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Posts Tagged ‘family gatherings’

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.

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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.

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

There’s No F-U-N in Funeral?

Posted by evankessler on January 14, 2008

The title is not meant to suggest that I actually had fun at my Grandfather’s funeral. When I returned home to Rockland County on Wednesday evening with my brother in tow, I was not really looking forward to the potential of an overly emotional family reunion. However, when we arrived home to my home in Pomona via the taxi we caught at the bus stop, we were greeted by a surprisingly together group in relatively good spirits, considering the reason we were all gathered together. My brother and I entered the house to find my mother and my Aunt Melanie, along with my Uncle Alan’s fiancee Veronika setting up the dining room for a family dinner. My stepdad came in the door next and minutes later my cousin Erika, along with my uncle Alan walked through the door with a vast array of Chinese cuisine from our favorite local restaurant of that ilk. M

We sat down at the table and had a general pleasant conversation filled with a lot of laughter (mostly at the expense of my Uncle Alan) and general inappropriateness from my brother. He was recounting the story of his model shoot earlier in the day and felt it necessary to impart that the model whom he had shot had the biggest breasts on a 16 year old model he had ever seen. I’m sure this is information that everyone wanted to know…especially the female half of the table. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of information he is willing to share without taking the time to consider his audience. My uncle Doug showed up an hour into the meal and joined in the conversation as if he didn’t miss a beat.

The rest of Wednesday evening was spent catching up with my family as it had probably been close to two years since I had seen my Aunt Melanie, cousin Erika and Uncle Doug. I always seem to enjoy seeing my mom’s sister since we always seem to find the same things funny. I should probably go out to California and visit her since I have so much damn free time. Now only if I had the money. It had been even longer since seeing my Uncle Alan and his fiance, possibly more than than six years. Perhaps, I should go to Arizona too. Besides seeing my family there was another positives to being home in Rockland. Seeing as I was in the midst on my two week on-the-wagon, no drinking streak, being in the suburbs and not being within walking distance of a bar was going to knock a few days off of my required sobriety streak without a problem.

I woke up bright and early Thursday morning, around 8:30. My brother was sleeping on my lower pull out bed. He recommended sleeping another half hour, but I sprung out of bed to get an early start as I knew there’d be plenty of people showering and we had to be out of the house by 10:15am to drive to the funeral. When I walked downstairs, and saw the California contingent (Aunt Melanie, Uncle Doug, Cousin Erika) along with my stepdad enjoying breakfast. I partook in some Rice Krispies that my Uncle Alan had asked for them to buy for breakfast. However, he was staying at a neighbors house so he was not present at breakfast yet.

Shortly after my breakfast had been finished Alan and his fiance arrived to grab some pre-funeral food. Alan grasped the box of Rice Krispies and was dismayed that it was nearly empty. He whined that there was barely enough left for him to make a bowl and seemed resigned to begrudgingly have a tiny bowl of rice krispies even though his damned relatives didn’t think to save him any.

Little did he know, or did I know, my Aunt, his younger sister, had played a trick on him, emptying out the majority of the box into a tupperware container. Alan failed to see the humor in this as he failed to see the humor in other situations over his 3 days in New York. It was funny to me and just about everyone else though.

At 10:15 we left in 2 cars to the Gates of Zion cemetery, where my Father and Grandmother were both buried, and what was to be the final resting place for my Grandfather. The car I rode in with Alan and Veronika was the 2nd to arrive at the site. Alan’s daughter, my cousin Michele arrived before us with her boyfriend Jeff and my 2nd cousin Liz and Aunt Silvia (my grandmother’s sister?). We were soon followed by my mother and the rest of the group. The first order of business was to put rocks on the gravestones of our loved ones who had already been buried. I’m not exactly sure of the meaning of this ritual but I’ve been engaging in that tradition for the last 16 years or so, so there’s no reason to stop now.

Rather than have the ceremony in the indoor worship area we elected to have the rabbi speak outside next to the plot because we didn’t really have ample pall bearers and because it was actually kind of nice outside. When it was time to take the casket out of the Hearse, it was almost a disaster. The guys from the funeral service and cemetery seemed to have trouble handling the casket and almost dropped it. However, my Uncle’s fiance’ was quick on her feet to help them put it on the gurney thingy.

Now I’m not a huge fan of my religion or any religion for that matter, but the Rabbi that officiated over the ceremony was fantastic. She was very soft spoken and had a certain reassuring quality to her voice that was almost pleasant to listen to. I don’t know if I should feel guilty about this, but I actually enjoyed the funeral. There was a sense of warmth that came over me as my Grandfather’s coffin was lowered (though with some difficutly) into the ground alongside the woman whom he spent the majority of his years. They were together again and it just seemed right.

