Tag Archives: vacation

Lame Adventure 423: Chew on This

Recently, I traveled to the land of my living ancestors: San Francisco. For much of the week before I left Manhattan, I diligently prepared for my getaway. I thoroughly cleaned my sanctum sanctorum, did laundry and made sure all of my bills were paid. I had even placed my Father’s Day card in my duffel bag weeks in advance, so there was no way I would forget to take it.

Hearts and flowers-free sentiment.

Hearts and flowers-free sentiment.

As sentimental as I get.

As sentimental as I get.

The pre-planning for my trip went spectacularly. I even remembered to get gum.

Gum is an issue with me. I am not a gum chewer. I don’t like the taste and I think that chewing it plays Russian roulette with my dental work. But, I always chew gum during take off and landing because the plane’s cabin pressure wreaks havoc with my ears. One of the consequences of not being an aggressive gum chewer is forgetting to pick up gum. As a passive gum chewer I often have to purchase it at the airport and pay more. This time, not only did I remember to pick up gum in advance, I considered where to get it.

Instead of going to my neighborhood everything store, Duane Reade, I decided I would try the guy at my corner newsstand. I was in the mood to bargain. His selection is vast. Instantly, I was overwhelmed. I knew I would prefer a minty flavor, but when I started reading the ingredients, it all looked like a nauseating concoction of chemicals. I have been eating predominantly organic all year to compliment my fitness routine. I didn’t want to put any of this crap in my mouth, but I had no choice due to my ear situation. So, I relented and decided to go with original flavor Trident.

Newstand Seller: A dollar fifty.

Me: Really? Are all of these a dollar fifty?

He pointed at a few packs of bubble gum.

Newstand Seller: These are a dollar.

Me: Well, that’s a drag. I don’t chew bubble gum. In fact, I don’t chew any gum. I’m just getting it because I’m flying on a plane.

I put the Trident back. He reached down and handed me a pack of Stride Sugarfree Sweet Peppermint flavor.



Newstand Seller: You can have this one for a dollar.

I bought the bargain pack of Stride that reeked of mint and headed over to the laundromat to fold my clothes. As I’m folding I start thinking about my pack of bargain gum. I realize that I’m so unfamiliar with Stride, in my head I’m referring to it as Strive. As I am securing my socks (none went missing this load; I felt victorious over the machine), I wondered:

Me: Did he sell me that pack of Strive for less because it’s made in China? Could a key ingredient be lead?

Suddenly, I feared deplaning with incubating stage three tongue cancer. Is it conceivable that I’ll say hello to my sister upon arrival and goodbye to my sex life upon return?

It appears that Mondelez Global LLC manufactures Stride in East Hanover, New Jersey. Even though every ingredient sounds straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory, Stride has its own Wikipedia page, which eases my mind considerably.



That makes no sense since Ebola, phenylalanine, and possibly one of my ancestors, (the) Village Idiot, have their own entries, too.

About phenylalanine, that’s in my pack of Stride. But why? It’s an amino acid that’s found naturally in breast milk, but unnaturally in gum for complicated reasons that almost make my head explode. One thing I know for certain: I am not going to put Stride in my pie-hole.

Hey look, a pigeon was on the ferry to Angel Island!

Hey look, a pigeon was on the ferry to Angel Island!

Angel Island with (possibly) pigeon-free sailboats in foreground.

Angel Island with (possibly) pigeon-free sailboats in foreground.

So, I visit the organic department of my market, Fairway, where I unload $2.38 on two packs of made-in-Rhode Island Glee Gum. It’s aspartame free with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives and “made with Chicle for rainforest conservation”. Excluding the “resinous glaze, beeswax and carnauba wax”, coupled with the sky-high probability that Glee Gum is a frontrunner in the Department of Tooth Decay, it seems like a safe alternative to the oral deathtrap that is Stride. After balking about paying a dollar fifty for a pack of Trident, I end up paying $3.38 total for three packs of gum to chew on the plane.

Glee gum with little guy who does not look glum like purchaser.

Glee Gum with happy dancing little guy who does not look glum like Glee Gum purchaser.

Appropriately, I have no idea what I did with that pack of Stride. Hopefully, it did not fall behind a chair and is now in the process of burning a mint-scented hole in my carpet.

Thurber the family dog, "Your gum problems are so first world."

Thurber the family dog, “Your gum problems are so first world.”

Lame Adventure 401: Regaining Track of Time

Even though the iPhone is the greatest invention this side of stretch fabric and its close second, indoor plumbing, one or two of you amongst my anemic swarm of followers, may have noticed that I loosened my death-grip on technology during my recent hiatus in California. While I was freeloading off my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), I entered sloth mode and completely lost track of time. It was one of those vacations where I barely knew what day of the week it was, but every day was Massive Eating Day. I liberally scarfed copious amounts of artery clogging foodstuffs I normally avoid.

Half this cookie platter is now sculpted onto my hips.

