Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blogger Daze

Sorry I haven’t been here for awhile but after my weekend (last weekend) of my 30th high school reunion I stayed in town to work on a project proposal at our headquarters which just happens to be in Houston. But when I get involved in proposals at the HQ it becomes a consuming process with the proposal team and especially the proposal director who works pretty much 24/7. This means I work all of the time and then go to my hotel and flop on the bed – well I did this five straight days until I finally flew home to good ol’ California Saturday morning. I don’t think I have ever been this happy to be home in my life.

The proposal goes in the tank by Tuesday – and then I can get back to describing the unbelievable feelings that go with meeting classmates 30 years later – and finding out you and they can still party like it’s 1999. And a whole bunch of other stuff – in fact it was almost three reunions in one.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Heat is On

I smelled the smoke for the first time last night.

You see, while we live a mile from the water, there is an amazing blaze 200 miles east from here. While we live in LA the fire stuff is all the way in the desert space. So you will see LA in blaze but it usually is far away.

But being close to the coast the breezes will usually blow it out here. So as the blaze continued I always stood on my top deck to see if I could see any evidence of it. Nope, just the usual LA smog.

But last night I smelled it. It’s a weird deal. I smell smoke. It’s either your house or someplace far away.

It was someplace faraway.

In 2003 when places north of Pasadena and in San Diego were ALL on fire, I walked out one morning and found ashes falling down on the house, the car, the little kitties. It had blown out here. Ash snow in October, it was.

That’s why I was looking for it. We are under the most severe heat wave I have ever seen in 8 years in LA so we are much more in tune to things. The kitties are clinging the cold wood floors for coolness. They cry more than usual. Jack has a heavy coat and he’s miserable – and he’s our main cat. Many old houses in LA do not have AC and we are one where it usually only bothers you for 10 days – this year 30 days, and counting. And we are in the cool spot!

Unusual I tell you - sweating it out in LA. And looking for smoke.

Eddie Money said it - “Just Another Day, in LA”.

Ohmmigod Wally! It's my 30-year high school reunion this Friday and Saturday (deep in the heart of Texas)! (What to wear......)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Forza Italia!

As discussed many times at A Hard Place, I reside in the harbor town of San Pedro, CA which occupies the northern half of the horseshoe that could be made out of the LA Port with the southern side being Long Beach. San Pedro is probably the oldest of the South Bay towns being the enclave to many past fisherman drawn to the area to support the ports’ growing fisheries. As development has grown in the world’s fifth largest economy “working class” San Pedro now finds its juxtaposed on the Palos Verdes peninsula (yeah I didn’t really know about "PV" until I got here either) with several up-scale ranches and swankier residential areas developed primarily from the 50’s on.

So it’s really the turn-of-the century “old town’ awash in a sea of Baby Boomer post-war development – and still officially part of the City of Los Angeles. There’s a lot of history here that doesn’t quite mesh with the Beverly Hills kind – and that goes to the amazing diversity that the greater LA area holds.

Ok, well enough travelogue, for now, but suffice it to say most people know San Pedro as a fairly Latino town nowadays – but as you wander from the port docks up the hill to where the “doctors and lawyers” used to live you will actually find all kinds of nationalities. Early on we learned that the prominent fisherman of the day were the Croatians and you do find a lot of people name Trutanovich here – a bunch. And there are Yugoslav-oriented mom-and-pop grocery stores dotting the hill. But what I didn’t realize was how San Pedro was the home to the highest concentration of Italians in all of Southern California (as I read in the LA Times for the first time today).

Until Sunday, that is.

Of course, Deborah and I watched the World Cup final between France and Italy. This was after we waited around for hours for a new dishwasher to be delivered only to find out that our wiring was outdated in our old “turn-of-the century” house (this pastoral stuff can only go so far). Ok stick it in the garage until we can fix “that” problem. What’s the score?

Suffice it to say Italy won. Now onto “House Hunters” on HGTV or “Boy Meets Grill” on the Food Channel. But wait – what’s that clamor outside?

We should have really expected it. We’re one of those houses perched up the hill and we had started to notice Italian flags appearing on selected houses the past weeks. In fact from our deck right then we could see a bunch all of a sudden, when did this happen? – and hear the car horns. I pass by the Italian-American Club on my way to work all of the time but have never ever really seen anything going on there. Now I remember they were having a block party and now knew that was the nexus of the din we could hear rolling up the hill.

Next was the parade of cars and trucks rolling through the neighborhood honking the horns and waiving their Italian flags. Where did they get all of these flags? This went on for at least three hours and on the fourth it sounded like they took the parade down to the Port. I drove by several times to get a peak and snap a pic or two. I lived here five years and it was fairly remarkable to me that was once a quiet street known as Via Italia now was, well, Chicago. Who knew? Man, I wonder if they had any deep-dish.

Little pink houses. (And you know what? - we really got 'em).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Most of the people who really know me are my buds back in Houston who remember me from college and high school – and who I worked with in the late 80’s or early 90’s. There is a whole mythology of our collective times together that has morphed together as “very good times”. They all have a collective opinion of what I should do, what I like and where I should be. Almost of all of them to a person thought I would move out to LA and turn around and come back within a year. But here I am still here 8 years later. The downside of LA is you don’t really make friends, you have aquaintances (who usually live too far away to really do anything about). But that’s the tradeoff. To me the weather is just unbeatable and if I can see the water from my house, well I’m not going anywhere real soon. However, I do plan to retire somewhere back in Texas someday – if I live that long.

And I go back to H-town several times of the year – so we still get together - in fact I’ll be there twice in the next two months – 1) for my 30-year high school reunion (Yikes!) and 2) for our 17th year of Fantasy Football. And we do Christmas there every year. So in a lot of ways I don’t I ever really think I left – I just work and live somewhere else.

Because of this I still maintain a healthy dose of e-mail traffic going back and forth which can be of a fairly substantial nature, like “where are you going to be first at the reunion” “Are you bringing Deborah?” “And is she happy about it?” “No, really.” "And how do you feel about that?"And/or the more frivolous ones you would get from anybody sitting in a cubicle next to you.

“You gotta watch Rock Star – Supernova tonight, Rock. I just saw it . They’re looking for a lead singer for Tommy Lee’s new band – and Brooke Burke is hosting”. Of course the band will probably be disbanded by next year’s show but hey its good TV I guess.

I missed it all last year except for the last episode. And none of my friends could believe I wasn’t hooked on the show. “C’mon Rock – it’s Rock Star”. Obviously I got my nickname, or maybe not so obvious, from a passion for rock ‘n roll but I had not caught on to this show last year. I sort of had a big problem that they were actually going to go through a whole production with the thought of finding somebody who could replace the deceased Michael Hutchence as a frontman for Austrailian band INXS. I think INXS is probably the most under-rated act of the ‘80s (and just a fabulous bunch of musicians) – and I just didn’t think it was possible. Well “Dirty Vegas” pretty much rocks for me so I guess I was wrong.

So I took advice from the e-mail I recieved from Houston at 7:05 PM PDT at my laptop while perched next to my kitchen island - which is where I spend most every night - and we watched the show. Thanks Mike. I’ll have to admit there is some talent in this bunch and they are entertaining – especially the chicks. And watching Tommy Lee lear (that’s almost lyrical) at every girl contestant – man I feel like I’m on the tour bus already. And who was that first chick – “Storm Large” – I mean she said that was her real name!

I think I’ll have an easier time explaining Rock.

Next time.