There were many things about the place I moved from one month ago that had seen my tenancy surpass seven years, but the one that comes to mind other than affordability is that I was geographically in the center of Los Angeles. I never had to choose – I could drive as easily to Venice as to Silver Lake and come back again. But there came a point where I longed for my own home – even one that came with a neighborhood where I could walk and defy Missing Persons. A community. I was ready to commit to the community of my choosing.
A girl I met last week, subsequent to obligatory introductions, asked, “Into Hollywood?”
It didn’t bother me.
From Farmer’s Market on Sundays to the movie theatre, the largest independent music store and Trader Joe’s – I can walk anywhere, and I started to, immediately. What a nice park I have down the street. And as I walked in my new neighborhood coming toÂ that park I saw the woman, darker-skinned and with waist-length dark brown and blonde dreads. 5’6″, 135 lbs (medium build). Orange tank top, jeans and jean shirt. I would sooner tell you I had no clue what her ethnicity is or countless haven’t surmised my own, eager to prove their ethnic guile and cunning. She crossed the street to turn her back to that fence and fiddle with her phone, as if that spot by that fence in front of me at the time was so much better than that other spot at which she justÂ stood, I think,Â 15 feet away.
I had the headphones on – and of course this was a no-no after dusk but I was to learn, apparently also at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Targets are what targets do, and thankfully I wasn’t lost in my playlist as I heard those ungraceful footsteps run up from behind me. Instinctively, my right arm -Â the purse arm -Â tensed and clutched to my side. She grabbed my purse which was in my armpit and tried to run past. Instead, with my purse still attached to my shoulder, she boomeranged around back to me, whereby sheÂ started to land punches on my head and body. (So the witness told me, later. Calling the fight a “flash” in my recollection would be accurate.)
It was at Crown Bar in West Hollywood where the next Carl’s Jr. burger would be unveiled. And what better place than a whiskey bar to hold an event called, “Bourbon & Burgers?” And bourbon and burgers we would get – almost necessarily in that order!
So upon arrival – after meeting up with Sarah of TheDeliciousLife and meeting Brooks Bayne and Joe Said for the first time – I got right down to business. We were already situated by the bar so I decided to give the “signature drink” a whirl. After all, it was the drink that was created especially for that night. Truth be told, I couldn’t really figure out what was going on with the drink, as I tasted mostly soda. No matter – I saved the rest of the night for either requesting more bourbon or ordering bourbon on the rocks.
I can’t take any credit for having found out about it, but Katie’s brother Matt and his friends got a tip from a local about “the spot.” It was a place in Mammoth where you could get dropped off, view the entire town from the top of the slope while skiing down – and your drive can easily drive to a pickup spot at the bottom.
Night boarding in Mammoth? Awesome. Especially since they had staked out the stash the night before, I was eager to reap the rewards of their labor. And this is what we got:
Photo credit to Kenyan
It was a truly beautiful view. I had never seen the town of Mammoth from this perspective – at night nor under the stars full moonlight.
In a past life, events was that “other thing” I did. It was the wholly involved extracurricular that took up more time than my day job. So whenever there’s that special occasion coming up – such as a birthday – I always feel an innate pressure to make it what it is: An event. Or better than what it could be. The event. The event you wanna be at.
With this birthday being the 30th, I wanted to do it not only in a way hardly anyone else had, but I wanted to do it big. I don’t know how to apologize for that, so I won’t. I’ll just tell you that I did, and a little bit about how.
My girlfriend’s name is Charlie and she lives at the top of Beachwood Canyon – her house was the setting. There was a full moon out on a beautiful, clear night and my celebration had one of the best views of it – straight from the Hollywood Hills. Little did I know that that night was and will be the biggest moon of 2009. Serendipitous. I love it.
Because I like to think that everything about this was big.
In the daytime, the road leading up to the house is littered with tourists parking their cars along the side before straddling the paint for a good, up-front shot of the Hollywood(land) sign.
While making daytime deliveries to the house, I often became stuck – frustratingly – behind “Star Buses” traveling extra slowly as the tour guide pointed out celebrities’ residences to tourists inside the roof-torn van. Even after you drive the curved, narrow roads in the areaÂ – the living space in the house is atop two flights of stairs. But from the balcony of the house is where it pays off:Â A clear view of Griffith Observatory – and on that balcony rested two hookahs for my guests’ enjoyment.
Whenever New Year’s rolls around, the standard around Los Angeles (and most other cities, I’m sure) is a bleed-through-the-nose per person cover – to one of tons of generic parties going on around the city. And that’s not even including drinks. This is just setting myself up for disappointment. So when Tara said she could get me a VIP Pass to an indoor venue *at* Times Square, it was an easy decision. The ball drop live – without waiting for hours in the cold to stake out a spot? I was ready to book a flight to New York City, stat.
It was the New Year’s celebration taking place at 44th and 6th on the bottom floor of ABC Studios – where they broadcast Good Morning America – and Pepsi, with their RefreshEverything campaign, was the sponsor. Stoked. Tara and I met up first and we had the pleasure of meeting and partying the night up with NY Gothamist cats, Neil Epstein and Jen Chung, and their significant others.
