Saturday, July 29, 2006

And Back Home Again

My holiday over, it's back to the grind once again. Actually, while the East Coast Sassy Tour of '06 was much fun, I'm delightfully glad to be home.

As my vacation rolled to its end, I got hit on by two more guys in the last 12 hours I was in New England. I get chatted up regularly in San Francisco, too, but goodness, what is it with these Eastern dudes? Have they never seen women before? One of the guys was making conversation with me in the airport bar; I was watching the baseball game before my flight out, and he had just gotten in. He told me he was stopping at the bar for a quick drink on his way to baggage claim. Now that is one serious partier. Or alcoholic.

Once safely on my home coast, I met Gretchen for a late lunch at Mario's on Thursday. A little later Ann Marie and I grabbed a drink at Favorite Bar before moving on to Tunnel Top. I couldn't stay out too late, though, because my first day back at work on Friday began about two and a half hours earlier than normal. I went in early to chat with comedian Darrell Hammond. Honestly. It was an official chat, but a chat nonetheless.

I have the best job ever. Most of the time, anyway.

Then last night Ann Marie and I went to see X and The Henry Rollins Band at the Warfield. And because it's my life, we, of course, randomly ran into a couple of guys I know from high school at the show. Keep in mind that I went to high school some 350 miles away. We chatted with them for a while before they made their way into the mosh pit. Also keep in mind these two guys are about 38 years old. I guess mosh pits know no age limit. Or something. Actually, they're really nice fellows, and I hadn't seen one of them since we were in high school. So that was fun.

As for the concert itself, I'd never seen The Henry Rollins Band before. They were okay. While I respect his career, I'm not the hugest Henry Rollins fan. But it was fun to watch him bounce around the stage like a punk rock cartoon character. Literally. X was, of course, fabulous. However, Ann Marie and I are such old ladies, we wished X had performed before The Henry Rollins Band so we could have gone home early. As it stood, the whole concert was over by midnight. As I've said before on the space, relatively early shows are the beauty of seeing aging rock stars perform.

Tonight I'm staying in before embarking on a big week of socializing. I'm going out with Helen tomorrow, hitting a live music show with Denise and Paul on Tuesday, cocktailing with friends on Wednesday and then going to an art show on Thursday. Just a typical week here in the City by the Bay.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where The Boys Are

Apparently that would be Manhattan.

Before you get any funny ideas, I am merely talking about friends of mine. I realized the other day that of all the friends I currently have in New York, only one is a woman. But the boys I know there are truly platonic friends. They are all either married, engaged or otherwise emotionally unavailable; one is my former boss; and the others I have known for anywhere from 15 to 25 years. In other words: no romance here. But on the occasion that my current East Coast tour has taken me to New York, my one female friend is out of town. So I have spent my time playing with the boys. Well, at least the three boys I could corral during the 36 hours I am here.

We begin with Omar, with whom I am staying in Soho. He is a PhD-holding assistant professor, but that doesn't stop him from also being bouncy and fun. Staying here has been like a big slumber party. He even gave me flip flops to wear while in his apartment, creating a spa-like atmosphere. He is also teaching a week-long seminar before he leaves town on a Fulbright, and we toyed with the idea of me being a guest lecturer in his class this morning. Neither one of us were certain what I'd talk about, so it probably would have been more like Show and Tell: "This is my old friend, Sassy!" But for reasons involving an unfortunate incident with a car alarm that went off in front of Omar's apartment at 3:00 this morning, I am a little too pooped to even pretend to impart wisdom upon impressionable youngsters. So in just a couple of hours I am going to hop a train back to Boston.

Next is Schleevin, whom I mentioned on this space when I saw him in Southern California a couple of months ago. Over cocktails at the Soho Grand Hotel, Schleevin regaled me with the story of how his "package" got a great review in a magazine a few years ago. The review was supposed to be of the avant-garde stage show he and some of his fellow NYU Graduate School alums had created, but apparently his anatomy dominated the reviewer's attention. The life of an actor, I suppose.

Then there is Shawn, whom I haven't seen in almost five years. He and I went to Brown together, and I learned he shares my "If I knew then what I know now..." mentality when it comes to looking back on his college years. The word he uses to describe how he invested in the opportunities Brown has to offer is "squandered." But he's certainly landed just fine. Shawn now owns this cool record store/night club/art gallery in Brooklyn. He also told me on this visit that he has realized he has some work to do on his relationship skills. He's had plenty of girlfriends in his time, but he says that if he were to place a personal ad today, he'd describe himself as a fixer-upper. Actually, while I love him to death, that sounds pretty accurate to me.

