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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Irvine’s Fine…L.A.’s O.K.

Posted by evankessler on May 9, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

“The A”

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

Angels Calendar Night as presented by Melanie and Doug

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

Angels In The Outfield

Calendar Night as Presented by Evan Kessler

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

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

Hiking Up El Morro Canyon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil Sta
nding On Top of Something

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

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

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

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

Hanging Out With Terra and Maureen

Smiley With Stephy

Karaoke Duet Partners Extraordinaire Noelle and Matt

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

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

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

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

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

Venice Canal York City!

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

On The Pier

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

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

Phil and Jill at the 107

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

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

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

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

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

The Happy Family

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

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

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

Robin Williams and I have the same sized feet

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

Tom and Katie’s New Mansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Suggestive Picture of Me Enjoying a Dodger Dog

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

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

Karaoke…Sort Of

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

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

“Eclectic California Beach Architecture”

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

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

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

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

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Going Back To Cali

Posted by evankessler on April 30, 2008

As I write this on the eve of my first trip to the West Coast in seven years several California-related songs are cycling through my brain as it is The most obvious ones are Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California”, Phantom Planet’s “California” and LL Cool J’s “Going Back To Cali”, The Mamas and The Papas “California Dreamin'” and The Beach Boys “California Girls”. I can’t help thinking I should’ve made a California-themed mix on my ipod to listen to, but alas I haven’t packed yet so that might have to wait. However, if I were to add some more songs to the playlist I’d have to include Mike Viola and The Candybutchers “Hills of L.A”, The Magnetic Fields “California Girls”, The Old 97’s “Just Like California”, “West Coast” by the Roadside Graves, and Ryan Adams “Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard” to possibly close it out. I’m sure if I gave myself time I could come up with at least 20 more but then I’d just be showing off all of the music I know about that nobody cares about.

In any case, the entirety of the last two days has been spent running around making preparations to take on Sunny California. I’ve been so anxious about the trip that I feel like I’ve been out of the swing of things. My post on JoshSpear.com have been average at best and I even neglected the weekend recap here. In an effort to remedy this I’m going to give you a shortened version of last weekend in the following few sentences.

Friday…I got a haircut. Friday night…I stayed in.
Saturday was an absolute whirlwind. I left my apartment at 3pm to go see Suli’s 100 level improv show, joined by Joe D, Jess D, JSarah, Rich, Lina, Andrea,Kayvalyn, Enisha and other people I’m probably forgetting. The show was pretty excellent and there were a lot of good laughs. Most of the people in the show were entirely entertaining save for this one guy who kept trying to involve himself in every bit by doing walk-ons that were completely irrelevant and more or less just selfish attempts to showcase himself. After the show I went out with Suli and his improv class for drinks at the Stoned Crow near Washington Square. Rich, Suli and I left at around 9pm and got Thai Food at Isle before heading back to the Stoned Crow. Rich didn’t stick around for long and Suli and I had another beer at a diner with some of his improv crew. After that final beer I headed back to Park Slope and went to the Dram Shop for my friend and editor at JoshSpear.com Heather’s going away party. I had a few more drinks and at around 2am, Heather and I left the bar only to notice that it was pouring and relatively cold. Rather than walk the 10 plus blocks home we split a cab and I fell fast asleep in dreamyland minutes later.
Sunday…I barely left my house.

Well…that was my hasty…sloppy excuse for a weekend recap. I still have so much to do before my plane leaves in less than 14 hours…the least important one among them is pack. I still have to do two posts for JoshSpear.com, one post for Trendliest, and one for If I Blog It They Will Come. I’ve really worked myself into a corner with all of these writing projects.

However, I think I’m going to take the next week off, writing only when I’m inspired to. I need to get away from this computer and enjoy life and people for a bit…and maybe even some scenery. Hopefully the hills of LA and a little sunshine will help refresh my nose for witty and engrossing content, because right now my brain feels like absolute mush and looking at words makes my head hurt.

