Just returned from LA where Amanda and I visited with my brother and saw a Spoon show. We flew down on friday and spent the day wandering Venice Beach where he lives (well okay, he lives 2 minutes away from the beach by bike). We met Gabe and his roommate Halina at his house around 6pm and then drove into Hollywood to have dinner at La Poubelle, the restaurant where his girlfriend Melinda works. We had an unremarkable dinner (though the crab ceviche was good) and then had a few drinks with some of Gabe's LA friends at the bar. Someone mentioned a pool party at another friend's house so we loaded into the Prius and met the others at the house. It was a nifty house. As it turned out the house's owner is in a band that you are likely familiar with, and as a result his house was located in the Hills above Hollywood and featured a lovely view of the city. We mingled and swam, drank and laughed, and had a jolly time and when we'd had our fill we headed back down the hill and across the city to Gabe's house where we slept.
In the morning Amanda and I had breakfast at Noah's Bagels (weak coffee) and then walked to the pier where we watched surfers fight for waves. When that got old we walked Venice Beach again, checked out a bookstore, drank a lemonade and then walked over to famous Abbot Kinney road. We had a coffee and then met Gabe back at the house where we read some magazines and shot the breeze before walking over to Mao's Kitchen for dinner. It's a hip, cozy, and surprisingly affordable Chinese restaurant with Chinese Revolutionary posters on the walls and tasty, creative food on the menu. We shared a few entrees and talked about Gabe's job (in advertising). At one point CJ from Top Chef walked by with a gal and a dog. Top Chef is the only TV show I watch and CJ is the person Amanda and I are rooting for to win, so the fact that he walked by was fun. We joked about running after him but let him go. This time. After din we walked back down the beach in the dark where I accurately predicted someone would ask us for our leftovers. So we gave them to a couple dudes who were sleeping under some bleachers and finished the walk home via the canals. The houses on the canals are rad.
Yesterday we woke up early and had breakfast at Joni's. It's a coffee roasting operation with good food and damned good coffee. They roast the beans daily and brew it by the cup. It's strong, dark, sweet, and delicious; no sugar needed. I highly recommend it. Then we met up with some of Amanda's friends from high school who now live in Hermosa and walked all over Venice with them. Afterwards we met Gabe back at his house where we chatted and read for a couple hours before heading out for the Spoon show. We picked up Melinda at her house and drove to the show at Henry Fonda theatre in Hollywood. We waited patiently through the end of an openning set by DJ Dr. Octogon (or something). I still don't understand why they had a rapper opening for Spoon, but whatevs. We took the opportunity to purchase a $7 beer from the bar upstairs. The Spoon show was awesome. Best I've seen. The band was energetic, they played well, and the production value was the best we've seen: lots of colorful lights, good sound mixing, etc. Afterwards we drove down the way to Canter's, a historic Jewish deli with the world's best corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. They serve up 4,900 pounds of pastrami a month and 4,000 knishes a week. There were a couple familiar faces in there too, but I was too busy with my Reuben to care. When we were stuffed to the gills, we walked back to the car, handing over two half-sandwiches to pan-handlers on the way.
This morning Gabe took us to the French Market Cafe. They have a limited but fresh and tasty menu consisting mostly of eggs and fresh-baked breads. Our meals came with green salads and blueberry jam for the bread. Good food and coffee served up by authentically snotty French people, worth checking out. When Gabe asked if he could substitute one bread for another, she basically told him to piss off, but he ended up with the bread he asked for and a funny story to tell. After breakfast we drove to the airport, said our goodbyes and flew home.
What did I accomplish with this trip? Ate lots of good food, walked about a million miles, saw a good show, caught up with old friend and made some new ones. What did I learn? I dunno. Not all LA people are dicks, but plenty are. They're all really lousy drivers. Most of Venice is walkable. I still don't want to live in LA again. That's all.