And finally, it wouldn't be my life had I not been hit on by some random, marginal dude. I was in Mid-Town yesterday on my way to the subway to meet Schleevin on the Upper West Side for lunch. At 53rd and 7th, a man on a bicycle rode up to me and told me I was beautiful and then asked me if I am "afraid of Black people." He was African-American, but.... huh? After I told him I was not afraid of him (well, not because of his ethnicity, anyway), he asked me if he could take me to lunch. I told him I was on my way to meet my boyfriend, which was technically not a lie since Shleevin is my friend and a boy.

This dude's response? "I am so glad you said 'no' because I don't have any money." And he said this with a very genuine tone of chipper relief in his voice. What if I had said yes? Would lunch have then been my treat? But I didn't say yes, and with those words, Lunch Man happily rode away, only turning back to ask me if the book I was carrying is any good. Ironically, that book is Love Monkey, a fluffy tale about a man in Manhattan who seems to be challenged when it comes to women and dating. Seems a little appropriate.

Ah, men. That's all I can say. But now I'm on my way back to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then it's back home tomorrow. I'll see you back in the West!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

... But Then We Went To A REAL School

Okay, once again Blogger is being obstinate and not allowing me to post images. But I've grown tired of waiting to publish this post, so I'll add a photo later. Grr....

That stroll around Harvard on Thursday evening was nice and all, but it paled in comparison to what I did today: visit Brown University. Or as I call it, the True Happiest Place on Earth (with all due respect to Disneyland). Those who know me are aware that I am a little... let's just say loyal... to my alma mater. Okay, the intensity of my Brown loyalty does border on insane, but I roll with it. It all started back in April 1988 when I had acceptance letters to seven colleges, including the aforementioned Harvard, thank you very much, in my little teenage hands. And there was never a doubt I would go anywhere other than Brown. My mother wasn't too fond of my collegiate decision, but if the most upsetting thing I did in my teen years was choose Brown over Harvard, I'd say she had it pretty easy.

I was not disappointed. Those were four fabulous years. So for me, revisiting the campus is much like a tiny pilgrimage.

After graduation, I lived in Rhode Island for four and a half more years, and I hated it. Hated it. Did I mention I hated it? Also, I didn't like it much. But I have found in the decade since I moved back to the West Coast that Rhode Island is a truly lovely place to visit. It doesn't hurt that my dear friend and former roommate Cindy (whom I have called Pea since the day in 1995 when my friend Randy described us as "two peas in a pod") lives in a fabulous home in a delightfully bucolic Cumberland neighborhood. I didn't even know Cumberland, Rhode Island, had such neighborhoods. It looks just as I always imagined New England would look... until I lived here myself. But this has been a wonderful stay; I almost don't want to leave. Almost.

Once Pea collected me from the train station yesterday, we immediately hit the Brown Bookstore so I could load up on propaganda clothing. That's right, if it had "Brown University" printed on it, I bought it. Our bags full of insignia-laden crap, Pea and I then went to find a bar so we could do a little afternoon cocktailing. Apparently, Providence is not like San Francisco, in that finding adult beverages before 5:00 p.m. is a little more of a challenge. But we managed. Our friend Dolby eventually joined us, and then last night, Dolby, Pea, Pea's fiancee Matt and I all went to dinner at a restaurant called Red Stripe which occupies the space in Wayland Square formerly filled by the East Side Newport Creamery. Red Stripe has that space because Newport Creamery has gone bankrupt. This may mean nothing to you, but to anyone who ever spent a significant amount of time in Rhode Island, it is a travesty. Apparently, there are still four Newport Creamery locations in operation, but only four in the entire state? Travesty, I say. I also learned that Big Alice's ice cream shop closed, but the Cable Car Cinema is still there, as are Fellini's and the Coffee Exchange. Plus, in this age of corporate sponsorship, the Providence Civic Center has been renamed the Dunkin Donuts Center, which is, in my opinion, far more laughable than that Generic Telephone Park where the Giants play baseball.

Anyway, over our Red Stripe delectables, the four of us chatted about all things Rhode Island. The talk of politics was both highly entertaining and an excellent reminder as to why I no longer live here. But the evening certainly was fun.

