Rarely does Mercury in Retrograde work in my favor. In fact, by rarely, I mean never. If you are unfamiliar with the phenomena that is Mercury in Retrograde, or for purposes of my laziness moving forward in this entry–MIR, it is an astrological event occurring 3-4 times a year wherein the planet Mercury passes by Earth’s orbit appearing to spin backwards (it isn’t) spanning a duration of three weeks. Mercury, the planet representing communication, throws all kinds of kinks into things such as travel arrangements, software updates, texting, sexting, agreements (both verbal and non-verbal), technology purchases, reply-all emails, severe MBTA failures (for my Boston peeps), etc.. Whether you believe in astrology or not, compare and contrast the calendar of past MIR occurrences with that of any major fuckery in your life. It is real.
This past February MIR simultaneously kicked off on the same exact day as I embarked upon a work-related trip to Los Angeles; but more specifically, I flew out ahead of the work-week to visit with friends to offset the crippling depression inflicted by our brutal Boston winter. A work-cay if you will.
My Uber ride picked me up and drove me through an early morning snow storm. At the time I was thinking, “There’s no way I’m getting to the airport.” But somehow, I made it to Logan International Airport with zero problems. I flew Virgin Atlantic thinking I would be held up by cancelled wayward flights. Yet somehow, I checked in and made it through security in about, oh… 5 minutes (no hyperbole). Virgin gifted me a row of seats to myself, replete with a chasm of leg room, at the front of the plane. I was super comfy in my little cocoon of airplane goodness, but then looked out the window to observe this wintry delight:
If you look close you can see the snow blowing off the tarmac creating a visibility of sheer and utter nothingness. There is NO WAY this flight is taking off; but somehow it did, on time.
Once in my lifetime I fronted several rock bands, but most significantly and recently I spent eight years with some amazing people in an indie band called Lagoon. With each year removed from my tenure as a lead singer and guitar player in a band, it becomes more and more foreign to me–such that it’s almost impossible to imagine that dragging an amplifier out of some club at 2AM was once an enormous part of my life. Since Lagoon’s departure my ex-band mates have since migrated Westward achieving greatness in all different kinds of ways in Southern California.
If L.A. has a cutthroat darkside of back-stabbery and claw-your-way-to-the-top reputation, it clearly isn’t happening at Chez Jacob’s. Cast out a wide net, help out your fellow artist, contribute and everyone wins.
Upon descending into LAX Jacob, the bass player in Lagoon, picked me up along with his sister, Marisa. This is the random part, Marisa was also visiting from Boston–our trips coincidentally colliding as she just happened to be interviewing for a Doctorate program at UC Irvine. Marisa didn’t know I was staying with her brother until a few days before we both left Boston. It is worth noting that aside from Jacob and Marisa being siblings, Marisa was also Lagoon’s drummer.
When Marisa and I mutually discovered we would be sharing quarters at Jacob’s I suspected something great was in the works. The universe, or possibly MIR, had somehow reunited 3/4 of Lagoon’s members. It didn’t take much convincing for our guitar player Patrick, now living in San Diego, to make the trip up to complete the band.
So now we have a party and a full-on Lagoon reunion.
Jacob lives in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles with his girlfriend Christina and his friend Jeff (Grammy award winning engineer who also produced Lagoon’s last record). Oh, and Esper–one of the sweetest most amazing dogs, ever. (Esper and I bonded almost immediately. She even insisted on helping me with some impromptu yoga, a regular activity in the household.)
The vibe of the house is creative, collaborative and bustling with musicians and actors frequently popping in and out. If L.A. has a cutthroat darkside of back-stabbery and claw-your-way-to-the-top reputation, it clearly isn’t happening at Chez Jacob’s. Cast out a wide net, help out your fellow artist, contribute and everyone wins. I immediately felt welcomed as part of the tribe.
After Patrick arrived from San Diego, Jacob and Christina suggested we make a trek to the Getty museum. I had never been there before, but it was a fantastic suggestion. If ever given the chance, the trip is worth it just for the view and grand scale of the architecture. We arrived just in time for sunset and to witness the golden slumbers that is Los Angeles, California.
And it was only fitting that we took some Lagoon reunion group shots. I actually think we look better now than we did back in the day; perhaps symptomatic of no longer drunkenly dragging band equipment out of a dank bar in the middle of the night. (photo credit: the amazing Christina Peterson)
After exploring the Getty we headed back to Jacob and Christina’s and freshened up before setting out for dinner at a Polynesian place nearby. The evening ended with a lot of wine, a lot of laughing and an unexpected slumber party that no one could have possibly planned better.
Despite our collective pleas to extend the weekend, the following morning Patrick had to return to San Diego and Marisa had an afternoon return flight to Boston. But I guess MIR had other plans. While Patrick was effectively able to head out, Marisa’s flight was ultimately cancelled, i.e. the victim of a third blizzard brewing in Boston. She didn’t want to leave, but couldn’t stay; but was able to stay because she couldn’t leave. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is pure kismet.
Barely being able to run outdoors in Boston, I was super excited to start the day with a run. It sounds so funny now, but the feeling of running on a sidewalk–clear pavement devoid of snow, ice, salty slushy freezing ice-water–was totally incredible. I studied a map before heading out and took off for a five or six mile jaunt around the hood. Somewhere around mile four I started feeling… not so well.