Half this cookie platter is now sculpted onto my hips.

I primarily perused my iPhone while parked in the living room. I checked email and fielded texts. But I limited my web searching only to matters of extreme urgency such as where James Brown is buried. My discussions with Herb were consistently deep as our thoughts strayed in the direction of Soul Brother No. 1 who, some of you may recall, bought his rainbow on Christmas Day 2006 (possibly from scarfing copious amounts of artery clogging foodstuffs). For almost seven years the Godfather of Soul has been temporarily buried in his daughter’s back yard providing a new twist to saying, “Dad lives with me.”

My flight west was just the way I like it: uneventful. A millennial of the female persuasion with a pelvis no wider than my wrist sat next to me. She was so svelte that whenever she got up, I barely noticed that she had slipped out of her seat and slithered past my knees. Inside my head I called her “Houdini”. According to my grand powers of perception inside her head she referred to me as “Immobile Obstacle My Mother’s Age”.

My flight east was the red eye. It was almost uneventful until someone cut a silent fart so lethal I thought I was succumbing to the effects of a poison gas attack. There’s been a longtime ban on smoking in planes. If any government official promotes a law prohibiting flatulence in a confined space, that candidate owns my vote. In fact, I might even do the unthinkable and give a campaign contribution.

I adopted Thurber, the family dog’s mantra, as my own.



"Let's boycott bed making. Too  much exertion."

“Let’s boycott bed making. Too much exertion.”

"It's been a hard day's night and I've been sleeping like a dog."

“It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been sleeping like a dog.”

"I'm Fred the fish; I'm 8 and a year older than Thurber. Show me some love!"

“I’m Fred the fish; I’m 8 and a year older than Thurber. Show me some love!”

"I'd like to show you my dinner dish, Fred."

“I’d like to show you my dinner dish, Fred.”

"What! More gifts to open? I thought we were Jewish!"

“What! More gifts to open? I thought we were Jewish!”

A few times I was motivated to rise and go to a place other than the kitchen. This included visiting the Napa Valley to quaff Pinot Noir with Bat Pat, my best friend from college. I highly recommend Etude vineyard’s 2010 private reserve. Unfortunately, this is a Pinot Noir that is not available on their web site. Consider it a good excuse to visit them. We also ventured over to Artesa Winery, a vineyard located high on a hilltop with lovely views, not necessarily apparent in these crummy images I took with my phone.

Artesa's peeing fountains when we arrived.

Artesa’s peeing fountains when we arrived.

Artesa's peed out fountains at dusk when we left.

Artesa’s peed out fountains at dusk when we left.

Bat Pat's office wild life, Cisco and Rosie with a message for Thurber and Fred: "We're pushing 35. Perch on that!"

Bat Pat’s office wild life, Cisco and Rosie with a message for Thurber and Fred: “We’re pushing 35. Perch on that!”

Dovima roused me out of my food coma to see a San Francisco institution: Beach Blanket Babylon.

Precious BBB front cabaret ducat.

Precious BBB front cabaret ducat.

This is a madcap cabaret show that has been running at Club Fugazi in Baghdad by the Bay’s North Beach district since 1974. The section of Green Street where this, the longest running musical revue in the country is staged, has been renamed Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard.

I am not making that up.

I am not making that up.

The line for BBB extending almost to a legendary eatery, Capp's Corner.

The line for BBB extending almost to a legendary eatery, Capp’s Corner.

The jokes are updated almost hourly to reflect the news of the day. Aside from the irreverent humor, its other trademark is the outrageous headwear the performers don with the assistance of a hydraulic lift and some strategically located stagehands. The grand finale includes a diva doffing a version of San Francisco atop her head; a chapeau outfitted with all the city’s landmarks that looks about half a football field wide and three stories tall give or take an inch.

The bar across the street from BBB calling out my name.

The bar across the street from BBB calling out my name.

BBB is utterly ridiculous, and the narrative makes little sense, but it is crowd-pleasing fun. I’m surprised that it took me nearly forty years to get around to seeing it. Even though I’ve been a New Yorker my entire adult life, this show is an energetic reminder that I was born and raised in a city that is a loud and proud anything goes type of place. As I reflect, San Francisco was the perfect training ground for a life lived in Gotham City. Even though New York owns (or has trampled) my mind, as the Tony Bennett song goes, especially when one is foggy on the schmaltzy lyrics, San Francisco forever owns a piece of my heart.

And possibly owning a piece of my future heart attack: looking up a typical San Francisco hill.

And possibly owning a piece of my heart attack: looking up a typical San Francisco hill.

Now I’m here on my East Coast home turf where I got a chilly and prickly Big Apple  welcome back.

Yeah, yeah, welcome back and watch your step: Christmas is kaput for 2013.

Yeah, yeah, welcome back and watch your step: Christmas is kaput for 2013. Get over it.

Lame Adventure 381: The Dog On the Plane

I have recently returned from visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by the back seat photographer.

