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Atlantic Avenue Beach, 1984?

Posted by evankessler on December 3, 2010

Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water colored mem- oh, okay enough of that. We’re all painfully aware that if  there’s one thing Facebook is great for it’s reliving the past. A seemingly unending stream of friend requests and photo tags often give way to an overflow of both wanted and unwanted nostalgia. There’s no shortage of people posting pictures from their youth, which also so happens to have been your youth–often to your chagrin. Now, I for one haven’t gotten around to scanning old images from my childhood, but sometimes I’m glad that others have.

This Thanksgiving an old friend from my early childhood summers in the Hamptons tagged me in a photo from those long gone but certainly not forgotten days spent making sand forts on Atlantic Avenue beach with a boyish band of brothers and close acquaintances. The images brought me back to the carefree days when I was deathly afraid to step foot in the ocean and frequented the Beach Treat in search of Marino’s Italian Ices and Pineapple Dole Whips. Ahh, those were the days.

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The San Francisco Treat

Posted by evankessler on June 18, 2009

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It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve indulged in a portion of Chicken Rice-a-Roni, but I had an odd craving for the entree accessory as my plane touched down at San Francisco Airport early afternoon on Thursday.  It had been a largely uncomfortable experience on my flight.  Either the seat in front of me didn’t  have much in the way of working mechanics or the guy in front of me was really heavy, because he did a good job leaning well past the upright and locked position before, during, and after takeoff.   I thought American Airlines had limited personal space, but my this journey via Delta took the proverbial cake.  Oh well, I guess I can’t complain.  To paraphrase Louis CK, the ability to travel via airplane is kind of a miracle.  I got the opportunity to fly in the air and 6 hours later I was somewhere else.  That somewhere else was a place I hadn’t been in around 24 years to see a friend I hadn’t seen in, well, several months.  All of that aside, I was near all sorts of interesting things, the San Andreas Fault being one of them.  I was secretly hoping to experience a low magnitude tremor, but was glad it didn’t strike the moment the landing gear made contact with the runway.

As I left the plane and headed towards the pickup gate, I was met by my old roommate and cue balled confidante, Sean M. Months prior whilst enjoying a beer in NYC my good friend and his wife had invited me out to their humble abode to take part in their major BBQ festivities during the 2nd weekend of June.  Who was I to turn them down?  Well, I was one broke Hebrew, but that didn’t stop me as I wielded my skymiles with panache and ultimately set foot on West Coast soil.  I was glad to be there and ready to take the Bay area by storm.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

Sean and I made bee line for his apartment, a one bedroom with an absolutely breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard St amongst other things, in the North Beach section of town.  He quickly  informed me that he wouldn’t be able to immediately perform his hosting duties as he had to take his lovely wife Masharika for a haircut, which he would be on hand for for moral support.  I was none too put out by this, as I had some San Francisco plans on the horizon anyway.

First order of business, make a visit to my friends at OneRiot.  Funny thing was, the moment I got to Sean’s apartment, I sort of knew where I was going.  I had looked up the start point and the finish point on the map prior to going to California and already determined that I would take the scenic route.  All I had to do was walk up the hill on Sean’s block and walk down the other side to The Embarcadero and follow it Southeast, which was to say make a right when I got to it.  Then, when I got to Brannen St, all I had to do was make a right and I’d be pretty close.  Sounded easy enough.

No Hill Too Steep!

No Hill Too Steep! (Well It Wasn't That Steep Yet)

So with that I started up the steep hill, which may have been “Telegraph Hill” but I could’ve made that up.  All the while, I was making a few phone calls which ended up accompanied by heavy panting as my calves propelled my body toward the top.  When I reached the end of the road, I was met with even steeper stairs.  From afar the end of the road look as if it could have been the high point of the hill, but it was not so.  It was another couple of minutes of upward trajectory, before I found stairs going the opposite direction.  There seemed an endless array of stairs heading down prompting me to think they should’ve made an 70’s era show called “The Stairs of San Francisco” instead of “The Streets…”   As I walked downward through thills with the waterfront and The Bay Bridge in sight, I noticed that I was surrounded by residences.  These residences didn’t have driveways and were nestled in this scenic hilly region.  I wondered how much of a bitch it was for the people who lived there to move in or get large amounts of groceries inside on a given day.  Nonetheless, they were very attractive residences and probably quite pricey.

Behold, The Embarcadero!

Behold, The Embarcadero!

As I finally found my way down to the Embarcadero through Levi (of Blue Jeans fame) Plaza.  It kind of felt like I was roaming through a college quad.  After emerging through that area and hitting the road, I walked along the opposite sidewalk for a bit before crossing towards the piers. The Embarcadero was a wind tunnel of sorts.  I felt sort of nerdy liking the fact that I was walking along the “Embarcadero” since it was a word in one of my favorite songs.  I was listening to other things on my iPod but I couldn’t help feel cool thinking the lyrics, “dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies, I sat and watched you bleed.”  The view was rather nice and I enjoyed looking at the ocean and the piers.  I couldn’t imagine such harsh occurrences as Jeff Tweedy sang about happening there.

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

Soon enough I came to the street where I thought the park where I was supposed to meet my OneRiot editor, Carmel.  Only, I for some reason thought the park would be a major deal right off of the Embarcadero.  I was a bit off.  After a few phone calls we finally straightened up the directions and we encountered for the first time, despite having known each other somewhat since 2007, in a little area by the name of South Park.

It was a bit of an odd encounter.  Not uncomfortable, just funny in the way that you have such an online rapport with someone and not really being sure what to expect of them in person.  That being said, she was perfectly lovely and inviting.  She invited me into our site’s office, which was actually a shared space between several sites with two desks allotted to our operation.  We sat and talked for a bit and had a few moments of awkward silence while she edited a post. Shortly after that it was off for a friendly drink at a pretty sweet bar called the 21st Amendment.  We enjoyed some more getting to know you even though I sort of already know you chatter and she picked up the tab as we indulged in some beer and tempura string beans.  Though, during our talk I received a call from Sean and I figured that Carmel might have to get back to work anyway.  So after our brief, yet lovely meeting, we said our goodbyes and I took off again down the city streets.

Sean instructed me to follow 3rd Street down and I would run into him.  I took his word for it and enjoyed my stroll down the scenic avenue.  I even ran into Sean’s wife with her freshly lopped locks (covered by a hat) going for a jog.  It seemed kind of funny to me that I could so easily run into someone like that.  Sure we weren’t far from their home, but I was starting to like this city.  It seemed pleasant enough.

On my way to encounter Sean I stopped to take a photo of a huge California flag swaying in the breeze, which just so happened to be in front of San Francisco’s tallest building.

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

I know that because Sean told me just after I took the picture.  That’s where we ended running into him.  From there it was back to Sean’s hood for a drink.  His area was basically Little Italy, but it bordered on Washington Square and Greenwich St.  Funnily enough, when Sean and I lived together in NYC, we lived pretty close to those two things.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth.  That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth. That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

Our first stop for a drink was the Columbus Cafe where the crowd gathered to watch the Magic-Lakers game.  The first thing I noticed at the bar though was a dude just hanging out there wearing a snuggie.  That seemed pretty stupid.  Other than that, I liked the vibe of the bar though and there was a 2 for 1 special, though I never got to use my #2 beer chip.  Sean stood there drinking our beer as we watched a little girl sing the national anthem.  A graphic flashedon the screen, “The Magic are 7-0 when ____ ____ Sings.”  For some reason we both thought this was hilarious.  Well, The Magic won the game so I guess it worked.

The next stop on my “just got into town” tour of SF was dinner at Capp’s Corner, a favorite old school family-style Italian joint of Sean’s.  We were met by a good deal of Sean’s family.  Sean’s parent’s were there, his relatives from Newcastle in England, and his godmother (also a Brit) joined us for some festive fare.  We were later joined by Sean’s brother Ian and Masharika.  I enjoyed my hearty dinner of Veal Milanese, Minestrone soup, and salad as well as the lively conversation.

After dinner Sean’s family went to catch a play next door and Sean, Masharika and I headed out to the Mission to meet up with Ian and catch a movie in Dolores Park.  First, we made a pitstop at a bodega for some beer before heading over.  With a fresh 12 pack of Modelo Especial in our hand we moseyed on over to the park and quickly found Sean’s brother Ian who was enjoying the company of his friends near the back of the crowd seated in front of a reasonably sized outdoor screen.  There were several blankets spread out over the expanse and our threesome was welcomed to the fray.  I sat next to another couple visiting from Manhattan and made some small talk about New York City before settling in with a drink and surveying the action.  Prior to the film starting they had a survey asking  “what would ‘Jew’ like to see?” in reference to the next film at the park.  It was the choice between two Woody Allen films, Zelig and Annie Hall.  I made my displeasure known to my immediate surroundings about the offensiveness of the obvious pun.  Ian and I did a little hooting and hollering, which I think was unheard in general.

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Soon enough, it was time for the movie to begin.  The film we were to take in was Sita Sings The Blues, the director’s animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic, The Ramayana, which unfortunately can’t get a wide release due to musical copyright issues. Prior to the film actually starting, the guy doing the intro who wasn’t the director talked about how the film personally affected him, which was kind of annoying since it seemed like the kind of discussion you have after you see a movie. None of us knew what he was talking about so hearing him drone on just seemed like an impediment to actually watching the movie.

When the movie finally began, I have to say, I found it to be clever and likeable.  Unfortunately, I also found the atmosphere of the park to be uncomfortable due to my ass on the uneven ground and the brisk wind sweeping through the premises.  There was an overwhelming sense of “brrrr” that alcohol couldn’t defend us against.  Despite enjoying the content of the film, the weather forced the hand dealt by our impatience and discomfort.

Just like that, after a few trips to the darkened port-a-potty, we were off to seek indoor refuge at a bar in the Mission.  I have no idea what bar it was where we chose to down a few, but I found the atmosphere to be rather pleasant.  We hung out with one of Ian and Sean’s mutual acquaintances for a brew or two.  I think her name was Nicole.  Once that was done we headed back to North Beach for a night cap at one of Sean’s favorite neighborhood joints, a classy lounge by the name of Tony Nik’s Cafe.

My memory of our time there is a little fuzzy.  I know there was an odd conversation with a female tourist from Cleveland, but the content of that conversation is not something that I could pull from my the depths of my cranium if I wanted to.  Sean maintained the next day that she had been hitting on us, to which I say, “good for us.”

The next morning I awoke feeling a tad bit hungover, but I didn’t fret, because the chalkboard on Sean’s bathroom wall alerted me that this was the Summer of Fun.  So I knew my slight pain would fade away and be overtaken by good feeling.

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

At Sean’s behest I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios after which I stared blankly and wondered just what the day had in store.  Sean was leaving to pick up some essentials for the next day’s BBQ.  Just after finishing up with showertime, Masharika walked in and asked if I was up for breakfast.  Despite having just partaken in some cold oat O’s, I thought I could use some more sustenance to chase away the hangover blues. And just like that we were out the door to meet Masharika’s friends in town from DC at the Buena Vista down by Fisherman’s Wharf, a spot renowned for it’s Irish Coffee.

