Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vacation in California

6/27/15 Indian Wells, California

We flew out of JFK on Thursday at 5 PM on Virgin America.  Maybe, I built up the airline too much to my family since they were not that impressed.  I wasn’t that impressed as well.  If you sit in the back, you will end up paying for the movies you thought you’d be able to watch…for free.  Food was an extra charge, each bag was $25.00 but I get it, this is the way most airlines make some money.  What ticked me off was the the flight attendants who barely cracked a smile.   Maybe they are based in New York?  Most of the flight was smooth, but we hit a little turbulence, as we crossed over Colorado.  The good news, we landed before the estimated time.  We checked into the Marriott Residence in near LAX which was about a five minute drive from Enterprise where we picked up a KIA minivan.  It’s a comfortable ride and there are three rows which is perfect for when we need to pick up Amanda who is flying in on Tuesday.   Although it was late in New York, it was early here and we bought some food at Burger King.   I thought we paid a lot, but when we came through the hotel lobby we saw another family who were coming back from the pool.  The father pointed at the bags we were holding.  “Did you also end up paying seventy dollars?”  “Nope, but it was more than $40.00.” He smiled and made a sour face. Our room was spacious and from the 11th floor it looked across toward the airport where we could see the white line of bright lights as other jets landed.  It turns out the hotel is only three months old and for the traveler who is in the area for business or pleasure it is very convenient.   Included with our rate was breakfast.  It’s not your typical bagel and cold cereal and juice dispenser; there was actually food, scrambled eggs, potato pancakes, hash browns and turkey sausage as well as the other items which are more common.  I don’t mean to sound like the world traveler but had to share. 
We journeyed into Los Angeles and the first stop was Randy’s Donuts.  This is the famous landmark which has been in movies and TV shows.  The jelly donut was incredible, soft and sweet with a mouthful of sugary jelly.  Ali wanted to go to the Griffith Observatory which is another LA landmark and has one of the best views to the Hollywood sign.  It is free for parking and free for the entrance.  But the main reason she wanted to go was to see where James Dean was as he filmed in Rebel Without a cause.  We slowly winded our way up the hill to the observatory; both sides of the road were lined with cars, trucks.  I dropped off the family and turned around and parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up.  The walk was not strenuous, the air was mild, and there was no humidity even a slight breeze made the walk more pleasant as it blew over the brown hills.  I passed some families who were taking their time and met Ali and the kids outside.  We walked around the perimeter and went inside to see some of the exhibits.  We bought some food, great selection there and priced very reasonably.  We ate and I walked down the hill to fetch the minivan.
We made our way over to Amoebe Music which is on Sunset Blvd.  It is another landmark for the music fan and after watching many YouTube videos of, “What’s in my bag,” I was eager to get in and get lost.  I could have spent hours in there, but we came out with a good share of REM and Replacements CD’s as well a Clash t-shirt I had to have.  And then it was tattoo time.  I’ve wanted this one for the past couple of years and we made it happen.  It’s the REM bicycle which they used for some of their 45’s when Reckoning was released.  We made our way over to Hollywood Tattoo Studio.  Joe had the image of the bicycle on this phone and we went in and asked how much.  $80.00.  I was not sure if that was a good rate.  Both Ali and Emma said it was and it was a done deal.  A sketch was made and it was traced on my skin on inside left arm.  The fun began.  Not really, it felt like someone was jamming their nails deep into my tender skin.  I was wincing, but grateful Ali and the kids could not see my face.  I looked up at the dingy ceiling and the dirty shelf's and hope I did not make a mistake.  I didn’t.  Jay has been there since 1977 and before that he was providing his artistic skills in Hong Kong.  After a half hour of enduring the pain, we left the city…in rush hour traffic.  I had my arm wrapped in plastic which felt as if it was burning and we slowly rolled down highway 10 EAST towards Palm Springs.  After a three hour drive we pulled up to the condo where we are staying.  We are surrounded by arid rocky mountains.  Last night as the sun was setting, the world in which we were standing… appeared mythical. 


