Sitting on a United Airlines flight with what sounds like the rehearsed porno voice of
what seems a new go-getting stewardess announcing the safety system of our toy plane of which they managed to lose my carry on luggage, yip for real, my carry on. We are headed back to the thawing frost of the North, sweet home Red Deer Alberta.
After 10days playing between the beaches of Redondo and Venice, the home of Mickey Mouse in Anaheim and the company of new and old friends in Los Angles it's back to work as I currently know it and setting about planning the next adventure. It’s set to be the biggest one yet.
Spending the winter in sun starved Alberta my skin was going through salt water and sunshine withdrawals. Park, run and indulge. Ahhhh sweet California coast line!!! Thou a tad short lived in that even though it was roughly +26oC the water felt more like gin on the rocks and my lips weren’t getting anyplace near it.
Next stop was the friendly yet strangely organized hotel near Redondo beach, The Moonlite Inn. The reason I choose most places to crash on quick blast away trips is if there conveniently located to where I want to be and if they fall under the category of inexpensive or free. This one happen to fall under free, so I wasn’t getting super exited about it's ambience. The main selling feature being it was a few minutes walk to the beach! Strangely they never actually came to the room to say clean or make up the joint, yet they did call to ask if I wanted it cleaned or needed some new towels. Saying yes to both only seemed to get someone around to dropping off towels. This was to be an ongoing trend in hotel rooms to come now looking back on it, over ten nights in three separate hotels some mash up of circumstances never actually landed us one cleaned room during our stay at them. I’m all for cutting down on over consumption anyplace possible though I don’t think that the taking out of garbage or a couple extra towels in three days is pushing the ecological limits of a stay.
Recreating the memory: As the sun was setting on the oceanfront we stumbled across a U.S. favourite of mine, Joes Crab shack. I typically try to avoid franchise anything if all possible thou Joe and I had an initial bond on a random get away in 2010 when I initially met my shortly there after GF and ended up in San Fran at a Joes Crab shack for $1.50 happy hour and drunken buckets of crab, saweeet! Memory sparked we landed across another in L.A., happy hour was over so it was a soberingly different experience, craba-rific all the same.
New memories: Next on a list of "to do's" was bike riding on the beach & what a better beach then Muscle beach in the heart of medicinal marijuana capital Venice beach California USA.
With my youth being heavily influenced by educational American cable television programs such as COPS and Rescue 911, I was fairly clear about Americas "war on drugs". It seems America has a war on everything and
I'm not totally convinced war is the answer, I'd like to think maybe "An
understanding on drugs" or "A positive outlook on how we could safely control
and tax the hell outta what was previously a controlled substance to better
benefit mankind". Perhaps not as catchy as "war" yet I think more effective.
Anywhoo I was pretty sure I saw hundreds of "bad guys" being chased down and tossed in the slammer for growing good old cannabis & here I am cruisin the strip on a Saturday afternoon and about every ten or twelve shops had an all American, fairly attractive twenty something dressed in a very professional looking neon green jump suit explaining to passer Byers that they were the face of this very legitimate Dr. whom was in the back of this very bright green office front well decorated with an array of marijuana replicated leaves and a small assignment of grade school style seats. And that for the blow out price of just $40 you could be very closely examined without a prior appointment by a highly trained physician to assess your needs and see if you qualified to hold a medical marijuana card thus enabling one to legitimately carry weed on them in California, thou still not recognised by federal law. All right here next to a bustling tobacco pipe shop in the heart of medical science country and the ice breaker of the original Schwarzenegger, Venice beach California!
Ummmm hummm pot head heaven…
This seemed a tad in contradiction of all I leaned from COPS, thou right in line
with all I've learned from such educational programs as Cheech & Chong or
Scooby Doo. One just sort of does what they need to do to feel they are
exercising there freedoms of being an American citizen. All in all it fit in
nicely with the guy on oversized roller blades and a Rasta hat playing electric
guitar and letting me know "man you gotta get one of my t-shirts" along with the highly amusing disco dance party put on by what appeared to be the final cuts to Cirque Du Soleil performing arts members of 1973 whom now formed there own misguided ambitious group of disco duck roller sk8 dancers dawning the same outfits they wore to the original interview in 73 with the original tapes playing. Ohh the Jane Fonda work out video never looked so good. Rockin the old skool cruiser bikes down the beach did land us some talented entertainment. With case open and an abundance of hair acting like a conductor for this one man band. A talented artist playing the horsehair off a Cello to a background rock instrumental that melted away to sunset on the beach with a group of twenty to thirty in a well energized drum circle and roughly thirty more onlookers. The faster the sun sank the harder and more intensified the drums hit as the cool evening sand overcame my musical enjoyment.