Following the part where the coffin was placed 6 feet below the surface, was the cover it in dirt portion. After mom, her siblings, and my brother shoveled dirt over the wooden box containing the body of my grandfather I did my duty. I was followed by the majority of the 18 remaining mourners on hand. However, the aim at this point was to cover the casket and since we all could do so with one or two scoops, I went back for 2nds. However, it would take awhile. My cousin’s boyfriend was right in front of me shoveling away. He didn’t do just one or two…he must’ve shoveled 15 or 20 times. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to prove to my cousin or uncle his dedication to our family or if he just really liked shoveling. I kept expecting him to put the shovel down but he kept going. Finally, he stopped and then I managed to get a few decent shovels in but I don’t think I got more in than that guy…though I did go for a bit.

When the shoveling was complete we all headed back to my family’s home in Pomona and partook in a little mourning lunchtime. There was an array of bagles with various spreads and cold cuts, lots of cookies, and very little healthy fare. We sat around the house discussing general family stuff and getting reacquainted and just enjoying each others company. We even took a few family photos, the best one being below.

An array of Parises, Kesslers, Streeters, and Petersons

The next few days were pretty similar. The lot of us barely left the house. We sat around while people visited and offered their condolences. Most of the conversation seemed upbeat. We passed around my Grandfather’s bronze star and read the accompanying commendations printed on tissue paper and dated in the 1940’s. There were a lot of good memories and a fair share of conversations not about the events of the past few weeks. I talked enough about my book idea that now I have to follow through with it, or else plenty of people are going to be very disappointed…including myself.

My brother left after the funeral on Friday; My uncle Alan and his girlfriend onFriday afternoon and myAunt Melanie and Uncle Doug left early saturday morning. My cousin Erika and I were the last two immediate family members left at my mom’s house and we left Saturday afternoon.

I arrived back home in Brooklyn just before the beginning of the first Saturday NFL divisional playoff game. I could’ve gone to the local bar or attempted to see if anyone wanted to watch the game but my initial instinct was to not go out because I didn’t want to be around alcohol. Instead I went to the gym and watched some of the Packers-Seahawks game as Rockland County native Ryan Grant ran all over the Seahawks in the Snow and led the Packers to a 42-20 win. I almost met up with Thea for the 2nd game but ended up just watching at home as the Pats dismantled the Jaguars 31-20.

Sunday morning I woke up at 10am, relatively anxious to watch the Giants battle the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoffs. Unfortunately, I had to sit through the Chargers-Colts game first. I sat in my desk chair until the late 3rd quarter when I decided to meet Heather and Thea at the Lighthouse, even though I told them I wasn’t drinking. I was worried when I got there that they would force alcohol on me and I would fold in my quest to go 2 weeks without the booze. However, when I arrived the bar owner, Tommy announced to me that I wasn’t allowed to drink. She was surprisingly on board with me being on the wagon. This made my bar stay much easier.

I watched on as the Chargers pulled out an upset victory against the defending champs setting up an AFC Chapmpionship game at Foxboro against the Patriots. When the game ended I had several minutes to bite my nails out of anxiety and anticipation for the Giants -Cowboys game.
When that game began I was all systems go. I pretty much ignored everyone around me and intently zoned out on the game. It was completely thrilled when Amani Toomer scored a touchdown, but not exactly enthused once the Cowboys went ahead 14-7 with less then a minute left in the 1st half. Luckily, that was short lived, as Eli Manning marched the Giants to the End Zone for another Toomer TD, to tie the game before the halftime gun sounded.

I was feeling good but not exactly optimistic, but the Giants managed to step up
and outscored the Cowboys 7-3 in the 2nd half thanks to a good RW McQuarters punt return and a Brandon Jacobs Touchdown run. RW McQuarters also came up big on the final Dallas offensive play intercepting Tony Romo to clinch the game. With the Giants win, they are now slated to face the Green Bay Packers as their final obstacle en route to Super Bowl XLII. I’m not overly optimistic about their chances on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, but they have won 9 in a row on the road so there’s always that. Even if they do lose next week, my favorite football team has certainly exceeded my expectations. By my estimation, their season has already been a huge success…and as Sunday comes to a close, I am smiling.

Posted in Football, New York Giants | Tagged: , | 1 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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Posted by evankessler on April 4, 2007

It’s been an eventful or uneventful couple of days depending on how you feel about the the act of upholding religious traditions. It was a rather quiet stay in the suburbs aside from the It was also a good time for familial arguments and misunderstandings. Though I suppose that sort of thing is commonplace when people return home and are confronted with the fact that they’ll be under the same roof with their parents once again, if only for a few days. There was a good reason for a get together though, since it was Passover and it was time to break matzah and celebrate being led out of Egypt. Dayenu!