In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing some long lost faces from my past and even some things I’ve never seen in the next week. Maybe I’ll have so much fun I’ll be convinced that I have to move to LA…though probably not. My first order of business though is to bring this post to a close and get a handle on all of my other responsibilities. So goodbye for now…and hopefully I’ll see you soon. Who knows, you could hear from me tomorrow after I catch the Angels-A’s game in Anaheim.

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Miami Nice

Posted by evankessler on March 13, 2008

We’re barely halfway into the month of March yet I feel like enough has happened over the past eleven days to provide enough blog fodder for a three month span. Perhaps I’m overstating things a bit, but it’s not often I spend part of one week in three different cities in separate regions of the Continental United States. Sure, I enjoy traveling, but I’d hardly be pegged as a frequent flier. If you were to list my travel record since my jaunts to Las Vegas and Costa Rica in the Spring of 2005, you’d see I’ve more or less been a homebody for the past two years, save for a pair of less than eventful outings in the Fort Lauderdale region of Florida.

The tide is beginning to turn though and I seem to be getting a set of road wheels, sky miles, and sea legs all at the same time. This weekend the latest adventure in the life of the newest Kessler family jetsetter took place in Miami, Florida. The funny part is that after my grandfather passed away several months ago I had written somewhere that I didn’t see myself ever actively trying to enter the state of Florida again for the simple reason that I found it to be devoid of anything living or breathing. I didn’t use those exact words, but that’s what I more or less meant.

However, several weeks ago when my editor for JoshSpear.com asked if I would like to go to Miami to represent the site at a Sony press event…I half-heartedly lunged at the chance. I figured a few free days in a nice hotel in a town where I didn’t know anyone would provide an excellent chance for me to focus and get some valuable writing done. Plus, if I was lucky I could take some of my free time and head on over to the World Chess Hall of Fame. Fortunately, it didn’t go down like that at all.

I woke up early Saturday morning after staying in on a rainy Friday night, all packed up with new gear, ready to take Miami by storm. As my car service drove me towards JFK I stared out the window as we cruised down Atlantic Avenue taking notice of streets I had never before taken notice of. For instance, until this particular moment I was not aware that there was an Alabama Avenue that intersected with Atlantic Avenue. Who knew you could get a quick geography lesson on your way to the airport?

Like most instances I travel to the aiport, I end up giving myself entirely too much time. This time I would wait nearly an hour and thirty minutes before boarding my flight. However, I always figure it’s better to be safe than sorry or early rather than miss your flight. A nervous energy began building up inside of me with every second that flight time drew nearer. Normally I expend all of that nervous energy the night before a flight as my mind dances around visions of fiery air collisions and prevents me from catching any semblance of normal nighttime rest. However, this was a different nervous energy. I slept without worry the night before, but once at the airport the fact that I was walking into a situation where I essentially had no idea what I was doing or really any of the details of my impending trip put me ill at ease.

Once I sat down on the airplane my mind was distracted by a marathon baby screaming session that didn’t seem to abate for a good twenty-five minutes. This would have been less irritable had we managed to take to the air on time, but as our flight was delayed for a slight period due to the inclement weather, I began to suspect that by the end of the day I would spend entirely too much time in the company of the world’s pre-eminent baby bawler.

After about an hour and a half delay we finally took off. I spent the majority of my flight stealing glances at the girl on the other side of the aisle who looked like a good friend of my old roommate Rob. I figured that if she had known me she would have said something so I didn’t have to make first contact. I also heard her speak at one point. Her strange accent quashed any chance she could have been who I thought she was. I sort of let it go, but part of me still suspected that I knew this girl somehow and I would occasionally still glance over apparently unconvinced that there was no common link. I didn’t feel like blurting out a clichéd, “Do I know you?” and eventually the plane landed and we both got off and went our separate ways, though there was never really any togetherness in the situation I suppose.

