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As American As Apple Pie

Posted by evankessler on July 8, 2009

Despite the words gracing the title screen, there was no apple pie to be had this past weekend, but that didn’t make it any less American.  The arrival of Independence Day weekend boasted an opportunistic array of good time revelry steeped in Patriotism and marinated in beer.  As most of the local working folk had Friday off on account of the holiday, the games were able to begin at a reasonable daylight hour on July 3rd. The celebratory mood wasn’t necessarily due to the fact that if you were to cut one of our arms open, you might just find red, white and blue dripping out; rather it was the 30th birthday of my roommate…one Laura B.

Laura had originally been unaware of the festivities that awaited her on her special day, but due to a certain lack of alertness about the general nature of birthday surprises, she began the day fully cognisant of the fact that she would spend a portion of her evening at the Brooklyn Cyclones game.  Aside from that, the day was a blank slate with a big baseball diamond in the middle of it.

Prior to leaving Park Slope and heading for the amusing confines of Coney Island a few of us sat on the stoop waiting for a special signal to finally head deeper into Brooklyn.  Myself, Eric G, Andy, Jessica,  Laura B, and Kelly R just hung out in the hot summer sun in the hopes we could take off soon.  I, personally had no idea what it was that would trigger the beginning of our birthday jamboree.  I assumed we were waiting for someone to show up before we could take off.  I didn’t want to guess though as there was obviously some surprise that I was not privy to in the planning of the birthday event.  At some point Laura inquired as to what we were waiting for.  Just that moment a car in front of us pulled a U-turn and settled into a parking spot just in front of our stoop.  Someone (I think Kelly)  jokingly commented that the car was exactly what we were waiting for.  Little did we know, but this was the actual truth.

From an open window came the words, “hey Laura.”  The words were uttered by Laura’s friend Erin’s mother in the front seat.  Erin, her mother, and her father exited the vehicle and proceeded to greet the party.  Laura’s college friend had made the trip for the special day from the distant land of Danbury, Connecticut; a far cry from Park Slope.

Just like that we hit the road.  Kelly, Laura, Erin, and I hopped aboard the 7th Avenue Q towards Coney Island.  I flaunted Laura’s Brooklyn Cyclones foam fan finger the whold way down in anticipation of some dynamite Single A class baseball from some minor-league Mets.  We were a joyful squad if there ever was won.  Laura was glowing with anticipation at what the rest of the night held, and we were happy to be apart of it.

We got off the train at Stillwell and Surf and Kelly led the way to our first stop, a bar on the boardwalk the name of which escapes me.  Upon entry Laura was greeted by a rousing ovation from her friends.  Andrew M, Matt, Judy T, Maureen, Stephen, Andy, Eric, Renga, Mike H, Dan, Dan’s sister Emma, Robin, and more folks too numerous to recall them all.  The merrymaking began with Coney Island lagers and Renga dispensing gift bags to party participants.  Mine had a panch, a snickers, a map of Coney Island, a USA necklace and some vampire teeth. Score!

Next on the agenda was the blowing out of the birthday candles.  For that portion of the afternoon/early evening we were going to need something cakey.  Luckily, there were an array of cupcakes from Renga and a fantastic cookie cake, which was made by Eric.

Laura Makes A Wish

Laura Makes A Wish

After doing her part to extinguish the 30 flames atop soft and sweet treats; Renga made the birthday girl read the message on one of the set of cupcakes.  It read, “You’re throwing out the first pitch!”  Laura immediately kind of freaked out in a fun and totally natural manner. I was instantly jealous.  My roommate was going to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game.  It’s not that I’ve ever had that dream before, but it seemed like a perfectly awesome thing to do on your birthday.  I immediately wanted someone to tell me that I’d be doing the same thing in November.  Alas, there is no baseball in November.  Que sera sera.

This day, however, was not about me.  It was about Laura.  If she wasn’t in a great mood already from being surrounded by her best friends, the first pitch thing may have put her over the top.  I wanted to coach her and show her how to pitch in the off-chance she needed my assistance, but then again, I’ve never been a pitcher.  The closest I’ve come to being a hurler was in my ten visits to Dorney Park as a camper (and then counselor) at Camp Westmont.  I used to play the speed pitch game where if you correctly guessed the speed of your third pitch; you’d win the helmet of your choice and then whilst wearing it people would repeatedly pound the top of your head repeating the mantra emblazoned in small letters on the back, “THIS IS NOT A PROTECTIVE HELMET!”  Ah, Those were the days.

So anyway, after grabbing a few beers at the boardwalk bar (and a slight torrential sunshower) we went for a bit of a walk ourselves as our birthday balloon-toting birthday girl led the way.  A few minutes into our stroll we lost her inside the amusment park as she split with Maureen and Laura to get a fake tattoo.

The lot of us were getting a bit worried.  We were supposed to be at the Keyspan Park at 5:30pm and we had lost Laura.  We didn’t want to be late to grab our tickets and we didn’t want her to be so late that they wouldn’t let her throw out the first pitch.  Rather than wait for them, the majority of us headed to the park and hoped they’d be on time.  We looped around to the front entrance of the stadium via the boardwalk and hung out at the entrance in front of the blood drive van.  I briefly put in my vampire choppers and planned to leap unannounced into the plasma collecting vehicle demanding their entire stock, but I decided against it.

Several more fans of Baseball and Bassett met us at the front gate to the stadium;  Trish, Patrick, and Brian among them.  We had a full motley crew of ‘Clones fans ready to root to our heart’s content.  Filing in in an orderly fashion we scanned the stadium for our seats, but first set about collecting our free hats that came with the special deal we had partaken in, not to mention the fact that it was also Jersey pillow night.  This was either an all-inclusive steal or highway robbery.  Our money bought us one free beer, a free hat, and a free dog; not to mention the opportunity for the afore-mentioned first pitch for our newly-minted 30-year-old [Editor’s note: actually, it was three days before she turned 30]. It didn’t really matter though.  We were so completely psyched for the first pitch that all of the peripherals were gravy.

Scenic Keyspan Park

Scenic Keyspan Park

There was a brief period after picking up our snazzy new Cyclones caps that we took to our seats, but with the prospect of Laura’s minor league pitching debut at hand, we chose to line up behind home plate to get as close as we could for the big moment.

'Clones Fever: Catch It!

'Clones Fever: Catch It!

When the time came we were parked directly behind the dish.  Laura was not the only one however, throwing out the first pitch.  Apparently two other people had arranged for the honor.  They saved the best for last though. Once the first two pitchers had gone, our excitement level was certainly palpable when the announcer was about to trumpet Laura’s name and the fact that she was celebrating her 30th birthday.  One problem though, instead of announcing Laura B’s name, he announced Renga’s.  The rest of the evening we congratulated Laura as if she was the other Laura celebrating her 30th year.  I don’t think this got old. Despite the misidentification, Laura pounded a heater right  into Pitcher Darin Gorski’s strike zone or something like that.  Why the pitcher was catching, I have no idea.

Not A Belly-Itcher

Not A Belly-Itcher

Back in our seats we caught quite the outstanding amateur contest.  It was a hard fought match from start to finish; the kind that really makes you appreciate our national pastime. The Brooklyn Cyclones were engaged in a hard fought battle with the Tri-City Valley Cats.  We weren’t sure which three cities they were from, but we think Troy and Schenectady were involved.  Whenever they were at bat I kept yelling for them to go back to Utica, Ithaca, Rome, or wherever they were from.  Minor league games are fun to heckle at.

A Bidding War Over The Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles Would Ensue

A Bidding War Over The Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles Would Ensue

Maureen Maintains Her Brooklyn Pride Despite Living on The Left Coast

Maureen Maintains Her Brooklyn Pride Despite Living on The Left Coast

The game was tight the whole way.  Both teams scored a run in the 2nd inning.  Tri-City took the lead in the 6th, but the ‘Clones pulled it out in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 9th thanks to big time hitting and ultimately the heroic bat of pinch hitter Nick Santomauro.