Despite the apparent reason for my stay, the majority of my time at home was spent taking in baseball, as Sunday night when I arrived was the start of the baseball season…but you knew that since I talked about it on Sunday night/Monday morning.

I woke up Monday morning, around noon and partook in some Oatmeal so lovingly prepared by my mother, though I added some bananas, brown sugar and walnuts. The rest of my day was spent watching baseball, looking for work, and monitoring my Fantasy Baseball teams (all named Met Offensive). Aside from the maternal requests to wash the potatoes and help make charoset, the latter or which I enjoyed, I was pretty sloth-like throughout the day. Though I did manage to get in a Costner Post and get through 8 songs on the iPodyssey from Ryan Adams’ “Thank You Louise” to Aimee Mann’s “That’s When I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart”, which just so happened to be the 4000th song on the iPodyssey. At the rate I’m going this thing is coming to a close, which will be just fine with me because there are certain songs I’ve been dying to hear for months that I’ve already passed on my musical journey.

I also had the opportunity to participate in such Seder readiness games like “Clean the Silverware” and “Make Sure the Glasses Aren’t Streaky Even Though They Look Fine and No One Will Care Because The Light In The Dining Room is Out So No One Will Be Able To See The Aformentioned Streaks”. Once I finished those tasks it was back to baseball and the Met Offensive.

At around 4:45 pm I jumped in the shower with the planet’s strongest water pressure (this shower scoffs at the notion of low flow heads, emitting on average 200 gallons of water per second blasting your body clean into the tile at the back of the shower) in preparation for the Seder dinner. Our close family friends whom we usually share the holiday with were coming over though the lineup card was not exactly the same as the previous several years. This year myself, my mother, and Irwin (my brother is in Germany or somewhere foreign) were joined as usual by Rhona and Stuart and one of their three sons David. David was accompanied by his lovely wife Missy and their 19 month old daughter Alexandra who I had only seen when she was but a few months old and quite stationary.

When the doorbell rang, nay, was knocked on Rhona, Stuart, David, Missy, and Alexandra were all standing there. I didn’t expect to see Alexandra standing because I wasn’t aware that she was at the standing age. I’m not even sure what age kids are suppose to be able to stand at, but apparently it’s well before 19 months because she had the standing and walking thing down. Alexandra also had the staring thing down and for the first several minutes she did not avert her eyes from my direction. Now, I’m kind of a sell professed child hater, but when it’s your friend’s child you can’t help but be fascinated. I didn’t make googly eyes or obnoxious sounds at his child. I can never bring myself to do that but I did get a laugh out of the staring contest we were engaged in.

At one point Missy gave my mom a gift and said something along the lines of “since you don’t have any grandchildren here’s a gift”. I don’t think that’s exactly what she said but all of the sudden I thought to myself, “and not anytime soon” while at the same time I was kind of aware how much my mom was probably jealous of her friends who have grandkids, I am nowhere near the point where I can be making babies. I was extremely impressed though at little Alex as she didn’t cry or whine. Sure she asked for her mommy and daddy but that seeemed more because her vocabulary hadn’t been expanded beyond a certain extent yet, though later on in the night I was made aware that she knew numbers, snails, buses, and Dora The Explorer characters amongst other things.

The seder meal was the usual mockery of the Jewish religion as we only went through half of it. We got through all of the important parts: the ten plagues, the story of passover, two cups of wine, singing dayenu, eating Irwin’s homemade horseradish and my Charoset. We never made it to Elijah’s cup since the meal got in the way. I’m sure Elijah had enough wine that night anyway. If you went around to every seder in the world and drank a cup of wine you’d certainly be candidate for alcohol poisoning, prophet or not.

The meal itself was chock full of good eats. There was Matzo Ball Soup, brisket, chicken, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, vegetable kugel, roasted potatoes, and probably some other stuff that I was too full to partake in. The conversation was fun and Stuart told his usual gambling anecdotes about his trips to Foxwoods. I did steal away for periodic trips to check my fantasy team on my computer but I did so covertly under the guise of a trip to the bathroom. I am most certainly a sports dork.

After the meal I sat with David and Alex as they watched an episode of Dora The Explorer on demand. David told me of the horrors of having to watch the same episode sometimes 3 or 4 times in one morning nevermind how many times that meant watching that same episode in the span of a week. Nothing like learning through repetition. I’ll take Sesame Street over that Dora show anytime but then again, I’m not 19 months old anymore.