Once I exited the baggage claim I was met by a representative holding a binder reading “DIME Press trip” which was exactly what I was there for. I was led to a swanky limo which took me to an even swankier hotel, The Biltmore, an historic accommodation nestled in the palm tree-laden land of Coral Gables, Florida.

Biltmore is Beautiful



Upon entry I was given an envelope housing my trip itinerary, and then moved over to the front desk to check in. The first event of the trip was to be a barbecue on the back lawn at 7:30pm. It was just around 5pm when I arrived so I had time to settle in to my room, iron some clothes and shower up for BBQ time. The shower was absolutely delightful. The water presssure was at blast through your back strength, which conjured up memories of the anything but low flow showerhead in my mom’s house that had recently gone the way of the dodo. The next best thing was the two kinds of soap. I made sure to use both the regular soap and the exfoliant soap, because you only live once.

After nearly flooding my bathroom and drying off, I put on one of my fancy new shirts from Thursday’s shopping spree and hit the barbecue scene. The first people I met were Clay, Jonny, and Eric. We made quick introductions and named the sites we worked for, save for Jonny who was working in cahoots with the people in charge of the event. I didn’t quite remember either their names or their sites right off the bat and had to have a refresher course later on, but they seemed like good guys and were just as unsure as to why they were there as I was. Knowing that, I was immediately comfortable.

We had a beer and some small talk before advancing to the generous barbecue featuring chicken, ribs, shrimp, and steak amongst other things and we sat at a table across from some fellow invitees from Italy but didn’t make much conversation with them. Jonny also unveiled some clues as to what we’d be doing on the trip, though our itinerary had spelled out the majority of the plans, he would give us the actual details. Our next day would be spent at a commercial shoot for the latest line of Sony Digital imaging projects that would feature an entire city street engulfed in foam, which we would then cover on our respective sites.

Despite the warm food and the warm locale there was quite a chill in the Coral Gables night air. My long sleeve shirt did little to deter my teeth from chattering. At that point we took the party inside and sat around a table getting to know each other. I introduced myself to Stephy from PSFK as Jonny had mentioned someone from that site was going to be at the event and seeing as I had a friend working for that site as well, I thought we might have some common acquaintances. While our common acquaintances were nil we seemed to hit it off. Actually the lot of us pretty much got along famously. We powered through plenty of awkward conversation topics, probably at my insistence, including John Travolta’s cha-cha related contract requirements and I met some pretty great people, like Ola from Sweden,Ruth from England and Michelle, Aisling, and Olivia from Ireland.

After several hours of lively getting to know you chit-chat the clock struck one A.M. before eventually springing forward an hour and we headed for bed. We had a presser in the conference room at 10am with three of the guys responsible for the ad, prior to actually going to the shoot…so being alert for the morning seemed somewhat important.

The next morning a good portion of us met for a breakfast buffet to fill up before our mini-junket…making several return trips to the buffet for astonishingly tasty fresh fruit. You know what they say about those Florida Oranges. They’re from Florida, and they’re orange.

When buffet time came to a close we found our way to a hidden nook of the hotel where our meeting was taking place and settled in like we were at a elementary school dance. Boys on one side, girls on the other. I felt entirely unprofessional in this setting as two of my colleagues at my table had cameras that were leaps and bounds beyond my point and shoot and they also carried voice recorders. I just jotted some notes down and enjoyed the show. The show as it turns out was pretty exciting. The shoot site was going to have the world’s biggest foam machine on site, capable of producing up to two million gallons of foam per minute or filling up an entire olympic-sized swimming pool in 24 seconds. Hot damn! This was going to be a site to behold.

From the conference area we took a little downtime making our own large bubbles from a bucket on the back lawn before loading up on a bus for lunch at an Italian place in downtown Miami whose name escapes me…but regardless of where we were I was amazed by the comfort level of this newly formed ragtag bunch of journalists and Sony digital imaging representatives. We seemed to have quite the rapport and were getting along famously.