They said I could choose between a Sierra Mist or a Pepsi. I went with the Sierra Mist, cracking it open and chugging it down only to realize that now I was just standing there, shirtless, with a Sierra Mist in my hand.
The sun was beating down and the extreme heat (79°F) started to thwart my fair translucent skin. Clearly, I was not used to running in warm weather. I made my way down La Cienega Blvd. and suddenly, lost, had the sinking feeling that maybe I hadn’t studied Google maps well enough. I stopped in front of a restaurant where four valets were preparing for work. I asked one of the gentleman if I was going the right direction to Beverly Grove. He turned to the others and they began to speak Spanish to each other. “You mean the Beverly Center? It’s that way…” This seemed right to me so I said, “Yes, I think that’s close by…,” followed by, “um… do you by chance have any water? I’m extremely thirsty and don’t feel so well.” They opened up a cooler under their valet stand filled with sodas. They said I could choose between a Sierra Mist or a Pepsi. I went with the Sierra Mist, cracking it open and chugging it down only to realize that now I was just standing there, shirtless, with a Sierra Mist in my hand. I tried making some small talk, like, “Wow, I wish we had this weather in Boston right now,” to which they sagely nodded in reply.
Rehydrated, I thanked my new friends and found my way back. I very, very quickly showered California-style (less than a minute) and then toured Beverly Grove with Christina and Marisa. Just a few blocks away was all of the quaint things one could ask for in an L.A. neighborhood: gluten free donut shops, cleanse juice bars, up-and-coming designer shops, bistros… all very chic. Seeing as it was Super Bowl Sunday (!) and the Patriots (!) were playing for their fourth title (!), it was only fitting that we gussied ourselves up by means of patronizing the local mani/pedi salon where we were served some champagne on the house.
We then hit up Trader Joe’s for pizza fixins and more wine. I think I ended up making four or five pizzas for the game–most Gluten Free, and per Marisa, one with vegan cheese which was fairly disgusting. Our good friend Gustave, also newly transplanted to L.A. by way of Boston, wired us up for the game with simulcast streams in different parts of the house. (This was especially convenient whilst hanging out in the kitchen.) The only downside was that we were on an ever-so slight (two minute) delay.
I was pretty sure the Pats had blown yet another Superbowl until I received a flood of texts suggesting otherwise–that the Pats had won. This was not possible because, well you know… Seattle was on the goal line with Marshawn Lynch most likely running the ball into the endzone.
But then this happened:
Are you kidding me!? Best! Weekend! Ever! The Patriots win! (I apologize formally now and by affidavit later, but after two Patriots super-shit Superbowl losses in super-shit fashion, it was glorious to see the Pats win in equally super-shit style.) I digress.
The next day Marisa and I shopped and walked Beverly Grove enjoying espresso, random antique shops and even a pajama store. But probably my favorite stop was the Trashy Lingerie boutique that required an annual membership. Not sure what that’s about… probably some loop hole. (Yes, I am now a card-carrying member.) But this place was, nay… is amazing. All handmade goods made in Los Angeles. Sadly, I didn’t budget for a $280 corset, but much like the Getty–worth a visit. For my last evening in Los Angeles Jeff suggested we saddle up to a nearby bar & grill to wrap up what made for an amazing end to the long weekend.
But alas, as with all things, everything ends and soon it was time to report to stupid reality. Marisa and Christina drove me to Pasadena where I would stay for the next few days while working.
So at the requested hour there’s a knock on the door for my breakfast. The gentleman hands me the check and it states $42. $42!!! “We found you some gluten free toast, sir.” I specifically said, “IF” you have gluten free toast…
I love a good hotel… the starchy white sheets, the cold dry hum of the AC, the amazing solo unencumbered sleep, the breakfast door hanger with the check-off boxes. It’s just so fucking convenient the door hanger breakfast. Anytime I order something, and not unlike Sally in When Harry Met Sally, I often “order in such a way not even the chef knew how good it could be.” I really wish I had snapped a picture of my instructions on the door hanger menu. I simply requested an extra egg in lieu of NO MEAT and for gluten free toast if they had it, otherwise, no toast. That’s it. So at the requested hour there’s a knock on the door for my breakfast. The gentleman hands me the check and it states $42. $42!!! “We found you some gluten free toast, sir.” I specifically said, “IF” you have gluten free toast, not “drive 20 miles in the middle of the night to satisfy some bourgeois gastro epidemic.” I remember trying to figure out how I was going to frame this up to my boss–but eventually in the morning I told him “what had happened was” and he suggested I contact guest services, i.e. that $42 was slightly outrageous for a breakfast. And it was. And the hotel happily reneged the bill.
While the rest of my stay was largely spent working (and noshing on superior West Coast Mexican food), I did find ample time to explore Pasadena by foot including an amazing sunset run around the Rose Bowl. (I decided it was prudent to enjoy as many slush-free runs as possible considering a freshly minted blizzard was patiently awaiting my return.)
I never think I particularly care for Los Angeles until I visit. I still don’t know if I could live in the city of angels; however, the city is somehow extremely intoxicating and occasionally merits consideration. Everything is golden, warm and glows not unlike an Instagram filter–believable yet somehow not entirely real.