Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fievel Goes West

In what is now an annual visit, our dear Cranky Crab came to San Francisco for a long weekend to get freaky. It was relaxing. We spent a lot of time lunching and brunching and going to thrift stores. We accompanied Daniela to a dance party that carried the legacy of the Bay Area rave scene of the mid-90's (older faces, fancier decorations.) We steamed our pasty asses at the Kabuki Hot Springs. Our sweet guest made us a delicious dinner in East Coast tradition (heavy on the dairy, light on the legumes.)

The encounter could not have been complete without Tran passing out during a party.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Indian Wells, CA - Joshua Tree, CA: Sleep (and Dance!) in the Mojave Desert

Sandra flew in from NYC and we met at Terminal 4 of LAX mid Thursday afternoon. We picked up our PT Loser at Fox Rent-A-Car, a bare bones operation near the airport. The drive east into the desert was bound to be heavy with that famously interminable SoCal traffic so we were generous with diversions along the way. We made our first stop at Sanchez's Beer Bottle Chapel in the expansive back patio of Tio's Tacos in Riverside, CA. The restaurant was empty when we arrived so we had full access to the beautiful chapel as well as the other oddities in the space. I can't comment on the food but I highly recommend a visit to Tio's should you ever find yourself in this city. To boot, Riverside is also home to the World's Largest Paper Cup, our second stop along the drive. The cup is sits behind a fence on the yellowed lawn of a nondescript one-story office building. There is no indication of the cup's meaning nor anything else signaling its history. The cup just stands there majestically, seemingly unnoticed by evening commuters. We then made a few more stops (nail salon, a disgusting suburban phenomenon called "Panera", Target, a bodega) and pulled into the Indian Wells condo around eleven just as everyone was coming home from dinner. The house was quite modern and commodious, though obviously decorated by a geriatric most certainly suffering from glaucoma. We were happy to be there!

The group spent the better part of Friday poolside drinking beer, etc. Ana, Manuel, Sandra, Daniela and even pasty Kate soaked in the sun but I knew better (!) and stayed covered in the shade. Around 4pm Kate, Daniela, Sandra and I drove over to the polo fields for the opening day of Coachella 2009. I was impressed by the level of organization at the concert: event staff efficiently directed us to a parking stop, water was readily for sale, the grass was neatly cropped with little dust, and despite the heat and volume of the crowd, everyone seemed quite comfortable. It was a far cry from Outside Lands and even Warped Tour '98 on Randall's Island. Not wanting to overextend ourselves running from stage to stage, Sandra and I spent the the evening gluging at one of the civilly-run beer gardens. We hung out with her friends from Skidmore who were in town from back East. In no time it was dark and Leonard Cohen took the stage. The performance was a real show stopper. Even Sandra, an LC virgin, was moved by his voice, which was mellifluously framed by three talented back-up singers. Just as Leonard hummed his final "hallelujah" we bolted to the Sahara stage on the campus' extreme in order to wedge ourselves front and center for Girl Talk. SUCCESS! THE SHOW WAS FANTASTIC. So poetic! So sweaty! We found Kate, Daniela, and Dave after the show and reunited with the larger group for a few more shows and definitely more boogie action. We eventually headed home and continued the party (or at least I did! hmph!) at the condo.

Saturday was more cocktails, etc by the pool. Sandra and I hit the road as the rest of the group headed for day two of the concert. We drove north through the desert with fond memories of our time at the condo. We made a stop in Desert Hot Springs, CA to pay tribute to Waokiye, a 43-ft hand-carved wooden Indian head at Cabot's Pueblo Museum. Following Highway 62 through Joshua Tree, we stopped at the town's natural food store for strawberries from the farmers' market and then popped into Ricochet, an eclectic gourmet food and vintage clothes purveyor. At this point I was feeling the magnetism of the desert pumping through my veins to the point of feeling a truly drug-free high (cue sitar music, please!).

Then we arrived at Twentynine Palms, the neighboring town, and checked into our hotel. Here we quickly sobered up to the cruel reality of patriotism. The first indicator that something was amiss was the elderly man in full fatigues who greeted us at the door of the hotel. Then, as we headed to grab a drink at a nearby bar, we observed that the entire local economy of Twentynine Palms consists of tattoo parlors (eleven), "Oriental" massage parlors (five!), and barber shops (nine). I should have known better than to listen to a recommendation from Alex Linhardt without conducting prior research. While patronizing one of the eleven tattoo parlors ourselves, we later learned that Twentynine Palms is the WORLD'S LARGEST MARINE BASE (#fml). The Twentynine Plams Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, known as "Stumps", has blossomed in recent years due to the demand for soldiers trained in desert conditions. Thousands of young recruits pass through the base each year. At least this affirmed that we weren't hallucinating when we realized we were the only two women in the town.

We got an early start on Sunday morning, eager to chase that desert high. We stopped for brunch at a true oasis down the street, The 29Palms Inn. The hotel was U2's home in Joshua Tree when they penned the titular album. It was described to us by one local as "the only decent meal in the 45 mile radius." Indeed! There is a large organic garden on the property that supplies all of the produce for the restaurant - highly recommended and tasty breakfast cocktails too. We drove back to Joshua Tree past the Institute of Mental Physics, where Sunday service had just finished. Then we visited the surreal Desert Christ Park, per Daniela's suggestion, and wandered around for a while. We walked for a good hour in the hot sun toward Giant Rock then headed back in time to make our appointment for a Sound Bath at the Integratron (also present: a giant tour bus of Coachella rockers of an undetermined affiliation). By this point I was already on cloud nine. I think it was the excruciating heat and lack of shade - akin to the "Bikram effect" but less moist. As I lay supine and opened my heart to the sound of the crystals I felt the ultimate OHMM SHANTI SHANTI. It was really fantastic and transformative! After the 30 minute bath we (or at least I) floated out of that place and drove back towards Los Angeles via Old Woman Springs Road, arching through the San Bernardino National Forest.

Once we reached civilization we treated ourselves to a fancy Korean dinner and a movie before retiring to our boisterous accommodations at the Super 8 Inglewood.

Garden of Eden at Tio's Tacos

Chapel at Tio's Tacos


@ Coachella

Leonard Cohen; Girltalk

The fancy desert condo in Indian Wells, CA

Waokiye in Desert Hot Springs, CA. Part of the "Whispering Giant" series

Twentynine Palms, CA

Twentynine Palms, CA


The first indicator what was in store for us at "The Stumps"

29Palms Inn brunch and garden

Institute of Mental Physics

Desert Christ Park

Desert Christ Park



Desert High

Monday, April 13, 2009

New York, NY: Postcards from Manhattan

I took the red eye home on Friday morning for my sister and mother's birthdays. Time is a string of brunches-cocktails-dinners paused only for taxi and subway rides during such fleeting visits.

I got to see a lot of people (not as many as I would have liked) but for not long enough.

Last night I blinked and I was back in the Mission again.

Can you believe I was sitting in the window of Tasti-D on 14th when my long lost friend Dan McCalvin stuck his face in the door and said, "I'd recognize those ruby red lips anywhere!"