The Golden Gate Bridge photographed by The Back Seat Photographer.

Excluding the nine hours of my life I burned getting there and the twelve it took to return to New York, were it not for the hassle of traveling, it was a welcome getaway. Whatever anxiety I suffered on the plane immediately dissipated when I was reacquainted with one of my favorite relatives, Thurber, the family dog.

The Back Seat Photographer's assistant.

The Back Seat Photographer’s assistant.

Because I only see Thurber twice a year, it heartens me that he remembers me. My sister, Dovima, thinks this is due to his natural canine instinct i.e., he knows that I am a dog-lover, a friend who’ll play with him and someone he can reliably count on to scratch that itch behind his ears. Splashing myself liberally with steak sauce might also encourage these feelings of mutual affection.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z's.

Thurber catching a few pre-walk z’s.

When I was sitting in the lounge at JFK airport waiting to board my JetBlue flight west, I noticed that there was a fluffy mop of a pooch lying peacefully in the seat to my right. Her name was Ginger. She was so tranquil. I was impressed. I smiled at Ginger’s owner. I wanted to say something complimentary, something flattering, something that would make this woman beam with pride about having such a well-behaved pup. But I was a bit crispy fried from working at The Grind before racing to the airport. The best that mush-minded me could offer was:

Me: Your dog’s so relaxed. Is she sedated?

In response her owner was silent. She smiled shyly at me. I felt like a jerk.

When it came time to board, Ginger obediently entered her pet carrier. Once inside the aircraft, I was stuck in the middle seat between two women. The rotund woman radiating heat sitting on the aisle seat next to me noticed that it was not a full flight. The row ahead of us was empty. She asked a flight attendant for permission to move. It was granted. I was so elated with her taking charge, I considered proposing, but I decided it might be best that I take a vow of silence across the country. I wish I could say the same for the three-year-old of indeterminate gender sitting two rows ahead of me. This moppet shouted in an outdoor voice for the entirety of the flight — with fatherly encouragement. How I would have loved to wield a burlap bag full of mashed stone at him.

From the vantage point of my aisle seat, I saw that Ginger’s owner was sitting across from me but one row ahead. When we were airborne, I noticed that Ginger was once again out of her carrier. Her owner was cuddling her.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

Cuddle-time with Ginger.

The air conditioning was at Arctic-level so the cabin felt like a flying freezer. Snuggling a warm beast in a frozen tube at 35,000 feet must have felt comforting. I would have loved to stuff Ginger’s forepaws in my ears to silence that squealing kid.

A flight attendant with a figure reminiscent of a prison matron cross-bred with a brick wall motored down the aisle. Her peripheral vision saw something suspect. She instantly slammed her brakes, backed up, hovered over Ginger’s owner and read her the riot act.

JetBlue’s JetPaws rules and regulations insist that pets must remain in their carriers at all times. This includes during the flight as well as at the gate. This second rule I have seen violated on numerous occasions without incident. But seeing someone cuddling a pet on a plane was new to me.

Ginger’s owner did not object to the loud dictate. In fact, she didn’t speak. She obeyed. I wanted to break my vow of silence and pipe up at Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes:

Me (piping): Hey! What about telling Dad to make his brat shut the hell up?

Apparently JetBlue’s rules for demanding silence from a three-year-old shouting six hours straight in confined quarters requires that the kid simultaneously bust out a window, ignite a fire and demand more Terra Blue chips. Therefore, Turbulence In Orthopedic Shoes was steering clear of that infinitely more combustible situation.

For the remainder of the flight, every so often Ginger’s owner would pick up the pet carrier and embrace it. Sometimes she’d zip it open and slip her hand inside to pet her furry friend. All the while, that kid loudly bleated and Dad gushed praise at his progeny. Outside of three soft yaps emitted upon landing, Ginger was silent as the dead. I swallowed a fistful of Excedrin and wished that JetBlue had a toddler-sized carrier that could be stuffed under the seat.

"Okay, let's take a walk!"

“Okay, let’s take a walk!”

Lame Adventure 380: The Freeloader with the Dead Pigeon

I am out of my comfort zone: soot-infested, fast-paced, people-packed, pissed off Manhattan island. My special brand of sour and  I are in sunny California where people are polite and like to smile. Okay, I will admit I did learn a few manners when I grew up out here, but I always was at my core, even as an essentially mopey moppet, a New Yorker.

I am visiting my family and friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. As usual, I am staying with my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h). Father’s Day is Sunday so I will soon see my Dear Old Dad. His gift this year from me is a copy of my recently published book. Dovima told me that he likes the cover a lot. But what might my 86-year-old pappy with a heart condition think of the contents? Part of me is inclined to censor all the profanity and any hints that I’m still an actively horndog lesbian even while deep in middle age when I should have a kernel of dignity. Then, there are the silly stories such as my lusting after a deformed muffin. But if I ripped and blacked out all these passages, that would limit my tome to  little more than the cover photo and the title page. Dad might notice that something not very ha ha funny was up with it and that could offend him even more. So, I’m living on the edge, he’s getting the real deal book and hopefully his ticker can take it.