When we got there we were greeted by Tanaz, Janine, Danilo, the latter two of which I had met several months back at John’s Pizza in New York.  I was pretty much against drinking for awhile that day, but when everyone sat down and ordered a coffee drink that included alcohol I felt compelled to join in.  I ordered the Baileys Irish Cream Coffee as a tribute to my British friends. After taking our order the waitress returned with the coffees and as we pored over the menu joked that she’d be back in 20 minutes to take the rest of our order….at least she thought she was joking.  It may have taken longer than that as I was nearly out of water and my coffee drink was all but done when I finally got to order my cinnamon french toast.  By the time our food was brought out in a casual fashion, Masharika had made the decision to join her husband in running errands for the next few hours and our party of five had dwindled to four.

The food itself was utterly pedestrian.  My french toast came drenched in butter and was rather bland.  Everyone else seemed equally unimpressed.  Once we finished our meal the waitress took what seemed like another half hour to get our bill.  Once we got the bill, it took her another ten minutes to actually let us pay it.  As the spanish say, “Que riduculo!”

It was probably somewhere around 1pm when we finally got out of there and started heading back towards North Beach via the Wharf.  Janine, Danilo, Tanaz and I met up with their friend Anya with infant in tow and moseyed along the water taking in the view of Alcatraz and eventually the masses of  blubbery sea lions lazing about on wooden docks “ort ort-ing” and flapping about ’til their heart’s content.

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

At some point one of us received a phone call becking us back to the North Beach area to meet up with our hosts and partake in some delicious california style burrito deliciousness, but having just finished up some mediocre eats, we were not in a rush.  Instead we slowly made our way towards little Italy, stopping for some tasty Italian pastries along the way at a shop called Mara’s.  I stood in line wondering what to get, when a helpful woman seemed to appear out of nowhere and suggest a circular raspberry treat.  I couldn’t deny an out of the blue recommendation, so I indulged in fruity yet flaky goodness.

Italian Pastry Goodness

Italian Pastry Goodness

Once we all finished with our snacks we headed back up to Sean and Masha’s where we snagged a beer.  We were also met by their friends Mike and Barbara, whom I had also met in NY at some point during my tenure with Sean.  The next stop was Pancho Villa’s in the Mission district.

We pulled up to a spot in a seemingly questionable part of town with a playground and some rather sloppy folks hanging around it.  Regardless of the seedy characters hanging about, we floated right past them with the thought of burritos on the brain.  The entrance to Pancho Villa’s was graced with a security guard, and just inside a mariachi band belted out Mexican tunes to a lengthy line of hungry locals.  Despite the cafeteria-esque atmosphere, there was a feeling of overwhelming pleasantness that filled the air. Maybe it was the fact that we were about to indulge in some ultra-deliciousness.I ordered from the vast menu of burrito options.  One Chicken Burrito Especial.  Perfect.  I waited in line and got a Modelo to compliment my meal and sat down with the crew ready to taste a sublime San Francisco treat.

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

I was not at all disappointed.  Not only was this concoction pleasing to the palate, but it was wrapped with what could best be equated with German-style engineering.  This this was not leaking fluid.  It was an air-tight package that kept deliciousness in and drippage from seeping out.

Following our tasty outing, we took a brief walk through the seedier section of the mission only to realize that our parking meters were running out.  It didn’t really matter though as the group split up.  I went back to Sean’s and Mash’s place though and hung out as they readied their apartment for a big adult dinner with visiting friends. As they did, we enjoyed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and a Pittsburgh Penguin victory.

Slowly but surely people piled in.  There were some familiar faces as far as people who had visited back in Bleecker Street days.  There were also children, running about, wrestling, and ultimately learning lessons about how it’s not idea to bounce your head on the couch as it will sometimes throw you in a direction where you might ricochet off into a table.  That’s the magic of having kids around; you get to watch as they learn what not to do.

Dinner itself was absolutely delicious.  Despite having previous stuffed myself several hours before.  I took part in three carnitas and some tasty dessert.  This was not a good idea as I was also drinking at the time.  I didn’t feel nauseated or anything.  It just felt as though my body had been filled with meat and beer to it’s maximum capacity.

As the party filter out, a few of us were left standing.  Sean wanted to go out to the bars.  I wasn’t sure I had it in me since my stomach felt as though it could explode with further alchoholic endeavors, but seeing as I was in SF for the first time in 24 years, I went with the flow.

This Bavik's For Me!

This Bavik's For Me!

Our first stop of the night was a laid back lounge/bar called ChurchKey.  They had a great beer selection and a cozy upstairs.  I couldn’t help but feel out of the conversation.  I wasn’t out of my element or annoyed at the company.  I just couldn’t help but think how full I felt as I casually sipped my Bavik.  We didn’t have time to get comfortable at the first bar though, as soon after most folks finished their drink, the party raged on to bar #2.  Our next top was a club/bar called Mojito.

Upon entry, I immediately opted out of the alcohol sweepstakes, preferring to sip water and watch the slightly above average live hip-hop act performing.  The real performance to watch though was that of a particular white couple who were really grooving on the dancefloor.  I was transfixed and I’m pretty sure my friend Summer would’ve been too as she recently alerted me that she really enjoys watching white people dance.  With this display of robotic movement and arrhythmia, I could not blame her.

The night didn’t last much longer after that.  Two drinks into our stay at Mojito it was time to call it quits.  We were back at the homestead ready to say goodnight…for Saturday would be a big day.

When I woke up the next day wheels had already been turning at a feverish pace.  Sean and Masha were back and forth seemingly prepping for they huge BBQ in Krissy Field.  I slowly rose to an alert state and with my two hosts gone, setting up their station in the Park, I took a stroll down to Washington Square (the very same square where Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe as was jokingly repeated all weekend) to take in a bit of the North Beach Festival occurring there.  I wandered around the grounds a bit marvelling at the differences between East Coast and West Coast events.  Not that there were many, but there was a granola stand which seemed more West Coast hippie to me and a big featured food tent trumpeted their specialty of Garlic Crab Fries.  Interesting.

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I took in some female singer’s performance and continued my direcitonless pacing kind of hoping I might run into someone I knew that I didn’t know lived in SF.  While that didn’t happen, I ran into Mash’s friend Anya and her son who were in the company of another friend named Cassie.  I sat with them awhile, but I had already put a call in to my friend Katie from back in my days at Ramapo.  We had plans to meet at the big Krissy Field BBQ.  Katie called and asked me when she should leave.  I told her the later of the two options as I had not yet begun my walk to the party site and Sean’s wife had said that it would take me 30 minutes.

At around 12:35, I headed out of the park towards another.  I went up Sean’s street, up the hill, down the hill, over Levi Plaza and out to the Embarcadero, just like two days before.  Instead of making a right however, I made a left in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I walked past the wharf feeling like I was almost where I needed to be.  I saw some greenery up ahead, but alas when I looked at the signs, I was not at Krissy Field.  I stopped into a store to ask a girl how far I was.  She had no idea where I was talking about and told me walking would take me another three hours.  This couldn’t be right.  I completely ignored her advice to take a taxi and stopped into the next store.  They told me it would take me another 20 minutes.  Ah…much better.  I was on the right track.

I kept walking towards the bridge, but it still seemed really far away.  Every time I thought I was there, it turned out I was not.  Fort Mason was not Krissy Field.  Further along Fort Mason was not Krissy field.  Then I came to an area that was covered in tents and seemed bustling with people.  I thought I must be just there.  Unfortunately, this was not Krissy Field just yet.  Rather it was the setting for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.  How long til I get there?  I called Sean, he told me I had another mile or two to go.  I was starting to think that the girl in the first store was right.  I worried about whether Katie was just standing in Krissy field wondering where the hell I was.

Not There Yet!

Not There Yet!

FInally, after jogging a bit, I came to the very beginning of Krissy Field.  I walked through some grass and came to a path and just as I did, my phone rang and I looked off in the distance and saw Katie standing there.  Wow, finding her was easy.  Apparently, she had just gotten there as well.  It had been several years since we had seen each other , but she didn’t look very different.  Maybe she did, but I think once you know someone, you kind of always do.  Just like that we were hanging out, though I was slightly distressed about finding the right place.  We were still able to do some valuable catching up on the way.

Sean had told me he was near the picnic house and we were near a picnic house, just not the right one.  Finally after a phone call or two, we straightened out that we had ten to fifteen minutes left to walk.  This wasn’t a huge bother as it was a nice time for more walk and talk catchup.  Finally though, we came to the end of our journey near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was about 2:15, and the party had been raging for an hour or so.  There was a huge crowd of people present, again, some people were familiar and some were not.  I indulged in the tasty but deadly Maddison Juice also known as Sean’s dad’s Sangria and we grabbed some food en route to finding a spot to sit on a hillside where nearby Sean’s friends were indulging in the game some call Cornhole.

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Our View of Cornhole

Our View of Cornhole

My View of Katie

My View of Katie

That was pretty much our spot all afternoon.  We sat around talking about friends, dudes, broads, cities, families, jobs, pants, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and general whatnot; stopping only for refills and watermelon unknowingly soaked in vodka precariously placed  in reach of small children.  There were a few moments where we stopped and mingled with others, but our afternoon was more or less a two person operation.

Around 5pm the party started to disband and I pondered my next stop.   Katie nipped that in the bud though when she asked if I wanted to go with her to meet a sort of ex to get some pants back.  Just like that we were off walking down the road back to wherever we were walking.  I more or less had no concept of where we were.  We ended up at a place called Bar 821, with a bartender named Juan slinging drinks.  Conversation continued interrupted only by the appearance of her ex, whose name currently escapes me.  He stayed for a drink or two.  We had one more there before deciding to tie another on at the establishment next store, one Mini Bar SF.  It was there we ran into a few of Katie’s friends and I took a brief sojourn across the street for a slice of pizza before rejoining and ultimately going back to Bar 821 where we basically closed the place down.

From there I decided it would be best for me to head back to meet up with Sean, Masharika and the rest of the party across town.  I said a brief goodbye to Katie and  hopped in a cab.  I don’t quite recall where I met up with them but I know the name of the bar had a particularly feminine quality.  We stayed there for one beer, though they’d been there for  longer and had worked themselves into quite a drunken lather.  It wasn’t time to go home just yet as we made one more stop at a dancy joint near The Cannery for a bit more booze and to give some people the opportunity to shake what their mother gave them or deprived them of. It was a rather lively end to the evening, but it closed things out with a bang loud enough to make waking up the next morning an arduous task.

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

By the time I came to on Sunday, Sean and Mash were gone.  I was most distressed about Masharika’s absence as I knew she was meeting up with her friends for some early morning donuts….and not just any donuts. Her friends had heard about a place called Dynamo Donuts whose specialty was an artery clogging confection with maple flavor, apples, and bacon drizzled on like sprinkles.  We had discussed this two days before and I had completely missed out.  My heart is probably happy about that one, but my taste buds are still curious.

