable with the subject matter. “We are just different,” she says. “So it’s not about dollars and cents, it’s about emotions.” Don’t Mess With Barbie Is Barbie getting a bad name on the Internet? Mattel Inc. thinks so. The El Segundo-based toy maker filed a lawsuit Sept. 28 claiming an adult Web site has turned the world’s favorite doll into a sex toy. Insisting the site ripped off Barbie’s trademark name and damaged her wholesome reputation, Mattel called on a federal judge in New York to shut down www.barbiesplaypen.com, which is owned by Internet Dimensions Inc. The site features X-rated photos of women and men. Pushing for Perks What perks are most important to executive job seekers a company car, child care, concierge services? According to a new study, it’s health club membership, hands down, with 58 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed in L.A. and elsewhere putting it at the top of their list. Flextime finished a close second, followed among other things by a car, cell phone, laptop computer and child care. (Concierge service finished dead last.) But few of those job seekers held out much hope that they would get those benefits. “Only 8 percent (expect) health club membership, while just 24 percent expect flextime fewer than half of those who want it,” said Ted Lang, senior vice president at the L.A. office of Lee Hecht Harrison, a career services firm that did the survey. Changing Its Tune Now hear this: the L.A. Opera has officially changed its name. At a recent meeting, the board unanimously voted to change the moniker to hold onto your opera glasses the “Los Angeles Opera.” The company traces its roots back to 1948, when the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera presented “Rigoletto” in a church hall in Beverly Hills. The L.A. Opera debuted in 1986 with a performance starring Placido Domingo. But now it seems that name is a little too casual, a little too (dare we say it?) West Coast. “The name Los Angeles Opera more accurately and clearly describes us,” said spokesman Greg Patterson. “After all, it’s not the NYC Opera, it’s the New York City Opera.” Zamboniland It’s hard to believe that an ice-resurfacing machine used at skating rinks around the world is made in sunny Southern California. But the city of Paramount doesn’t want the world to forget its claim to fame the Zamboni. In fact, plans are in the works for a plein air rink to mark that distinction. But it won’t actually contain any ice. Instead, the planned Paramount Pond at Civic Center East will feature a “rink” of poured concrete and crushed glass to make it look like real ice. And of course, there’ll be a metal sculpture of a Zamboni for kids to play on. “We’re trying to create a there there,” said City Manager Pat West. “We’re an older, urban town. A lot of what we do as a community is to improve the aesthetics.

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