HOLY PORTIONS BATMAN CHECK OUT THE FOOD!!! Ok, so I might be a tad biased in my gastronomic encounters as I think I could marinate my taste buds in ligit Mexican cuisine until they were all speaking with a Spanish tongue. So twelve pounds later, that's what I tried to do!
Tacos, burritos, huevos rancheros, gorditas, frijoles refritos, ceviche, carnitas and so on. Ohhh man American sized portions meet Mexican prices, god bless capitalism. One of the key features to this all working out in my favour is meeting up with a friend from L.A. and an old roommate who had been to L.A.in the past. This landed us out for dinner with friends at Cha Cha Cha just
off Virgil and Melrose. A Caribbean inspired restaurant lit with Jesus candles from the 99cent store and the appearance that maybe Jesus should bless this joint with a coat of paint, any color would match the mix of primary colors that make up the ex and interior. Paint job aside the food was off the wall! With the insider tips of our L.A. hook up, three Canadians, one American and a UK expat rolled in for $2 sangria and under $6 mains during happy hour. I think my food karma is finally paying off and our table is christened by Guava and Goat Cheese Quesadilla, Coconut Shrimp dressed with honey and cilantro over baby greens, Jerk Chicken Pizza Jamaican jerk chicken, red onions, fresh parmesan and mozzarella cheese, Sopes de Pollo Small corn tostadas filled with black beans, chicken and garden vegetables. I could hear the steel drums beating through every bite like an epicure apocalypse. Ohh and five of us ate dinner and drank for under $60, unreal.
Another blow your face off favourite was defiantly an inside tip, the TWO POUND BURRITO. My bud Kent, Sarah and I were actually headed someplace else when Kent, almost disciplining himself in the back seat as he couldn't believe he'd almost forgotten. Suggested we "bust a uey" right now and head to the Grand Central Market on 317 South Broadway. Done and done. The market still heavily represents it’s 1917 roots when it was originally established, aside from some obvious modern upgrades like the Coca Cola tables and wifi. The main emphasis was food, with fresh produce, Mexican cuisine (Arriba!) and fresh baking.
Kent didn't waste a moment hitting up the Mexican place he'd been to a year or better before ordering up a burrito. Whilst his was being constructed I decide on a fish taco for me and Sarah tacos Al pastor. Kent pays $5 for his Burrito and disappears for these Mexican Cokes made with real sugar in a glass bottle opposed to the high fructose corn syrup and tin can they are typically made with. While he's away I watch as the mother of all Burritos are assembled, it reminds me of a family scooter in Asia when everyone knows there is way to damn many people and stuff crammed on there, and yet everyone just lets it happen.
Step 1 corn flour tortilla that is to small for the job. Next lettuce all over
the place. After that salsa roja smeared like a blood bath on the murder scene of burritos. We continue with frijoles refritos. An artery plugging amount of el pestor, half the rice in China, pico de gallo, more salsa, a
white out of sour cream, another abstract amount of lettuce. All to the point
where I can see the chefs ambition of filling this has gone a tad far and there
is zero chance of actually wrapping up this burrito gone wild. Well apparently
he had no plans of actually being able to close it entirely and instead choose
to hold it mostly closed with one hand while he wrapped wax paper around it
enough to then wrap tinfoil around enough to then cut it just enough so it's
still slightly together then jam a fork through a whole roasted jalapeño pepper
and jam that on top. By now I'm looking around with shock to see if Jenny Craig is there with a recommended daily calorie chart trying to stop all this
craziness. Nope, seems that's exactly how there made every time. Well I'm still
amazed, so to curb some curiosity about this burrito they assigned two plates
too I take it over to the scales at the fruit stand to see what it actually
weighs in at... Just over two freakin pounds!!! If a $5 foot longs had to step
in the ring with over two pounds of burrito it would look like a Mexican sumo
wrestler had sat on a head of lettuce. I take a picture to document the evidence only to look up at the produce vender laughing at me and the Mexican chef proudly looking over questioning me with a smile, "two pounds right?".
I now watch as my $2.50 Tacos de pollo is manufactured of four corn tortillas, salsa, and about a half pound of seasoned roast chicken, dynamite! I think a tear is running down my cheek as I imagine the same experience in my current city being a previously frozen flour tortilla, topped with mechanically de-boned chicken meat served with tator tots. Ohh the blasphemy of meat and potato country....
Next stop on the culinary exposé was the German inspired Wurstküche, I'm not sure if it's meant to be pronounced Worst Kootch, but it's damn funny when you tell someone you ate the sausage outta the worst kootch last nite, bahahHHHAhaha. Seriously thou it was super kool. Set in a trendy LA neighbourhood on a pie shaped street corner, were greeted by a small lobby displaying a few one of a kind drinks including boxed water and a glass display case boosting an array of sausage combinations that wouldn't typically be found chasing each other around out in the forest. The rattle snake and rabbit, duck and bacon with jalapenos, buffalo, beef and pork with chipotles. You get the idea, this mad chef has been messing with mother nature!