Seeing as I took my sweet ass time to actually face the world, Sean was back shortly after I got out of the shower and dressed.  He recommended that I go down to the AT&T Park to check out the stadium, but first we took a stroll through the North Beach festival yet again and I stopped for some tasty sustenance at Golden Boy Pizza.  By the time Sean got me down to the ballpark  the game had already started been in progress awhile, but he told me there was a spot in the outfield where fans could stand and watch the game for free.  I wasn’t sure what this meant, but I said I was game and Sean had to return a host of materials from the previous day’s party to the burbs an hour north, so I didn’t have much to do otherwise.

With that Sean dropped me off by the stadium and I slowly shimmied past the Giants Wall of Fame and statues of Juan Marichal and Willie Mays until I reached the famed McCovey cove where Roid Raging Barry Bonds belted several four-baggers.  I was glad to see several boats with flags showing their allegiance to their hometown team.  A few kayaks roamed the waters also hoping for a long fly ball to rightfield.  As I walked further along the water staring at plaques denoting team and individual (Bonds’) accomplishments, I came to a gated area with a security guard with fans inside.

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

This area was basically inside the right center/right field wall.  You could spit onto the warning track and if a ball rolled to the gate, you’d be at eye level with the outfielder assuming you were the same exact height.  The best part was, it was all free.  Not a ton of fans, but rather a pleasant few filed in to watch some of the game through the fence.  It was kind of enjoyable listening to the radio play by play being pumped through the speakers.  You really got the feeling that the San Francisco Giants really loved their fans to throw this pleasant enough bone to those who might not be able to afford going to the game.  They also had a concession stand open for people standing in this section.  It warmed the cockles of my baseball-loving heart.  I stood in this section for about three whole innings.  Never really getting a great view of the action, but I did see a few hits and a run score.

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

I took off heading into the 9th inning as the Giants were up by 6 and I didn’t want to get in the middle of fan-demonium upon a mass exodus from the stadium.  I wandered around the area unsure what to do.  I had been left no explicit directions as to where anything was.  After some unmotivated hanging around, I started zig zagging down 2nd and 3rd streets.

Eventually, I came to the Moscone Center.  I sat on a bench there for a few minutes unsure of what to do.  I flipped through the San Francisco Chronicle and then continued on. Walking along 3rd I came to a sign that said Yerba Buena Gardens.  I followed the arrow and came to an absolutely breathtaking little park area with a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. in the form of a waterfall sculpture adorned with quotes from the slain civil rights leader.

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

I took it all in and then walked on through a passage I spied which brought me to the Contemporary Jewish Museum which I had seen advertised.  The museum had an impressive facade, but the only area open at the moment I arrived was the store.  I decided to go inside, but as a result of the recent Holocaust museum shooting I went through an extensive security check.  The store itself didn’t impress me much, but I was amused by the series of Jewish Baseball Cards, trumpeting the history of Jews in baseball. I think they were missing a few more prominent members of the tribe as I saw no mention of Sandy Koufax in the deck.

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Once I realized I was none too curious about Hebrew curios and history books I made my way further through the alley and continued down the street.  I noticed I was surrounded by rather ritzy stores all of the sudden.  Sean had previously told me that the Union Square was full of upscale shops.  This made me figure that I was in said area so I ventured further in to look for the actual square.  Lo and behold, I happened upon the aforementioned area marked by an artistic heart rendering and a rather tall monument to Admiral Dewey which is blinding to the eyes when the sun is in full effect.

Approaching Union Square

Approaching Union Square

I did not stick around that region for too long.  I briefly lost my sense of direction though after stepping out of the square.  I regained my composure rather quickly though and continued back towards Sean’s apartment.  On my way though, I happened upon anothe curious sight walking down Kearney.  I looked to my left and noticed the street signs were mostly written in Chinese.  I thought I must be nearing Chinatown.  It was time for another detour.  And with that I took a stroll through Chinatown, ultimately culminated when I figured I had seen enough of the same tea shops and sword souvenirs.

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

I hung a left and headed back towards the avenue I had been on only to stumble upon another landmark; an alley formerly frequented by the beats that had since been renamed for Jack Kerouac.  This area housed the famed bar, Vesuvio and the City lights Bookstore.  These two stops were recommended to me by my good friend Jess I.

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

I felt my accidental sightseeing was nearly complete, but I did a little more street staggering, stopping to gaze briefly upon the beat museum and the row that housed houses of ill repute along my way back to Sean’s.

Billboards of Ill Repute

Billboards of Ill Repute

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

Finally, I walked back through North Beach street fair on my way back to Sean and Mash’s for dinner.  We enjoyed some tasty tacos and called it a weekend.  I hadn’t any desire to hit the town that night.  I was all worn out and ended up just watching Hannah and Her Sisters, under their “Free Movies On Demand” as they packed for an upcoming trip.

Monday morning I woke up bright and early.  Sean drove me to the BART and I took it all the way to the airport, where I caught my Delta flight all the way back to NYC.  The day didn’t end without a few whimpers though.  Upon landing at JFK Airport an hour early at 5:11, we proceeded to sit on the runway for two hours before making our way to the gate.  I understood the bad weather kept some planes from taking off, thus stopping us from having a gate to go to, but the Delta crew couldn’t have been more obnoxious about it.  They treated some of the passengers like petulant children.  Instead of asking them to please stay seated they announced that unbuckling your safety belt was “unacceptable.” When people questioned the crew about their connecting flights, which is usually well within reason, they chided the passengers and made an announcement to not bother them with their concerns because they had “no idea.”  While I remained patient, some people had to catch connections and they were treated very poorly.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such poor customer service.

In any case, when I finally got off the plane, it was quite a relief.  I felt bad for those who had missed flights, but I was glad to be back home.  I was also glad to have been gone for a few days as well.  San Francisco, I just may have left a piece of my heart on adrift in the wind blowing through those Embarcadero skies.

Posted in BBQ, old friends, Travel, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Clever Olympic Allusion

Posted by evankessler on August 12, 2008

WIth the Olympics beginning this weekend in Beijing, I was tempted to title this post something along the lines of “Going For The Gold”, “Weekend Olympiad”, “No-Lympics”, “Faux-lympiad” or even “Beer-jing 2008”. Instead I erred on the side of the above title because frankly, all of those seemed lame.

The prospect of the opening ceremonies hanging in the air on Friday, I spent the early portion of the afternoon at the movies not thinking of pole vaults or synchronized diving. I went to see the 2pm showing of Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, a film which I had been anticipating since seeing the preview a couple of months before. Having been a fan of most of the other work in the series Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow collaborations I was ready for a surefire, laugh-a-second gutbuster. When I left the theater I didn’t end up needing to get my abdomen stitched up, but I had still enjoyed myself nonetheless. The film was good in that it wasn’t filled with a lot of downtime and the characters were constantly on the move, save for an evening spent in the woods. If I were comparing it to Superbad, Knocked Up, and The 40-Year Old Virgin, I’d have to say I liked those three films better based on the realistic natures of most of their situations…but despite the entire plot of Pineapple Express seeming a little far fetched it nonetheless was a nice way of transplanting my lazy tendencies from the inside of my apartment to a semi-social atmosphere that involved popcorn.

Leaving the theater at just after 4pm, I had three and a half hours with which to entertain myself or muck about until 7:30pm when I was to head over to Jenny and Filler’s to watch the opening ceremonies.

Now normally I don’t care about the Olympics. The whole entire thing seems just a little suspect to me. The idea of pretending I’m interested in sports that I’m not interested in for a span of 16 days under the ruse of fervent faux-nationalism has little appeal to me as an excuse for a good time. While I certainly felt no different about the festive ribbon cutting of Beijing 2008, I was none too in the mood to go all out on a Friday night. Since I had been invited to partake in the festivities with people I enjoy hanging out with, it seemed like a natural choice to head over to experience the proceedings with Matt, Jenny, Robert, Marie, and Aleks.

I arrived a little after the affair had began as there was going to be an international feast for our gathering and I had to pick up something. I chose to supply Chinese dumplings and Argentinian wine to go along with the assorted cheeses, risotto, guacamole, and other tasty what-nots. As soon as I assumed my position on the couch with my plate of international treats, I joined in the hilarious comment fest. While the lot of us were hypnotized by one of the more remarkable televised visual displays in recent memory, there was a steady stream of jokes that might feel at home in the most politically incorrect of comic’s routine. I think I specifically made a joke or two about foot-binding and mathematical prowess that I in no way should be proud of.

At one point we were so entranced by the intricate routine of the ceremony that I remarked that I wouldn’t be surprised that while the entire world was transfixed on this ceremony China was using it as a diversion to mount Nuclear attacks on all of its enemies. The repeated cutaways to President Bush also prompted their fair share of funny comments and impersonations, especially when he was spotted checking his watch.

Perhaps, the most enjoyable part of the procession, at least to me, was when all of the countries came on in alphabetical order. The thing I like about it is that you get to see all of the countries you didn’t even know existed. I had to look up Nauru on Wikipedia. I also like seeing all of the pretty girl athletes.

Hey There Team Sweden...Come Here Often?

The thing mostly everyone else seemed to like about it was the outfits that all of the countries were wearing. I’m not much of a fashion plate, but I think we all unanimously agreed that Team Hungary was horrendously dressed.

The Fashionable Hungarian Olympic Squad

The entire spectacle ran about four and a half hours and was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. Towards the end when China came in led by Yao Ming and a young earthquake hero survivor; Marie kept commenting on wanting to adopt the young lad…many jokes followed…some of them involving human rights violations. When the first torch bearer entered the arena, Xu Haifeng, I made a bit of an immature comment making fun of his name because it sounded like “Chu Have fun?” to which I remarked…”yeah, I had a pretty good time.” Oh, how the international stage allows ignorance to flourish when people are confronted with the unfamiliar.

In any case…the torch was lit after a the final torch bearer flitted along the perimeter of the stadium suspended by wires and just like that…”let the games begin!” The games had began but my night was coming to a close. Robert and I walked towards our section of Park Slope and I went to bed close to 3am after watching some bad tv before sleepytime.

Saturday, I thought I had a semi-full day of activity in front of me. I was going to go to Williamsburg for John and Zerna’s anniversary picnic, followed by my friend Janet’s band’s performance. I spent the early part of the afternoon at the Tea Lounge listening to music blare louder than my headphones and doing a little writing. At around 4:30pm I met Kishore at Smoke Joint in Fort Greene to pick up some food and head over in his car to the picnic.

As we made our way towards the park, I spoke on the phone with Jeff P who also was thinking about going to Janet’s show. Unfortunately, he alerted me that the show was taking place prior to the picnic and we had missed it. I felt like a moron. I had repeatedly been hinting to Janet that I would go see her band and this was the second time in two weeks I had mixed up the times. I put my schedule miscue behind me because that’s all I could do. I had a new plan in place for the evening. It was picnic…and whatever comes next.

Kishore and I arrived first at the park at Kent and N.7th in Williamsburg. None of our friends were in sight. After a brief walk around John, Zerna, and Lea showed up in a car with heaps of picnic goods. Suli was right behind on his bike and just like that a picnic began. We grabbed two tables and set up shop. The crowd gradually got bigger, Lauren, her boyfriend, Ajay, Javalyn, Enisha, Morwin, Jeff, and Andy all joined in.