When the episode was over we headed back into the dining room for dessert. I enjoyed some chamomile tea and fancy macaroons unlike the ones that come in the jar from supermarket. They were much better than the ones I currently have in my apartment that I’ve been snacking. on. The party broke up at around 9:03, just in time to catch the beginning of 24. I contemplated doing a running diary of the show just then but I didn’t want to face constant questions from my mother as to what I might be doing. Also, I didn’ do one the previous week and might be giving up on them altogether since it seems a little silly to not do it one week and then do it the next. That being said, the show is getting more and more ridiculous and when the President was awakened from a coma to stop an uneccesary nuclear attack on a foreign country only to decide later on in the episode that he should go through with it, it seemed like the writers are trying to keep things interesting by making the events more and more ludicrous. My bullshit threshold has almost been surpassed. I mean this guy was dying an hour and a half ago, attached to tubes and all of the sudden he’s in the White House making decisions. I think they should have held him out at least two more hours of real time before he got dressed like the president again…but maybe that’s just me. After 24 ended I did some more Fantasy watching and finally went to sleep a little after 1am.

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) at 11:45am. I didn’t even try to keep kosher for passover and had some Oatmeal. I don’t think that confines to the laws of Judaism but I’m not really sure. McCann’s Irish Oats have most certainly not been blessed by a Rabbi or even a Rabbinical student. Oh well, I would’ve screwed it up later anyway with a slice of pizza or a sandwich or something. After breakfast, I was determined to finish another Costner post before I made my way back to Brooklyn. It was an important day as it was our 50th post in our mission to get Kevin Costner to visit, “If I Blog It They Will Come” and send in a photo of himself doing so.

My mom drove me to the bus stop in Suffern in time for the 3pm bus to the Port Authority. The bus came at 3pm with a sign that read “Port Jervis” but was broken. I got on and resumed my iPodyssey at song 4000, Aimee Mann’s “That’s When I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart” and I also resumed reading my book, Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. It was just under 2 hours door to door as I arrived at around 4:45 to the tune of Pulp’s “This is Hardcore”. At around 6pm I reheated some Passover leftovers and watched TV. The Matzo Ball soup was as good as I remembered it.

At 8pm I had a meeting with Andy and the rest of the crew for the movie that we’re making for the 12 hour film festival this weekend. I headed over to Andy’s place with iPod in hand once again, listening to Pulp…The only people at the meeting were myself and Andy as Kayvalyn, Jason, Lauren, and Rich could not be present. Despite the minimal presence, I would certainly consider the meeting or brainstorming session very useful. I’m certainly looking forward to making some movie magic this weekend. You can look forward to viewing it once we’re done with it….if we indeed want to share it with you. I got home a little before 10pm with Kasey Chambers singing to me about “This Mountain”.

I sat down in the living room with Marty and watched the Mets as well as some Daily Show and Colbert. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty complete last couple of days. I’m damn tired and still full of the Jew food.

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Why Is This Week Different From All Other Weeks?

Posted by evankessler on April 14, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in New York Mets, reading, Rockland County | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Orange Alert!

Posted by evankessler on March 13, 2006

Congratulations to the Syracuse Orangemen (I refuse to just call them the Orange) on their Big East Tournament victory this weekend. It certainly made this month’s upcoming NCAA Tournament much more interesting for me personally and I’m sure countless other Syracuse alumni and fans. We’re coming in to the tournament on a hot streak so the other teams better watch out. Actually, you heard it right here, I’m predicting a first round loss to Texas A&M but it’s an honor just to be nominated.

Anyway, you didn’t come here to read about college basketball. I know I don’t really have anything to write about it besides what I’ve already written so I guess that cancels out any further commentary. We all know you’re looking forward to the weekend recap. Let me tell you, I’m looking forward to writing it for you folks out there who make this all possible by perusing daily and though you may not buy shirts, you’re still number one in my hearts, though you could at least fill in the unnecessary guestbook to let me know you’re out there.
Alright, I’ll get off of your case and get into the weekend recap. Friday was an extremely busy day. I woke up bright and early for a doctor’s appointment at 10am all the in the West 80’s. One hour later, it was off to my old haunt at 1633 Broadway to pay a visit to some old friends and meet some new fans. This one’s for my loyal readers in 6-153. I think that’s my old office. I dropped in to see my old desk across from the ladies room to chat with David and Lauren. I also had a nice chat with my ol’ supervising producer Karla. I then headed upstairs to knock on Mr. Adam Starling’s door where I encountered Sergio Santos, Megan Beshalsky and an unnamed stranger who shares their office. Adam alerted me to his Saturday evening plans, which included an outing at Planet Rose. This, needless to say, tickled my karaoke fancy. I even started knock around song ideas in my head. We’ll get to that part later though.