Dan's All Too Effective Rally Cap-Jersey Pillow Combination

Dan's All Too Effective Rally Cap-Jersey Pillow Combination

Clutch Performer Nick Santomauro

Clutch Performer Nick Santomauro

The vibe after leaving the game was an ecstatic one.  We felt as though we had witnessed one of the more exciting games in Cyclones history and it lifted our already high spirits.  On the way out, we were handed tickets to have a go at the speed pitch booth, only the radar gun was broken.  It didn’t matter though, I was jonesing to throw a few pitches after Laura’s big moment.  I got the lead out with a few slowballs through strike zone.  It was somewhat therapeutic and a bit of an adrenaline rush at the same time.  I was ready to continue partying as was the rest of the crowd.

We certainly didn’t slow down as we made our way through the site of the next day’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, past a big load of horse crap, all the way to our surfside sanctuary Beer Island.  Beer Island is a beach-themed Coney Island bar that looks like it could exist in Daytona Beach or Paradise Island, save for the Port-o-john’s.

The Mgical Land of Beer Island

The Mgical Land of Beer Island

Our party found two tables to place together and the revelry continued at our Coney Island paradise.  Classic rock blasted throughout our surroundings, but eventually it was eclipsed by the din of fireworks being released over the confines of Keyspan Park.  The pyrotechnic splendor was visible over the horizon and we soaked in the sparks and a few more drinks before deciding it was time to head back to the neighborhood and keep it going in The Slope.

Matt, Andrew, Mike, Brian, and I headed back on the Subway and made for the Union Street abode before heading out for a night-cap with most of the rest of the crew at High Dive (a.k.a. the bar formerly known as The Lighthouse Tavern).  The night didn’t end there.  Some of the crowd had dispersed after finishing one or two beers, but a group of us headed back to the house to put a cap on top of our night cap.  Laura and I partook in some of the Bailey’s I had acquired on my trip to England and before heading off to bed we took in some of my new DVD of The State.  The last part fell out of favor very quickly as the letter “Z” seemed to be catching up with everyone.

We had partied all the way through to the Fourth of July and the next morning shouldn’t have been as easy as it was.  Thankfully after plenty of rest, I was able to sidle out of bed in relative comfort, prepared for a big day of BBQ.  It was around 2:40 when I started to walk towards Kishore’s to commence the celebration of this great nation’s 233rd anniversary of Independence.  I figured it would take a while to grab some food and beer and walk all the way over to Fort Greene.  I was partially right, but I was still the first person to arrive on site.

It was a little after 3pm.  The party was supposed to start at 3.  I know that my friends are usually fashionably late, but it seemed like such a shame on such a beautiful day to have to really get the party started when the sun was on the downside of it’s daily cycle.  I was content to sit in the yard by myself even if no one was around to enjoy it with me.  Kishore, Jeni and Pat were inside preparing food and I hung out in the garden drinking a beer and texting people.  Soon enough though I was rescued from boredom by Jason and Kayvalyn, who seated themselves at the table and started the day’s conversation.  Little by litle the floodgates of visitors opened: Rich, Suli, Lauren, Rosario, Ajay, Morwin, Miller with half of the population of NYC Ron Paul supporters, and so on.  It was now officially a party.

The Beginnings of A Good TIme

The Beginnings of A Good TIme

The only problem with this celebration of America however, was the music.  Kishore had put on a playlist of lounge-y electronica, and Indie DJ music that seemed best suited for a nighttime lounge.  This was America’s day not smooth euro DJ day.  Normally, I wouldn’t raise a stink about someone else’s music, since I’m more than sympathetic with the idea of wanting your own music to play at your house.  Any other day, I would’ve been fine with the selections, but this was the 4th of July.  It’s the day you’re supposed to hear Toby Keith, Bruce Springsteen and Boston.  It’s the day to rock out, with your Red, White and Blue cock out.  I tried to put on Bruce’s Born in the USA album but was quickly rebuffed after two or three songs.  Ajay was supporting my efforts to patriotize the party, but the host certainly was not.  I made another brief stab at things with “More Than A Feeling” but once the song ended, my mix was given the boot Toby Keith style.

Ajay Approves of The Boss and Boston

Ajay Approves of The Boss and Boston

The music went back to soothing, sexy lounge style for awhile and I sank into a bit of boredom.  Ajay, Suli, and myself kept discussing how America had to win out musically in this party.  A little while passed when I finally made a last stand stronger than that of General George Custer.  My mix finally hit the airwaves and the people at the party were proud to be Americans whether or not they were born in this land.

Snappin' Along to American Tunes

Snappin' Along to American Tunes

From then on the party felt a helluva a lot more lively.  The conversation seemed more sprightly and the good times rolled.  I filled up on meat and beer relatively early in the night, but I kept drinking beer anyway.  I didn’t get drunk, but I felt relaxed as the night skies rolled in and the music ceased being patriotic again.  I didn’t mind though as the new music fit the nighttime mood just fine.  We didn’t get to see any fireworks, save for the few who went inside to catch the televised explosions, but that generally seemed all right by us.

Morwin and Jason in Sparklerz '09!

Morwin and Jason in Sparklerz '09!

The crowd slowly dwindled down throughout the evening, there were a few unexpected arrivals as Andrea and Enisha eventually joined the crowd and subsequently left.  It was rather late when we filed out.  Suli, Rich, and I were among the first to arrive and some of the last to leave.

Sunday was none too productive.  I think I did some reading adn some wandering, but that was about it.  If there was anything momentous about the day I do not remember it.  I think I went for a walk and grabbed a slice of pizza and that’s about it.  I was resigned to letting any potential excitement slide by the wayside for one day.  I had had enough patriotic fun for a few days.  When the next weekend rolled around, I would almost certainly still be an American.

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Posted in baseball, BBQ, birthdays, Brooklyn, holiday, New York Mets, Patriotism, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Open Letter To The New York Mets

Posted by evankessler on September 25, 2008

Dear New York Mets,

I have been a member of the New York Metropolitans faithful since before that glorious 1986 world championship season.  I’ve stuck with the team through thick and thin,  the Dallas Green years and even Mo Vaughn.  After enduring last season’s collapse during the final seventeen games of the season, this season’s atrocious bullpen performance, and finally the debacle that was Wednesday night’s 9-6 extra inning defeat at the hands of the NL Central Champion Cubbies, I’m almost tempted to toss my arms up in the air and say, “no mas.”

It’s always required a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to be a New York Mets fan.  Each progressive offseason sees the introduction of promising new arrivals that we’re told are destined to lead a smiling Mr. Met and his round stitched baseball head soaring into the post-season.

This year we had the good fortune to acquire a brand new stud arm in the form of Johan Santana and with that myself and the rest of the Shea faithful were delighted.  Surely, this was the final piece of the puzzle we had all been waiting for after coming oh so close and ’06 and being so painfully shut out of the postseason last year.

. Surely, we were a little naive to think one man could make a difference.  They don’t make pitchers like they used to you know.  Starters aren’t often required to go the full nine innings anymore.  Sure they occasionally pitch a complete game and let the relievers rest once in awhile, but even if you have two or three guys who can eat up innings you’re going to have to rely on some other guys to finish off games for you.  And you know what, it’s not often that you’ll have a four or five run cushion to fall back on…However, when you do have a nice soft five run cushion, you shouldn’t be afraid the game is going to swing in the wrong direction every time your manager takes the ball from his ace on the mound sometime around the sixth or seventh inning.

This season has been downright offensive.  I don’t mean in the way the Mets have been scoring a lot of runs, I mean that I am offended by the lack of ability permeating from the team’s bullpen.  They turn every game that should be a solid victory into some variation of a wild roller coaster that’s sort of like Coney Island’s own Cyclone.  It’s not that fun and you have to endure a frighteningly precipitous drop and face the prospect of painful whiplash in order to get out alive. On the odd occasion that they do nail down a victory, you feel so scarred that you vow to never put yourself through it again.
Well, Metropolitans.  I’m not really sure I want to waste another four hours of my life watching my favorite team go up 5-1 on a heroic grand slam home run, only to give the runs right back, then squander several gift opportunities before accidentally stumbling into a tie only to squander more precious gifts before having that same bullpen so dutifully usher the opponent to a win via yet another awful performance.