Picnic In The Concrete Jungle

One of the interesting points of the afternoon was the period in which we were all sampling the “magic fruit” pill. Kishore had brought these pills that you dissolve on your tongue that make everything sour taste sweet. So after doing my part, I went straight for the lemon…which tasted like the sweetest glass of lemonade ever. I moved onto Granny Smith Apples, and limes…all which were super sweet. After twenty minutes the sweetness wore off but it was quite an interesting taste experience.

Mmm....Sugary Sweet Lemon

Somewhere towards the end of our picnic something really strange happened. A flood of cop cars and ambulances rushed into the park towards the waterfront. No one really knew what was going on, but since everyone thinks tragedy and train wrecks are so captivating, the majority of the park-goers rushed to see what was going on. Myself along with Zerna and a few other people were content to not gaze at whatever horrible occurrence had befallen some unlucky person. Instead I took more joy in watching Lea play with Lauren’s motorcycle helmet as she shoved her stuffed rabbit through Lauren’s mask.

And That Goes In There...

With nowhere else to go after and oh so much food and evening left over, we decided to move the party. Our first choice was the local beer garden, but after realizing it was much too crowded we moved the proceedings to John and Zerna’s apartment…lost Morwin and gained Andrea (?). The rest of the evening was more or less making fun of each other and drinking. I had only planned on staying out until 11pm on account I had a family get together the next morning but I didn’t leave until 1:30 when Jason, Kayvalyn, Enisha, Andrea, and I got a car back to our area.

I woke up at 8:30 Sunday morning on five hours of sleep. My mom showed up at my doorstep around 10:15pm…and just like that I was off. Our plan for Sunday was to look at the New York City Waterfalls art installation with my brother and then go see a David Byrne installation at an old ferry building on the river. First my mom, Irwin, and I went down to the water on the Brooklyn side where we could see two of the falls. I was none too impressed. The waterfalls just looked like water falling out from pipes. It wasn’t particularly attractive or eye catching; no more than water spewing out of a sewage treatment plant or leaking out from a storm drain. I think Irwin liked it, but it just seemed like a gimmick to me. Irwin asked me if I had seen the Gates. I told him I had but that was a lot more visual. This was too far away and really just not captivating at all.

We went over to Manhattan and picked up my brother, driving to the South Street Seaport for the view from there. I could see the two other falls from where we sat for brunch. I had the same reaction as I had from the Brooklyn side, “eh.”

What's The Big Friggin' Deal?

After brunch we walked down to the David Byrne “Playing The Building” exhibit at the Battery Maritime Building. The exhibit was actually really interesting. It consisted of an organ with it’s keys hooked up by a series of cables and tubes to various whistles, metal beams, pillars, heating pipes and water pipes to create atonal musical arrangements based on the visitors use of the keys. There was a line of about twenty people eagerly awaiting their turn their surroundings into a avant-noise masterpiece. I didn’t really have a need to do so, but my mom waited on line and took her turn on the keys. I filmed it on my camera…but I don’t feel like going through the download process now, so I’ll do it a bit later.

Mom Plays The Building

After our time at the David Byrne exhibit, we dropped my brother off at his apartment and I headed back to Rockland with my family. Upon returning home I went over to my friend Jessica’s house, where her parents were having a bit of a BBQ for her, her fiancé, her brother Matt, his wife, Jaime W, and her husband Andrew. Upon arriving I was greeted by two dogs, Sampson and Archie…and then I got to say hi to Jess who was stopping by Rockland on her way down to Miami, where she and Mike will be moving for one year. After sitting down, we watched some Olympics and then moved the festivities outside to partake in a tasty array of hot dogs, beef, chicken, salad, and finally desserts. It was kind of a brief get together, but I was exhausted and not really in the mood to do anything. It was kind of an ideal activity though. Food folks and fun as McDonald’s used to advertise.

Jess Embraces Archie

Powdered Donut Ice Cream Pineapple Grape Surprise

When I arrived home I was nearly in a food coma. Some of that may have had to do with my powdered donut ice cream pineapple grape surprise, but a lot of it had to do with a long day. I joined my mom and Irwin in some Olympic excitement and put my weekend to an end shortly thereafter.

Posted in art, BBQ, Brooklyn, drinking, old friends, Rockland County, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Face The Nation: A Facebook User’s Manifesto

Posted by evankessler on July 2, 2008

Dear readers of EvanKessler.com and Facebook users in general,

We live in a grand era of online social networking, where people can connect with their friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and long lost loves at the click of a button. We can even spy on the girl that lived down the block from us when we were twelve years old whom we had our first sexual fantasy about. Yes, social networking makes it that easy to keep tabs on  or stay connected to just about everyone with whom we’ve ever shared a passing glance.

Well I say, “get over it.” There is no point in trying to maintain friendships with everyone you’ve ever known or seen. Who do you think you are online Jesus Christ? You can’t love everyone. The way I see it, each new social networking site that tends to capture the attention of this bored out of their mind at work, internet-addicted generation,falls victim to the same pitfall…one that I like to call “overfriendization.” You may recall a similar post in which I railed against people coming out of “the woodworks” to befriend not only myself, but tons of other people they’ve proven to have no interest in talking to. Well, just the other day, one of these “woodwork” friends connected with me for not the first, not the second, but the third time, despite my deletion of her from the ranks of people I refer to as my friends on two previous occasions.

She was not deleted with malicious intent. I was more or less just trimming the ranks of people who hadn’t spoken to me and whom I hadn’t spoken with in quite some time. By quite some time, I mean a matter of years. I saw no use in having people as ornamental friends and so I “cut the fat”. Unfortunately, Facebook has a feature that alerts its users of other “people you may know.” I surmised that each time I cut said “friend” from the ranks, my photo continued to appear on the “People You May Know” list and seeing as said person is so mindlessly addicted to adding “People You May Know” she continues to add me to her ranks in her subliminal or not so subliminal quest to earn the most friends, completely unaware of the fact that we had been “friends” on two prior occasions.

This pointless cycle created by the ease of adding “friends” all willy-nilly at the click of a button has inspired me to create a manifesto of sorts relating to the usage of Facebook, in an attempt to put an end to the madness of “overfriendization” and other problems facing social networking. It’s not really a manifesto so much as it is a simple list of demands and/or rules for Facebook users to abide by in order to make it’s existence more palatable and therefore allow it to sustain a more lengthy period of success than that of it’s predecessors, whose sites have so mercilessly been turned “totally gay”.

So without further ado…

The Rules of Facebook:

1. If you do not plan on sending someone a message or inviting them to an event, do not become friends with them That goes both ways.

2. If you choose to make someone your Facebook friend, you are obligated to make contact with them first in the form of a regular wall post, instant message, or message…unless you’ve seen each other in the past week and have regular communications

3. Friends of Friends are not your friends. It is not okay to friend them unless you’ve met before and shared enjoyable conversations. This can be remedied by starting a conversation or message sent make your intentions to get to know someone better immediately after your friend request is accepted, but is generally frowned upon. Don’t let them sit there as an ornament…that is grounds for deletion.

4. If you think someone deleted you as a friend, don’t friend them again. It’s a really awkward position to be in to have to de-friend someone more than once.

5. Don’t friend someone just so you can see their photos.

6. A Funwall message of a silly video of a cat doing something crazy does not constitute a message nor does any funwall message for that matter. Let’s face it, the funwall should be renamed StupidMessageWall.

7. Poking is not a valid form of communication.

8. Do not friend people for the sole purpose of having ten people to forward applications to so that you may see your results on an IQ test or other pointless exam you took without pissing off your actual friends.

9. You don’t have to be friends with everyone in the “people you may know” section. Just because you may know them doesn’t mean they actually know you or even have the slightest need to do so.

10. You don’t have to be friends with everyone you went to high school with or who graduated the same year as you from college.

11. There is no need to send an application to ALL of your friends.

12. Not everyone wants to play Scramble with you. It’s not nearly as fun as Scrabulous.

13. Do not use any form of SuperPoke and expect to get Superpoked back.

14. Giving someone a Facebook drink does not make up for that beer that you owe them from the last time you went out.

15. The “War on Child Sexploitation” will not be won by joining a group against it on Facebook.

16. Do not update your status every time you do something new such as sit down, stand up or eat lunch. It’s not terribly interesting. Everything is better in moderation.

17. Status braggarts will not be tolerated.

18. Do not use Facebook to first announce any major personal lifestyle changes. If we have to learn that you’ve come out of the closet and you’re engaged to your lover from the “Interested In” and
“Relationship Status” tabs instead of from you personally, we’re de-friending you in real life and on Facebook.

That does it for the preliminary version of this Facebook Users Manifesto. If you have anything to add, feel free to do so and perhaps I will add it in as an amendment in an updated version. Thank you for reading and please take all of these rules into consideration so that we the people who use Facebook can one day be a more prosperous bunch.

Posted in Internet, lists, old friends, rules, Social Networking | Tagged: | 1 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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He Is Risen

Posted by evankessler on March 24, 2008

When I used to live on Bleecker Street, I lived next door to a tiny community church. At Christmas they would raise a banner that said, “A savior is born” or something to that effect. When it was Easter they would switch that banner with one that read “He Is Risen”. I think it was that particular banner, that on a windy day, became unfastened and repeatedly whipped into the upstairs window of my apartment, shattering glass all over my roommate’s floor. Seeing as my roommate was out and I didn’t want him to arrive home and step all over shards of glass…I cleaned the room. However, I couldn’t help but think this was a sign. Jesus was punishing my roommates and I by proving that he had risen by thrashing the banner, the embodiment of his “rising”, against the window of our heathen abode, therefore keeping us unsafe from whichever natural element he felt unleashing upon our unguarded fortress of sin.

Fortunately, almost two years have passed since I’ve moved from that apartment and I’m not sure if the United States Postal Service has passed my address on to Jesus. I hope he still thinks I live on Bleecker Street or St. John’s Place. Either way, I can’t say I felt his wrath this past weekend. However, if he is aware of my whereabouts, he may have been more delighted in the merriment I endured in his name over the past few days as there were plenty of Jesus-centric activities….or at least Easter -centric activities afoot.

Good Friday evening saw me venture out to Williamsburg where I partook in an Easter Egg dye-athon at the apartment of my married-with-child friends John and Zerna K, or as their more affectionately known, Jerna. I had originally thought this was going to be a family affair with mother, father, and daughter all dyeing eggs with a friendly crew. However, within 30 minutes of my arrival it became abundantly clear that this was an adults (if you could call us that ) only egg party. After 3o minutes of their daughter playing playing with animals and pronouncing the word “frog” as if it were a certain expletive that started with F and ended with K, anyone below the age of three was put to bed. The adults consisting of myself, Lauren H, Kishore, Miller, Suli, Andrea P, Zerna, and John partook in some alcoholic beverages and some enjoyably hilarious conversation.

John Discovers The Least Effective Way To Order Pizza

John decided that he would order pizza for his guests, but rather than just simply phone it in he attempted to use the technology provided on the world wide interweb as he thought it would be quicker. It was about fifteen minutes into his tinkering that he finally got to the ordering part…unfortunately the order never made it to his apartment and we ended up calling in an order that finally made it by 11:10pm, around two and a half hours after our original order.