Meanwhile, I had planned to publish an entirely different post with a story to it, but unfortunately, only four of the images on my camera will download onto my sister’s PC. And these are four images that I shot in New York that have nothing to do with the story about The Dog on the Plane. A story that will be told later. Now I have four images sitting in my sister’s picture file that look like this.

Bubble wrap and packing pellets in the hallway at The Grind.

Bubble wrap and packing pellets in the hallway at The Grind.

I don’t know why I shot the bubble wrap and the packing pellets in the hall at work. Maybe I was thinking that they make a nice couple. The problem picture that might detonate Dovima is the one below. Actually, I have three of these shots that downloaded onto her PG-rated PC. This one is the most family friendly.

Flattened feathered friend.

Flattened feathered friend.

Now, I have to figure out how the hell to delete this file from Dovima’s kind and gentle computer, a computer that is primarily loaded with folders full of pictures of my niece, Sweet Pea, the dog, Thurber, and  lovely getaways she’s taken with Herb (with the silent h). I’m a dedicated Mac user. PC’s and I are not simpatico.  I hope I don’t somehow hit all the wrong buttons and this pigeon in rigor mortis on West End Avenue in New York City  becomes my sister’s new wallpaper replacing the lovely shot of my niece nuzzling Thurber.  But, were this to happen, it would surely make for a funny story. (ahem)  In a few years from now.

Lame Adventure 352: Welcome Home New York City-style

I returned to New York from my holiday getaway in the San Francisco Bay Area on the red eye Friday morning.  Lack of sleep and total body pain that I self diagnosed as arthritis in my left knee, a pulled muscle in my right arm, and a slight headache combined with general suffering, a.k.a. the predominant ingredient in my charm, rendered me useless for the entirety of my first day back in the Apple.  I’d like to say that I slept dreamlessly, but it’s possible that I was merely hallucinating for twelve hours about lying motionless in a full body splint.  Before losing consciousness I did manage to run a few errands including shopping at my neighborhood market, Fairway.  I knew I was officially home when I approached the green bean stand.  Just as I was about to select my beans, a woman yammering on her iPhone placed her coffee cup over them.

Me:  Really?

The Yammerer responded with a line of classic New York City verse:

Yammerer:  What’s your problem?

The weather forecast for today is two to four inches of snow.  The New York Times published on their Cityroom Blog a post with a headline proclaiming, “Tomorrow, It Will Snow, Perfectly”.  Andy Newman wrote:

“The ideal city snowstorm, meteorological Platonists say, blankets the landscape without burying it, beautifies but does not burden, transforms and cocoons without paralyzing or even particularly inconveniencing.

Such an event is expected to come our way on Saturday.”

Tomorrow is now today, Saturday.  I’m not a “meteorological Platonist” – whatever the hell that is, but I can say with authority that it’s been a steady mix of slushy flakes and cold rain.  This scene surely would have made the Currier and Ives circular file.

I woke remembering that yesterday I had forgotten to pay a bill for my final blood test of the year.  If my memory is still as sharp as melted butter, that test was to determine that it’s more than ice water and soot flowing through my veins.  I used my last Forever stamp on the payment envelope and decided to trek through the icy slop to Ansonia Station, my local post office here on the Upper West Side, to both mail the aforementioned payment and to replenish my Forever stamps.

There was only one customer in line, a guy that had entered a nano-second before me.  Three postal clerks were servicing other customers, but a fourth was free so she called the guy over.  Now it was just me waiting.  Within seconds, a customer at the window nearest to where I was standing finished and walked away.  The clerk looked right at me.  I looked at her hopeful, and flashed a friendly California-style smile anticipating her to say, “Next.”  Instead, she walked away.  I looked at my watch and realized that I am such a knucklehead.  Obviously the time had come for her to take her one forty-three in the afternoon break.  I waited and waited.  All of the customers at the windows were like barnacles.  Finally, a clerk beckoned.  Now about ten people were waiting behind me in line.  I told the clerk that I would like twenty Forever stamps:

Me:  Do you have any with pictures other than the flag?

She took out a booklet of holiday stamps decorated with Christmas trees.

Me: Do you have anything else?

She looked at me as if I had asked her to give me a kidney.  She snarled in my face:

Postal Clerk:  Look over there.

Me:  Where’s “there”?

She gestured to her left, my right.  Under a glass covering a station over from hers was an assortment of Forever stamp designs.

Me:  Am I going to lose my place as I look for my stamp?