Then this morning, I went with Pea to the gym before we grabbed a mimosa lunch and took our alumni nostalgia tour of Brown. It was sweet. We played in the Whispering Arch. We sat on the Henry Moore statue on the Main Green. We felt old. And luckily most of the buildings stand as they have for the past 242 years because some things in life just need to remain consistent. I did have one of those "If I knew then what I know now..." moments, however. If I could go back to my college days with the self confidence, life knowledge and, honestly, figure I have now, I would do a lot of things differently. I'd be more outgoing and try to make a lot more friends. Not that the friends I had weren't wonderful, but when else in your life do you live in an insular community of your most brilliant, driven and creative peers? I'd want to know as many of them as physically possible. I'd go see more theatre on campus than I did. I take more risks and try many more activities than I did. And frankly, I'd have a lot more sex than I did. Trust me, a whole lot more.

As I said to Pea as we sipped our cabinets (that's Rhode Island for "milkshakes") on our way back to her and Matt's house, it's possible this has been my favorite day of my vacation. So far, at least. More adventures are on the horizon. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 21, 2006

We Pahked the Cah in Hah-vahd Yahd...

Greetings from The Colonies. More specifically, Boston. Because I am writing this from The Land Where Time Is Money (a.k.a. Kinkos), I must be brief. But here are a few tidbits from my holiday so far.

1. Flying Jet Blue is very nice. And because they have that whole Direct TV hookup, you can think of the duration of your flight in terms of television programs. For example, my flight from the Bay Area to Boston was a "Daily Show" episode, a "Colbert Report" episode, several 80's videos on VH1 Classic, two episodes of "Little House on the Prairie," some frustrated channel surfing and a chunk of local New York City news long.

2. I got chatted up by two guys within half an hour of my arrival. And just a few minutes ago, another guy told me I look like a fashion model. Duck, if you still read these ramblings, I'd advise you blow off Los Angeles and move to Boston because this seems to be the place of unlimited male attention.

3. My fancy gym has a Boston location allowing me a little familiarity with my workout yesterday. I think the San Francisco location is better, though. But after spending a nonetheless lovely three hours at said gym, I wandered over to Newbury Street where I had a nice outdoor lunch, complete with afternoon wine, and got myself a pedicure. After I finish writing this, I'm going to the spa to get a massage. Had I lived this way when I resided in New England ten years ago, I might have liked it a lot more.

4. Last night Jenny, my Boston hostess, and I went over to Cambridge where we walked around Harvard. While there we went into a big building called Memorial Hall only to hear scary organ music that sounded like something out of The Omen once inside. No wonder I didn't go to Harvard. After that, we went to a nearby bar/restaurant called Ohm. It was fabulous, especially since most of the patrons looked to be our age or older. Then we went to Finale for dessert, and I immediately developed a crush on the 20-year old host. He was just so cute and little.

5. I learned today that jogging in 80 degree humidity is very different than jogging in 65 degree fog. Very different.

Okay, the spa is calling. More later from the life of leisure...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Insert Catchy Go-Go's or Connie Francis Refrain Here

Guess what? I am officially on vacation.

And I'm not talking just a day or two to supplement my weekend. I mean five full should-have-been-workdays sandwiched between my regular days off for a grand total of nine luscious days to fill with fun activities of my choosing. Some of the good times I'm planning include spa visits, leisurely lunches, lots of giggling, cocktailing with old friends, revisiting old haunts, crossing state lines and perfecting my urban hispter routine.

The start of my holiday was delayed just a bit when something came up at work, and I ended up having to stay about an hour and a half late tonight. I admit I was a bit annoyed at the time, but I barely even remember that now. Why? Because I am on vacation! If I seem more than a little excited about this, it's because, as I may have mentioned before on this space, it's been almost three years since I took a lengthy vacation. So I am going to savor every minute of my time off.

I'll try to keep you abreast of my adventures as they happen over the next nine days. But if I can't, don't worry. I'll catch you up later. But for now, I have to go pack so I can get the party started.

I am so deliciously happy.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Music That's Making me Happy Today, vol 17

Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen at the Make Out Room

This could be my new favorite band based on name alone, but as it so happens, their music is also really good. Even though they're local, I actually happened upon them in cyberspace while doing research for my little side-hobby (I'd call it a side-job, but I don't get paid for it). I heard a few of their tunes courtesy of... yes, MySpace, and I knew I had to see them.

I've said it before, and I'll sat it again: MySpace is going to take over the world one day.

Anyway, my live music buddies Ann Marie and Tom joined me at one of the Mission's most fabulous night spots, the Make Out Room, for a little country-infused pop music that made us all very happy tonight. Tippy Canoe leads the group on ukulele as she sweetly serenades the audience with an excellent singing voice. Tonight she was backed by simply a stand-up bass and violin, but apparently there is a guitarist and drummer in the band, as well. The ukulele adds a 1920's Hawaiian flavor to the group's sound, but the flavor is by no means overwhelming.