Thank you for reading this.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Drinking and hanging out at the Garage like a good ole boy on a Saturday night

6/8/15 20:21


Ever have one of those nights when you look around at the new scenery and ask how did I end up here?  It happened to me last Saturday.  Let’s go back to the night before when I arrived back in Ronkonkoma , paid for parking my car in the parking garage for the previous three days and took the elevator to the top floor.   The car started and made a strange ripping metallic noise.  The car was not popping out of park.  Yes, it started I said since I called my mechanic and asked what he thought?  Could be the shifter cable.  Do you have a spare key?  You can jam it down the shaft and unlock it.  I didn’t have a spare key, but I had a long white plastic pen from Disney World.  It didn’t pop.  Do you have AAA?  Yes.  Give them a call and tow it here.  OK, I called AAA and explained what happened.   The rep tells me he can’t send out a mechanic.  We only fix flats and jump start or two.  That’s alright, I tell him.  I can send a tow truck, he says.  I explain I’m in a parking garage and this may be a problem.  Why?  He asked  The ceiling is low.  How low is the ceiling?  I take him with me while he’s on the phone back down to where I paid and asked the attendant, how low the ceiling was.  I don’t know, but if you walk out to the front of the building, there is a sign.  I walk out and see the sign and tell the representative it’s six foot nine.  That’s too short he tells me.  I call my mechanic back.  Well, we can go back in the morning and tow it out of there.  Do you have a ride home?  I do.  I called Ali and finally got home around eight.  My dinner was cold, but so was the beer.  But this story doesn’t end there.  Saturday morning my mechanic is busy, but later this afternoon, he should be free.  At three o’clock I’m driving back to the train station with his assistant, Nick who is quiet.   In the back seat is a large brown lab. Nick is quiet so I became the annoying customer, the crazy passenger he wished he’d never had next to him.  I ask him pointless questions, where did you go to high school?  How long have you been a mechanic?  If you have an annoying passenger, you put the radio on.  Nick did not put the radio on.  Maybe he enjoyed the attention?  I asked more questions until we made it to the station and barely make it under the low ceiling in the Suburban with a U-Haul car tow attached.  I start the car.  Nick opens the shift cover with a long screw driver and unlocks the shift and gets the car in reverse.  Do you want it towed?  No, thank you.  Did he want me next to him on the ride back?  I drive back to the garage and my mechanic goes to work.  He tells me, I’ll call you when it’s done.   An hour or so passes and I get the call.  Ali drives me to the bank where I get the cash.  He asks, want a beer?  It was a warm day and I could use a beer.  Sure.  I can drink one before dinner.  There’s a kid cleaning out the bay and I recall one of my first jobs when I was 14, cleaning out bays on a Saturday night back in Northport.  The scent of oil, slicked concrete and the kitty litter which I’d use to dry up the oil and grease. I left that place spotless.  The greasy little shit mechanic who did not clean up after himself had me fired since the owner thought I left the shop a mess.   The little shit came to school and told me I was fired.  I wanted to kick his ass.  Back to last Saturday; my mechanic has boats and motorcycles and an old truck which he converted into a hot rod.  After a few…many… Bud Lites, tossing the bottle caps and throwing the bottles in the trash, bull shitting about life and music and more beers, it was time to have a contest. What kind of contest?  Shoot the empty bottles with a pellet gun.  I have not shot a gun in a long time, but I had a BB gun.  I shot a 22 as well as a cop’s service pistol in the parking lot at Shea Stadium (making sure there were no jets approaching) Back to the contest…he tells me to use the scope, but don’t let it get too close to your eye, “it will smack ya.”  First shot was a miss.  The second shot splattered the brown glass bottle.  I felt pretty good.  Next we had a contest with actual paper bull’s eye with points for each circle. The paper was stabled onto a wooden board.  We put some money down.  I lost the first round, but grabbed the loot on the second and the sober Nick took the third.  Can I drive your truck?  Sure.  He’s leaning in the small cab and telling me not to fuck up his truck.  I was shivering, partly cause it was a cold night and I didn’t want to rip the ferocious truck into a gas pump.  I floored it and made it back in one piece.  It was after ten and I received a text?  Hello?  I’m hanging out I texted.  We sang out loud to The Doors, Roadhouse Blues, and whatever else came on.  You were in a band?  I was in a band.  It was a long time ago.  I hung out for almost four more hours and made my way back to my repaired car and bid my new friend a good night.  When I got in Ali was sleeping.  I thought I made it back and could tell her in the morning, it was a late night and leave it at that.  To my surprise I got up without a terrible hangover and came to the kitchen.  What time did you get in?  It was a late one, I said.  Emma said it was either after 12 or 2 AM.  Emma chimed in; I know there was a 2 when I looked at the clock.  The second one I said and left it at that.


Talking Bella out of school to see The Mets

5/10/17 20:53 This was one of those events which took years to accomplish.  Three years ago, we were at church.  I was with Bella ...