After my hour-long detour at the VH1 office, I headed home for a little online job hunt and some afternoon R&R before my busy day was to continue. At 4pm I headed over to an Art Gallery in Cooper Square where I was helping out at an art gallery where my friend Bess works. A couple of weeks, prior she had asked if I wanted to do some bartending for an art opening. Having never tended bar before I enthusiastically took up the cause. Not only because it was a new experience but also because I hadn’t actually been paid for working since sometime back in October, once again putting accent on the running theme that I need a job.

When I arrived at the gallery I found out that along with the gallery owner’s work another artists paintings were being featured, and that artist was….Are you ready for this? (Drum roll please) …Burt Young. Some of you are saying, who is Burt Young? Some of you are saying AWESOME! I didn’t know Burt Young painted. I just thought he was Rocky Balboa’s drunken corner man/brother in-law Pauly. Well you’d be wrong. Burt Young is an artist as well and I quite liked his work, not that I’m an expert on art. Anyway, before anyone arrived one of the other worker’s (Eric) and I went to K-Mart to get a cooler and some ice. When we got back we all helped with some setting up. The first guests arrived at 5:30 and I was stationed behind the bar. We didn’t have a full bar which was excellent for me as I have never tended bar before and know how to make very few drinks. Our bar consisted of Red Wine, White Wine, Vodka, Perrier, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, and tonic water. Luckily for me there are not too many permutations that can be created with those ingredients. I was slightly afraid someone would ask for something I wouldn’t know how to make but what I should have been afraid of was the actual ingredients themselves. My first attempt at opening the primary bottle of tonic water was met with an Old Faithful-esque explosion. Luckily for the painting behind me the entire contents of said explosion covered my shirt and pants. Luckily, for me, only one person witnessed my embarrassment and it was a co-worker. Pretty soon the party picked up and I was dishing out drinks at what seemed like a record pace. I felt really great and actually enjoyed doing the bartending bit. My action was decreased when a new worker, cute girl named Serica, a Finlandia Vodka girl, was sent to help dispense drinks. Ironically, she was giving out wine and I was making all of the Vodka drinks.

The funny thing about bartending is that you figure out really quickly who all of the alcoholics in the room are. There was one guy who was leaning against the radiator about 4 feet from me and kept extending his glass every 5 minutes for refills. There was another guy who asked me for some white wine and then about 30 seconds later asked for a refill. I’ve also realized that Perrier is extremely popular. I think had to pour more Perrier than anything else. It is amazing to me that people can drink that stuff. It’s the Yuppie soft drink of choice. I’d say about 60 percent of the drinks I gave out were Perrier. Personally, I don’t understand the appeal of sparkling water. I’m also not sure what the difference is between Perrier, Tonic, and Club Soda. I would like a full explanation. I’m sure I could just look it up but people who wanted vodka and soda wouldn’t take Vodka and Perrier or Vodka and tonic. I don’t think any of those drinks could be so different. That being said, I was told that I make a good vodka tonic, though in all honesty it’s pretty impossible to mess up. Before all was said and done I had worked from 4pm to about 9:45 and managed to explode 2 bottles of Tonic on myself and earn $60. Way to go me. I miss working.

After the show, I ventured about 1 block from the art studio to McSorley’s to meet my friends John and Chris from my improv class. It was John’s birthday and what better reason to celebrate. It was really great to see them though I only stayed for about an hour which was enough time to down about 5 of those dark half pints. We were also joined by fellow Level 1 improv classmate Jonathan Desley, but he came right before I left. When I was saying goodbye to everyone some girl they were chatting with outside wanted to play with my hair and then invited me to go to Fat Cat Billiards with her and her friends but I was on my way up to 52nd st. to hang out with Morwin, Miller, Andy, Kayvalyn, Andrea, Jason, and several others. I don’t remember exactly who was there because the majority of them decided they were leaving right before I showed up. This is right after they told me to get more beer. I stayed at Morwin’s drinking with Andy, Andy’s brother, Jason, and Steve Miller before leaving about an hour later. Something tells me I should have stayed downtown but I had a good enough time as it were. I also found out that our friends John and Zherna Karian are officially expecting, so congratulations to them.

Saturday was a beautiful day. I reinstituted my spring/summer tradition of aimless wandering whilst listening to music on my ipod. I wound up getting a frosty and Wendy’s and walking to Strand bookstore where I bought Woody Allen’s book Side Effects. I then meandered over to Washington Square Park to begin reading said book. It’s a good thing I had just finished reading Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the day before. It’s funny, that book took me about a month to read and it’s only 182 pages. I’m already one-third of the way through this Woody Allen book and it’s only been one day. I moved the action away from the Folkie Guitar playing hippies in the park back to the front stoop of my apartment on Bleecker St. I sat out in front reading and people watching. At around 5:30, Kristin Ertel, her boyfriend David, and his roommate Alex crossed my path. We decided we would get some dinner so we went to the gimmicky Slaughtered Lamb Pub on Jones and W. 4th Street. The Slaughtered Lamb Pub is funny because they try to make their dishes sound either haunted or British. For example, the Chicken Fingers are called “Cheshire Chicken Fingers” and the basement area is called “The Dungeon”. Nonetheless the food was okay but we couldn’t resist renaming everything on the menu to sound more British.

