Memories of coconut shrimp dish enjoyed in Baja deliciously revived here at El Nuevo Mexicano

Some meals haunt me for years and I’m always on the hunt for something similar to those I’ve devoured in out of the way places, like the fresh coconut-coated jumbo shrimp served at a shack of a restaurant on the azure Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico.

Where’d I find it? Practically in my own backyard, of all places.

El Nuevo Mexicano, 2914 N. Clark St., is a lovable little restaurant that I always walk past and make a mental note to remember to visit sometime. Last week I just knew it was the place to meet a few friends and swill some margaritas.

5-25-77: How “Star Wars” Changed My Life

Patrick Read Johnson’s teenage visits to the visual effects stages of “Stars Wars” and “Close Encounters” launched him on a 20-year career as Hollywood effects technician and studio writer/director.

His credits include “Spaced Invaders” (writer/director, 1990), “Baby’s Day Out” (director, 1994), “Angus” (director, 1995), “Dragonheart” (writer, 1996), and “When Ghouls Go Bad” (writer/director, 2001).

Then he moved back into the house where he grew up in tiny Wadsworth, Ill.

Day puts sketch group GayCo’s satiric comedy on video with Split Pillow’s surprising budget assist

GAY IS THE GIVEN, not the punchline.

They’re funny. They’re gay. And when I saw their runway summer hit “Weddings of Mass Destruction,” my first thought was, “I can’t believe they’re not on television.” But if all goes according to plan, that’s about to change.

The Second City-born GayCo rolls in its ninth anniversary as a celebrated Chicago sketch comedy stage ensemble with the introduction of its newly completed series of TV-style sketch videos, “GayCo Presents?”

It was the most fun I’ve had producing anything for the screen.

Rewind to summer 2004.

REELSCREEN: News and Notes

TEST SPOT GURU and Daily Planet founder Fred Berkover continues to ply his years of expertise with a new company partnered with Swell president Mike Topel. Tentatively named Stealth, the company is located on the 14th floor of NBC Tower, as is 59 Films, Ron Lazzeretti and Ed Amaya’s production company.

OCT. 4 IS THE DATE set for the IFO’s “Sweet Home Illinois” party for Chicagoans who now work in the L.A. film industry.

REELSCREEN: News and Notes

THE FOUNDATION OPENS. When his 10-year Red Car contract ended, editor James Lipinsky decided the time had come to go into business for himself. On March 1, he opened the doors to the Foundation, located in spacious quarters at 200 E. Ohio St., and in West Hollywood, with three employees and a steady stream of major agency clients.

The current staff consists of editor Steve Morrison, who joined after four years at Superior Street, Producer Laurie Abels, an Element 79 associate producer, and assistant Rob Chambers, a Columbia College grad.

Up and Down the Avenue – 03/10/04

FLYING HIGH. IFO director Brenda Sexton returns from her sixth L.A. trip in 11 months reporting tremendous interest” in the wage tax credit bill from meetings set up by MPAA lobbyist Dans Stevenson. Paul Caselton, deputy general counsel of the Illinois Dept. of Revenue tax division went to explain how the credit workswage tax credit works. Freshman state rep Ken Dunkin, cosponsor of the bill, also made the trip. And Local 476’s Paul Oddo decided this would be a good time to shop the union’s low-budget contract in L.A.

Spot production up 70% over 2002

If it feels to you like the spot business has picked up over last year, you’re absolutely right.

The Chicago Film Office, which keeps track of these things, reports a whopping 70% increase in the number of commercials shot here to date (as of Aug. 13).

CFO noted 61 commercial projects have filmed in the city, representing 104 shooting days to date. Compare that to last year’s 42 projects and 74 shooting days.

Among recent commercials produced:

Artisan of L.A.