She did not acknowledge my question, possibly because hostility is so energy depleting.  I figured she’d grant me a three count to settle on a stamp so I looked at the display at warp-speed.  A series tailor-made for me called “Great Film Directors” caught my eye.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he's one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he’s one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I returned to the angry clerk’s window and told her what I had selected.  She said nothing.  She walked away as if she had boulders strapped on each ankle.  Her destination was a closed box that holds the picture stamps.  She returned with my sheet of Great Film Directors and announced:

Postal Clerk:  Nine dollars.

I handed her a twenty.  She gave me my change.  Eleven singles.

Me:  Thank you.

She gave me the stink eye.  I added:

Me:  For not giving me 220 nickels.

It’s great to be home.

Lame Adventure 332: Pink Pugs in Paris

As most of you don’t know, my commenting wingman, Mike G, recently celebrated his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with the woman he calls The Bride.  Altogether let’s say:

Us: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

What is even more monosyllabic-inducing to me is that this is his fourth marriage.

LA Readership and Mike G:  WHAT?

Just yankin’ ya, but let’s be realistic, I’m queer as, accounting for inflation, a nineteen dollar bill and this is not the site for sentimental straight sap.  I will say this about Mike and The Bride, out there in the hinterlands of New Jersey, they’ve produced three well rounded spawn.  The first-born, Son, is a university wrestling team member with clowns as his kryptonite, so anyone reading this that would like to get him in a headlock fast — dress as Bozo; D1 is their first-born daughter that decorated the car in glitter and feathers so it looks like a rolling drag queen, and D2 is their second-born daughter that hates squirrels after one had the audacity to run off the roof and use her head as a launching pad.  She’s now learning to drive and dreams of exacting revenge.

Alert squirrel on lookout for D2.

If they have any animals Mike hasn’t revealed them to me so I’ll improvise here.

Mike’s funky chicken Miriam.

The Bride and Mike both have Real Jobs that are called a word that’s as foreign to me as any words gassed in Aramaic, Careers.  From what he tells me, she’s even his Best Friend. There you guys go again:

You Guys: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

With my extraordinary power of perception I’ve deduced that she doesn’t bitch at him to take out the trash or pick up his socks and he’d sooner cut out his tongue than say:

Mike G (never uttering): You know, that dress does make you look fat.

So there was Mike and The Bride in Paris without any of the Spawn nor did Mike stuff his pet chicken, Miriam, in his suitcase Borat-style.  They were alone.  In the city of light.  One of the most romantic places on the planet.  Being romantic …

“Hey Bride is that a dyed pink pug we’re looking at over here?”

… and taking pictures for Lame Adventures!  The Bride even downloaded them for us.  Their marriage sure works for me.  Let’s virtually visit Paris!

Cool flowers in hotel lobby.

Chocolate anniversary cake with edible gold courtesy of Hotel du Swank.

“Bord du smelly cheese” and bottle of bordeaux ordered by Mike.

Gaudy Ferrari with Dubai license plate in front of hotel their entire visit; motorist probably too cheap to park it in a lot.

Gallic Phallic Luxor Obelisk in the Place de la Concord.

Touristy Arc de Triomphe shot.

Cool Hugo-type shot inside clockface in former train station Musee D’Orsay.

Front gate to Abercrombie & Fitch. Yes, A&F or WTF?

The Louvre where Mike and The Bride soaked up more culture.

Eiffel Tower.

L’hopital des Invalides or in Mike-speak, the original Obamacare.

Love those flowers.

Mike optical illusion peeing in Jardin des Tuileries reflecting fountain.

Ferris wheel in Paris’s Central Park aka Jardin des Tuileries.

Mike’s eye view of Paris from Ferris wheel.

Final flower shot. Mike’s applying for his florist license.

Lame Adventure 316: Home is Where the Heat is

A note to my devoted readership – and all seven of you know exactly who you are, if I seem to have had no adventures of the lame variety during my recent vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are sorely mistaken.  I was in the throes of MacBook hardware-related technical difficulties, but now all is well again in Lame Adventures-land.  Actually I exaggerate a tad for I did return to the Big Apple in a heat wave and to a 19th century era garret that is not wired for air conditioning unless I fork over $600 to my landlady.  Since I lack the necessary six hundred clams for this home improvement, I am pounding the fluids and only making tai chi-style movements to avoid suffering heat stroke or dropping dead with an inelegant thud.  Fortunately, my personal sweat lodge has a northern exposure so it is easily three degrees cooler within these baking walls than the temperature outside.

The temperature outside when I returned home from work on Thursday.

Traveling back in time about a week to wonderful warm weather sans humidity, I was in San Rafael in the company of BatPat, my best friend from college, her husband, Mick, and their daughter, Hepburn.  We visited downtown San Rafael where there’s an excellent farmer’s market on Thursday nights with live music, a rock climbing wall, beautiful fresh fruit and veggies, delicious smelling Kettle Corn as well as more exotic foodstuffs.  We walked through it and quickly grew hungry as bears.  Hepburn suggested we continue our stroll and scarf some of the exotic eats, but BatPat declared:

BatPat:  I want to sit at a table.