I admit it. It really was an impulse thing. Well hey; if it’s any other American city I’d uproot myself to start over again in, The Big Apple is certainly it. Naturally, the next best thing is to visit it. I may have booked the flight to New York only 8 days ago, but hell if I didn’t have a good reason to do so on short notice. It’s almost 2009, folks! Happy New Year.
My good friend Greg has been gracious enough to put me up for the week.
My friend Tara, whom will become an even better friend by the time this trip is over ;), has been gracious enough to help me out with a VIP pass to ABC studios in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebration. Dick Clark, open bar, the works.
And just to make the trip worthwhile, I will be staying for a whole week to see the city. It’s my third time here – the first of which was marked by a performance in Carnegie Hall with my high school city-wide youth orchestra. The second – a pleasure trip. But the third time’s a charm, so needless to say, I’m excited about my New York holiday.
The winter holidays, for me, extend just a little bit further than everyone else. That happens when you have a mid-January birthday (and you happen to care about it – no shame here, man). This particular birthday is a big one, so you can expect a return to regular updating around here because a lot has been going on from snowboarding … to this New York trip … to my 30th birthday. Yeah, I said it. I’m excited about my 30th birthday. I’ll wax philosophic about that later; I got a couple-a weeks.
So this is more of a heads-up post to be checking my Twitter tonight for some live micro-blogging action and back here for follow-ups. For the first time, I’ll be ringing in the new year 3 hours ahead of my fellow Angelenos. What better way to remember such an event?
I’ve been meaning to check in and tell you what a blessed holiday I’ve been having. It’s a recap.
Currently, I’m in the middle of a week and a half-long vacation. It began with boarding in Mammoth for a couple days. We crammed 18 people into a small condo, which was walking distance to Canyon Lodge. The second night we were there, we played Rock Band II (without the drums) and were so loud we didn’t even hear the noise complaint because we couldn’t hear the neighbors knocking on our front door. They were gracious enough to give us a grace night by waiting til morning to warn us to not do “that” again or they’d simply call the cops if they heard noise after 10pm the next night.
That night, we watched bad cable movies and Futurama DVDs.
It was on Sunday during a lunch break in our usual riding session as we were standing in line for the grill when I found my right pocket unzipped and my new Blackberry gone. Gone. Next came panic mode.
The realization that you have to replace something that has, on one hand, become so pertinent to your day-to-day life and, on the other hand, also costs hundreds of dollars, is a hard one to absorb. It makes you pause, reflect and maybe even ask yourself why you didn’t have that crap phone within which to insert your SIM card for days on the mountain. It would be completely stupid to take with you a phone model that has only existed for about one month, unlocked versions of which eBay for $500.
It’s become my regular hangout, but none of the time I spend here is routine.
There’s something about finding a niche at a place you’ve invested time into. Getting to know the shifts of baristas to avoid and favor. Getting to know other patrons who come to do work the same time you do. The cool ones, anyway.
Describing it as “work” doesn’t do it justice.
Screenwriters, composers, math teachers, video editors. You’re reading this, but I’m somewhere between blogger and internet surfer. The latter is something to do while I’m being inspired by my surroundings. Besides, it’s not like I don’t have internet at home.Â No espresso machine, though.
There’s something beyond inspiring, though, about joking about Xenu in a coffeehouse across the street from a main Scientology centerpiece. Chances are, your jokes will graze the ears of an actual Scientologist. You’ve been forewarned.
I’d been up there enough times. I don’t really expect people to know this, per se, and well – all reckless behavior should be reprimanded at all times no matter committed by whom.
Apparently, my carelessness was as readily apparent as was slick the OneBallJay wax on the bottom of my snowboard (and actually, my board was really pretty dry). We were at the top of the gondola. I dared rest my snowboard on its flat probably a whole 30 feet away from the edge of Climax – just inside the frame taken above.
Thankfully, Ski Patrol helped bring to light the error of my ways. I call this, Enlightenment.
It’s hard for me to put into words the emotion that has surrounded this entire Presidential campaign.
Obama referenced Dr. King’s term, “the fierce urgency of now” when he announced his candidacy. And maybe not in so many words, but that was the essence of what I felt when I knew I had to do something to help him get elected. Anything – like drive to Nevada and canvas there. I have believed in him – oratory and inexperience considered – from the beginning, even more than Hillary. To me, his speeches were and never are just words, but eloquent articulation communicating a broad understanding of issues he has weighed time and time again. His charisma isn’t empty, but a fresh and graceful challenge to our lowered standards of Presidential rhetoric and diplomacyÂ as a direct result of the past 8 years.
The General Election was quite an animal. The mere prospect of the alternative being elected was just not something I could face myself with if I had not done my part. I won’t lie and say that “negative” motivation wasn’t also factor. Everything that came up Ayers, socialist, Hussein, Wright or non-policy in general, fueled me as well. But Palin scared me the most and and that was that.