Foam Swirls Through The Miami Sky



The lovefest continued as we pulled up on set on Miami Avenue between NW1st and 2nd streets. We all clamored with our respective camera equipment to get good shots of the foam filled action as extras roamed around the sudsy locales snapping away on their Sony equipment as cameras captured their every move filled with wonderment and discovery. There was a lot of that going on behind the cameras as well. To see an entire block filled with foam is certainly not something you see every day and I had no doubt in my mind that the commercial would come out looking fantastic.

People Wandering Around In Foam Taking Pictures



SNAFU: Situation Normal All Foamed Up (that was just awful)



After the actors broke for lunch we had our own foam fun, taking turns taking pictures of each other frolicking amongst the bubbles. Everyone got into the act and just seemed to revert to a childlike state of merriment. Hey, bubbles are fun, can you blame us?

Stephy and Michele Foam Frolic



Those who live in glass houses should throw foam



I can totally juggle foam



Foam is Fun For Children of All Ages and Nationalities!



We spent about an hour or two on set and even talked to the director a bit before making a move for the hotel. There we split up for a bit and took naps or did work. I wrote a thing or two for JoshSpear.com, before showering and meeting up with Clay, Aisling, Stephy, and Michele by the pool for a drink before our fancy group dinner at Barton G.

When our rowdy bunch arrived at the aforementioned restaurant there was a bevy of steaming cocktails with chocolate monkeys hanging from the from the rim or should I say limb of the glass (I should probably say rim). These concoctions were certainly worthy of capturing in a photo or three, as were the rest of the culinary creations at this particular establishment, the most thrilling of which were the main courses and the desserts. One of the props from one of said main course became a mascot for the rest of the trip. Jonny bestowed the name Dave upon him, whereas Stephy referred to him as Cluck-Cluck, though I always prefer giving animals people names over onomatopoeia.

Drinks are fun for people of all nationalities,
but only
if they’re above that nation’s legal drinking age.



Firedogs love RibsFilet Mignon goes Moo
That Ice Cream is on Fire! Get Help!



Despite a rather filling meal the night didn’t end there. A large portion of the group, myself included, descended upon the popular Miami night spot, Nikki Beach. If we were going to spend a couple of days in a town as lively as Miami, we were going to do it right. And let me tell you we did it right until at least 3:30. Or that’s when Eric, Jonny, and I left for the hotel. It was a good time and all but if we had to sit through another horrendous dance remix of a Bon Jovi song we might’ve had to off a spiky-haired tight-shirted Dolphins fan. Several of the girls actually ended up staying until 6am and one of the other guys in the group didn’t make it home in time to participate in Monday’s outing.

Outside Nikki Beach



Inside Nikki Beach
Getting Into The Groove



Irish Michele with Fashionable Evan



Ola’s A Dude Hanging Out



Normally I think it’s never a good idea to enjoy a late night of drinking and then go on a boat the next morning, but the Ocean Breeze catamaran we embarked on the next morning after our club jaunt was quite alright. It was steady sailing all the way on Biscayne Bay. The oddest part about the boat ride was that one of the guys in charge of the boat tour insisted on constantly telling us about how big the Key Biscayne tennis tournament was. According to him it was the 5th most important tennis tournament in the world next to the four grand slams. While that may be true, it didn’t seem important enough to repeat ad nauseum.

My Attempt At An Artistic Photograph…Notice the Horizon and all of the lines ‘n’ stuff



At Bay

Eventually our cruising along came to a halt and the boat dropped anchor near a sandbar area, which signaled the perfect time to unveil the catered lunch and allow anyone who wanted to take a swim, the chance. We were also taken out on a separate speedboat by a guy with a special Nike Speedboat racing glove to feel the 90 MPH wind whipping into our face. I was on the first go around with Stephy, Michele and Ruth. The boat stayed anchored at the sandbar until everyone else had their turn on the speedboat, then it headed back into the harbor.