Mick and I trampled each other in agreement.

We headed over to Sol Food, an oasis of excellent modestly priced Puerto Rican cuisine where a live band playing outside serenades the patrons within.

House of yum!

Sol Food’s live band — these guys are great!

If they opened a branch in my neighborhood, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it would be one of those hot spots with a long line stretching down the street and around the block since we’re huge fans of both good food and waiting in mile long queues over here.  At the same time, the neighborhood crank would smack them with a lawsuit over the musicians playing music outdoors so a petition on their behalf would also be circulating.

Back in San Rafael’s Sol Food, the atmosphere inside is also packed with flavor.

Instruments displayed out of reach to discourage patrons from showing off the conga playing skills they lack.

Dual purpose green plantain — food and napkin weight.

Hepburn in foreground, hustle and bustle in background.

Our order, lucky number 38.

BatPat and I ordered the same dish, Pollo al Horno, baked chicken thighs seasoned with garlic and oregano, served with rice and beans, organic salad and fried plantains.

Pollo al Horno – simple but delicious.

The pink beans stewed with herbs and Spanish olives were great.

Mick had the Bistec Encebollardo i.e., the steak with the Mofongo, a mashed fried plantain seasoned with garlic and olive oil.

Bistec Encebollardo – pronunciation that eludes me.

BatPat and I thought the regular plantain, which is sweeter, had more character.

Hepburn, the family contrarian, ordered the Mofongo Relleno de Camarones, a.k.a. to this gringo-ette as tomato sauce-topped garlic prawns with the mashed plantains and fresh avocado.  It looked scrumptious but tomato sauce is on my Do Not Eat Ever Or You Will Die Painfully Even Faster list.  My gastroenterologist will not allow anything acidic to enter my fragile intestines, so I just stared at her dish and drooled shamelessly.

Mofongo Relleno de Camarones – oh, to be able to eat something like this again!

Everyone raved about the Limonada Fresca, fresh limeade made on site.

Chug a lug … not!

Since I suffer the trinity of gastrointestinal ills – esophagitis, gastritis and hiatal hernia, that I keep at bay via an insanely strict diet to avoid going back on meds and feeding that evil beast, Big Pharma, I had to settle for the House Agua.

Whoop-dee-do-less House Agua.

Sensational hot sauce, or so I’ve been told.

Overall being in the company of some of my most treasured friends on the entire planet and chowing down tasty food in a delightful atmosphere while listening to melodic live music, was one of those times that owns placement in my memory bank in The Good Old Days file.

We returned to the car parked in a public parking lot behind a Walgreen’s feeling mellow.

Mick observed:

Mick:  Hey, did any of you notice that dead guy lying in the bushes?

Did he make an inelegant thud?

No one got too close, but it was possible he had only passed out.  Hepburn whipped out her iPhone and called 9-1-1.  BatPat sensitively reasoned:

BatPat:  At least he chose to go near the recycling bins.

Lame Adventure 315: Out of The Comfort Zone

Yes, I am away from my beloved island of Manhattan.

Away from my neighborhood theater that staged the Tony Awards Sunday night.

Live from New York [last Sunday night], it’s Neil Patrick Harris!

Away from The Grind where I steadily pigeon watch the day away when I’m not being tormented by our new and evil fax machine.

We’re accepting carrier pigeon resumes if either of you would care to apply. We’ll pay you in Girl Scout cookies.

Away from the subway train with its special brand of surprises.

Looky here, some cretin stuck their gum on the overhead pole!

The time has arrived for a vacation. I may even read a book.

72 pages in; I may actually finish reading this one.

I am in The Land of My Ancestors — the San Francisco Bay Area.  This is my second Comfort Zone.  I‘m freeloading off my sister, Dovima and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h).  Friday, their daughter and my niece, Sweet Pea, is graduating high school. Sunday is Father’s Day so I’ll be with the man who gifted me with his narrow feet, significant nose and capacity to explode at the TV screen when my team or Rafa Nadal is losing.

Since I arrived a day early, Dovima was concerned that I would be bored out of the little brains I have left home alone with Thurber, the family hound.

“I’m not fun to hang out with doggie a mano?”

Dovima was also been worried that I might have difficulty making lunch for myself, but I assured her that I mastered the art of mediocre sandwich-making at age 45.  Meanwhile, Thurber and I were busy doing our own thing.

“You only power sleep on weekends? I do it daily!”

“Where’s the cat? He’s a great excuse to bark!”

“Put the camera down and lie on the floor like me! This feels sensational.”

I did.  Hopefully my pulled groin muscle will heal by the time I fly out.  Dogs are great but resist following their advice.

Lame Adventure 267: My Last Post … (boo hoo)

Since I was a somnambulant drooling slog at work this past week, and I’m currently feeling a bit under the weather, I need to once again travel back in time, so here it is, my last post about my recent vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My sister, Dovima, ordered my brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h) to think of what we could do during my last day of freeloading visit.  Herb sat at the computer and began doing research.  She went out leaving Herb and I alone with Thurber, the family dog.

