Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So L.A. (warning: also so long)

The last few days have felt incredibly typically Los Angelino to me. I guess this is a good thing? Better than being typically Bostonian, to be sure. Let's review, shall we? And apologies in advance if the names don't mean anything to you...just read unknown names as "Generic Friend" if it helps.

Friday, June 8
A fairly uneventful day at work, and unproductive at that. I had a positive mid-summer review on Wednesday, so it's been somewhat difficult to motivate myself since then. I took a good 2.25-hour lunch to go with a sizable group of associates and summers to Hamasaku, a sushi place on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. that pretentiously names several of its special rolls after the celebrities who go in there and like to order them. The fish was average in terms of freshness and taste, but they had some absolutely glorious roll concoctions. Certainly worth the amount that I paid, which was nothing, thank you very much, firm partners.

I also bailed out of the office by about 4:45 pm, to head eastbound to Los Feliz to meet with Ben and co., start drinking whiskey immediately, and drink our way through the L.A. Dodgers vs. Toronto Blue Jays at Dodger Stadium (Dodgers win 4-3 on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning). I remember baseball games being fun before I discovered alcohol, but they couldn't have been as fun as they are now that I know the joys of the drink. Hung around Los Feliz long enough to sober up and made my way home.

Saturday, June 9
Drove to Huntington Beach and made it home by around 11 am. Met up with Willie, Matt, Robin, their dads, and my dad for an early Fathers Day lunch at Joe Jost's in Long Beach. Basically, cheap fat-ass sandwiches, pickled eggs (omgwtf disgusting), and enormous goblets full of beer. It's funny, my dad was never the kind of person who "had friends" or "talked to strangers." But now that he's approaching retirement, he, like, interacts with people. It's very unusual for me. He was all buddy-buddy with Robin's dad, talking about technology together. It was a neat sort of environment...Joe Jost's is apparently the oldest bar in Long Beach, and is run out of an old converted shoe factory. And having a group of guys and dads and beers...I dunno, it was a little chunk of the sort of Americana that you don't always necessarily get in an immigrant household (not that I don't prefer my wacky immigrant upbringing). We returned to Huntington Beach, and I took the 2 pints of beer in my belly to the beach for a run, about 5 miles from the Huntington Beach Pier to the corner of PCH and Brookhurst St. and back. From there it was to Garden Grove for Kimanh's going-away party (*emo tear*), which was a nice way to see people who I hadn't come across in anything from 1 to 3 years, catch up, mock the world, assert our superiority of it, etc.

As that started winding down, I made my way back to L.A. and to En Sushi on Santa Monica, where it was sake bombs to kick-start the night with coworkers and their classmates. Except they didn't serve sake bombs, and their beer glasses were too narrow to drop sake cups into. So it was mostly me pouring sake into beer and then drinking it really fast. Fine, whatever. From West L.A. it was into Santa Monica for vodka shots and inexplicable pictures in front of a Christmas tree in one of our group member's apartments (yes, it's June...they know...I know...). And then to the Huntley Hotel on 2nd Ave., which was exactly the kind of bar I hate. Long line just for the sake of having a long line, people getting hassled for wearing the wrong shoes (not me, of course...I always wear the right shoes), sluttily-dressed blondes bypassing the line. Ugh. Once we got up to the penthouse bar, they should have just called it the Wild Animal Park, because that place was cougar central. Average apparent age of a woman there: 25. Average actual age of a woman there: 35. Average age of a woman's breast there: 4 years. I sipped my embarrassingly expensive gin and tonic slowly while waiting to leave. We caught the last 20 minutes or so at Renee's, a glorious dive bar on Wilshire Ave. and 6th St., which was wayyyy more my scene, even if it was sort of disgustingly smoky. I'll make a point of returning.

