Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Summer Complaints

So many of us lead ironic lives…some of us intentionally…many more of us, unintentionally.
I personally love irony!
One of the most treasured books in my library is my copy of “The Complete Works of O. Henry”.
Many years ago, in an ironic twist my wife (The Beautiful Carin) cut her gorgeous hair short and sold it to a wig maker to buy me that particular book…while I, in turn, sold my reading glasses to buy her some beautiful ribbons for her long and gorgeous hair!
Just like the “Gift of the Magi”…Ironic!
And made even more ironic by the fact that we were millionaires and could easily afford both the book and the reading glasses!
In other Irony News, it turns out that pretty much every Newport Beach restaurant is best enjoyed in Autumn, Winter and Spring...esp. Autumn!
That’s when the summer complaints have packed up the vacation rental and returned to wherever the hell it is that they live (that is, when it’s not summertime and they are busy clogging up the PCH and every beach and boulevard in Newport Beach).
I can get to some of my favorites places, find a place to park, and enjoy myself!
Hooray for Autumn!
In the Autumn, the weather here is still great, plus I don’t have to listen to the din of flatlanders describing their adventures on the whale watchin’ boat or telling everybody in earshot how indecently expensive everything is in Newport Beach.
I already know it’s expensive to live here…I live here.
However, in another ironic twist to my little story, many of the places I go are not really very expensive…they are just overcrowded in the summertime!
All I am looking is good food, priced right with good company to share the experience…what more could you want on a balmy October evening?
I’ll tell you what more you could want…you could want attentive and friendly service and an upscale but casual “beachy” atmosphere along with that food and friends dealio!
And, non-ironically enough, that’s exactly what you’ll find at most of the places I love in Newport every season except summer!
In the summer, my favorite spots get really jammed…esp. on weekends…“That will be a 2 hour wait for the next available stool at Cappy’s, sir”…Uh, Thanks…no.
In the summertime, the fine folks that provide all that great service are just trying to move as many bodies as they can!
And if you don’t ride your bike, you’ll find that the summer crowd affects the parking situation, in a very, very negative way.
So…Autumn…yes, Autumn…that, that is when Newport Beach is really at its best!
You be the judge.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Walking on Water

I occasionally feel a tiny little bit clueless and uncoordinated.
That is because I am, in fact, on rare occasions, a tiny little bit clueless and uncoordinated!
Ill suited for the tasks at hand, you might say.
I found myself in that sort of circumstance recently trying to figure “Stand Up Paddle-Boarding”…I am either too tall…or too short…or too angular…or too fat…or too…too…something.
Stand Up Paddle-Boarding…SUP.
Or (in my case) “Fall Over Paddle-Boarding”…I was going to try to come up with something clever that I could use to make the acronym “FLOP”, but that’s more work than I need for this blog.
I just could not get the hang of this “sport”.
I thought it would be easy, since I am the embodiment of grace, balance and (if I may) elegance in all the physical and sporting aspects of my life!
I had purchased a Groupon for SUP instruction, so the Beautiful Carin and I headed over to the Newport Aquatic Center on a warm springtime morning to redeem our Groupon and get elemental with the water.
She’s a Pisces, so it should come as no surprise that (even with the very limited instruction given by the instructors…and in fairness, I don’t know that additional instruction would have helped me achieve success, but I would have appreciated something a bit more coordinated and helpful), she pushed off from the shore, popped up on the board and immediately achieved the status of SUP-Pro!
Your results may vary…mine did.
In the space of the 90-minute SUP lesson, I hit the water (hard) more than 30 times…my sunglasses and my visor are embedded in back bay bottom goo somewhere near the Newport Dunes foot-bridge and my manly pride floated out to sea with the ebb tide.
Oh sure, the “instructors” had some encouragement and some additional instruction for me while I was out there, shouted across the water as I emerged from the murky depths after my latest spill:

·         “Move forward on the board!”…I especially enjoyed this one as it allowed the nose of the board to thwack me smartly in the pills as I went headfirst over the front of the board.
·         “Move farther back on the board!” they shouted, just as the board went vertical while somersaulting me backward off the back of the board and embedding my head and sunglasses into the aforementioned Back Bay bottom goo.
·         “Center yourself above the handle and spread your feet as far apart as possible!” they said as the board slipped out from under my mud slickened feet…but this turned out to be the least injurious way to fall off the board…so that was an improvement!