The Spread

In the meantime the lot of us got down to egg dying business in the kitchen. Jerna had pulled out all of the stops. They had letters we could put on our eggs, crayons to color with, and several other utensils for decoration. I wasn’t getting too fancy. I was just dipping my egg in the various dyes and drawing on them with crayons. I didn’t have a set plan I just sort of did whatever I felt like doing at that particular moment and the results were okay. I think Lauren made an egg with a 69 on it, Suli dipped his eggs in various colors indiscriminantly at first as a result of his color blindness, whereas Andrea seemed to be putting in maximum effort and care with each egg she colored. Miller began to begin every sentence with “ex” words and turning them into “eggs” words which was horribly lame, but semi-funny. I think I stopped the trend by talking about “t-eggs-t messages”. Yes, this was a class operation and the results of our egg dye-off were stellar. Towards the end of our “eggs-travaganza” (damn you Miller) Nina and Dmitry showed up and began to cook some Russian foods and help with the eggs.

Andrea Styles Her Egg Accordingly

Creativity Runs Rampant

The Result of Creativity Running Rampant

When 11:10 struck, Kayvalyn walked in the door almost the same time as the pizza arrived. We had a few slices of pizza each, but Lauren and I had to take off for other outings in the city. Unfortunately, we never found out which egg one the best in show, but we had other places to go and other people to see.

After splitting a cab into Manhattan, I ended up at Shoolbred’s on 2nd Avenue where I met my old friends Betsy and Noelle from the VH1 days. My former office neighbors, now inhabitants of the West Coast were in good spirits and our conversation certainly reflected it. We were all quite taken by the bar, a newcomer to the East Village that really classed up the neighborhood as far as drinking establishments go. Also present at the drink-athon were Betsy’s old roommates Brandi and MT, who I had certainly not seen in a while, as well as their friend Kevin who was a new face. We mostly got along famously to the wee hours of the morning.

Just Like Old Times With Noelle and Betsy

There was a guy that Betsy and Noelle kind of knew named Tai, who felt the need to explain to us why he was named Tai (his parents were hippies). In my estimation there’s names you don’t give kids, because if you do they’re almost certain to grow up as frat-tastic douchebags. They are as follows: Brad, Chad, Kip, Chip, Chet, Ty, Tai, Tad, JP, AJ, EJ, BJ, DJ. If I have kids ever, I will certainly know to stay away from these names and you should take note of them as well…and if you have anything to add, please share. There are really probably a few I left out but you get the point.

In any case, a few of the other revelers headed out to Bleecker Bar, but seeing as we weren’t in the mood to party hop we stayed at Shoolbred’s until around 3am. Tai was gone by then as were his tales of a hippie upbringing. I hopped in a cab and headed back for Brooklyn whilst engaging in some fun drunken phone conversation with Stephy P in LA.

I woke up relatively early the next morning for someone who hadn’t fallen asleep until 4am. I was up and around at 10:30am. Content not to waste the day, I headed to Postmark Cafe to get some writing done. Unfortunately after a twenty minute stroll to my destination I was met with locked doors. Rather than quit my quest to do something productive I headed to the less favorable environs of the Tea Lounge. Upon entering the behemoth bohemian establishment, I was immediately turned off by the ungodly serpent-like queue for coffee and tea. Instead, I headed straight for home and largely wasted the day.

At 2pm my brother texted me to tell me he was coming to Park Slope in what would probably be an hour. Rather than head to the gym or start any productive endeavors I decided to engage in a little spring cleaning prior to his arrival. One hour of waiting turned into two hours. It was 4:30pm when he finally showed up and we grabbed an early bird dinner at Press 195 before parting ways. Luckily, we hadn’t wasted too much time and I was able to get a little workout in at the gym prior to my evening activity.

At around 9:30pm I headed out with Mike H, Bassett, and Renga to Brian D’s birthday party at Dram Bar. Mike spent the entire way there on the phone with Maureen in LA. Meanwhile, Renga called Maureen while Bassett and I texted her to get off the phone with Mike just to be annoying. It was funny, but probably one of those you had to be there and involved things.

Dram Shop was a pretty decent looking space, lots of flatscreen TV’s with the NCAA tournament playing on them, along with shuffleboard and a billiards table as well as a bar with a fine wood finish. None of us had been there before, so we just took in the scenery and made small talk with Brian’s friends at first. Andrew Morton met us there after a few minutes and we had a pretty easygoing crew hanging out. The bar itself was a weird amalgam of people that wasn’t very desirable. There was an old couple that we labeled Arianna Huffington and David Geffen, that looked like they were on a first date and later began making out at the bar. There was another older dude with dreadlocks that provided conversation fodder as well. It didn’t actually end up being a late night. We only hung around until a little after midnight as we were all kind of beat and we had a big day ahead of us on Sunday due to the resurrection of someone else’s lord. I stopped for a slice of pizza on the way home and got a good 9 hours of sleep to prepare for the long Sunday afternoon.

Sunday began with a flurry of activity as Renga and Bassett were preparing the kitchen for Easter dinner. I was on dish rinsing duty and not much else though I did buy some wine for the occasion. Pretty soon all hands were on deck. Gearhart made a bruschetta, Dan and his sister Emma came by to start making the appe pieand set up the alcoholic punch situation. I was showered, dressed and ready to go by 2pm and that’s around when we started drinking. People started arriving and began to partake in deviled eggs and bruschetta, as well as the punch. We were on our way to our own little slice of Sunday heaven.

The Table

My Table Setting

My Jew on Easter Come Hither Look
Jesus’ American Apple Pie

As soon as Kelly R arrived our assemblage of resurrection rejoicers headed to Prospect Park for a kite flying expedition. We had several kites, though I didn’t fly any of them. The majority of the flying was done by Renga, Dan, Eric, and Bassett. One little british boy in the park was captivated by Bassett’s kite and so she let him do a little flying as his parents watched on. It was a fun outing. Unfortunately, there were a few kite casualties as the Eagle that Eric was flying met an early doom.

Laura And Kelly Help A Child Fly His First Kite

After abourt an hour in the park we went back to our Union Street abode for dinnertime. Everyone who made food really outdid themselves. The steak marinade was perfect and to be outside watching them grill was a happy reminder of warmer days to come. Eric’s salad was perfect mixture of color’s and textures. The greenbeans and potatoes were equally tasty. It was definitely one of the better meals we had since I’ve lived at my current apartment. Needless to say we were all stuffed but continued onto dessert.

Now That’s What I Call Salad!
Pete Grilling Meat

Kelly & Eric Pose For A Photo

Laura and Andrew Pose For an 80’s Album Cover

Let’s Eat!

The Lauras had done a masterful job of keeping the meal artful by making Lemon Sorbet and serving it inside a lemon. Following that as a palate cleanser we ate Emma’s Apple pie with home made Cinammon Ice Cream on top.

This Cleansed My Palate

This May Have Been The Best Apple Pie Ever

Eric and Kelly Pin an Easter Bonnet on Bassett

Greg Shows The Reverse Finger

Dan And Laura All Set To Call It A Day

It was completely delicious…and the best Easter meal I had ever had…not that I have had a lot, but it would still rank up there. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out and finishing off our wine. People started to file out around 11pm and I pretty much called it a weekend…with my stomach filled I went up to my room and relaxed in bed listening to Hank Williams sing…”Praise the lord, I saw the light.”

Posted in old friends, Park Slope, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Great Super Bowl Hangover

Posted by evankessler on February 6, 2008

Awaken fair EvanKessler.com readers, I have a treat for you. ‘Tis another in the long tradition of the weekend recaps. I’m so sorry that once again it has taken until Tuesday to reconvene our customary Monday tradition, but the events following this more than historic weekend have served to keep me busy beyond belief…or at least occupied. As you know, it was quite the historic weekend in the New York Metropolitan area for reasons previously imparted on this here website. It began with another traditional evening of drinking at the Lighthouse Tavern. My company alternated between Heather and Thea and back to Heather respectively as I sat, belly up to the bar for most of the evening making pleasant conversation with friends and bartenders alike. The night did not feature any spectacular occurrence, merely alcohol intake and vocal chord vibrations.

Saturday had the potential to be more or less just as unspectacular as the previous one. However, I tempered boredom by indulging in an activity…of the mostly inactive variety. I headed over to BAM Rose Cinemas and caught the 2:20 screening of the film There Will Be Blood. I found the film, which consisted more or less of Daniel Day-Lewis being mesmerizing for 2 hours and 40 minutes to be pretty good. I’m not going to call it the best movie ever but it certainly held my attention the entire time. I can’t see ol’ DDL not picking up the trophy for best actor at the Oscars.

After I returned home from seeing TWBB, I mostly just sat around waiting to figure out what I was going to do with myself. Luckily, as I sat there killing time and watching the same several stories about the upcoming Super Bowl XLII on a loop on ESPN news, I received a call from my good ‘ol friend Jess who was in town with her fiancé Mike for the weekend. The plan was that I would meet up with her at Commonwealth on 5th ave in Brooklyn later or when she called me.

It took quite a while for the call to come in and as I waited for the phone to ring again, I switched to ESPN2 to see if they were airing any Super Bowl Highlight films. As a child, the week before the Super Bowl, I used to spend the entirety of Super Bowl weekend leading up to the games watching the NFL Films presentations of every single Super Bowl up to the point of the current Super Bowl. Bear in mind, when I was nine, there had only been 21 Super Bowls and thus only had to sit through ten and a half hours of highlights that could be conveniently be split up over two days of consecutive showings. Now that they were up to 42, I certalainly had no desire for a 21 hour marathon, but I was curious to see just what game they were up to. To my pleasant surprise, the game that appeared on the screen was Super Bowl XXV, otherwise known as the Wide Right game when the Giants beat the Bills 20-19 on a missed Scott Norwood Field Goal. I took this coincidence to be a good omen for the next day’s matchup between the Giants and the Patriots.

Some time around 11pm as the highlight was coming to a close, I headed out of my apartment to grab a slice of pizza before meeting Jess. It was then I received her phone call and headed down to Commonwealth. It was an extremely pleasant outing as we were joined by Mike, Jess’s brother Matt, and his wife Renee. I’m not really sure what we talked about other than Scientologists, Milk Thistle, and Wilco, but I really enjoyed myself. At some point loud talking guys behind us left because they were sick of hearing Radiohead at every bar. Don’t get them wrong, they love Radiohead…they’d seen them five times, but every fucking bar the guys walked into they heard Radiohead. Oh the humanity.

Jess Shows Me The Traditional New Hamphsire Greeting for “Glad You Could Make It”

I’m not exactly sure what time it was when I arrived back home but I was so anxious for the Super Bowl the next day. I played two games of Madden 08, before going to sleep. When I woke up the next morning I was teeming with excitement. I worked off some of that excitement with a short trip to the gym but as soon as I got out of the shower that excitement built back up again. It was Super Bowl Sunday and my favorite team was playing in it!