Sunday, June 10
I was totally going to do things today. I was going to start researching the stuff I'm supposed to be writing over the summer, I was going to make something of myself. And although that seemed like a good idea at the time, well, it just wasn't meant to be. So instead, I declared it a beach day. Went to that nebulous area between Santa Monica and Venice Beaches and lounged for a while, before finally picking myself up off the sand and doing another 5-miles or so, this time from around the Santa Monica Pier to the Venice Pier and back. At that point, if I was smart, I would have just gone home, but I had brought my bodyboard, wetsuit, and fins in the car, and even though the surf was absolute garbage, I couldn't help myself. Really, I should be thankful that the waves were so tiny and weak, because I would have been at serious risk of a bad hamstring cramp if I actually had to battle the ocean. As it was, it was more of a swim and a reintroduction to the ocean...I caught all of 2 waves on the day, for a total of about 6 seconds, but fortunately, my prayers to the god of freak sets were answered and I got a wave I could take into shore rather than having to deal with the ignominy of paddling in.

Dinner was the burger revelation I mentioned a few days ago...the artistic masterpiece that is the Office Burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica.

That night was supposed to involve me doing the work I'd abandoned during the day, but no, not so much. A bored glance at MySpace bulletins revealed that there were tickets available for CSS, a.k.a. Cansei de Ser Sexy, a glorious Brazilian dance-rock sextet, at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. At that point, I'd heard exactly 1 CSS song, and maybe a total of 2 times at that. But I'd heard good things, and it's the summer, and what the hell.

Now, back in April, I had a ticket to the Kaiser Chiefs that I needed to unload on about 2 hours' notice. Ultimately Trevor stepped up, but I was amazed at how hard it was to get someone to take a concert ticket to a good band for free. "This would never happen in L.A.!" I declared defiantly at the time. "I'd have 5 people to go the show with me!" Maybe my luck was bad, but it did NOT work out that way. I ended up struggling just as much to find a concert buddy on short notice here in L.A. as I did in Boston...VERY disappointing. But I managed to recruit Jennifer from HLS, who I had met a grand total of two times before, to sign on, even though she actually had no idea who CSS were. THAT is the attitude I like to see (incidentally, Trevor was the same way with Kaiser Chiefs).

And the show was awesome. Dancey and zany and fun. It was birthday party-themed! One of the openers wore a party hat, there were helium-filled balloons all over the stage, and when the band was closing out the show, the lead singer -- who was wearing this insane multicolored bedazzled leotard -- sucked in some helium before rapping her way through the closing number. The CD has already made its way into solid rotation in my car and on my iPod at work.

Monday, June 11
The work portion of the day was equally unremarkable, but lunch was lovely again. I met up with an attorney from another firm, who I'd met during OCI and kept in touch with. Just a classic sort of successful old Jewish man who works only as much as he feels like and spends the rest of his time driving his Porsche and traveling for 4 months a year. Basically, my goal for myself in 40 years. We went to Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills, one of those total power lunch locales...so much the type, in fact, that my dining partner was coincidentally seated next to a former business partner of his, and I think set up another deal in about 2 minutes on the spot. In about 2 hours in Beverly Hills, I think the guy ran into 5 people he knew...it was quite impressive.

I got back from work at about 6:30 pm, and I wasn't doing anything anyhow, so what the hell, another beach trip! John grabbed his surfboard, I reloaded my bodyboarding gear (including the new fins I got in the mail today), and we returned to the beach to find...the worst day of surf I've ever seen. They called it "1 to 2 feet" only because they always give a range, but there wasn't a 2-footer in sight. There was barely a 1-footer in sight. I have never seen the Pacific Ocean so placid in my life. So...pacific, if you will. I did catch 1 wave, but I was forced to paddle in. Le sigh. But I was vindicated because as John was standing on shore, laughing at me for padding through a wave that crashed right on top of me, that same wave hit him in the knees and knocked him clean on his ass.

To celebrate the restoration of karmic balance to the universe, we went to In 'n Out for dinner, still in our wetsuits. An extraordinarily long, extraordinarily Californian weekend finally reached its natural and perfect conclusion.

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