After we ate, I split with Kristin, David, and Alex thinking that we would get together to watch the Syracuse game but that did not happen. Instead, I watched Syracuse skim the Pittsburgh Panthers by 4 in the Big East Conference final whilst eating a bag of popcorn from across the street by my lonesome. Not that I’m complaining, I don’t really like watching sports with people around me yelling. After the game ended I set out to meet Adam Starling at Planet Rose for some karaoke only I hadn’t talked to Adam all day. I stupidly assumed he would be there. I’m not trying to passive aggressively blame him for not being there, I’m just saying, the only thing I went on was a suggestion Adam made the previous day. In the back of my mind I sort of thought he wouldn’t’ be there as I hadn’t spoken with him all day. When I finally arrived after a pleasant stroll I entered Planet Rose to find Adam’s friend Mike but no Adam. I stayed and had one drink and then decided I really didn’t feel that much like being out anyway. As I headed back to home sweet home I made some calls to see if anyone was out but it really didn’t seem like a busy night. Anyway, I was perfectly satisfied with the way the night ended up. I got a couple of nice walks out of it and Syracuse won the Big East Championship.

Today (Sunday) wasn’t much of a day. I had plans to meet my family for Brunch on the Upper East Side. For some god awful reason my mom decided to make Brunch plans at El Greco, a place whose specialties were Greek and Seafood. I was more in the mood for Breakfast. So not only was this not a good Brunch place but it was all the way up on 72nd and 2nd. Instead of taking the 6 train to get their I decided that I didn’t want to walk far in the light drizzle so I got on the E train figuring I would switch at the 51st and Lexington Avenue stop to the 6 train. However, when I got to 42nd street it was announced that the E was going to be on the D track or something so I was kind of screwed and needed to find a new route to the East Side. I begrudgingly got out at times square and walked to Bryant Park where I jumped on the F which was riding on the V track and it took me to where I wanted to switch. Why does the MTA feel the need to fuck with every single train route on the weekend? I am confident that none of the trains were running their entire usual route this weekend. Anyway, I had a subpar brunch with the family. I really was not in the mood for Rigatoni and eggplant but I ate it anyway. The rest of my day was spent wasting valuable space on the couch. Given the amount I’ve written about this weekend you’d think it was more eventful than it actually was. Oh well. This week is sure to be a good one maybe. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s hot 24 action.

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Taking Care of Grandpa’s Business

Posted by evankessler on February 13, 2006

I believe when I last left you (on the emergency blogs) I was sitting at the computer in my stepfather’s Boca Raton (mouth rat?) apartment as I anticipated a Friday morning softball game between Purdue and another University on the Florida Atlantic Campus. So let’s take it from there shall we? On Friday morning I awakened at 7:30am (an abnormal wakeup time for a vacation though to be fair when have I not been on vacation in the past several months) ate a banana, took a shower, and jumped in a car with Irwin, and my Aunt Melanie and headed over to the Softball field at FAU to see my cousin Erika catch for the Purdue Boilermakers Softball team.

We made it to the game just before 9am, in time for the star spangled banner. There were a whole bunch of Purdue Moms in the stands and a small South Carolina contingent representing their opponents. I have to admit it was a pretty exciting game but unfortunately Purdue lost either 1 or 2 to nothing but my cousin hit a monster double. Purdue’s next game in the tournament was at 1pm against East Carolina but we couldn’t stay because we had to take my Grandfather shopping for new sneakers. My aunt had warned me that seemingly simple tasks usually take all day on account of the swiftness with which my grandfather and most old people move. She also said that we’d be lucky to get more than one thing done. Lucky for us, we finished two things.

First, we went to the bank to look through the safe deposit box. This particular section of the bank seemed to have minimal security. It was almost as if they were begging for people to alert their criminal friends as to the simplicity of pulling of a heist at this particualr Wachovia branch. The next stop was a Big K-Mart where we spent an hour and a half trying to convince my Grandfather that he needs Velcro shoes since he can barely bend down anymore.