My eyes and ears were glued to all of the pregame shows and I heard nearly every pigskin expert predict a Patriots victory. The lone dissenters on TV were Mike Ditka and Bob Costas, though Costas admitted it was just to be different. The closer it got to game time the more nerve addled I became. Part of me was sure the Giants didn’t stand a chance against the mighty undefeated Patriots, but I still had a measure of faith gurgling deep down in my gut.

At 3:30 Arby and I headed down to Jenny and Filler’s apartment where we’d be watching the game. I couldn’t contain my excitement and may have actually propelled myself to the party by pogoing up and down the entire way. However, this is somewhat of a falsity since I couldn’t pogo after we got beer at the madhouse C-Town on 9th st, packed to the brim with Super Bowl revelers and unfortunate souls who had picked the wrong day to do their grocery shopping.

When we finally made it to the bash there was a little over an hour to the game. The atmosphere was tense. There were a mere 2 patriots fans on hand in Arby and Marie. Actually, there may have been a 3rd but I didn’t really pay attention to them. I paid attention to the 2 good luck charms I had on hand. My Dave Meggett card from the 1990 season and my Scott Norwood Card. I believed seeing their Super Bowl XXV performance on TV the night before was a good omen so I brought their cards to bring the Giants luck. There were also other meaningless intangibles working in the Giants favor. The National Anthem was sung by Jordin Sparks, daughter of former New York Giant, Philippi Sparks.

Was A Win In The Cards?

Marie vs. Jenny= Pats vs. Giants
Marie’s Super Bowl Bundt Cake

At around 6:30 the game kicked off and for pretty much the next 3 hours my hands were on my head nearly pulling out most of my hair. It was a tense game for 60 Minutes and as previously noted in another post, the best game I have ever seen. When the clock finally ran out in the 4th quarter, the New York Giants had emerged victorious and shocked the worlld, which would include the Pro Football pundits. Giants fans leapt to their feet and hugged while the 2 Pats fans sulked.

The Moment of Victory
The Final Score
One Sad Pats Fan

Several minutes after the hugging came to a close I started to walk back with Arby and Marie. However, I received a call from Heather asking me to have a beer and continue the celebration. When I met up with her at Harry Boland’s pub, she was surrounded by the 4 most guido trash dudes ever who claimed to be huge Giant fans. Though when I compared this game to the 1991 victory over the Bills they were completely unaware that the Giants had won a Super Bowl other than the 1986 one and the one we were presently celebrating and they were belligerent about it. After one drink (or more likely 3 seconds) I decided that these douchebags were stupid, mostly because the entire conversation consisted of making fun of Heather’s accent and they also continued to exhibit any lack of knowledge over the the team whose jersey they had donned. As a result, I recommended we go over the Lighthouse and continue the celebration there.

Heather and I walked 12 blocks and arrived to find a friendly, jovial celebration in progress. Ear to ear grins were present on the face of every reveler, even the Eagles fans. I’m not sure what time I was at the bar til but I think I may have left after 4am. I was drunk, but with good reason. This was a celebration.

I woke up Monday morning with a considerable hangover. I don’t think I left my apartment for more than 10 minutes the entire day. I lay nestled in the comfort of my bed being propped up by pillows and working in the reclining position. Later in the evening Filler and I made plans to attend the Super Bowl Parade down the Canyon of Heroes the following day…and with that…bedtime.

9am this morning I was up an at ’em…ready to officially celebrate a Super Bowl Victory with a ticker tape parade. Thing is, I kind of hate parades. I hate mass gatherings with little to no personal space. The Victory parade itself lived up to my expectations. I was crammed in between other fans, both real and fairweather for a few hours in the morning and early afternoon and caught precious few glimpses of the actual action. However, upon further review, I did get some serviceable images, though I leave this up for you to decide by viewing the pictures below that effectively end the weekend recap.

Filler Flaunts his Fandom

Parade Self-Portrait

Manning to Burress…Touchdown!

Strahan Holding the Lombardi Trophy

This Looked Like A Scene from An Action Movie

This is Either Fred Robbins or Someone Else

The Offensive Line
Feagles!!!

Who’s Going To Clean Up This Mess?!?!

Posted in drinking, New York Giants, old friends | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

D.C. Follies

Posted by evankessler on October 9, 2007

It was another eventful weekend in the annals of evankessler.com history and probably the final installment in our Wedded Bliss 2007 series. Prior to that occurrence we said a hearty welcome back to one of our good friends who made his long awaited return to the city of New York. Friday night saw the return of one Andy S, who spent the past several months on a boat in New England doing his manly duty at sea. There was probably lots of business with masts and sails and rigs and whatnot. I’m not well versed in that fishy ocean business. I’m a man of the land who stays anchored to the sand so I won’t pretend to have that knowledge at hand and I’ll say nothing of the supposed mysteries of “shore leave” if you know what I mean. All I know is that a few of us met up at Lorelay on the Lower East side for our share of Bier and German fare. Joining in on the occasion were Ken S, Jason S, Kayvalyn, Ahmad, Dmitry, Lauren, Miller and myself. I know I’m probably leaving someone out or adding an extra person but my memory doesn’t always serve me perfectly…though sometimes that works in favor of the story, like if I were to tell you a giant dragon suddenly showed up and breathed fire on an unsuspecting crowd before I slew the beast with my erection because I have a hard on for violence and heroism. However, that did not happen. We just had a genuinely pleasant get together with huge German biers in honor of Oktoberfest and smiled and laughed much to the chagrin of some of the surrounding crowd, whom beckoned us to quiet down.

After receiving a surprisingly large bill we settled up and I made for the Lighthouse Tavern with both Andy and Jason in tow. Kayvalyn and Ahmad had left earlier in favor of hanging out with some of their high school friends from back in Thailand. We got a nice seat in the outdoor space as the inside was packed with Red Sox fans cheering on their team who was in the process of defeating the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles (which is an absolutely retarded team name). Ken joined us after biking over from Manhattan for a drink and some wings. Heather was at the bar and Thea joined us in back but Andy, Jason, and Ken left soon after and it pretty much ended up being Me, Thea, and Heather for a bit. However, I could not stay out too late but I had a few more drinks before heading home as I had to wake up the next morning to meet Suli in Williamsburg so we could drive down to D.C. I think I went to sleep a little bit after 1:30am.

My alarm rang on Saturday morning at 8:30am and as tempted as I was to snooze it, I sprang out of bed and hit the shower. I had to pack my bags and be in the ‘Burg by 11am. While that sounds like a reasonable amount of time, I had to take into account the unreasonable length of the intraborough commute which included three separate subway lines, the stubbornly inconsistent F, G, and L trains. Toting my suit housed in it’s dry cleaning uniform, with a smaller travel bag in my other hand I plodded towards the F train station at 7th Avenue and 9th Street stopping for a bagel and my beloved Ito En Jasmine Green Tea (the more I mention it the closer I am to getting endorsements). It took about 7 minutes for the F train to come and the transfer to the G was simple enough in that I didn’t have to walk anywhere seeing as it stops at the same platform I exited onto at the Smith and 9th Street station. From there it was another couple of minutes until I reached the Metropolitan -Lorimer stop and transfered to the L train. This required a slight underground trek but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as lengthy. Perhaps the most comforting thing about the L train is the fact that there are signs on the platform that tell you when the next train is coming. As I looked up I saw it read 3 minutes and I was sufficiently pleased with this knowledge. Much to my surprise it arrived in 2 minutes completely shattering my faith in the timing system but getting me to the Graham stop a full minute earlier than expected.

I walked out to a familiar scene as I had exited at that stop many a time though admittedly not in the morning. I used to frequently take the L to Graham when Rich, Dmitry, Ahmad, Miller, Victor, and whoever the crap used to live at 709 Grand lived there. Now Suli had taken up residence a mere block away in the familiar neighborhood which houses a store that sells diving gear, though I don’t suspect they sell a great deal of diving gear. Suli welcomed to me to his relatively new abode with the unfortunate news that Lina would not be joining us on our jaunt to D.C. for our friend Matt’s wedding as she had badly injured her ankle the day before and would probably be very uncomfortable couped up in a car or dancing the hora.

With heavy hearts Suli and I jumped in his vehicle and headed for the nation’s capital. Our last such road trip was way back in 2003 when we, along with Joe D made for The Big Easy after thanksgiving. This trip would be about one fifth as short since the drive to D.C. was only going to take us upwards of around 4 hours…give or take. We did hit a bit of a snag getting to the Holland tunnell but our route was marked by mostly smooth sailing. Although we encountered little highway resistance there were some things worth noting. While driving through New Jersey, we passed tour bus that was for none other than James Taylor Curtis and the Silver Eagle Band. At first we thought that it might be “Fire and Rain” and “Sweet Baby James” Taylor but it took us about a second to realize that that guy didn’t need to add Curtis onto his last name. Not being familiar with any of their work, I decided that James Taylor Curtis and the Silver Eagle Band had only one song that they played over and over again and they changed lyrics in accordance with whatever they were doing at the time. At this particular moment the song lyrics went:

“James Taylor Curtis and The Silver Eagle Band…Driving through New Jersey with a guitar in our hand”.

Had they been at a diner at that moment the lyric “driving through New Jersey” would be replaced with “eating at a diner“…and so on and so forth. By then end of our drive this melody was bouncing around our heads all weekend and still hasn’t excaped due to its catchiness. The roads were also packed with horible drivers. At one point we could not escape a red minivan with three bicycles on the back. I decided that this vehicle would made an ideal getaway car because one could not clearly view the license plate. Sure it had three bicycles on the back but you could either drive away and sink the car in the river and ride off on the bicycles or ditch the bicycles in the woods and use the vehicle as Detroit intended with no one having seen your license plate as you sped away from the robbery.

Behold…The Perfect Getaway Vehicle

Suli and I eventually stopped at the Clara Barton rest area, the last one in New Jersey. We needed to eat but we more or less stopped out of curiosity over who Clara Barton exactly was and why she warranted her own rest stop, which is precisely why we didn’t stop at the Thomas Alva Edison and Vince Lombardi rest stops. I was pretty sure ‘ol CB had something to do with Nursing but I didn’t think she founded the Red Cross because I thought that was Florence
Nightingale. I hope there would be a plaque trumpeting her achievements but instead just found a TCBY, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Travel Mart, and Cinnabon. I’d have to wait to the actual wedding when my friend Dana R cleared up that she did indeed found the Red Cross. That certainly warrants having your own rest stop though I don’t necessarily Ms. Barton would be proud of the greasy, sugar-saturated goings on inside. I didn’t stop at any of the fast food shops. Suli had gotten a coffee from Cinnabon and I had a particularly strange encounter at the travel mart. When I presented my water to the clerk, she asked if I wanted anything to eat with that as if she was about to produce a suitable meal from a non-existent grill under the gum racks. Really, if I had wanted something to eat, wouldn’t she be under the impression that I would’ve brought it to the counter to pay for. I guess it must be a rare occurrence in this country that people just buy a bottle of water without getting something to make them fatter to go with it.