Not to be outdone, the audience was kind of entertaining, too. One rhythmically challenged gentlemen showed no fear in his attempt to snap along with one of the songs. He was undaunted by his inability to actually find the beat, and frankly, I respect him for that. And a couple of tango dancers gave the whole evening some saucy credibility. At least I know we were much cooler in their presence.

In other words: just a typical Sunday night at the Make Out Room.

And it doesn't hurt that we chatted with Miss Tippy after her set, and she's super-nice. If you like well crafted pop music, you'll be happy to climb on board with Tippy Canoe. Sadly, I don't know if they have any CD's available right now; so either you'll have to see them live or brave MySpace for a listen.

Tom has suggested we go see The Editors next, and DeVotchka is also coming back to town in August. We're fast becoming quite the music-loving trio about town.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Theatre That's Making Me Happy Today, vol 7

Restoration Comedy at the California Shakespeare Theatre

I actually saw Restoration Comedy on Saturday night, but I first had to give love to my boyfriends and World Cup champions, the Italian national soccer team. I am also a little embarrassed to admit that, prior to Saturday night, I had never been to a show at Cal Shakes. Not only is that a large oversight for any theatre devotee, but considering I used to be an actor and have about a million actor-friends... Well, it is just plain egregious that I hadn't seen one of their productions until now.

I must say I picked an excellent inaugural show. Restoration Comedy is an adaptation of two 17th century plays, and the result is tremendous fun. Fast paced and full of giggles, this show is eye and ear candy for the smart, artsy set. And here is the best part about Cal Shakes: the shows are performed in a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre where the audience is allowed to bring snacks! And libations (read: booze, if you will)! If you don't come prepared, they have a well-stocked concession stand. What, I ask, is better than watching a good play under the summer sky with a glass of red wine in your hand? Not a whole lot, in my book.

It also didn't hurt that Elijah Alexander, who plays a character named "Mr. Loveless" in Restoration Comedy, is so charming that I developed a crush on him within his first ten minutes onstage. Granted, he's no Italian soccer player, but who is? (And yes, I promise to be over my Italian soccer team fetish very soon.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup at Favorite Bar

Should it worry me that I was in a bar at 10:00 this morning?

Well, under normal circumstances, I hope you would not hesitate to answer that question with a very loud "YES!!!!". But today was the World Cup final, and Favorite Bar, which happens to be owned by an Italian-American, opened early to host viewing of the match. Helen arrived at 9:45 and was able to secure us barstools. Luckily. By the time I got there a scant fifteen minutes later, all the stools were spoken for. And a very sizeable group had gathered by the time the game started, with people spilling out the door.

We were not disappointed. Italy won in penalty kicks, much to the joy of most of the crowd. One or two people were rooting for France, but they took the defeat well and still seemed to have fun. And here's the very best part: most of the dysfunctional drunks who regularly pollute Favorite Bar were not in attendance. One or two of them came by, but they were the more innocuous of the dysfunctional regulars. I truly love Favorite Bar, but several of the people (okay, men) who frequent it work my last nerves. Frankly, they probably don't like me either. And I'm okay with that.

During the game, Helen and I had much fun selecting our favorites of the Italian soccer players. My new sports boyfriends are all so cute, honestly, we'd take any of them. Worry not, we did pay attention to the play of the game as well. But when an entire team of beautiful Italian men is running around on a tv screen mere feet away... well, a girl is going to notice. The whole experience has led us to decide we should take a flirting tour of Italy. Helen could tell people she's half Chinese and half Italian (she's actually half Chinese and half Mexican), and I could tell them I'm half Italian and half whatever else they want: African-American, Portuguese, Brazilian, whatever. People always assume about 1000 different things, anyway.

Of course, given what I've heard about Italian men, we probably wouldn't need to say anything, let alone lie about our ethnicity, to get attention.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Magic Power of the Spa

My one 2006 New Year's resolution was to treat myself to a spa day once a month. You'd think that's a resolution I easily would have kept, but I went in January and hadn't returned since.
That is, until today.

Last week, during a rather emotionally hard few days, I decided to revive my spa tendencies. I actually used to go to the spa a lot. I wouldn't always get a specific treatment, but three years ago, I did at least hang out there once a month or so. It's really healing and balancing for me, especially since mine is a brain that never stops going. So this morning, after seven straight days of work (in my business, holiday weeks often result in more work hours, as opposed to fewer), I went all out and had what I call an Everything Job. They call it the Nirvana Treatment. My two hours of bliss and ancient healing included a botanical body mask, aromatherapy oils, an herbal wrap and herbs and oil for my hair.