"I'm depressed. I like having you around."

Herb:  How do you feel about going to Bodega Bay?

Me:  Didn’t Hitchcock film The Birds there?

Herb (enthused):  Yeah!

Me (enthused):  Sure!  Let’s go!

Fast forward 24-hours later.

Dovima:  Bodega Bay!  Ugh!  Who wants to go there?  They’re screening animated films at the Exploratorium in the city!  You love animation!

Me:  Ugh!  I don’t wanna go into San Francisco!  It’s such a schlep!

Subtext dialogue:

Me:  Ugh!  I don’t wanna go into San Francisco and run the risk of encountering more exes I hope to never see again.  I have enough of a problem with that in New York.  Hey, I’m on vacation!

Dovima:  Why wouldn’t you want to go to San Francisco?  Everyone wants to go to San Francisco!

Me:  Don’t equate me with them.  I want to go to Bodega Bay!

Dovima:  You’re being ridiculous!  What’s even in Bodega Bay?

Sweet Pea:  Mom, didn’t they film The Birds there?

Dovima:  Don’t tell me that you want to go to Bodega Bay, too, Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea knows she holds the deciding vote. Herb and I look at the resident teenager longingly.  Dovima looks at the fruit of her loins, threateningly.  I scream inside my head:

Me:  Remember, you’re my sole heir!

Herb screams inside his head:

Herb:  Bodega Bay is great!  What’s the problem?

Dovima screams inside her head:

Dovima:  I’m your mother.  You’re obligated to side with me!

Sweet Pea considers her options. The atmosphere in the house is tense.

Sweet Pea:  Yeah, I want to go to Bodega Bay.

Dovima groans.  I’m relieved.  Sweet Pea high-fives Herb who appears a little stunned to have won a round.  She sets him straight.

Sweet Pea:  You owe me.

Off we go to Bodega Bay – a car ride that according to MapQuest is fifteen miles longer than if we traveled to San Francisco, but I’m in my bliss for every mile we drive further away from Baghdad by the Bay, that’s every mile I’m further away from possibly seeing the conquests of my youth — Lila Floot, Jo-Bang Kramp, Darlene Cunnilackus, et al.

The car ride is pleasant for the most part excluding Sweet Pea repeatedly asking Herb two questions that he completely ignores but his almost inaudible sighs of exasperation indicates that he hears:

Question One:  How long before we get there?

Question Two:  Do you even know how to get there?

We finally arrive.  Dovima, who was still feeling residually foul losing the vote, anticipates that her One True Love is taking us to The Grease and Slop Diner, but Herb has another place in mind, an upscale restaurant called The Tides – that coincidentally is also the location where The Birds’ restaurant and boat dock scenes were filmed.  Today’s Tides were rebuilt in the 1990s.

The Tides

Both Dovima and Sweet Pea are very impressed with this choice – and they’re a tough crowd.  Herb told me that he recalled eating at The Tides in his youth and always wanted to return.

The restaurant is crowded so Herb gives his name.  When a table is ready his name will be announced over a loud speaker giving us time to wander around.  Sweet Pea is determined to find sites that Hitchcock used in filming so she and her mother take off in search of someone that knows.

Lobby card from The Birds with Suzanne Pleshette and Tippi Hedren autographs.

Framed Kyle B. Counts definitive story* about the filming of The Birds.

*To access Kyle B. Counts definitive article click this link, The Making of the Birds.

Herb and I do our own thing.

Enter at your own risk. We didn't.

Herb making friends with Neptune.

Herb and I think we hear his name so we find Dovima and Sweet Pea and approach the host who looks at Herb and asks:

Host:  Are you Marv party of four?

Sweet Pea (loud stage whisper):  Say you are, I’m hungry!

Herb (ignoring Sweet Pea):  No, I must have misheard you.

Marv, who looks like a middle linebacker appears with his party, three burly guys that bring to mind lumberjacks that left their axes in the car trunk, reinforcing the old adage that honesty is the best policy no matter what your kid wants you to do.

Finally, Herb’s name is called – and they get it right:

Host: Herb (with a silent h) party of four!

Dovima and Sweet Pea both order what I really want, fish and chips, but since I am scheduled to fly the red eye later that night and I have a delicate stomach, I deem it best to go with the broiled snapper.  Herb orders a mushroom omelet.

Dovima:  Are you going to get a glass of wine?

Me:  No.  I avoid alcohol whenever I fly.

My sister, who always assumed she knew me as well as herself, faints.  Sweet Pea springs into action and revives her mother.

Sweet Pea:  Auntie didn’t say she was going on the wagon, Mom!

We enjoy our meal as well as the lovely surroundings – huge glass windows with an expansive view of the bay.  Afterward, we go site seeing outside.

Direct descendant of birdy extras?

Fishing vessel returning with a fresh catch.