Now with the team knotted up with Brewers for the Wild Card spot and four games left to play and even though I know the Mets motto is “Ya Gotta Believe”, I’m thinking more along the lines of “No Way. No How.  Not With This Pitching Staff.”  Please be wrong.  You have four games or you’ll lose me forever (or at least till next season).  Let’s end the stay at Shea with some pride and a little bit of postseason.

Sincerely,
Evan J. Kessler

p.s. Please chain Aaron Heilman to a pole using an impenetrable pair of titanium handcuffs and please melt the key into liquid.

Posted in baseball, Natural Disasters, New York Mets | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Irvine’s Fine…L.A.’s O.K.

Posted by evankessler on May 9, 2008

Nearly nine days have passed since my last post and to say the past week plus has been quite the adventure would probably be somewhat of an overstatement. That’s not to say it wasn’t an adventure. My days and nights in the Golden State were fueled by the elements of family, baseball games, beer, freeway travel and gatherings with old friends. Ultimately some excellent times were had, but I’m certainly glad to be back at my home sweet home in Brooklyn after a week spent in smoggy Southern California.

The trip started out innocently enough on April 30th with a non-stop Jet Blue flight with a noontime departure from JFK airport. Despite all of the knocks on Jet Blue for their recent struggles, I’m more or less resigned to the statement that flying on that airline is always better than most other domestic carriers. Sure they don’t give you meals, but airline meals are usually horrendous and they give you snacks and water, which is really nothing to complain about. For the better part of the flight I just vegged out watching TV and doing a crossword puzzles. My television diet mostly consisted of ESPN News, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Scrubs on Comedy Central. I had my computer with me on the flight, but I was not feeling up to working on any writing. This was the beginning of a vacation for my brain.

When I landed at Long Beach Airport at around 3:15pm, we deplaned rather quickly. There was not a lot of sitting around inside, waiting for a gate to be attached. Instead we emptied out onto the tarmac and I shuffled my way inside the tiny terminal dragging my bag behind me whilst accidentally knocking into a few people. I wasn’t familiar with the width of this particular suitcase on account of it being the first time I’d used it and I hadn’t gotten the hang of maneuvering it.

Upon passing through the gate and making my way through the miniscule baggage claim area I was more or less mugged by my Aunt who was wandering around looking for me. With nothing to get at the baggage claim we made our way to her car. As we did my aunt pointed out the architectural splendor of said airport…not so much because of it’s wonderful design, but more or less because it looked like a large marina or even a yacht. It was a hole in the wall of an airport if you could ever characterize an airport as such. Either way, it was delightfully hassle free. We were out of there in no time and back at her and my uncle’s Irvine abode.

Upon arrival I was greeted by my Uncle Doug, who had just woken up. Normally you’d think that anyone waking up at 3:45pm is a lazy old sloth…but Doug is just the opposite. He goes on 50 mile bike rides quite often so the rest is well deserved. Not long after the arrival at Casa De Melanie and Doug dinner was being cooked up on the grill. My aunt had prepared some steak and corn much to my delight.

“The A”

When dinner ended it was off to Angels Stadium or as those in the OC affectionately refer to it, “The A.” My aunt had purchased tickets to the Angels-A’s game and I couldn’t have been more excited. Baseball games are one of my two favorite sporting events to attend, so I always relish the chance to visit a stadium I’ve never been to before. That’s not saying much, since I’ve only been to probably 6 parks at the most…but this one was certainly a unique experience due to the fact that the Disney corporation owns the team. During the player introductions you could tell that this was an atmosphere built for entertainment. As each player in the starting lineup’s name and positions were announced fireworks were unleashed from the mountain beyond the center field wall, then when that ended the Train song “Calling All Angels” came blasting from the loud speaker and all of the displays in the stadium were listing every great moment in Angels history and all of the great players who had ever been on the team. I thought I was there for a special night where some past Angel legend was being honored but as it turned out…this is pretty much how it goes every night.

Angels Calendar Night as presented by Melanie and Doug

After all of that fanfare came a rousing version of the National Anthem by 11 year old, California Native Taylor Longbrake. It’s not often I’m impressed by kid singers but this kid had a voice…and not a Britney Spears singing on Star Search voice either. It was a legitimately good rendition. I think that kid is going to end up being a star , having a drug addiction and end up eventually having paparazzi follow her around until she has a nervous breakdown, or if she’s lucky she’ll go the Christina Aguilera route and get married and have a baby after showing her vagina in her videos the first few years of “adulthood”. She was that good.

Angels In The Outfield

Calendar Night as Presented by Evan Kessler

In any case, once the game started things sort of settled down. A lot of the fans didn’t really seem to be focusing on the game unless they felt like yelling at the third base coach for not waving a runner home. In between innings was it’s own show. There were a ton of sponsored segments including one where a kid had to steal 3rd base and run it to the finish line so he could win some prize. There was also a 50’s style waitress from a 50’s style diner delivering shakes and floats to random crowd members on the jumbotron and promotions for tire companies. There was even a vendor selling fruit cups in the stands. Fruit cups? At a baseball game? On the plus side, I don’t recall them playing “Sweet Caroline”. The game itself was an Angels romp. I think they won 5-1 or 6-1. The worst part about going to the game was that no one playing for either team was on my fantasy team. Fortunately, I could root against the A’s pitcher who was on my weekly opponent’s team. It was around 10:30pm when the game ended and we headed back to Irvine and had some dessert before heading off to bed. It was about 2:30am New York time when I fell fast asleep in my cousin’s uber comfortable bed.

I woke up the next morning around 9am and quickly shared a family breakfast before Melanie and Doug took me out on a hike to Crystal Cove and El Morro Canyon. We didn’t take the more treacherous hike because I had planned to pick up my rental car at around 3:30pm and head into the Los Angeles area. However, it was nice to wander through the scenic landscape as I felt as though I had spent the entire day before sitting on my ass on both the plane and at “The A.” God knows I’d probably be sitting on my ass driving around all week too. The entire hike I was on the lookout for wildlife as I had asked Doug if we might see anything and he mentioned Rattlesnakes, Bears, and other things. I was more concerned about the Rattlesnakes, but as it turns out we only happened upon a few rabbits.

Hiking Up El Morro Canyon

After the hike Melanie and Doug wanted to take me to a historic beach reserve on Crystal Cove where the last remnants of “Eclectic Californian Beach Architecture” were preserved in order to more or less prevent yet another expensive beach resort from popping up. Apparently the architecture mostly consisted of meager shacks. Alas, if I was going to pick up my rental car and head to LA, I didn’t have time for this Orange County landmark. Instead we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s 2nd favorite Mexican restaurant, El Ranchito (I think), since they insisted I had to have California Mexican food…and I quite agreed.

The meal came with a little Mexican flag implanted firmly in my enchilada. When I finally had the tasty treat in my mouth I was awash in culinary delight. I quite approved of my first Southern California restaurant experience.

From the restaurant, we made a quick stop at my Aunt’s place where I showered and packed up my stuff. We then made our way to Enterprise rental car in nearby Tustin, where I picked up my shiny black Chevy Cobalt…and with directions in my hand and my aunt leading me to the entrance, I hit the freeway on my way to Los Angeles.

It was about 5:30pm when I rolled up in Los Feliz (not pronounced like Fay-lease like in Feliz Navidad, but like Feel-iz) and found the perfect spot directly in front of my old roommate Jill’s apartment where I had planned to stay at least the first evening. However, neither Jill or her boyfriend Phil had come home from work yet. As a result, I parked my shiny American-made rental and wandered around the neighborhood. Along my wander I had Pinkberry for the first time and passed a few notable spots such as Fatburger, what seemed like a dingy run-down strip club call Cheetah’s, and a whole in the wall tiki bar.