I did have one extended stretch of time where I was vertical on the board; maneuvering and making forward progress…it was the best 4 minutes of the session!
I thought I might be improving!
A small gust of wind cut my triumph short.
It was (apparently) just blind luck on my part that I was vertical for 4 minutes.
And every time I surfaced after a face plant, I watched our group of novice SUP’ers get farther and farther away.
When I finally caught up to the group at the Newport Dunes beach, I was exhausted, while they had been resting and watching the “Instructors” do SUP tricks for about 20 minutes, so they were ready to head back.
Heroically, I soldiered on and at least attempted to “get back on the horse”.
But after an hour and a half of dragging my ass back on the board, and hearing the peals of laughter from other SUP’ers, kayakers, yachting enthusiast and even birders on the shore (and more than few giggles from the “instructors” themselves), I finally knee boarded back to the beach at Newport Aquatic Center and turned in my SUP…for good.
Carin loves the sport!
She SUP’s every chance she gets!
Me? I am sticking to kayaks or jet skis…or the beach.
I left my enthusiasm for SUP (and any love that I might have started out with for my paddle-board instructors) in the Back Bay bottom goo along with my visor and my $200 Oakley’s.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Really Real Housewives of Orange County – part B

Real Housewives of Orange County – Episode 2,483
The camera pans across the interior of this Pan-Asian chain eatery (which shall remain nameless to protect the blandness…let’s call it “PayWay”), located in the near Outer Newport Beach.
We focus in on a corner of the restaurant where two Really Real (yet silicon enhanced and botoxed to within an inch of their very lives) Housewives discuss their current situations, using their “outdoor” voices, while the other patron seated in this corner of “PayWay” tries to choke down his miserable excuse for Korean BBQ and do a little light reading.

·         “Becky” (not her real name...the real name of one of my wealthy ex-wives) – Which Mercedes are you going to take?
·         “Cindy” (also not her real name...but the real name of another one of my wealthy ex-wives) – The AMG 55…he loves that car…HAHAHAHA!
·         Becky – Are you on any of the accounts?
·         Cindy – A few, but I won’t be after I clean them out…but I want to max out the cards first…Fashion Island is going to love me!
·         Becky – HAHAHAHAHA…What did your attorney say?
·         Cindy – She said to go ahead and then maybe head for Tuscany for a month or two…give him time to cool off!
·         Becky – Cindy (marveling), you are so smart!

How I wish I had never heard this conversation…and how I wish I hadn’t dropped by “PayWay”and ordered the Korean BBQ…how I wish the place weren’t’ full and I could have moved.
But I did…I did…and I couldn’t.
I selected my lunch (and my inadvertent luncheon companions)…unwisely.

Live and Learn…as I’m sure “Cindy’s” soon to be broken and battered husband will also say.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Golf in the Kingdom...a Slightly Different Kingdom

I played eighteen holes with Jesus the other day.
It was a lovely, partly cloudy, early spring day in Irvine and I was out at Oak Creek Golf Club just looking to play a little golf.
The pro shop paired us up (I must have looked Holy, or Angelic or maybe like I need a little quality time with the Lord) and I introduced myself to Him at the fist tee.
He was tall, tanned, with shoulder length brown wavy hair...just as I had imagined Him to be.
He was dressed...pretty much like me!
Gray plaid cargo shorts, red Polo golf shirt and Adidas spikes.
He said He was a 2 and played very well...good distance control...good shot selection...nice ball flight.
We made it through the front nine without my taking His name in vain...always a plus when you're paired up with the Almighty!
He was 1 under and I was 3 over (I'm a little rusty...I haven't been playing much lately).
We teed off on number 10 (after a short pause at the turn to hit the loo and grab some refreshment...even The Son of God gets thirsty).
He launched a majestic tee shot that landed right out there in the middle of the 10th fairway (it looked like he'd driven the ball about 310 yards, right down the irrigation line...just what you'd expect from the Son of God).
He had what looked to be a 5 metal in his hands (as opposed to "the whole world").
It was clear that He was going for the green in two shots...again, what else would we have expected?
As he addressed the ball, some of fluffy white clouds parted, and sunbeam shown down on Him, making it look for all the world like he had a halo around his head.
He drew back the club and swung with all his might, in a effort to smite his Titleist Pro V1 all the way to the green and give himself a short eagle putt...and dead topped the little sucker about 40 yards down fairway.
He unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse at the golf ball, the golf course and the universe(s) in general, and lashed his club back into his bag with such force that I could hear the crash 20 yards away.
In that moment, I was so relieved that this was Golf Jesus and not the real Jesus...imagine what would have happened had the genuine article punted a shot like that...we would all just be part of an expanding fireball at this very moment!
Golf Jesus' assessment of life, the game and the golf course aside, we otherwise had a very nice afternoon!
After Golf Jesus loosened up and quit trying to shoot a career round, He told a few jokes, joined me in a couple of very nice cigars, hit on the beer cart girl and turned out to be a pretty good omniscient being to spend an afternoon with...He didn't even try to convert me!
Oh, He still complained a little because the course management had aerated the greens recently and the putts were bouncing everywhere.

