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Posts Tagged ‘California’

Arizona Hunter Redefines Manliness

Posted by evankessler on December 18, 2009

The moment we saw his character Col. James Braddock save face by killing a giant rat with his own teeth in Missing In Action 2: The Beginning, was the moment we decided that Chuck Norris was perhaps the toughest human being alive.

However, our definition of manliness was put to the test when infomercials for Jack Lalanne‘s juicer arrived, accompanied by video footage of the fitness fan handcuffed and shackled while swimming the length the Golden Gate Bridge underwater toting 140lbs of equipment.

It wasn’t until years later after watching the Jackass crew commit unspeakable acts of stupidity upon their own genitalia that we thought Mr. Norris and Mr. LaLane might have some competition in the realm of true, if ill advised, grit. And while it takes a certain amount of gall to have a cue ball rammed into one’s private area, it doesn’t necessarily come with the merit of using one’s body as a freightliner, or escaping from a fictional Vietnamese POW camp.

Enter, James Gruver, who has shown that despite nature’s plan to wipe out the human race (and most other creatures) via global warming, mankind still has a leg up in other menacing situations that mother earth hurls our way. The Arizona hunter was attacked by a rabid 30 lb. Bobcat intent on tearing him limb upon limb when he seized control of the situation, harnessing his own adrenaline to choke his hungry feline foe to death.  Rather than become an earlybird special for this combative kitty, Gruven now has a reason to visit the taxidermist.  Maybe we should consider hiring Gruver to literally “tackle” the problem of the melting polar ice caps next.

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The End of Days?

Posted by evankessler on September 30, 2009

We’re not sure whether you forgot to separate the plastic from the glass last week, or you decided to purchase a gas-guzzling SUV. Whatever you did mother nature is pissed off. Recently, the Earth has unleashed a flurry of destruction upon its inhabitants unmatched since theaters worldwide made people watch The Day After Tomorrow.

It all started with storms and subsequent deadly floods in the Philippines, which then carried on to Vietnam.  Next on the disaster timeline came Tuesday’s massive Samoan earthquake, which sent a deadly Tsunami roaring through the capital and put areas as far away as Hawaii and as near as California on watch.

As if three force majeures were not enough to have us shaking in our boots, this morning we were awakened by news of a second massive earthquake near Sumatra. Now we’re not sure if this is all just a big coincidence caused by shifting clouds and tectonic plates or it’s the end of days, but whatever you might have done to irk mother earth, kindly repent or build yourself an ark.

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Syko Suspected in Slaying

Posted by evankessler on September 21, 2009

We’ve never been accused of a single or even multiple homicide, but we’d imagine that the most difficult part of receiving a fair hearing from a jury of your peers on such charges is the fact that the word “murderer” even with the word “alleged” in front of it carries a pretty negative stigma akin to strike one.  While strikes two and three are usually reserved for damning evidence (or rappers with the name C-Murder) and a subsequent judicial ruling, one potential inmate may have handed over all of the proof beyond a reasonable doubt necessary for cementing his conviction in the minds of jurors with his choice of artistic expression and his knack for picking an appropriate pseudonym. A 20-year-old California-based Horrorcore rapper, going by the name of Syko Sam, is accused of murdering a Virginia Pastor and three others at the home of a Longwood University professor 50 miles outside of Richmond over the weekend.

Syko Sam, whose real name Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III makes him sound like a 3rd generation Yale legacy, wrote extremely dark lyrics describing the thrill of watching dying victims last breaths and a love of stabbing– amongst other twisted fantasies. We hate to plant our feet  in the “murderer” box on our jump to conclusions mat solely based on some effed up lyrics and a name (after all, we don’t think “The Killers” have actually killed anybody), but there’s some additional none-too-friendly evidence on the suspect’s myspace page linking him to a weekend rendezvous with one teen victim– not to mention the fact that he’s thought to have split from the scene of the crime in one of the victim’s cars.

While we’re firm believers that “innocent until proven guilty” and artistic expression don’t often see eye to eye,  there can sometimes be a thin line between talk and action that warrants our attention.  This might be an example of the latter.

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Britney Spears Fan Swipes Chihuahua

Posted by evankessler on August 21, 2009

It was a hot, sweaty, steamy July night in the Magic City; the kind of night ripe for a description of a fictionalized account of a heinous crime.The crowd at Georgie’s Alibi, the Wilton Manners area of Miami’s premiere gay bar, was positively jumping. The throbbing music was making the crowd move, and the birthday party being held had the patrons giving off a positively radiant vibe.

Little Hudson Hayward Hemingway was looking good as he sat in his specialty bag scoping out the crowd, clad in his own soft pink coat accented by the pink earrings on his furry yet pointy four-month-old chihuahua ears and not barking at anyone.

Cher‘s “Believe” blasted through the speakers and Triple H’s 48-year old owner Brian Dortort shot a look over at his new best friend as if to say, “I believe in life after love as long as I have my adorable pup that I can dress up in a totally ridiculous manner.” Just like that the DJ switched it up and put on Britney Spears‘ latest hit “Radar.” All of the sudden the Britney Spears tattoo on the neck of an anonymous patron was activated. The tingle in his neck ink sent a message to his brain that the gayest thing in the room had to be his.

With cold precision, like Reggie Jackson on a mission to kill the Queen of England, said bar patron made for Hudson Hayward Hemingway and snatched him up, leaving under the cloak of blackness and beats that characterizes most Miami nights. It’s been nearly one month since H3 was snatched and while local police have continued the search with one suspect in mind, they’ve yet to bring in Dan Marino for questioning.

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What Salad?

Posted by evankessler on July 24, 2009

Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia).

Image via Wikipedia

American dependence on the meal staple that is salad took a serious hit today when California-based produce company Tanimura and Antle Fresh Foods Inc, announced a recall of Romaine lettuce.  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, while conducting a random contamination test (which also allows for other possibly affected random brands to go untested), selected said brand only to find that infamous form of bacteria known as Salmonella had reared it’s ugly head.

So far there have been zero cases of food borne illness reported in connection with product, no doubt the result of a nation teetering on the brink of obesity who when asked to point out romaine lettuce mostly just motions with a confused shrug as  most Americans are more familiar with romaine lettuce as that leafy green thing wedged beneath onions and that round red vegetable-looking thing on the side of their deluxe burger and fries platter that usually goes untouched.

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MJ Memorial to Heal the World

Posted by evankessler on July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson's Memorial Service at Staples ...

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

The world is at a standstill today and Los Angeles is it’s epicenter as close to a billion people worldwide have stopped in their tracks and glued themselves to their television sets or to chairs at the Staples Center to remember one of the great artists of all time with a memorial tribute to Michael Jackson.  Such a momentous occasion is this celebration of the life of The King of Pop that even MTV has got in on the act,  putting a halt to it’s regularly scheduled programming consisting of teenagers getting drunk and trying to hook up with each other indiscriminantly, to join more respectable entertainment outletssuch as CNN and BET to cover the heart-wrenching, celebrity-ridden tribute from the eloquent perspective of Sway.

News coverage has been vigilant to say the least, following everything via helicopter from the private service at Forest Lawn Cemetery to an OJ-style aerial shot of the hearse transporting the body of MJ to the event. It’s pandemonium on a Princess Di level and truly a fitting tribute for a guy who we called a King that was prone to dressing like some sort of Civil War Admiral.

Today, we truly are the world, and we are the children of the music of Michael Jackson. And when this whole damn star- studded thing is over, we’ll have to get back to our normal lives with the knowledge that none of us are “Invincible”, but also
that we must do our part to heal the world and make it a better place– because that’s what Michael would want us to do.

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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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