The rest of the ride down was pretty uneventful. We drove through Delaware and Maryland before being greeted by the Washington Monument towering above some generic office buildings. Our directions called for a minor detour through the Capital city on our way to our hotel in Arlington, Va.

We arrived at around 3:30pm, an hour and twenty minutes before we were to catch the shuttle bus to the Ronald Reagan Center for International Trade. This gave us enough time to head up to our room and cycle through the TV channels while getting dressed. Turns out we would use most of that time fixing our ties as we both moronically struggled with attaining the perfect knot. Our epic battle with our neck-cessories ended at around 4:30 pm when we decided to hang out in the lobby waiting for our friend Eric L. and his girlfriend Gina to make the scene and join us on the bus. However, the shuttle soon came and feeling bored in the lobby we decided to sit on the bus and wait. At around 4:45 our friends joined us and the bus was all but ready to go though we waited 15 more minutes for no one else to show just to be safe and so we could sweat more in the sauna like shuttle bus.

We arrived at the Capt. Ron Reagan Center after a brief drive. I was disappointed that there were no giant memorial statues to pose in front of. I wanted a 60 foot wax statue or a slew of movie posters highlighted by 1951’s Bedtime for Bonzo.
Despite my disappointment over the lack of Reagan paraphernalia, I was delighted to know that Homeland Security would be watching over this wedding as I stepped through a metal detector en route to the elevator. Once upstairs I saw that very few folks were hanging out. We were amongst the first to arrive and we quickly formed our own little clique area. Soon we were joined by Eve and Jess D, as well as their parents and Joe D’s girlfriend Jaysarah. We talked for a bit before making our way into the room where the ceremony was to be held.
Suli and I sat in the 4th or 5th row next to Eric and Gina.

We sat quietly but there was no sign of anything so I inexplicably started chanting “dudes…dudes…dudes” to myself as I’m wont to do when I’m surrounded by a bunch of dudes. Suli mistook it as me saying “untz…untz…untz” like a house beat and mimicked it. At that moment the dude in front of use turned around and asked if we liked house music. He then went to tell us he’s a house DJ in Miami and that he’s best friends with one of the best DJ’s in the world as if we would care. We didn’t really feign interest but he kept going on and on about house music and some party his friend was throwing. He then asked where we were from and started talking about how he’s from Massapequa and was with some band we should be familiar with and how he got his start in DJing….none of which was information we solicited.

Finally the wedding started and Housedouche turned around. The ceremony itself was very nice. It was funny to see Rich, Joe, and Mike S as groomsmen. I sort of felt left out but not really. It was weird to see our friend Matt get married. I’m really happy for him though. When you meet people in Junior High you never think about knowing them til the day they get married and then when it happens you sort of realize how much your life is in shambles and how much other people have their shit together. Ah well, I suppose I can continue on…the evening certainly did.

After the ceremony the newly crowned King and Queen of weddingdom walked out to an orchestral version of Coldplay’s “Clocks” at which point housedouche turned around to notify us and ask if we had heard a certain remix version of said song. Ugh.

The cocktail hour was a good time. I hadn’t seen some of the people there before the ceremony and in some time. Dana R was in from Arizona where I believe she is working on her doctorate. She is always fun to hang out with. Her sister Jodi was supposed to be there but was sick after picking up something in the Ukraine. Mike S made the rounds but mostly Dana, Joe, Suli, Rich, Jaysarah, Eve D, Jessica D, Mona, Jay, Jaysarah, Eric, Gina and I made conversation while sampling the alcoholic offerings along with the tasty array of finger foods.

The Last First Dance of Wedded Bliss ’07

Soon it was time for the party to begin and how does a wedding usually begin…with the first dance. This moment was a little awkward because I don’t think either Matt or Lindsay are the people in this world most fond of dancing. It sort of seemed like it too though I didn’t really expect Matt to get down so much as he’s usually one of the more laid back people I know. Besides weddings with Jews usually get going when it’s time for THE HORA!!! However, once the DJ signaled it’s beginning by playing of appropriate song, no one really did anything. People stood in a circle, and seeing as half of them weren’t Jewish, they weren’t exactly sure what to do. I tried to goad Joe’s parents into starting the dancing and they were trying but no one was going along with it, not even the bride and groom who stood unmoved at the side of the center of the circle. At this moment I looked at Joe and said that we should do something. I think Mike felt the same way too and a group consisting mainly of Matt’s friends got in the middle and started dancing in our attempt to breathe some life into the gathering. We pulled out two chairs and put the newlyweds on the chairs and hoisted them in the air as is tradition (sort of ironic that our efforts to uphold Jewish tradition needed the aid of a Paksitani and a chinese friend) but we didn’t have enough people participating and the situation was unstable to say the least. After a brief stint being hoisted skyward the duo was soon let down. None of the siblings or parents followed. I could understand their trepidation though.

Soon after the strange sustenance of a traditional showing of wedded bliss we were all beckoned to our seats. The meal courses were served in rapid succession with barely any dancing in between. Though that left plenty of time for conversation which is actually my favorite part of attending weddings. I usually wish there wasn’t some obnoxiously loud band playing “Hey Ya!” in the background while I’m trying to catch up with friends. I had more quality conversations with folks at tables 12 and 14. In between two of the courses we were also witness to do heartfelt, albeit brief best man and maid of honor speeches made by the couple’s respective siblings.

Probably one of the oddest parts about the wedding was the fact that there was no wedding cake. I don’t mention it to take issue with it…I’ve just never heard of that before. Instead there was a candy ceremony, which I liked because it was very different and sometimes different is good. Plus, it doesn’t involve knives and knives can be involved in accidents whereas candy can be delicious. Also, candy has lots of sugar so when dancing actually happens you have plenty of energy before crashing.

Candy!

Dancin’ with the Bride

Eric and Gina Do Their White People Dance Thing

I Suppose This is What Me Having A Good Time Looks Like


It seemed like a majority of the guests left after the candy ceremony leaving the Reaganomics Arena to friends of the bride and groom. That was fine with us as we continued to drink and dance until the last shuttle bus left for our hotel at 11:30pm.

Once back at the hotel, we changed clothes and gathered together at Joe’s room. Not everyone was present as it was just Suli, Joe D, Jaysarah, Eve D, Rich, and I. We spent the rest of the evening looking through pictures and exploring the wonders of abbreviated language, overusing the phrases, “totes” (ofish) , “ofish” (official), and “natch” (naturally), amongst others. We even rewatched a youtube-worthy video of one of our friends dancing about 35 times. While I don’t have it and don’t think I’d be able to post it without tremendous fallout or getting sued It was indescribably funny, though if I were to describe the video in 2 words I would call it “male tittyshake”. You’re probably not getting the right mental picture but perhaps one day I’ll be able to show you.

That basically put an end to our weekend. The next morning we woke up at about 9:30am. Suli and I hung out in the hotel room for a bit before leaving to meet Rich in the lobby since we were taking him home to Rockland. We said our goodbyes to Eric L, Gina, and Eve D in the lobby before hitting the road a little after noon. I was somewhat distressed that I was missing the Giants-Jets game but got regular updates from Arby via text message. The trip back took us longer than we expected since we missed a couple of steps on the directions back. However, as long as we got on I-95 north we were headed in the right direction. The trip back was certainly less eventful but with seemingly more traffic. There was no James Taylor Curtis and The Silver Eagle Band driving back through New Jersey with a guitar in their hand. It was just Suli, Rich and I high tailing it back to the Empire State.

We did make one stop at the John Fenwick service area. Upon pulling in we once again tried to figure out who John Fenwick might be but to no avail. Suli confused him with James Fenimore Cooper, the author of “The Last of The Mohicans” but according to wikipedia he was an English Jacobite conspirator in the 1600’s which doesn’t at all seem relevant to the part of Souther New Jersey we were in. Coincidentally, the next rest stop ended up being the James Fenimore Cooper service area. We didn’t stop there though, because we knew who he was and we had more important tasks at hand, namely finally getting the hell home.

I finally arrived back at my apartment in Brooklyn at 7:20 PM, ready to break free from a lengthy day couped up in a Toyota Rav 4. Upon my arrival I sat down with my roommates who had just cooked a homemade dinner and recounted the weekend, before heading into Bassett’s room to watch the Rock of Love reunion special. I subsequently made a trip down to the Lighthouse and drank with Arby, Heather, and Thea until the wee hours because I’m an alcoholic. A weekend well spent if you ask me.

Posted in drinking, old friends, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Story of The Last Couple of Weeks

Posted by evankessler on September 17, 2007

Judging by the lone comment on the last post, this recap is going to bring great relief to some folks…or at least to one person. I haven’t had a full on recap since before labor day and a lot has happened since then. I can take you all the way back to August 31st when I was preparing to go all the way north to Ithaca, New York for the wedding of our close family friend Eric W to Bryna, his girlfriend of eleven years. Seeing as I had to go home on Saturday, September 1st to drive up to Central New York, I was none too keen on going out late the night before. However, I had been invited to a party by my brother, hosted by my former colleagues at XYZ.TV. They had founded a new venture called Naked Ping Pong Club which they run out of their loft. It’s every Friday, and I’m not really sure what the guidelines are for an invitation.In any case, I arrived with a 6-pack of beer and arrived not sure exactly what to expect, though I envisioned a party filled with lots of attractive model-type girls and trendy downtown folks. Upon arriving, my notions would prove to be correct. I slid in and made the rounds with the folks I knew. The one thing I didn’t actually expect was the seriousness of the Ping Pong. Apparently some of the best players in the country were on hand.

I watched on as serious table tennis was being played and wandered aimlessly a bit until I happened upon my brother who was hanging out with a few models. I think I assimilated into the scene rather well and had an easy time conversing. I normally don’t feel at home in such situations but there was a level of familiarity with the hosts and people seemed to have a genuine interest in what I had to say. Franck, one of the hosts, and one of the fampions of the Costner blog had asked me how the blog was going. He tried to encourage me to move on from Costner since he had already emailed me, though at this point I had not received any pictures. I assured him I would not until we achieved our goal since that was the entire point of the blog. I think Franck’s girlfriend was trying to give me ideas for posts as well. I had also came up with an idea for a book in the previous two days so that was on my mind. I was really excited to talk about it. I won’t talk about it here until I actually decide to write it. Either way, I was fitting in with the beautiful people and drinking my fair share. There’s really not much more to this tale other than the fact that we all drank and had a good time and my brother took plenty of sweet pictures of me. Like the one below with Madeline. I’m pretty sure that’s her name, it’s been a couple of weeks and I’m feeling forgetful, though she was an absolute delight to talk to.

The next morning I awoke in a hungover state but I high tailed it over to the Port Authority as I’d be meeting my brother to take the bus to Suffern, New York, where we’d be picked up by my mother en route to Ithaca, New York.