Our shoe adventure then turned into dinner, as Melanie, Grandpa Dave, and I went to pick up Erika at her team’s hotel to meet Irwin for his birthday dinner at a family style Italian restaurant. Irwin was hoping that we would order from the family style menu so he could have a week’s worth of food in his refrigerator but instead we each at our own individual meal and Irwin was mighty disappointed. After dinner, Melanie and I drove Erika to her hotel and my grandfather back to his assisted living community, Hamilton House and Irwin went to pick up my mom at the airport.

Saturday was more of the same in the morning. Early wakeup again and another Early softball game. This time Purdue beat Bethune-Cookman 3-1(?) and again we didn’t stick around for game 2. We took off and got lunch and I went for a swim at Irwin’s apartment complex and afterwards we had more Grandfatherly needs to attend to. We went his apartment that had been destroyed by Hurricane Rita and went through what was left of the apartment. When we determined that there was very little that hadn’t been put in storage we headed towards his new apartment that my mother had rented because of my Grandpa’s refusal to live any longer in assisted living. He moves in on March 1st but we had to make sure it was suitable for him. We then went back to the Hamilton house to retrieve the senior member of my family for some dinner but he decided he didn’t want to go. Dinner ended up being my mom, Irwin, Melanie, Erika, and myself. We ate at a Greek Restauant in Boca that was actually pretty decent.

Can you guess what I did Sunday? You probably can. The schedule was a little different though and the weather was a bit colder. In fact the temperature was in the mid fifties. We watched the 2-2 Purdue Boilermakers fall behind 3-0 to the FAU Owls when we decided it was time to go through my Grandfather’s storage space. We later found out that Purdue won 4-3 and that my cousin Erika hit a home run in the last inning. Sweet. Anyway, we went through my Grandpa’s old things and came across many interesting things including old pictures and documents from World War II including secret documents about the plan of attack in France. We also found my Grandmother’s Junior High Autograph book and my aunt found a Gun. She decided that she wanted to take the gun home because it was “interesting”. Whenever she was holding the gun I stood as far away as possible. I don’t know the stats on handgun accidents but I know it is probably not a good idea to stand near my and when she is curiously investigating a 35 year old gun. Later, my aunt would inquire as to the origins of said gun to which my grandfather alerted her to put it back as she is not licensed to own that gun. She was going to try to put in a bag she was checking. We all knew this was a bad idea though. That gun is now in the trunk of my Grandfather’s car as he insists he can bring it to a pawn shop and get $500. Anyway, the cleaning of the storage space took all day and completely obliterated our final day.

We all had to wake up at 6am this morning and prayed that the snow in New York would not hinder our flights. Luckily for us it did not and I was back in my apartment by 3:15pm. I realize this was not the most exciting post but it wasn’t exactly the most exciting weekend. On the positive side I got to see my family and got out of New York City for a couple of weeks. Oh yeah, and also, Evankessler.com is back on track. Though I may still post this on the emergency blogs.

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My Mind Has Been Blown & Floridia Part 1

Posted by evankessler on February 10, 2006


Thursday, February 09, 2006

My mind has been blown & Floridia Part 1
Current mood: full
Category: Blogging

So I got a strange email the other day from a woman who attended Camp Westmont at the same time I did though she was between 6 to 8 years older than me. Apparently she was doing a search for Camp Westmont and came across my blog (on www.evankessler.com) and saw the comment I made in reference to this Monday’s episode of Wife Swap in which a Jewess switched places with a conservative Christian Woman. Turns out that Jewess actually was a fellow camper at Camp Westmont though I am not sure how long her tenure lasted. Me, I was there from the summer of 1987 until the summer of 1996. What do I have left to show for it? I’m not really sure. I’m still occasionally friends with a couple of people I met there.

None of that is really important right now, I just thought I would share that mini story. I find it amusing because it proves to me that my website is actually searchable on web engines and I get a modest delight in knowing that.

Now that you know what makes me feel delighted I can tell you all that I am currently typing this from my Stepdad’s laptop in Boca Raton, Florida. It was a long journey involving 2 A-trains, the air train to JFK and poor check in instructions from a baggage ticketer, but I made it to gate 27 of Terminal 2 just in time to board Song flight 2018. I was seated at seat 26D and was soon joined by a larger young woman with curly hair and a Brooklyn accent who went on to tell me that I looked very familiar. She followed up by inquiring if I had a brother, which I affirmed. The following inquiry was whether my brother’s name was Spanky or Charlie. Now, I don’t refer to my brother as Spanky or Charlie, nor I can not say for certain that he doesn’t ever go by those names but I had to let my rowmate no that to the best of my knowledge that I am neither Spanky nor Charlie’s sibling. This was the last we spoke save for the occasional excuse me and thank you in reference to making space for exit on several bathroom ventures.

