Advertisement

How to have the best Sunday in L.A., according to Cheech Marin

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone with local roots deeper than L.A.-born Cheech Marin, who parlayed a 1970s stoner comedy act (as half of the duo Cheech & Chong) into a six-decade (and counting) movie and TV career, becoming a high-profile collector of Chicano art along the way — all while living in the Greater L.A. area.

To find out what the third-generation Angeleno's ideal Sunday might look like, we met him for lunch at one of his out-to-dinner picks (Casa Nostra Ristorante in Pacific Palisades) where he painted a picture (see what we did there?) that includes voracious reading, multimedia multitasking and staging salons with wife Natasha, a classically trained pianist. (And yes, punctuated with many bowls of herb — but always outside!)

In a nod to his upcoming role (as a battle-scarred World War II vet) in the 1950s period golf film "The Long Game" (due out April 12), here's a local Sunday lineup I'm calling "The Long Day" — Cheech-curated to be a hole-in-one. However, you won't see one of Marin's most cherished must-visits, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum, in the mix below because it's in Riverside. But it comes highly recommended — obviously.

7:30 a.m. Fire up a bowl of soup

I wake up the same time every day no matter where I am — 7:30 — and on a Sunday, one of the ideal things I'd look for is to have a bowl of menudo. If I think it's going to take me a long time to get ahold of some menudo, I'll have some Mexican soup that I've made the night before — usually albondigas or posole. The problem is there's no good place around here to get menudo. I lived in the northern end of Malibu for about 40 years, and it was easy to go from there to Oxnard to get it. There's a place called La Gloria right off the highway that has great menudo. Living [in the Palisades] is harder. You're farther away, and then it's like you need to go to Mexico.

Then after my morning shower, I meditate — I do Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes twice a day every day. I've been doing it since I was 19.

Read more: L.A.'s original weed cafe reopens with birthday bongs and pub grub galore

8:30 a.m. Fire up a bowl of herb

Then I go outside and look at the ocean and fire up a bowl. I have this Gandalf[-style] pipe that our company [Cheech & Chong Glass] makes. I always tell them to send me 10 because they['re glass and they] break.

9 a.m. Surf the Sunday shows and stack up the papers

I turn on the news because Sunday's when they can corner all these politicians on CNN, PBS, BBC and "Meet the Press" [on NBC]. The only one I don't watch is Fox — at 77, I only have so many years to live. I'll track one guy who will be on three [different] shows and [think,] "Is he telling the same lie or different lies? Oh, different lies. Interesting!" I also get two newspapers — the New York Times and the L.A. Times — and I'll stack them up and go through them section by section while I watch [TV].


11:30 a.m. Grab a guitar

So I'll be reading the papers and watching the shows at the same time and then, "Oh, there must be a game on somewhere," so ... another bowl! Then I'll head to my office, which has this big ocean view and where my guitars and ukuleles are all lined up — I've got 13 guitars and about seven or eight ukuleles — and I'll turn on whatever game is on. I'm a fan of the Lakers, the Dodgers and the Rams but sometimes I'll watch a game I don't even give a s— about if it looks like a good game and play while I'm doing it.

I have a giant collection of songbooks — hundreds of them — and I'll work on what I'm trying to learn while I watch. Right now I'm working on a reggae arrangement of a Paul Simon tune called "I Do It for Your Love."

At halftime, I'll walk outside and smoke another bowl, and then since it's Sunday and I've successfully eluded any chores, I may read whatever book I'm reading at the time. I'm about to start this brand-new novel by a Mexican author, "You Dreamed of Empires" by Álvaro Enrigue, about when Cortes arrives [and meets] Moctezuma. Or, if I have an unread Walter Mosley book on the stack I might read that or one of Daniel Silva's series about Gabriel Allon — the character is an Israeli assassin.

Read more: How Aztec Mexico was lost in translation: a wild novel revises the Spanish conquest

12:15 p.m. Motor to a movie

Sunday is a good day to go see a movie, so [Natasha and I] would probably go to [Westfield] Century City, which is great because it has a lot of movies and it has a lot of restaurants. So we'll just play roulette. We just saw "Argylle" there.

3:30 p.m. Score points at California Pizza Kitchen

If we're not too hungry, we'll just go to the food court, but if I really want to score some points — or if I have an ulterior motive — I'll take my wife to California Pizza Kitchen. She loves it there because it has food for kids and a full bar. They have a spaghetti Bolognese that's great because they cook the pasta perfectly. It's a very light tomato sauce and just a very little meat.


4 p.m. Pop in to pick up some button flies

We might hurry by some of the clothes shops on the way out; I like Levi's. I'm a 501 guy. I've got a technique for that button-fly: Phhhhht! [makes a swift, one-handed unbuttoning motion]. That would pretty much be an afternoon. [After that,] we'd generally go home; a lot of times, my wife will be working on a piece of music she's going to play, so I'll go back to watching a game. Or if there's part of the newspaper I've saved for later, which is usually the case, I'll go to my special reading room — the one with the lid on the seat — and finish my reading and listen to her rehearse.

4:30 p.m. Swing by the store

We might stop by the store on the way home if I have to pick up any ingredients for the dinner I'll be making. One of the dishes [I like to make] is chicken Marbella from "The Silver Palate Cookbook." The ingredients are chicken — obviously — usually the thighs, prunes, Spanish olives, capers, onions, all your attendant spices and then a good dosing of wine and brown sugar on the top when you bake it. And it is spectacular.

Read more: How to have the best Sunday in L.A., according to Travis Bennett

5:15 p.m. Stop down for a 20-minute meditation break

I'll usually meditate for a second time before I start in on cooking or whatever the evening's activities are going to be.

6 p.m. Smoke a bowl, sip some bourbon and make a dinner plan

If I'm making dinner, it must be bowl time! And I like bourbon, so I'll pick out one I love — I'm drinking some Woodford Reserve Double Oaked right now — and pour some in a glass with one big ice cube and then I'll go make dinner. Or if we go out to dinner nearby on a Sunday night, it will either be Casa Nostra Ristorante — the minestrone soup and the papardelle d'antra [pasta in a duck ragout] are good — or Moku Sushi; they almost always have fresh uni, with an emphasis on "fresh."


6:30 p.m. Stage a Sunday salon

I like to play the guitar as much as possible, so there's usually some part of Sunday where we'll both be playing music, her on the piano and me on the guitar. We even have a little cabaret act we put together called How Did This Guy Get That Girl? And sometimes on Sundays, we'll have these salons at our house. It'll usually be some starving traveling musician from Russia that's passing through and staying with us. We'll put together a program that might include a world-class violinist, and Natasha will play. And I'll have some Chicano artists show up before [the performance] and show their work. If we do that, we'll either make dinner or we'll order Russian food [from Traktir in West Hollywood].

10:30 p.m. Watch "The West Wing" before 40 winks

On Sundays, I'll usually go to bed between 10 and 11 and watch some TV before that. I like watching "60 Minutes," and I'm a big "Ancient Aliens" follower. We'll maybe watch a movie if I can get my wife to stay awake — because she's been rehearsing all day — but we're also about to finish binge-watching "The West Wing" [for the first time]. It's one of the most well-written shows I've ever seen.

Sign up for The Wild newsletter to get weekly insider tips on the best of our beaches, trails, parks, deserts, forests and mountains.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.