From there we got on the party bus where we were en route to trade one boat for another. There was a new stranger on the bus who just started giving us a history lesson about the Miccosukee Indians of South Florida. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that he was talking to us, but seeing as I like history, I was interested in his lesson about the sovereign Miccosukee nation inside the state of Florida. Why was he telling us this? Because we were headed towards Miccosukee land in the Everglades for an airboat tour of the region.

Jonny, Stephy, and Dave en Route to the Miccosukee Nation



Our tour would be given by Johnny Tigertail, a legendary Miccosukee Indian who possessed the talent to communicate with alligators and wear a pretty sweet jacket with hundreds of images of deer all over it. Stephy and I considered asking Johnny where we could get one, but I figured that maybe we should wait to see if they had them in the gift shop afterwards. The group split up onto three airboats, but Clay, Jonny, Stephy, myself and some of the Germans had the pleasure of riding with the Johnny Tigertail.
As we blazed through the sawgrass of the Everglades I had two movies going through my head. The first one that I considered briefly was Adaptation. I thought about the Orchid searching scenes in the movie in an area that resembled that of which we were in. The second film that crossed my mind was Police Academy 5: Mission to Miami, specifically the parts where the wacky bunch of cops speed through the everglades on an Airboat to rescue Lassard and Harris, and when Hightower wrestles a gator to save Captain Harris from almost certain doom. I was hoping we wouldn’t need Hightower on this outing…but who needs Hightower when you have Johnny Tigertail.
Johnny Tigertail (Action Figure Available This Fall)
Pretty Much Choking A Baby Alligator



The first airboat stop we made took us to a little island where the Miccosukee had turtles and baby alligators. They showed us a small variety of snapping turtles and soft shelled turtles. We also took some pictures holding the baby gators and took a look at their wild boar.

A Big Nasty Snapping Turtle

The 2nd stop was an area that more closely resembled an outdoor cafeteria with picnic tables, but was sort of like a 2nd home for our friend JT. He pointed out the open bedroom on the right side that was basically a roof, with something to sleep on under it. That wasn’t as exciting as the turtles and gators, but the next stop was the real deal as we swept across the reeds to reach an Island inhabitated by a couple of gators. We all stood on a walkway but Johnny went onto the ground to exhibit his talent for gator calling. He made a sound that I don’t think any of us had the ability to mimic, though I could try but I suspect it would get horribly annoying. He managed to call out a ten foot long female gator along with her massive seventeen foot long mate and get right up close to them while talking to the group. It was truly an excellent display of man at one with nature. We were all rightfully impressed.

Behold The Fearsome Alligator



Johnny Tigertail Has No Fear…The Alligator is His Friend



That pretty much put an end to our pretty damned interesting Miccosukee experience. We headed back to the hotel for a smidgen of free time, which I spent writing a few posts for other projects. Our group was to reconvene at 8pm for one more voluntary dinner outing. This time it would be our good time crew minus the Italians and Germans taking South Beach by force or by a fashionably late dinnertime.

For our final evening experience our lively bunch hopped on our mini bus a little after 8pm and made straight for the heart of South Beach, stopping just in front of our dinner destination, Mango’s Island Cafe. I’m not quite sure exactly where Ruth from Sony heard about this place, but rumor has it it was recommended by the not so straight (not that there’s anything wrong with that) waiter the night before at Barton G’s. We were greeted at the door by a girl in a leopard print bikini top and bottom that left little to the imagination and her cut (I’m not misspelling cute) male counterpart, sporting a sleeveless form fitting leopard print top that certainly didn’t leave much about his muscle tone to the imagination.

Upon entering we noticed a girl dancing in the round wearing something similar to the hostess and shaking her ass with not anything I would exactly refer to as grace. We were led past that area and sat down near the back of the main room of the restaurant. While my back was to the stage I had no problem seeing the entertainment as their was a huge screen that took up then majority of the back wall projecting all of the dancing action. This was possibly the tackiest, yet oddly enjoyable restaurant I’d ever been at. Okay, so maybe that’s going a little too far, but I certainly got a kick out of the forced sexiness of the entire situation. The menus were even lined inside and out with photos of half naked sexy people, though oddly on the front cover amidst all of that sex appeal was a photo of four children, strategically placed in order to inject some wholesome family appeal into the atmosphere.