When I returned from my walkabout, both Phil and Jill were home and I made my way inside to their comfortable one bedroom with certainly ample couch space for me to eventually lay my head once it were to become weary. We didn’t waste a whole lot of time sitting around. I had told Jill and Phil about the Tiki Ti and Phil immediately gave it high marks…and just like that we were off and the Jill and Phil show began. I honestly hadn’t planned on spending so much time with them all week, maybe a night or two, but it just sort of worked out that way.
Our first stop on Thursday night was was the memorial Elliott Smith wall that was the cover of his Figure 8 album…it was just down the street from our first drinking destination, the Tiki Ti.
There is no beer at the Tiki Ti, just drinks that don’t advertise what’s in them. I had a drink called Ray’s Mistake that was rum based. I don’t quite remember what my compadres had, but all indications were that they were satisfied. After one drink…it was off to the Silverlake region and Casita Del Campo where the three of us engaged in several games of pool, two or three beers as well as some enchiladas. It was good eating and good drinking. The decor of the place was kind of fun with a big mural of the Virgin Mary right behind the pool table. It was a kind of cool vibe. Sometime during our first pool game Phil said that John C. Reilly was at the restaurant but the guy he pointed out didn’t necessarily look like him, and it really wasn’t a big deal. It’s not like any of us were going to ask him to become our lifelong friend and he would oblige.

Phil Picks His Shot As Mary Watches On
Jill in Front of A Weird Mirror

Soon enough we had our fill of Casita del Campo and we made the move to a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. The bowling alley bar also had karaoke but it was the sad kind of karaoke where 3 people are in a bar and no one pays attention to them. Instead, we met with Jill’s friend’s Laura and Shane (I could be making both of those up) for a round of bowling. It seemed as though I had one of the least fruitful games ever of knocking down pins but I somehow ended up over 100…a small victory for bowling-kind.

The night did not come to a close after our bowl-a-thon. We went back to Los Feliz and hit up two bars within walking distance from Jill and Phil’s place, Ye Rustic Inn and The Drawing Room. We hung at the latter til last call and stumbled on towards Jill and Phil’s apartment, but not before they pointed to show me Glen Danzig’s house across the street from them and even posing for a few ridiculous photos.


Phil Sta
nding On Top of Something

Friday morning I woke up feeling anxious. I had plans to hang out with my friend Stephy P whom I met in Miami in the early afternoon and the evening called for a get together of old friends at the Cat and The Fiddle in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I slept a little later than I should’ve and I think my time with Stephy was a little rushed. It took a while for me to drive over to her apartment because I had to mapquest it and then drive cautiously to a place I had never been. Therein was the problem with a lot of my trip to Los Angeles. It felt as though getting anywhere was filled with great anxiety due to the fact that I didn’t know where I was going. By the time I got anywhere I felt a little frazzled and worrisome and not myself. I even found myself immediately thinking about how I could get to my next destination as I just kept hopping between friends.

Stephy and I did manage to have a good time despite my lateness. She took me down to 4th Street to a restaurant she had wanted to try, but settled on another place called Toast that was more of a sitdown option. We got to talking and eating and just plain enjoying ourselves as we ate on the sidewalk. How I enjoyed that California heat. Stephy seemed to think that the woman sitting behind us was an actress, but I kept taking furtive glances and she didn’t necessarily look familiar to me, but then again I’ve never been good at spotting people.

After our lovely lunch we spent entirely too long looking for Stephy’s car. Neither of us were really paying attention when we parked. If we hadn’t remembered that the house we parked in front of had a Castle like structure on it, who knows how long it would’ve taken us to finally get out of there. It was around 4pm or so when we finally finished our lunch and got out of said lunching area. I wanted to go back to Stephy’s so I could grab my camera which I had left at her house and then head down to the walk of fame. Unfortunately, we didn’t really plan that well for time and by the time we made it out the door it was rush hour and not a good time to attempt to go to the Walk of Fame. Instead, we popped by the Arclight Cinema and Amoeba records…which was a nice little detour. I bought two CD’s and then we headed back to Stephy’s to get ready for the evening’s festivities.

Apparently I had made an ungodly faux pas by making party time 8pm…seeing as nobody goes out until later. I didn’t really mind though seeing as I hadn’t seen some of the people I hoped to see in years and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. It was around 7:45pm when Stephy and I were picked up in a cab and minutes later we were thrust upon the magical outdoor garden of the Cat and Fiddle. Next thing I knew I was already on my second drink and it was still Stephy and I. Our small party quickly became three as Maureen H became the first reveler to arrive. Luckily we had a central seated area so if any more folks happened to show up.

Hanging Out With Terra and Maureen

Smiley With Stephy

Karaoke Duet Partners Extraordinaire Noelle and Matt

Next to make the scene was Terra H, whom I hadn’t seen since leaving college. Terra and I were really close friends senior year and was one of the one people I wanted to make a point to see on this trip. She showed up with her boyfriend Matt and old roommate Cooper. We were also then joined by another former Syracuse TRF-er Brendan B, who turned up the volume level a bit…and despite this, I was still glad to see him. I didn’t get much more in the way of long lost friends stopping by. Stephy had a few of her friends come by and I barely saw her the rest of the night…though I didn’t mind. I wanted to catch up with Terra and talk to Maureen H. My old Bleecker Street roommate, Matt W also showed up with friend and fellow VH1sters Noelle and Maureen T in tow. Maureen T, a former boss of mine was also just visiting for the week, away from her Philly home base. I had an excellent time catching up with everyone and drinking in the process. On the downside, the person I was staying with that night left before me, which left me in a bit of a panic, but in the end everything worked out just fine. I have to thank Terra for offering me a place to stay even though I didn’t end up taking it.

The next morning I awoke well-rested on an airbed at Stephy’s, but Stephy having her first day off in nearly three weeks had plenty of errands to run. Rather than stick around and stay in her way, I high tailed it to Venice Beach to spend the day with Maureen H in her neighborhood. The freeway trip was a tad treacherous, but overall not that tough. Most directions I had to follow throughout the trip went something like…”make a left…make a right…get on the freeway…switch freeways…get off the freeway….make a left…make a right.” So while some of the places I had to go may have seemed hard to get to I never really had too much trouble getting anywhere.

When I got to Maureen’s she met me outside of her house, which was pretty much in the midst of the Venice Beach canal system. Once I picked her up she directed me to a French place we went for lunch. Maureen and I discussed life in New York, life in LA, and work in general. She even ran into a friend from work right before we were leaving. They spent about 15 minutes talking about work stuff, which I didn’t mind at all, but apparently the entire time they were talking her friend’s husband was sitting in the car waiting for her to pick up sandwiches, which ended up being rather funny.

Our next move in Venice was to find me a spot so Maureen and I could park near her house and wander amongst the Canals. That was taken care of rather swiftly and as we walked amongst the eclectic architectural wonders surrounding the Venice canal system and turned the corner towards Maureen’s home, we came upon a dead duck, feet up in the water. Neither of us had either seen a dead duck before…so it just seemed kind of odd and somewhat ominous. After that major trauma I received a tour of Maureen’s home on the Canal which also had the added bonus of a dock with a canoe, just in case anyone felt the need to row around. Personally, I would’ve preferred a kayak. We sat on the hammock on the roof for awhile as well soaking up some sun. While on the roof we heard a baby duck chirping in the canal. It had seemingly been separated from the pack and was all alone. Maureen being the good Samaritan she is wanted to help the duck find his parents. I didn’t think she should upset the natural order of things, because baby ducks getting lost is just part of nature.

In any case, we soon left Maureen’s house and she took on a tour of the canals pointing out all of the really interesting architectural decisions being made by the home owners on the canals. Eventually we made it to the actual boardwalk where we saw lots of souvenir and sunglass shops. There were a few unremarkable street performers as well as the legendary area known as Muscle Beach. From there we walked up to the skate park and onto the sand. We followed that all the way to the pier which may or may not have been Santa Monica pier. I never asked. We took pictures on it anyway.

Venice Canal York City!

From the pier, we made the move to grab a drink and some minor eats at The Venice Whaler. Our helping of chips and guacamole hit the spot as did my bottle of beer on a warm california day. There were also people walking around giving samples of Margerita as well as mixed drink shakers. I’m not sure what became of my mixed drink shaker but I think I left it at Maureen’s by accident.

