Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SoCal over so quick

Veronica's beachfront oasis, across the street from her apartment.
Trip photos
Photos from last year's visit

Back from the weekend jaunt to Los Angeles. Not sure how worthwhile this writeup will be due to my foggy memory and my being tired and unmotivated the day before I get back to work, so we'll see how it goes.

I left an absolutely brutal week behind in Ohio on Thursday to arrive at LAX, where Veronica picked me up -- and a VIP pickup it was with the Miata expertly parked -- and we headed down the 405 to Long Beach, with Veronica's driving bringing back memories of riding the Dragster at Cedar Point a week before.

We hit the aptly named Ocean Boulevard (Ocean Boulevard, right on the ocean ... "Lobby bar, right by the lobby ...") and Veronica's sweet crib, and walked to Kings Fish House for fish tacos, soft-shelled crab, scallops, way, way too much sourdough bread and a bottle of Rieslings ("Lately I've really been into Rieslings, you like Rieslings? Rieslings?") on the patio.

Afterward, despite being overly stuffed, we hit a liquor store to load up with some Coors tall boys, and forced them down at Beach Veronica, right across from her apartment, in the cold sand, under a starry sky and mere feet away from the crashing waves to cap the night ... b/c that's how we roll ...

The next day brought about my first Angel Stadium experience. Veronica and I got our free tickets along the third-base line, where we stayed for a full inning before taking a walking tour -- and by walking tour I mean a walk that led directly to the Budweiser Patio in right field and the souvenir glitter beverage cups that quickly swayed our attention from the game. Despite what Veronica will tell you, the lights on the cup are indeed electronic. We then ended up behind the rocks in center field, where we took way too many pictures, albeit they were all impressive and we looked fantastic in every one of them.

We left in the seventh inning of what turned out to be a 4-3, 14-inning Angels win over the Mariners, courtesy of a Bobby Abreu walk-off homer -- so at least we didn't miss anything big -- to see Veronica's fella, Eddie, play a show at the Yost in Santa Ana, which is a very impressive, old-fashioned LA theater I have to say, and one that is, I'm told, drastically underused.

We met Burke at the theater, where we listened to Eddie's band -- this of the punk rock variety, and they sounded great -- and took several pulls from a bottle of Jim Beam ("What's my name?!") in the darkened seats. Veronica and I will never discuss how this bottle was obtained.

Afterward, despite Burke and I wanting to take the stage and perform a scene from Glengarry Glen Ross for the lathered-up punk fans ("Everyone, we have a special treat ... we'd like to perform for you, a scene from the acclaimed play ...") we ended up at the Memphis, where Burke graced us with a round of Rusty Nails (Scotch/Drambouy) that thoroughly knocked me on my ass. Nice ambiance at this place, and as the conversation drifted inevitably to movies, I grew to feel that Veronica is in good hands film-wise, now that she's out of my jurisdiction, b/c Eddie proved himself to be an accommodating and even erudite film enthusiast.

The next day, having changed locales to West LA, Burke and I -- after coffee and bagels w/ salmon cream cheese  -- headed out to Santa Monica for a jam-packed day of college football. We started at Barney's Beanery, but the crowded Iowa bar forced us to Yankee Doodles, where as of now I'm left with but a series of odd memory fragments:

-- Watching a rather stress-free (outside of special teams) and glorious 36-24 Ohio State win over Miami with a group of Michigan alumni, who were also celebrating their 28-24 win over Notre Dame and draining Irish Car Bombs with us.

-- Discussing baseball and "Family Guy" with a couple of writers from that show, who I apparently "meet" anew every time I go out there ...

-- An unbelievably tasty burger that rivaled Jules' experience with Big Kahuna.

-- A rather lengthy convo with the guitarist from "Staind." Maybe? We had made the switch to seven and sevens at this point, so I remember very little of this other than discussing Penn State/Big 10 football, Chicago, Lollapalooza, the waitresses and his suggestion to go bar-hopping and to meet him around the corner at the Brittania Pub.

-- Veronica and Eddie arriving and heading over to the Brittania, finding no "rock stars" and settling in for UCLA/Stanford before capping the night with some stiff gin and tonics and a viewing of "Anchorman," before the world fell away in a deep and welcomed blackness ...

Needless to say, Sunday was a late wakeup call. With the Browns actually winning and looking good at halftime, Burke and I walked to Q's Billiard Club in West LA (check out the huge wall hanging of Sean Connery playing pool) to watch the rest of the NFL games.

As the Browns kept their tradition of predictability alive by choking away their lead in a loss to lowly Tampa Bay, I wondered why I even started watching the game. Burke's answer was to incessantly lure me to Packers fandom in what amounted to chilling Emperor Palpatine overtones. Thanks, dude. We stayed to watch his guys knock off the Eagles over pitchers of Bass and "STELLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Artois," accompanied by wings, fries and chicken quesadillas.

After regrouping, we hit the Santa Monica/Venice Beach Boardwalk at the "On the Waterfront Cafe," and had a good chat over hefty steins of Erdinger Weissbrau on the patio as the temperature went down with the sun out over the ocean ... palm trees and mountains silhouetted against the deep blue and orange sky ... b/c that's how we roll ...

Capping the night, and the visit for that matter, Veronica swung by to meet us for pizza, more drinkies and Good Will Hunting on TV (the score of which is now Burke/Jeremy 52 views; Veronica 1), followed by a stunning out-of-left-field viewing of "Clue." Veronica left halfway thru that one, however, perhaps because Burke and I were unabashedly zeroed in on Colleen Camp's mesmerizing portrayal of Yvette by that point.

On the way to the airport Monday morning -- by SuperShuttle because the two noble hosts had to be at work bright and early -- the iPod, as always, seemed to know which songs needed to be played. Hearing Tom Petty's "Big Weekend" after, well, a big weekend, felt a bit melancholy but fitting, and it was followed minutes later by Johnny Cash's apropos "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

It's good to feel a little down after hanging with good people and overexerting yourself, because you know you did it right. And as a snappily dressed and unmistakable Andy Garcia accompanied our shuttle onto the 405 toward LAX in a swanky convertible and smoking a stogie, it seemed to reaffirm that LA will always be there ... and I'll surely be back.

And that's that ...