But the greens (like the rest of the course) do indeed need can't just leave important stuff  like that in the hands of Nature...or God...or even Golf Jesus!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Avarice and Ancient Art (alliteration for all)

I like J. Paul Getty!
That puts me in the minority, I know, but dammit…I like the guy!
He was intelligent, belligerent, a contrarian, a raconteur, an anglophile and a billionaire (I know, these days, you can’t swing a dead cat in Newport Beach without hitting a billionaire in the back of the head…but back in the `60’s and `70’s, that “billion” thing really meant something).
JP was one of the original 1%er’s…and a particularly rapacious and selfish one, at that.
He famously installed a pay phone booth at his home in Sutton Place…it seems the hangers-on were using house phones to chit-chat with everybody on earth…it came to quite a sum!
And when one of grandchildren was kidnapped in the `70’s, he correctly reasoned that simply paying the ransom would make the rest of his family easy targets, and negotiated the ransom down from $17 million to $3 million…part of which he loaned to his son at 4% interest!
And that was after the kidnappers sent him his grandchild’s ear!
You have to love that kind of clarity of thought!
J. Paul lived very much like a modern day Roman Emperor…carefully deciding who got the “thumbs up” and who (even down to family members) would get the “thumbs down”.
He collected art with the same vigor that he collected companies, oil wells and women…which is to say he looted, er…collected his art with an avaricious zeal that is likely unmatched in the decades since his demise!
The good news for us, is that J. Paul wanted to be remembered for something more than being a big ol’ greedyhead!
He wanted to be remembered for something good…something to balance out the negative karma that he also collected over a lifetime of debauchery and decadence.
So JP created a museum or two, a trust to take care of the art that he had collected and he endowed the museums, collections and trusts with more than $650 million when he kicked the bucket!
Those museums have flourished under the guidance of the trustee’s and have become “must visits” for anyone who is even remotely interested in either art or history in the Greater Los Angeles area!
For me, it's SoCal Museumfest 2014 (an event that I made up, completely from scratch, right at this moment) so The Beautiful Carin and I hit the Getty Villa the other day to spend a sunny, warm and extremely pleasant afternoon, wandering around the spectacular grounds of JP’s old Malibu estate.
The serenity and beauty of the grounds and the villa are truly the perfect setting for priceless art, history and antiquities displayed here!
The Villa itself (which is a replica of a Villa dei Papiri, a very wealthy Roman’s estate…isn’t the sub-conscious sublime) was imagined and created by JP to house his collection of antiquities when the sheer tonnage of art got to be far too much to keep in his home in Malibu.
And the art and antiquities, themselves…so much of it and such incredible pieces!
What a collector old JP was…so much time…so much money, and of course…so much money!
But I understand it…if you can truly “buy everything”, then why wouldn’t you?
And he did buy everything…until he filled his Malibu house to the rafters (you poor people do with newspapers and dirty diapers).
Then it seem JP’s friends staged an intervention (threatening to put JP on an episode of “Hoarders”) and told him the he needed someplace more organized to keep all of bric-a-brac and tchotchkes…something more dignified than just standing the statuary in a corner of the dining room.
The Getty Villa Art Museum was born!
We are the lucky recipients of one man’s obsession with possessing everything of value that he could possibly get his hands on.

Who says avarice and obsession don’t pay off!