The car ride to Ithaca was a bit torturous. We seemed to stop every hour on the hour. There seemed to be no interest of making good time. Our first stop was The Roscoe Diner. The Roscoe Diner is famous for being a diner on the way to many a New York college. Whenever I’ve driven north on Route 17 with my mother, she always recommends we stop at the Roscoe Diner at about exit 93. However, when I’m alone I’ve always preferred the Wendy’s at exit 84 in Deposit, NY. In any case, my lunch was horrible and it was back in the car. Nothing will make you feel like you’re 7 years old again like riding in the backseat with your family on a road trip. My mother allowed me to play my music, however at a barely audible level. I almost had to imagine the playlist I had made. Our 2nd stop was 9 exits later at the aforementioned Deposit exit so my brother could use the bathroom at the aforementioned Wendy’s. Our trip was moving at a snail’s pace.

Rather than head straight to Ithaca, my mother and stepfather wanted to drive to Corning Glass Museum. This meant more time in the car. My brother and I were going stir crazy in the back and we stopped in Horseheads, New York where there was a monument to a General James Clinton and General John Sullivan who had fought of some “savage Indians”just so we could stretch out.

From Horseheads it was off too Corning where we parked our car and took a shuttle bus 3 feet to Corning Glass Museum. The museum itself was okay, but having felt a bit hung over, I wasn’t really in the mood to stare at glass sculptures with my mom. I wandered away on my own while my mom and Irwin stared at the contemporary tiffany glass fixtures. I was more interested in the more historic samples. I looked at a display of an ancient Egyptian glass kiln.
As I browsed through the glass time line I was alerted to the fact that Christ was born in 6 B.C. I’m not exactly sure how that’s possible but seeing as it was on a timeline at a museum , I took it as fact. Someday someone will have to explain that to me though I have my own theory.

After an hour looking at glass, it was time to look through glass again as we got back in the car and completed our drive to Ithaca. We arrived in time for the rehearsal dinner BBQ and photo DVD viewing. There were also several good speeches. There were plenty of familiar faces that I’m not going to name off here but the groom was there, his brothers and their wives, his parents, and many other familiar faces from Rockland County.

After the festivities as all of the young folk waited to hit the Cornell bars, the old folk whooped it up on the piano singing golden oldies. My mom belted out the hits of her youth with a slew of other newly minted senior citizens (that sounds mean but it’s not meant to be). We young folk watched on amazement as they were whisked back to a simpler time when they wondered if they would meet someone really keen at the sockhop.

While they continued their trip down memory lane, my brother and I hopped in some dude’s Porsche for trip to the college booze strip. There we met up with the other youngish wedding revelers and hit up 3 Cornell bars before hopping a cab back home. We probably were out until at least 2am.

The Brothers Kessler Reveling In The Ithaca Evening

The next day I was wiped out and spent the majority of my morning missing breakfast with my eyes closed and my head on my pillow. We had some time to kill before the wedding so myself and the family went for some local food and a walk around some campus stores before heading to the art museum and one of those gorges that Ithaca is so well known for.

When we arrived back at the hotel it was time for a little nap before the wedding. I guess I can skip that detail since the most important part is the wedding. I would describe it but I’m not much for describing pretty things on account of the fact that I’m not sure if I possess a heart. It was very lovely though and there was a bit of comedy when the too young flower girl wouldn’t do her duty properly. Her mother had to go get her and carry her down the aisle. Other than that the ceremony went off without a hitch. The bride and groom both said “I do’s” or in this case their “with this ring you are consecrated unto me’s” and then it was off to the party.

Eric and Bryna- Wedded Bliss in Action
(photo taken by Greg Kessler)

There was drinking, dancing, hanging out. I spent a good deal of time talking to my friend Craig K who’s wedding I had attended in July. I ate a steak but not a lobster tail. My brother was entirely too drunk and at the end of the party was running around with flowers he had taken off the tables and throwing them everywhere. Afterwards we hung out in the Tennis cabana and drank and when we went back to our room my brother was going on one of those super drunk “how amazing everything is” rants that is pretty foreign to our relationship. I was pretty frightened.

The next morning we woke up hell bent on eating breakfast and getting back to New York City as soon as possible. The ride back was pretty irritating since I had felt like I had been stuck in a car all weekend which was partially true. We stopped off at a 50’s diner in Monticello, New York near the race track, which was thankfully the only time we stopped on the ride back. I was back home in Brooklyn by 5 or 6pm. When I arrived home my roommates were having a small labor day Barbecue during which I kept taking several trips upstairs to check my Fantasy team score. At around 7:30pm I decided to check my yahoo mail. Sitting at the top of my inbox was an email from a name I didn’t recognize. I would’ve normally just deleted it as spam, but at the last second I spied the subject line which read:

Pictures of your site with Kevin


Upon first glance I just thought it was someone who read the “If I Blog It They Will Come” site and was going to tell me that we hoped we could achieve our goal. However, I noticed that there was a rather large attachment. Upon further inspection, my heart began to race and a wide grin was tattoed on my countenance. We had done it. The site that began over 7 months ago as an idea that was just so stupid it could work, had achieved it’s goal. I went over to Andrew Morton who was sitting on my back deck and prodded at him as he was in conversation. I said something along the lines of “congratulations” and “guess while I’m smiling”. It took a while for me to spell it out for him but as soon as I did, I showed him the photos and we were as giddy as could be. I brought down my computer and showed my roommates who were all extremely excited. From there Andrew and I, with the help of Dana G got to work on our “SUCCESS!!!” post. This was quite the momentous occasion. We were overwhelmed so it took a little bit to get the post just right. When it was done Andrew went home and I went out to Union Hall with Arby to celebrate with one drink.

The next morning I woke up feeling fantastic. I had a 11 o’clock call time for work, so I woke up at 8am and posted the pictures on our blog. I also sent out a couple of emails to a couple of blogs to spread the word of our success. I didn’t have a chance to see it hit the blogosphere until later. There was a 4 hour break from shoots and I finally settled down at a internet cafe on Bleecker Street. I checked my stats and saw that the hits were somewhere in the 4,000 range for the day. Since then the site has garnered about 35,500 hits. That’s about 2 and a half times the amount of hits this site has gotten in three and a half years. The last two weeks kind of seem like a blur after that. A Brazillian blog asked to interview me and for me to send a picture of myself looking at their blog. I complied but I’m not sure if they ever got around to posting it. Oh well, I can’t read Portugese anyway. I wouldn’t mind being big in Brazil though. I’ve always wanted to go there.

Other than all of the hubbub with the website my life has been immersed in a fog comprised of reality TV shoots, fashion week, and writing notes pertaining to those events. I had a scant few minutes to myself leading into the weekend that followed Labor day. Friday night I had a late shoot and ended up at the Park Slope Ale House where I met Marty, Mac, Dell, Rob, Austin and several other people for Mac and Del’s moving away party. I really needed a drink at that point. The next day was a little out of hand as I met up with Mike S, Joe D, Rich M, Andrew G, and Matt D, along with one other person for Matt C’s bachelor party. That night consisted of a major amount of gluttony and a minor amount of unrequited lust. The result was a little bit of a hangover and a substantial dent in my bank account. It’s crazy how much money I’ve spent this summer on other people’s weddings in terms of gifts, bachelor parties and hotel rooms. At this rate I’m not sure I’ll ever get married so I’d like to petition every couple whose wedding I’ve attended this summer to give me a $300 gift for my birthday this year…preferably cash, that way I can buy a new macbook and maybe a fancy new iPod.


Married People….My Birthday is November 4th


The day after the bachelor party was a momentous occasion as it was the first Sunday of the 2007 football season. Arby and I wandered on down to the Lighthouse Tavern to catch all the action. Being members of the Lighthouse Tavern fantasy league we were privy to drink and wing specials. There was a hoard of people outside the bar when we arrived but no line. When the bar opened 5 minutes before kickoff, we slipped in and grabbed two seats at the bar. We watched the Pats destroy the Jets and the Packers conquer the Eagles. Ah, Football was upon us. After the early games, I went home to rest before the big Sunday evening event, which was the Giants vs. The Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Arby and I reconvened with special guest Filler. We watched Eli Manning light up the Cowboys defense. Unfortunately, Tony Romo lit up the Giants defense even more so in a high scoring 45-35 Dallas Cowboy victory. I hate those last three words.

Just like that the week was upon us again. Work was in high gear from Monday to Wednesday. However, our show wrapped on Wednesday and as a result I am currently unemployed. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy. I was about 4 days behind on my work notes so I worked diligently to catch up. The wrap party for our show was Friday and plenty of fun was had as cast and crew alike got their drink on.

Making a dumb drunk face with Cameraman Steve S.


Gavin is shocked that it’s all over.

We were wrapping up production to the wee hours of the morning. We eventually got some beers at a deli and walked over to our production coordinator Joyce’s where the revelry continued. And our friend Joe passed out so we took pictures. We stopped just shy of writing on his face with sharpies but we’re nicer than that.A few of us caught a cab to Brooklyn together and called it a night sometime around 3am,

Joe was so excited he fell asleep.

The next day I was hurting a tad bit. It took all I had to rally myself to finish my final edit notes for the show. I spent most of the day in bed. However, it was a special Saturday since we had a visitor in town at my Union Street abode. The visitor in question was my link to my current home, Maureen H, former VH1 co-worker and in my top 5 of most favorite people ever. I eventually made it out of my room to say hello to my long lost LA transplanted pal. She was in town for her brother’s wedding the following weekend so we would have plenty of time to catch up, but nonetheless we engaged in some immediate catching up as myself, Bassett, Andrew Morton, and Maureen went to Stone Park for dinner. Maureen was a little loopy from being jet lagged and was in top comedic form. In ways it felt like she’d never been gone as she didn’t miss a beat. Upon entering the hostess seemed like she didn’t want to seat us on account of they needed our table by 8pm. It was 6pm when we walked in so they really had nothing to worry about. They sat us near the back and we had a merry time back there. We were going to try to make our meal last as close to 8pm just to make them sweat but we couldn’t, and we didn’t really want to. So after a great meal and some excellent dessert we headed out the door.

Just as we headed out the door a child no taller than two and a half feet tall came running down 5th Avenue towards us. Maureen let out a scream as if he were a 7 foot tall, knife wielding maniac…the result was immediate fit of laughter from our entire party. We began to walk towards Union Hall but we had to stop so Maureen could regain her composure.

Maureen regaining her composure

We went to Union Hall in the hopes of getting some Bocce in but the courts were taken. Instead we settled for making forced conversation as though we were on a reality show such The Hills. Each sentence would begin with the stating of a potential plot point…”So Maureen, I heard you’re in a fight with Andrew, what’s going on with that?”. We laughed and laughed and then I left because I had to recharge my batteries for an evening on the Manhattan town.

I headed into Manhattan at around 10:15 on Saturday night for Jess S and Katie K’s birthday party at Iggy’s. The bar itself was packed. I think a good majority of the people there were there for the party. It was a friendly yet tight gathering. I spent the majority of the evening speaking with Carrie and Sarah M and there were cameo appearances from familiar faces from the VH1 days, such as Gino T, Jennie F, and Tom R. It was a pretty good time and I think we closed down the bar. I got home at 5am and went straight to bed.With Birthday Girl Jess S and Sarah M.

I pretty much spent my entire Sunday recovering in bed and watching the Giants get pummeled by the Green Bay Packers. It’s gonna be a long season New York Football. Luckily, my Fantasy Football team won today. Alright, all caught up…happy now? I sure am.

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