I had brought plenty of means of entertaining myself on the flight. I figured I could read at least half of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and listen to some tunes on my trusty Ipod. However, this plan was rendered moot when I the flight attendant announced features as in flight competitive trivia and up to 16,000 free songs available on the video screen. My first step towards keeping myself entertained was to select several CD’s to be played straight through the flight and then I joined in the interactive trivia contest with everyone on the plane who felt so inclined to do so and boy are they ever sorry that they felt so inclined. I played in 5 consecutive 20 question trivia matches, coming in 1st place each time. I consistently edged out the guy sitting one row in back of me and I think everyone was getting a little pissed. On my way back from the bathroom during the game I took off I was questioned by a boyfriend and girlfriend duo who asked if I actually knew all of the questions or if I had played this version before. They were disappointed and somewhat amazed when they found out that I had never partaken in this particular trivia.

By the time the next trivia match rolled around, I was ready to partake but found that most of the participants had bailed out. I somehow managed to make trivia unfun for an entire plane full of people. This will be remembered as my one crowning achievement on this earth and I am proud. Wait until the ride back.

Anyway, the rest of my evening was spent strolling on Delray Beach with my stepdad and getting dinner at an English Pub-like restaurant and having the inevitable job talk that I seem to be having with a different adult every day. I ate a steak and english stilton cheese pie and had a boddington at the restaurant and picked up the tab for my Stepdad’s birthday. I am extremely full. The downside is I’m already bored and have no idea what I can really do to pass the time for the next few days. Though tomorrow I suppose I will be going to see my cousin play in her college softball tournament. She is the starting catcher for Purdue. Go Boilermakers! Let’s take this thing one day at a time.

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What if?

Posted by evankessler on November 28, 2005

I was sitting on the couch several minutes ago thinking, “What if I didn’t write the normal weekend recap? Would anyone really miss the day by day, activity by activity or inactivity (as that is sometimes the case) that is my weekend? ” It was that thought that made me decide to forego my normal weekend recap today. Though I have to admit the main reason for shunning the recap format for this Sunday night’s posting is that it’s been about 5 and a half days and I don’t really feel like recounting all the important stuff or figuring out what I actually did. Another reason is that for once I’d like my weekend to remain somewhat shrouded in mystery. Sometimes its nice to tell someone how you spent your weekend instead of them telling you that they read about your weekend in the blog. Not that people are going to start jumping through hoops to find out what I’ve been up to the past few days or that it’s that important. I just decided that I’d be less of an open book this weekend. That being said, it was an eventful few days. There was that little thing we call Thanksgiving and a big meal with about 25 people and the night before that I went to the screening for some friends’ sketch comedy at Anthology Film Archives of which I made a cameo in one of the bits. All of those things were enjoyable.

The rest of my weekend was filled with location scouting, Brazilian bbq with my wonderful aunt Jill, uncle Danny and cousins Sam and Hannah, bowling,, drinking with good friends, awkward karaoke and some unnecessary late night drama. I also think I hurt my knee from sitting on the couch if that’s possible. Otherwise it was just a delayed effect from a Friday gym workout. Anyway, I’d be remiss to not mention the football I watched today and how the Giants lost after missing on 3 game winning field goals. That was just a terrible loss. Eli Manning led them back in yet another 4th quarter comeback only so the kicker could blow it. It was emotionally exhausting.

On another note, I have to take issue with HBO this month being completely awful. There are 6 HBO channels and at any time you can find at least one of the following 4 movies, Along Came Polly, Dodgeball, Envy, and Spanglish. I mean the fact that there is 6 HBO channels should give the folks at HBO a forum for showing as many different movies as possible but instead these 4 movies seem to be running on a loop. The first 3 are just a trifecta of annoyingly bad Ben Stiller movies and the latter is just completely horrendous. Every time I try to start watching it I’m appalled by how bad the acting is and how poorly written it is. The poor acting is mostly due to Adam Sandler’s inability to realize that he can’t use the funny stupid Billy Madison voice to get through a movie and he might actually have to portray an honest emotion when playing a character. I also couldn’t find a reason to want to pay attention to any of the story. It just seemed like a bunch of lines thrown together at some points. Anyway, I guess I’m glad that Adam Sandler can have millions of dollars and his own production company (I don’t know why I’m glad so maybe I’m not) but he should’ve stopped at Happy Gilmore, Actually that’s not fair, I kind of liked The Wedding Singer. His manchild act still works within the frame of that one. So to sum this up, I don’t like the 4 movies that HBO is playing on a loop. I realize this is a lazy excuse for a blog but I feel like I don’t have my wits about me tonight and I don’t really feel like typing a really long thing. Maybe I’ll get back on the horse tomorrow and actually talk about some things that happened this weekend.

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