On The Pier

After drinking and eating we headed back to Maureen’s apartment and on our way there we happened upon the family of ducks that we had seen leave behind the one duck earlier. An Australian guy in a kayak had returned the duckling to what he presumed to be it’s family. Unfortunately the mother was rejecting the duckling and tried to drown it. Maureen looked on in horror and was begging the mother to “stop”. However, the baby would not be allowed to rejoin the family and Maureen beckoned the baby over to her so she could rescue it. However, as she stood on the edge of the canal dock, some rich lady came out and yelled at her for standing on her tiny square dock that wasn’t really in any danger of being ruined. Thus pretty much ended the duckling rescue mission. Though maybe it was resumed after I left as I was only there for a little while longer.

It was closer to 7pm when I left Venice. I headed back to Los Feliz to meet with Jill and Phil. They had told me about an art show that good bands were playing at downtown, so I felt inclined to join them. It sounded like a good plan for a night out and it pretty much was. We arrived at the venue called “The Smell” and paid $8 to get in despite the fact that they had previously thought it was free before 9pm. It was no big deal. However, we were a little early for the band we wanted to see. Phil knew some guys in a band called The Warlocks that was playing the venue, but they didn’t go on until 11pm, so we went to a place down the street that had horrible pizza couple with a psychotic waiter who gave us death stares for ordering slices.

Phil and Jill at the 107

Once we polished off our horrible pizza, we went to a bar called 107…that seemed like a sweet hangout spot. We nursed a Pabst or two and Phil had a habit of pointing out fake celebrities, whether he was claiming the bartender was Donna’s dad from “That 70’s Show” or that each girl who walked in was one of the Kardashians. It was good for several laughs before we finally went back to The Smell.

The performance space itself was supposedly a dry all ages spot, but Phil took that to mean BYOB according to his knowledge of the place and who was I to argue. I partook in a beer all the while glancing around to see if anyone was going to throw me out. I forgot myself for a moment and walked with my beer to the bathroom and some artist kid who looked like Elton John in 1973…or at least I think that’s what he was going for, looked at me with somewhat of a shocked expression as I nursed my beer while on the bathroom line. He didn’t rat me out though so I guess there was no problem. We only stayed at The Smell for a little bit. None of us really got into the band and Phil found out that all the people he used to know left…but before we hit the road we talked to a lame Andy Warhol wannabe with a light up jacket and Phil put on a nice little dance exhibition before the band came on.

Our night was not over yet. This was Saturday and Saturday’s are meant to go all night long. To keep the party going, we went over to a bar called Little Joy, that Phil had been banned from several years back. When we arrived on the scene it seemed as though no time had passed as he seemed to know everyone at the bar. Jill and I were introduced to his assortment of old bar buddies as well as some girl who was cute but beyond drunk and not much of a talking partner. We hung out there til last call and made our final stop of the evening at an all night diner on the way back…to quell our drunk hunger.

Sunday morning came and although the original plan was to get lunch with my friends who were so wonderfully allowing me to crowd their living space for a few days, that plan got nixed, as I received a call from our old family friend Lorring. Lorring was a Pomona native and grew up two doors down the street from me. He and my brother were best friends when he moved away as a kid, but we all went to Camp Westmont together for quite a few summers. I hadn’t seen Lorring since my last trip to Los Angeles in 2001. Back then he wasn’t married and he didn’t have a child. Oh how things have changed.

From Los Feliz, I mapquested my way to Van Nuys and caught up with my old friend. After parking on the wrong side of the street and then turning around to adjust my situation, I finally made it to his abode. Lorring met me just inside the gate to his apartment complex and just as I walked in the door his 2 year old son Lucas handed me his Thomas the Train figure and told me “Thomas The Train can’t talk”. Lorring and his wife Robyn were more than gracious hosts. They offered me food and drink and plenty of conversation. Lucas ran around wreaking the kind of havoc only two year olds can. I found myself being the willing victim in games of doctor and pizza parlor. All of this took place while Lorring and I watched the Lakers game and reminisced about our days at summer camp and all of the people we were friends with way back when nobody had kids. It was an extremely relaxing way to spend a day…in a la-z-boy with my feet kicked up watching a game and drinking a Corona. It seemed like the polar opposite of the craziness of the previous nights. However, I couldn’t stay all day. I had made plans that evening to have dinner with my friend Stephy after she got off of work. At around 5:30pm, I said my goodbyes and google mapped it back to Los Feliz.

The Happy Family

At around 7:45pm Phil, Jill, and I went to meet Stephy at Gingergrass in SilverLake. We pulled in just behind Stephy’s car and found spots next to each other. The worry before arriving at the restaurant was that it was the super-busy hotspot for tasty Vietnamese food. While we got the second part correct, we were lucky that the “super-busy” part had not come to fruition. We immediately sat down and were met with prompt service. After a more than satisfactory meal we went across the street to Cha-Cha for one drink. Phil thought the doorman was a magician he knew even though he had the wrong guy, he talked to him for awhile…and found up some messed up story that I don’t quite recall. The rest of our night didn’t last too long. I was tired from all of the weekend’s drinking and Stephy wanted to go to the gym. Plus, No Country For Old Men had been rented for the evening in Los Feliz and that seemed like a good plan to me.

I’m not sure what time we got home but it must’ve been around 10pm. The movie was popped in and that pretty much knocked out Jill and Phil. I watched it until the end even having seen it already. There was something about the ending that I felt I needed to see again. In any case, I didn’t really gain any new insight on the film, but I still liked it. As soon as the movie came to a close I hit the couch as Jill’s three cats swirled around the apartment meowing .

Monday morning I awoke very early as my friends readied for the workday. Phil suggested I go with him on the train at 7:40 in the morning. Normally I would’ve thought he was crazy, but I was kind of curious to see what the LA Subway was like at Rush hour. As it turns out…it’s not very crowded. There’s plenty of standing room. We took the red line three stops from Sunset and Vermont to Hollywood and Highland…right on the Walk of Fame. It was there that Phil transfered to the bus and I decided to wander the entire Walk to see every name. I started off at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and took a picture of my feet in Robin Williams’ cement footprints which I wanted to use for an If I Blog It post. From there I walked to La Brea and walked the other side all the way to Gower…then up and down Vine…and back to Grauman’s or at least until I happened upon Kevin Costner’s star. I found this walk to be extremely boring and to tell the truth it kind of left me feeling a little empty. I had just spent a good amount of time traversing an expanse just to look at a bunch of names who had accomplished things that I would never be aware and whom I didn’t really care to look up. Sure there are also people on there that I’m quite fond of as actors and actresses, but looking at their names in a star conjures up less for me than looking at a movie poster of a movie that I like that they’d been in. There were also a few names that really annoyed me on there…Britney Spears and Ryan Seacrest among the few.

Robin Williams and I have the same sized feet

There were also an inordinate amount of buildings dedicated to Scientology that I strolled by. There was an L. Ron Hubbard Gallery, An L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition, and Scientology Testing Center and a Scientology HQ under renovation. Creepy. I almost went in to the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibit, but in the end decided not to for fear of being brainwashed.

Tom and Katie’s New Mansion

After my lengthy stroll along the “walk of fame” I decided that I would go see a movie and luckily, I had happened upon the Arclight theater when walking down Vine. I had walked through the Arclight on Friday with Stephy to get to Amoeba. It was recommended that I should see a film there because of the unique experience it offered. So that was the plan…I decided to take in a 12:05pm showing of Iron Man…a film which I was previously not so thrilled to see. However, there was a sense of curiosity after hearing of it’s colossal opening weekend box office intake and overwhelmingly positive reviews. As I approached the ticket counter and told the cashier what I wanted to see, he responded by asking me “where I wanted to sit”. A box office cashier had never asked me this before. This question was usually reserved for whichever friend you were going to see a movie with. As it turns out, Arclight has assigned seating and ushers to show you to your seat. Pretty cool.