Order up your sausage and an authentic beer from the list, I went for a German brew the “Spatan Optimator”, what one would expect a beer to be called if it were named by the Govenator! Then make our way to the back of this simple and slick looking picnic area of joined tables laid out like the beer tents at Oktoberfest . Everything is done in slick wood finishes and the tables are set with butchers paper and a number of mustards. Grainy, honey D, American and so on. Shortly there after someone arrives with your beer set in it's originally designed glass, stein, mug, etc depending on the beer type. Just like in Germany, none of this one glass fits all North American beer drinking lifestyle. Then it all happens... Out come the sausages, topped with your pre ordered topping choice.
Dun dun na na mine is the rattle snake and rabbit with roasted sweet peppers and sour kraut on a white bun with a side of chunky twice cooked and house cut fries with choice of Aoli. I ordered the pesto mayo and zesto pesto it was all damn good! I'm pretty sure Sarah enjoyed a new stain on her shirt and
Kentwore most of his on his hands, thou I think that's half the experience. The Wurstküche was the best kootch I'd ever paid for.
Last stop on the dining experience was set in little Thai town in a mini mall complex with a dozen or so other Thai and non Thai restaurants and after spending the better part of a year in Thailand in 2008/09 I'm yet to replicate the dinning. This joint was the most rockin of the lot so we entered and soon found out why. As the 3 of us rolled out some two hours later after making friends with tables on both sides and lapping up Tom Yum Gia, fried tofu with sweet and sour sauce, roast garlic chicken with cashews, lemongrass and basil pork, and green curry with chicken our nite of clubbing turned into potbelly night in front of the worlds shiftiest tv. The tender lip and mouth burn of a job well done.
On the franchise side of things I did succumb to extreme marketing and the wishes of a birthday girl and hit up iHop for Lorax pancakes with pink truffula and a side of green eggs and ham. I hope some of proceeds went to save the truffula trees.
And in the world of trendy desserts we went to Sprinkle Cupcakes just of Rodeo Drive where I was less impressed by the line & hella impressed that they have a freakin cupcake ATM, no joke. If your rushed and need a cupcake on the fly you simply put in your visa, select your cupcake of choice and this little machine makes it all happen while you stand there for a few seconds, then wham-ohh this turntable of pink steel gives you the goods. In fact this little gem was such a hit they were filming a promo for it with the store owner and judge of cupcake wars Candance Nelson. So we hit her up for a photo op and mission successful. Ohh right those little cupcakes were damn tasty to. We had a carrot one and a red velvet one, it's like indulgence for the dessert rock star.
Mickey Mouse House: When in LA or Florida I like to make a point of visiting my old pal Mickey Mouse. Last I was in Florida in 2003 Mickey put me up in one of his pads and we split a large number of beverages at the Epcot Center trying to drink our way around the globe. All I remember is singing "It's a small world" to some impressive fireworks while this strange salty substance dripped from my eyes as I explained to the German girl next to me that this really was the happiest place on earth. Ahh the magic of Disney.
Well slightly different experience this round as I think I spent half the day in
lines muttering about how much time I'm wasting in lines only to be either
transported at mach speed up over and around like jet fighter dodging bullets or being taken up in an elevator only to be briefly showing the view from what
seemed a thousand feet up to then be repeatedly dropped outta the sky screaming like there were zombies trying to eat me. And for that I would happily wait another 65minutes telling myself that I'm not seven and I can handle this.
All in all experience enjoyed. Ohh and as a side tip the price of admission is a little better then $100 USD/day, though through the power of the internet one can enjoy the same experience by meeting in a small office just a couple blocks away and buying a heavily discounted ticket for roughly $60. Just google it and bring your credit card.
People were super nice aside from maybe the one dude running from getting his ass kicked by some other dude at the bus stop & the police aggressively assisting a nice homeless man from in front of the 99cent store who was yelling something about “this is my home” to the patrons. The weather was rock solid, my friends were over the top hospitable and traffic was pretty crazy, thou I've seen crazier. Well actually our plane even got stuck in traffic on the freeway, for real.
In the words of rockers sum41 I'd say Southern California was all killer & no
*** Ohh silly me almost forgot about being in the public eye and being asked to be on t.v. as well as part of a Tokyofashion shoot as we were obviously super sexy! I’ll put a link to the magazine once it’s published for now I’ll post one of the shots of me posing like any natural model!