That’s One Sexy Menu!



I’d venture to say that this strategy didn’t work, but there was certainly something for everyone. When the men got up on stage, Stephy, Olivia, Michele, and Aisling ran to get a get a close up glimpse of the semi-choreographed shirtless action…and they say men are sex crazed. None of us ogled any of the girls on stage…maybe that was because they weren’t our type or maybe because it was on a huge screen in the back, but we didn’t make any efforts to gaze upon the unenthusiastically dancing forbidden fruit.

The meal itself was okay. It wasn’t as decorative as the food the previous evening, but more or less straightforward cuisine. Some people ate burgers or ribs. I figured if I was at a Cuban restaurant I should at least have something Cuban, so I ordered a chicken dish with plantains, rice and beans that wasn’t bad, but wasn’t anything special either. Rather than stick around for dessert, which is what we would’ve done anywhere else during the rest of the trip, we instead took a walk to grab one last drink at the Delano Hotel.

Sipping on a Heineken inside the Delano



On our way to the Delano we passed by the Italians eating at a nice outdoor restaurant. They caught up with us on our way over to the hotel, which was a little bit of a walk but really only a couple of blocks away. The Delano was pretty much the nicest bar I’d ever been to. I think it’s beyond me to describe it. You really just have to go there once and experience it. Aside from the cavernous well-designed interior, the outside has a swank pool set up with beds surrounding the water’s perimeter. We hung out at the bar for what amounted to one drink. At one point I was going through my pictures and one of the Italian guys, who seemed to have a habit of being a bit of a lurker had his hand on my back and was leaning on me in a non-drunk way as I went through the pictures on my camera. I didn’t want to say anything despite his consistent firm grip on my shoulder. I waited it out until he finally walked away, which was maybe two or three minutes, but felt like a lifetime. Stephy was staring at me the whole time because we had previously had a conversation about the particular fellow’s hovering, uncomfortable nature.

Poolside At The Delano
These Beds Were Made For Lounging





Ola and Stephy Enjoy a Drink In The Pool

Having already experienced far too many highlights over the previous couple of days, the group decided that it was best we not stay out for more cocktails. We called it a night as I hopped into a cab with Jonny and Michele for the trip back to the Biltmore and my final night sleeping on the most comfortable bed ever. It is my hope that one day I will be the richest person ever so that I might live in that hotel…or at least buy that bed. Who am I kidding? I just want to be rich enough to buy a Tempurpedic bed.

Tuesday morning came just like that and I was saddened. I woke up around 8:30 to head down for an early breakfast and get some work done. I ran into Clay who was reading his paper and enjoying the buffet. He had an earlier flight and had to be out by 10:30…I was supposed to be out by Noon and hadn’t packed, so we both seemed to think it best if we just hammered out a meal and got out of dodge. However, towards the end of our meal Michele showed up, followed by Aisling, Ola, Stephy, and Nikolai (I think that was his name) from Denmark. Clay left before I did as I’m never one to walk away from a good crowd. I waited around til about 10:30 before I took my leave of the group, feeling sad that the trip was over. Stephy remarked that it felt like the last day of summer camp. Having gone through that experience many a time, I couldn’t agree more. But like those long summers I spent in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, all good things have to come to an end.

The Last Breakfast



I was packed and ready five minutes before noon having knocked out a bit of work. Ola and I shared a limo together. I was being dropped at the airport and he was renting a Harley Davidson so that he could drive down to Key West, which is an infinitely cooler thing to do than sit in a cramped space for four and half hours next to a woman that won’t get out of the way so you can get in and out of your window seat, forcing you to step over her, which is exactly how it went down during my hour and a half delay and subsequent three hour flight home. Oh well, I guess it’s good to be home, but I could’ve certainly used a few more days.



p.s. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Sony’s DIME division. You’re the best.

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