Anyway, as I entered theater 10 an usher was speaking telling people to stay until after the credits were over for a special surprise. Another usher showed me to seat 16N and as I sat through a host of interesting trailers I readied myself for the ultimate movie experience. I don’t really feel like wasting time on a film review here since this post is already ultra-long, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. was great in it and I generally just felt like I was having fun the entire movie. As for what happens after the credits…you’ll just have to see for yourself.

When I left the Arclight theater after the end of Iron Man, I more or less headed back to Jill and Phil’s place for a little R&R and even a shower prior to heading out for the evening activity. I had procured several tickets for the Mets vs. Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on the cheap thanks to a ticket offer my Aunt spied in the Los Angeles times a few days before. Nevermind the fact that I lost that ticket offer and we had to make frantic calls to see if anyone had an old newspaper…the point is…we got the tickets.

At around 6:15 Phil arrived home from work and we headed up to the stadium…parking in Echo Park for free rather than making our way up to stadium lot. We got a beer at a bar called The Short Stop that was riddled with a pre-game Dodger fan crowd. By the time we left the bar Jill had joined us and the first pitch was thrown. We were eventually met by Terra at the will call window and I left a ticket for Maureen there as well.

By the time we got inside it was nearly the third inning and the Dodgers were up by 2, which was a total bummer. We grabbed a beer and found our seats that were kind of far back near the right field foul pole. They weren’t great seats but they weren’t bad. Just being at the game though in the company of my good friends was good enough for me.

Maureen showed up a good inning later and we had a few beers as the Dodgers increased their lead on the hapless Metropolitans. Oh the agony. Despite the way the game was going this was a more than pleasant last hurrah in the Los Angeles area. One of my pet peeves though with the game was the “Dodger Dog”. Dodger Dogs are a wonder of marketing. The name makes you think there must be something special about it, when in reality it’s just a normal foot long. hot dog. There’s nothing on it. I put ketchup and onions but aside from that…nothing. I think if they’re going to make Dodger Dogs from now on they have to put chili on it or have the bun shaped like a mitt.

A Suggestive Picture of Me Enjoying a Dodger Dog

Aside from my beef with the Dodger Dog, the game seemed to be moving entirely too fast. I thought the game would be an exciting hard fought battle that would take a few more hours, but the Dodger pitchers blazed through the Mets lineup and made it seem like the shortest game ever. Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to Maureen and Terra and heading back with Phil and Jill.

On our way back we stopped briefly at Little Joy, where we had been the previous night. After that we found ourself at a German bar called the Red Lion. We sat down on the first floor and ate some German food while watching an old man play pop songs on his keyboard. As we sat there watching him, Phil tried to convince me to get up and start singing on the mic next to him. I refused until Phil bugged me and the piano player enough to perform Pour Some Sugar On Me. Keep in mind, this was not karaoke night, so I didn’t have the lyrics. At best I gave a half hearted attempt and tried to get the audience a little bit into it. The piano player then got a few more songs in for me and other bar patrons to sing. Before I knew what to do more people wanted a hold of the mic and I obliged. I sort of just wanted to get out of there…and after a few songs that’s just what we did.

Karaoke…Sort Of

Upon returning back to Los Feliz, Jill went to bed and Phil and I talked for a bit before I hit the couch. My trip to LA was more or less over. By around 11am give or take the next morning, I was off to Irvine…but not before battling Jill’s cat’s to make sure I didn’t let any of them out of the apartment when I left.

I arrived at my Aunt Melanie’s in Irvine around Noon…and though we didn’t have a baseball game to go to…there was still more we could do. My aunt and uncle took me back to Crystal Cove to show me the examples of “Eclectic California Beach Architecture” I had missed out on before. One of the shacks in question was a house used in the movie Beaches. I took a picture in front of it to be lame. Actually these cabins on the beach are pretty much an awesome deal. The 1-2 person ones go for as little as $31/night. If you want a cheap no frills stay directly on the beach in Southern California, I don’t think you can beat it.

“Eclectic California Beach Architecture”

Did You Ever Know This House Is My Hero? It is The Wind Beneath My Wings

Once my tour of beach abodes ended, we went for a walk around the town of Laguna Beach before heading back to Irvine and readying for dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s favorite Mexican joint, El Matador. Once again, the food was delicious and I was completely stuffed. My trip was in effect over. All I had to do was wake up the next day, make sure I had all of my stuff and I was as good as gone…and that’s basically what happened. Once again Jet Blue was right on time and I even landed at JFK a little early.

Overall, If I was asked to summarize my California experience, I would probably say a little anxious, rushed, and somewhat uncomfortable…but all in all the fun won out. I couldn’t help but think the haphazard way I went about planning my trip I was inconveniencing people. Yet at the same time some people came through with flying colors. Also a lot of the time driving the freeway I found myself thinking to much about how I was going to get places and overthinking how things were going to be with the next person I was going to see. I don’t think there were necessarily any overly emotional moments about seeing the people I hadn’t seen in awhile. It was pleasant, but not overwhelming. I sort of felt an emptiness as I trekked around looking for things to fill my time. That’s not to say I don’t care for the people I spent my time with. I most certainly do…but I don’t think you can truly feel a rush of warmth and companionship in an hour at lunch or three hours at a bar. These are things that have to build up and remain consistent over time. In a way though, the trip was good because it made it apparent that I d0n’t need to be in Los Angeles, though there are certainly a few people on the West Coast that I could do with seeing more often.

In any case, I’d like to thank everyone for their hospitality especially my Aunt Melanie and Uncle Doug…as well as Phil and Jill for putting up with me for so many days. You guys were awesome. Hopefully, we’ll all be together soon. Maybe next year in Jerusalem.

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Sundays Will Never Be The Same

Posted by evankessler on September 25, 2007

On September 29, 1991 while my father was being stripped of his living privileges, gasping for his last breaths in our downstairs bathroom and later on his bed, I watched on as New York Giants rookie Running back Jarrod Bunch was being stripped of the ball by Cowboys Safety Ray Horton en route to a defensive touchdown. To this day I hold a grudge against Jarrod Bunch for his subpar play that day and subsequent meaningless career. I could’ve began to hate football after that, since one of my worst moments was now associated with it. However, many of my best memories with my father were of all of the Sundays we spent rooting for the New York Football Giants.

Several days after my father passed, our close family friend Bruce Ullman was over our house and we were discussing Football. He asked if I wanted to make picks against him for the games each week and I happily agreed to a little friendly competition as I was confident I could beat him. From that moment on Sundays took on a new meaning, every Sunday I sat in front of the TV with my picks in front of me hoping to beat Bruce in our friendly pick off. I wrote down my picks and marked where Bruce’s picks differed with a capital letter B inside a circle. This friendly rivalry didn’t last just one season. Nearly every week during the football season for the past 16 plus years Bruce and I spoke on the phone to make our weekly picks. Bruce would always ask if I had been following his Hofstra Flying Dutchmen. My reply was always “No” but he made sure to tell me about them anyway. He would ask how the ladies were treating me and if the Mets were playing well we’d discuss them too. The one point of contention in our relationship was that he was a Jets fan and I, a Giants fan. I had a theory that all Jets fans and Yankees fans are horrific, deplorable human beings, so therefore all Jets fans must be Yankee fans. Bruce threw a wrench into that theory as both a Jet and Met fan and by his nature being the polar opposite of horrific and deplorable. Every now and again Bruce and I missed a phone call due to extenuating circumstances. On those weeks I’d assume that we would disagree on the results of the Jets and Giants games.

For the first few years of our competition there was no prize, just bragging rights. I won a few years, Bruce won a few. When I was in college or maybe just out we decided the prize would be that the loser had to take the winner to lunch. I collected once, but at the last count I probably owed him two or three meals. Sadly, I won’t be able to treat him to those meals as he passed away prior to this past weekend before his time and before we had the opportunity to make our week 3 picks. I made them for him anyway. The only places we differed were that he had the Jets winning and the Giants losing. We broke even but he’s still up 4 games on the season.