Before Nirvana I took advantage of the spa's little exercise room and did 40 minutes of cardio followed by a quick visit to the steam room. And once I'd reached Nirvana, I spent more time steaming and soaked in their spa whirlpool as well. And of course there was time to enjoy the poolside lounge.

I am so happy.

My skin is soft, my eyes are big, bright and clear, and my hair feels better conditioned than it has in months. And what was it that was bothering me so much last week? Oh, who even remembers now? That's it. I may not indulge in Nirvana every time, but I will become a regular spa denizen once again.

The spa was also the perfect antidote to the horrible, terrible, awful play I saw last night. You know I love theatre, but this show is a travesty. The acting is actually really good, but it is wasted in a script filled with totally gratuitous nudity and violence and frankly, the abuse of one of the characters. If you like that sort of thing, line on up. But in my opinion, this playwright's work should never be produced again. Ever. There. I've said it, and I'm not taking it back.

But that was then, and this is now, when life is nothing less than wonderful. My sojourn at the spa over, I am about to meet Denise in the Haight for some bonding and a book reading by Beth Lisick, an incredibly talented writer and spoken-word artist I know. Then Ann Marie, Tom and I are going to see The Plimsouls at Cafe du Nord.

This just may be the best day ever.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Italia, Italia!!!

A few weeks ago at Zeitgeist, my friend Daryl leaned over to me and asked if I'd be following any of the World Cup play. I shrugged and said, "Probably not."

My, how things change. I am now obsessed.

And my boys, the Italians, just minutes ago beat Germany 2-0 in semi-final play. Throughout the tournament, I actually have been rooting for several teams: Brazil, Italy, England and Germany. So I was a bit torn with this game. On one hand, my brother Peter lives in Germany, making me feel a degree of loyalty there. But my World Cup fascination began at Steps of Rome in North Beach watching Italy play the USA, and those Italian fans are so passionate they completely won my heart.

So there was really no choice; I had to go with Italy. And in the end, my new sports boyfriends came through with a stunning overtime victory. My only regret is that I was on my couch, as opposed to in North Beach, for this game. Between working last night until 3 a.m. and fighting a cold, there was no way I could hold my own among the North Beach fans this time. But I certainly wish I had been with them. Portugal and France play tomorrow, and then the finals are Sunday.

I'm very sad to see this tournament come to an end.

But the fun of my day is really just beginning. I'm going to take a run (yes, I know I just told you I am sick, but running actually makes me feel better, and I promise to take it easy) and then meet the lovely Helen in Washington Square Park because it is her birthday! Yay!!!! And she and I met a few days before her birthday last year, so it is also our friendiversary. This is big reason to celebrate. There will be fireworks in her honor tonight, too. And because Helen is very generous, she kindly allows those fireworks to commemorate our country's Independence Day as well.

Happy 4th, my friends!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Youthful Verve or Am I Just Immature?

Should I be at all concerned that I get along so incredibly well with Christine, our 20-year old intern at work? Especially considering I, myself, saw age 20 sixteen years ago?

Christine has continued to shadow me on Saturdays, and while I don't know how much she's learning about our industry from me, we certainly have tremendous fun. She was with me when I met the uber-nerdy ham radio operators last weekend, and she was by my side yesterday when I went to a ridiculous protest in Oakland, during which some guy involved in the protest hit on me. He wasn't the least but subtle either, even though he tried to use the pretense of asking me "professional" questions. Whatever, buddy.

Christine and I have conversations about illegal immigration, the war in Iraq and even ethnicity. With her being of Indian decent and me being half African-American and half Caucasian, we had quite the time comparing the curious to downright ignorant things people have said to each of us. In between those types of discussions, we also giggle through the far more important topics of music, socializing and boys. Yesterday we got into a conversation about MySpace, which she calls "the root of all (her) problems" because there she learns things about her friends that she doesn't necessarily want to know. Between her tales and the fact that I have a few friends my own age who participate in the MySpace phenomenon, my opinion of the site wavers between judgment, fear and fascination. I certainly would not be surprised if it takes over the world one day.

I told Christine yesterday that I hope we stay friends after her internship so I can take her to Favorite Bar once she turns 21 in November. However, upon just a few hours of reflection, I realized that I would feel obligated to protect her from many of the dysfunctional drunk men who hang out there. Not to mention from one or two members of the staff.

Huh. My fear for her well-being at Favorite Bar just may be maternal enough to convince me that while I love hanging out with Christine at work, I'm probably better suited for socializing with friends my own age.