Birds of (fish) prey perched on rooftop salivating.

Docked fishing vessel.

Pelican hanging out literally and figuratively.

Dovima, Herb and Sweet Pea

It’s possible that I went a little crazy photographing seagulls.

Seagull posing.

"Whatever you do, do not photograph my left side!"

Nice ass ... if you're into feathers.

Seagull-style presidential pose ... possibly the next GOP presidential candidate front-runner.

There are also several whaling artifacts on the grounds.

Whale bone.

Whale jawbone.

Whale jawbone legend.

Unidentified big whale-thing, probably a hangnail.

Whaling pot the size of my bathroom.

You'd surely feel this if it fell on you.

We then pile into the car where Sweet Pea takes over as back seat navigator, hell-bent on finding the schoolhouse used in the filming of The Birds.  She and Dovima were told that it’s in the center of town, but determining which way to turn is a little confusing.  Dovima thinks we should go one way, but Sweet Pea insists with such commanding authority we go the other even Dovima urges Herb the Beleaguered:

Dovima:  Ignore me, listen to Sweet Pea.

He does and sure enough, my heir is right!

The Wooden Duck antique shop across street from ...

The schoolhouse filmed in The Birds! Coincidence that it's painted in the same colorway as The Tides?

The schoolhouse is now a private residence but I’ve read mixed messages on the Internet about the current owner allowing tours.  When these tours happen, if they do still happen, I don’t know.  It was closed when we visited, possibly because the owner knew that Lame Adventures was in the hood.

Lame Adventure 139: Vacation!

It’s taken me fifty weeks to get here, but I’m finally on a seventeen day hiatus away from my job as the Minister of Tile, the crowded New York City subway system, bowls of taste lacking twigs for breakfast, and equally boring sandwiches for lunch that I chow down while staring dully at my computer screen when not envying the pigeons outside my window.

"We're free, you're caged!"

Essentially flavor-free, too.

Before leaving my place of employ on Friday, I wrote a list of what I need to remember to do upon my return on January 4th, so I am fully free to completely delete all things tile from my mind between now and then.

The Vagina Tile, I will forget about you! (Not really)

Is it barf or brownie tile, I will forget about you.

As liberating as it is to not find myself subject to Elsbeth, my boss, and one of her four questions that usually start with could you, did you, would you or can you, nor having to issue any dictates to my sidekick, Greg, that I start with “we” even though he knows as well as me, that I mean “you”, my first task this hiatus is to thoroughly clean my sanctum sanctorum.  Housecleaning does not rate very high on my to do list like seeing the Houdini exhibit currently on display at the Jewish Museum.  I so wish I could perform some abracadabra on vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting.

Crummy subway train poster photo of what appears to be a very interesting exhibit.

One bit of procrastination I seized this morning was responding to Zappos request for a product review of the black leather Jack Purcell sneakers I purchased in November.  I seldom write product reviews but since I’m on vacation and have switched gears from feeling sluggish about my get rich slow job to feeling sluggish about housecleaning, I discovered a level of enthusiasm for waxing at length about my sneakers I never realized I possessed.

Good sneaker, but runs a bit wide.

This weekend Milton and I got together for the last time until after I return from visiting my family for Christmas.  We ended our year of theatergoing the way we started it, by attending a work written and directed by one of our favorite up and coming playwrights, Young Jean Lee.  I don’t know what I mean by calling her “up and coming” since she’s 36-years-old, she’s been around for seven years, and has been subject to positive reviews in the mainstream press i.e., The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, etc.  I suppose when she writes her big breakthrough hit and is welcome in Utah she will have fully arrived and our interest will have waned.

Meanwhile, Young Jean’s work remains as original, challenging and edgy as ever.  Her subjects range from religion (Church), race (The Shipment), her take on Shakespeare’s King Lear (Lear), to now, feminism.  I am certain that she could create a theater piece around a can opener and we would find it provocative.  Her latest, a work-in-progress called, Untitled Feminist Multimedia Technology Show, recently played for four days between December 16th through 19th at the New Museum.

Closed December 19th, but hopefully will return when further developed.

Following a witty impromptu introduction by Young Jean herself, this ambitious work with an unwieldy title opens with intentionally corny stock footage video.  The show that follows is packed with intriguing and hilarious debate that both mocks and questions what is feminism.  The discourse is interspersed throughout with naked nymphs dancing – some lean, others large, prompting this exchange between Milton and I over beverages afterward:

Me:  I think I’m much too hard on my body.

Milton:  Hell!  After looking at those women, I should tear off my shirt and call myself Clark Gable!

Click the link below to hear Young Jean’s take on the holiday spirit as she sings the wonderfully cynical I’m Spending Christmas Alone (something I highly doubt that someone so cutting edge, cool and creative is doing).

I’m Spending Christmas Alone

In April she’ll be singing at Joe’s Pub with Future Wife.  Milton and I will be there.