Posted in Football, football picks, New York Giants, New York Mets | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Beat The Mets

Posted by evankessler on October 20, 2006

If I was ever going to use a sad face emoticon, now would be the time. Fortunately, I have no desire to ever use an emoticon instead I will just place a picture of what I look like after spending the last 3 and a half hours watching Game 7 of the NLCS, Mets vs. Cardinals, only to see Aaron Heilman give up a home run in the Top of the 9th and Carlos Beltran go down looking with bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

This Is The Face I Make When I’m Sad

And to think last night I was so optimistic after watching the Mets, in person, tie the series up at three games apiece in a thrilling Shea Stadium playoff atmosphere. I feel slightly dejected but take comfort in knowing that they would’ve most likely been swept by the Detroit Tigers in the World Series anyway and that I can finally resume my regular life of actually going to the gym after work and hanging out with people who have no interest in Baseball.

However, my Sundays are still off limits as the Football season is in full swing, though I am open for suggestions this weekend as the Giants don’t play until Monday. Alright, I think I’ve said enough but I must alert you that you have only a few days left to vote in the Sweeps Week Sweepstakes 3 posts below.

Posted in baseball, New York Mets | 1 Comment »

Separated At Birth

Posted by evankessler on September 19, 2006

I was watching the sports this evening and it occurred to me that the following folks may have been separated at birth. Follow along below:


You may not see it right now but watch a Jacksonville Jaguars game and I promise you may just see the uncanny resemblence Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio bears to Shooter McGavin.


Maybe you can’t tell with the hat on but Mets slugger Carlos Delgado is pretty much a dead ringer for Darius “Hootie” Rucker.

In other news, I have a proposition for the New York Post. I think they should run a column every Sunday called “Saturday Night with Jeter and Wright” where they follow Derek Jeter and David Wright around New York City in a season long competition over who can get the most ladies. Even though I hate Jeter I think he would win at this point but give Wright a year or two and it’ll be close. This would be motivation for me to pick up the Sunday post without fail every weekend.

Alright, enough sports stuff, it’s late and I must sleep.

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Met Offensive

Posted by evankessler on May 26, 2006

Well, it’s been quite the uneventful week. Most of the days have been spent indoors looking for jobs and watching the New York Mets on the TV. Though I did spend some time out of doors reading the Vladimir Nabokov classic “Lolita”. Today was somewhat of a change as it was all outside and all M-E-T-S METS!!!! The weather was exceptionally beautiful for a day game at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens as the New York Mets took on the Philadelphia Phillies for final game of their three game series. The Mets had won the first two contests via comeback and were looking to sweep the series. Unfortunately, they had the usually atrocious Jeremi Gonzalez pitching and Craig K, John K, and myself had the feeling we’d be in for a long day that did not favor our favorite team. Our fears caught up with us rather early as Gonzalez gave up 3 runs in the first but if we have learned anything from the 2006 Mets, it’s that these guys can come back. Several innings later the resilient Mets struck back has Jose Reyes hit a 3-run homer knotting the game up at 3 apiece. The scoring stopped for awhile but in the Top of the 7th the Phillies regained the lead and would hold on to take the game 5-3. The two highlights of the game have to be when a foul ball landed one row down and three seats over from me, directly into the hands of the guy sitting there and the completely idiotic comments being peppered at the struggling home team players on the ball field. It’s amazing how uncreative and obvious fans can be as the people several rows behind me yelled “HIT THE BALL!” and “You suck.” I don’t know what I expect them to say but it’s sort of obvious to yell to the player below to make contact when in fact that’s the very thing he’s attempting to do. I’m not much of a talker or yeller when it comes to games. I don’t mind loud clapping but superfluous instruction is really where I draw the line, even if I’ve paid money and my team is losing. Oh well, chalk another one up to the hex of my attendance. I think I have a pretty awful record when it comes to attending my favorite teams’ games. The majority of Rangers, Mets, Giants, and Orangemen contests have resulted in losing efforts. Perhaps, I should stop attending sporting events altogether as it seems the teams would benefit greatly and most of the time I enjoy watching the game on TV much more because you avoid obnoxious onlookers.

Speaking of sports, I would like to applaud the NFL for trying to lure Florida Governor and Presidential Brother Jeb Bush to fill it’s soon to be vacant Commissioner position. It is of my opinion that National Football League was just doing its part in trying to prevent a Jeb Bush Presidential run by waving the shiny apple of the highest position in America’s most popular sport, right in front of his face. Unfortunately for the people of the United States, Bush did not take the bait. Oh well, Back to the drawing board. Somebody sweeten the pot. Frankly, I’d rather be Commissioner of the NFL than President of The U.S.A. because the pay is better and nobody blames you for thousands of people dying. Also, you probably have a lot less chance of being killed if you’re the commissioner of a football league. I’d take the higher paying less enemy having job. Big mistake Jeb.

Alright, well I know it’s early but I have to hit the mattress (I’m out of hay). I’ve got a big day with two job interviews tomorrow. Cross your fingers and knock on wood or something. If all goes well, we’re going out and I’m buying, but one at a time I can’t take all of you.

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Why Is This Week Different From All Other Weeks?

Posted by evankessler on April 14, 2006


Well for one it’s the first week in a long time that I’ve hung around my family for two whole days in a row. That has to be some sort of record. However, there are several more reasons that it is different. It’s probably the first time I’ve been to a Broadway show in 10 or so years and it has also brought us the beginning of the Passover (Pesach) holiday. It’s a shame with all of that going on I haven’t managed to make even a dollar through my store or from working.

Tuesday during the day (wow, no seque, eh?) I did some wandering around as well as Met game watching before meeting my family at Joe Allen for some Pre-theater dinner on 46th street. The meal was okay if unremarkable but there was much anticipation in the air prior to venturing into the critically lauded Broadway producton of Spamalot. I tend to be skeptical of most adaptations or remade productions, as well as movies or shows that everyone raves about, so I was extremely apprehensive heading into the Monty Python and The Holy Grail based Spamalot. As I walked through the doors to the theatre I saw the Broadway tourist machine spring into motion. There was any number of Spamalot related products; original cast recordings, programs, and shirts. Though I was pleased to see the acknowledgement of the plays origin on the souvenir table, as there were Monty Python live DVD’s and a Monty Python documentary. Perhaps my favorite item was the Killer Rabbit stuffed animal. It may have been the best piece of Broadway merchandising and though skeptical of what awaited me I let out an amused chuckle.

Now, to be honest I’m not a fan of Broadway musicals. I’ve always abhorred people breaking out into song for no good reason. There are very few instances in which I find an inspired burst into song to be acceptable. The first acceptable instance is while I’m in the shower. I’ve given myself that license. Probably the only other acceptable musical outburst has to do with South Park episodes or movies. Team America: World Police and South Park Bigger, Longer, and Uncut contain some of the most memorable songs to date. However, on stage outbursts about forbidden love and dancing children are things I wish to avoid at all costs. As the show began, a historian came out to describe Middle Ages England, which led to a performance of a song about Finland, loosely derived from a similar song on one of the Monty Python comedy albums but adapted to be even more silly for the stage. Normally, if anything is changed from the way I originally remembered it I am immediately bothered, but I did not feel irked in the least. Instead, I felt an odd mixture of amusement, delight, and relief that told me everything was going to be okay, and it was. I was aware that they probably could not have adapted Monty Python And The Holy Grail as it was to the stage and they changed it around enough to make me feel like I was seeing something familiar yet fresh. It seemed as though a large portion of the musical aimed at taking the piss out of Broadway and the institution of the Broadway Musical. Nothing seemed sacred as the traditional Broadway love ballad was lampooned, heroic masculine knights came out of the closet, obscenities were unleashed in front of children, and it was declared “you can’t make it to Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.” During the song which contained the latter sentiment, I wondered how many Midwestern people in the audience who may have never met a Jew felt awkward about laughing.

Though some of my favorite moments of the movie did not make it into the production I was glad to see the Prince Herbert in the tower scene as well as “The Knights who say Ni” amongst other scenes. By the end of the show I was smiling and glad I made it out to the theatre for such an event. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it back there in another 10 years or so.

After the play, my brother went to some benefit thingy and I went with my mom and Step-dad in the car back to Rockland County (that’s where all of The Rock comes from) for Passover. The Seder was Wednesday and what would be the point of taking a train home the next day if I didn’t have any work on Wednesday. Hey, free ride. Forty-Five minutes later we were home and my house was freezing. I don’t know what it is, but my mom likes to keep the house on ice. I think I saw my breath at some point while watching TV.

Wednesday morning came after a lovely ten-hour sleep on my lovely comfy childhood bed. This came after a three hour Monday night sleep. I was thankful for the extra time. Crankiness would’ve been the order of the day had my mother woken me up at some ungodly hour. My day in Rockland was spent doing more job perusal on the Internet. So really it was no different from my life at my apartment. The highlight of my day was when my mom sent me to the Stop ‘n’ Shop to pick up some missing seder ingredients. The highlight of that highlight was when I was walking in the supermarket and realized that the aisle the candles I had to get were in was called the “Super Savings Spot”. It seemed as though I was living out a scene in a movie about suburban boredom as I mindlessly trolled down the fluorescent-lit aisles with floors so clean you could eat off looking for macaroons and chocolate matzos. Though to be fair, those items were in the special Passover aisle, not the” Super Savings Spot”. Okay, wait when I said the “Super Savings Spot” was the highlight of my trip home but really it was the actual ride to and from the Supermarket. There’s no better place to listen to music than your car when you are alone. On my way home from the Stop ‘n’ Shop (formerly Grand Union throughout my childhood) I blasted the new Loose Fur album while driving through the curvy mountainous neighborhood with the windows down. It was one of those all time great feelings that I miss but I feel that if I were living somewhere that such an occurrence was commonplace, it would somehow mean less.

At around 6:30 pm the Seder gathering commenced. Longtime family friends Rhona, Stuart, Camille, Jack, and Nerissa joined us. As usual we only made it through the halfway point of the Seder. We only ever make it to the 2nd cup of wine, which is when you’re supposed to eat the meal. What a meal it was though, Turkey, Brisket, Matzo Ball Soup, Sweet Potatoes, grilled mix vegetables. It was a vast array of delicious food. Afterwards we’re either too stuffed or too uninterested in continuing. We left out the tradition where you’re supposed to open the door for Elijah the Prophet to come in and drink a cup of wine that you leave out for him. We left the cup out for him; we just didn’t let him in. I’m sure Elijah didn’t have a problem finding other Jews in the neighborhood. He probably got drunk before he got to our door and decided he’s call it a night anyway. We sat down and had a nice dessert and soon after everyone left. I drove my car back into the city with my brother while listening to the Minus 5 album. Really the best place to sit and listen to a new album is on a long car drive, or at least a car drive that can last an entire album. You can really figure out if you like an album or not in that time. If you start skipping songs right off the bat, maybe it’s not such a good album. Anyway, that was Seder day.

I woke up this morning, Thursday, at around 9:45am and no calls for work came in. I did a little job hunt but then decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and do a little reading in Washington Square Park for an hour. I’ve got about 70 pages left in A Confederacy of Dunces. I thought I’d finish it before and it’s not that I’m reading slow but sometimes I’m taking a couple of days between going back to it. I am really enjoying it though and I’m excited to be nearing the end since I really am not sure where it could be going. Well that’s not completely true, I see a convergence of characters but the outcome remains a mystery to me and I think that really makes a difference between good literature and crappy literature.

When I got back from the park I sat down to watch the Mets game. I don’t know what to say, the Mets are awesome. I may end up talking about the Mets every day. I know that might bore everyone to death but I was watching the game and I just kept thinking, “I can’t believe how good the Mets are! They just keep getting hits and scoring runs! This is awesome!” Cross your fingers and hope it continues.

I was about to go to the gym at 4:30 when my roommate Ellen came home with beer and her friends Lindsey, Kiera, and J.R. came over. That took care of the rest of the night mostly. When they left and Ellen went to bed I got a drink with Kristin E at Marie’s Crisis. Note to self: Stop drinking so much and go to the gym tomorrow. You’ll probably feel better.

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Let’s Go Mets Go!!!

Posted by evankessler on May 18, 2005

Tonight’s evening activity was most thrilling as Arby and I traveled to Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens to watch the the New York Metropolitans take on the Reds of Cincinatti, Ohio. We arrived in the 2nd inning as we had both left work a tad after 6pm and still had to meet up before taking the 7 train out to the game.

We were anticipating a slugfest and we arrived just in time to see Mike Piazza hit a double. It turns out, the 1st inning had not had much slugging. The only thing we missed were two hits. The game was pretty much a pitcher’s duel between Kaz Ishii of the Mets and Ramon Ortiz of the Reds until Cincinnati got on the board in the top of the 6th inning. The crowd seemed particularly pessimistic until Doug Mientkiewicz got a hit in the bottom of the 7th. Two batters later the slumping Kaz Matsui lifted the Mets out of their doldrums and into the lead with a 2-run home run. The Mets managed to hold onto the lead despite a few anxious moments in the 9th inning. What a sweet night of baseball!!! Next up this week, Earl Pickens at the Sidewalk Café on 6th St. and Avenue A on Thursday between 10-11pm. Come one, come all. It’s going to be a great show.

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Beginning To See The Light

Posted by evankessler on April 7, 2005

Ladies and Gentleman, spring is upon us. It’s time to bask in the warm glow of the sun before the humidity sets in and you can’t wait to be near an air conditioner. We had a beautiful day here in the NYC. Temperatures got up to 69 degrees, the sun was shining and I didn’t have to wear a jacket. Is there anything better than short sleeve weather? I think not. I went for two walks today during work, one to ninth avenue for lunch and one to get ice cream around 4pm. I feel like a covered the basics of taking advantage of spring weather during the work day. The only thing I missed out on was having a drink at an outdoor café or something. I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell do you do at work all day that you have time for this?” Well the answer is, I actually had a pretty full day of work. I wasn’t in edit today but I did interview Mo Rocca for the 2nd time since last Tuesday and I was covering for my producer who was out of the office, so there was plenty to keep me busy. However, I wasn’t going to let the work day keep me from enjoying the nicest day of the year so far, I did what I could to take advantage of it. Besides, the rest of my day after work was pretty lacking.

When I got home I stared blankly at the computer screen for several minutes watching the computer play by play of the Mets vs. Reds since they’re not airing it on TV due to the Cablevision – Time Warner dispute and since I haven’t set up my AM radio antenna to actually listen to the game. They update the website about every 60 seconds and sometimes its not completely caught up to the came action and the screen will read 2 balls and 2 strikes for 3 minutes. It’s basically slow torture. After about 15 minutes and one half of an inning, I realized I had to get out of the house or I’d go insane. I took a walk to Tower Records and bought 3 albums. I’m addicted to buying CD’s. I haven’t even got through the other 3 or 4 CD’s I’ve bought in the last few weeks.

By the time I got back it was the 6th inning and the Mets were losing 5-3 but I was determined to ride out the rest of the game or at least sit there until I got way too bored to keep following the game this way. I made it all the way til the 8th inning but luckily a new episode of South Park came on at 10pm and I gravitated away from the computer and back towards the TV. Ironically, the South Park episode was basically about how boring baseball is.

So that’s my night in all of it’s excitement and glory. I haven’t gone out drinking since Friday. Weird, I think that’s some sort of record. I’m going to call Guinness and have them check.
Oh, just another thought. I was reading a news article today that the rapper C-Murder (real name Corey Miller) was changing his stage name to C Miller. The reason for this is that several months ago he was convicted for 2nd degree murder (how ironic) and said that his name was ruining his chances for a 2nd appeal. As if calling yourself C-Murder isn’t idiotic enough, it took him until after his conviction and the failure of his appeal to figure out that the name C-Murder doesn’t sound so good in court.

C-Murderer?

You’d think his lawyer might have recommended this name change beforehand. Changing his name now seems like a moot point. If I went to prison for murder (knock on wood) I think a name like C-Murder might keep me a little safer in the showers and prison yard more so than C Miller would. Just a thought I had. Okay, I’m done. Goodnight.

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