Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DC / NYC

My steadily declining travel savvy means that I actually did miss my flight to DC in October. Thankfully, I got on one just half hour later and soon enough, I was passing monuments on my merry way toward the familiar territory of the 9:30 Club. Side note: Cab drivers are so mystified when I ask them to drop me off by the tour bus. (“There are people in there?” “Yes.” “There’s a bed in there?” “Yes. There are twelve beds in there.” “No! This is impossible!!”) Same goes for the Dominos deliveryman we had deliver a pizza to the bus once I arrived.

I was beyond excited to be reunited with Jadigans, who was suffering at the peak of a rough cold/cough making its way around. However you couldn't tell it from the energetic, amazing-as-always show the four of them put on. Definitely one of the best I’d seen this tour run.








Afterward we visited with our friend Nerpal on the bus, before crawling into the bunk en route to my very favorite city in the world. Sure bunking with your soulmate sounds like a romantic cuddly activity, but two is definitely a crowd in a pitch black 8" x 2" coffin hurtling down the motorway in the middle of the night. Trust.

Jade had already departed for a day of press by the time I woke up on the bus in Hoboken, so Smith, Hunter and I took the ferry across the river to Chelsea, and checked into the aptly nautical-themed Maritime Hotel.


I immediately high-tailed it onto a subway to carry on with my usual Soho shopping rounds: Topshop, Madewell, Reformation, OAK. From there I took the train to my 5PM blowout at Dreamdry in the Flatiron becauseeeeee days before my trip I snagged a reservation at Per Se to celebrate Jade’s 40th birthday a mere 50 days early and wanted my hair to look suitably fancy (sadly, it ended up just looking like a wack Martha Washington wig.) And in my defense, reader(s), I would never have a day that involves shopping, a blowout, and an extraordinarily over the top meal at home in LA. Sadly I am too poor and self-aware.

We have been talking about our meal there since we went in 2009, with the menu holding prime real estate on our fridge. ("Meal" feels like a inadequate, flimsy noun; it's more of a fully sensory experience of constant "oohs," "aahs," and "mmmmms.") And our return did not disappoint. I won't bore ya'll with salacious descriptions of the grain-fed meats and amuse bouches that I devoured, but my favorite course from the Chef’s Menu was the Wolfe Ranch Suprême de Caille with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Bartlett Pears, Sweet Onion Relish, Machè and "Sauce Carbonade." Simply translated to: Quail with Bomb Flavors.




After the never-ending dessert procession (cleverly designed to distract you when the bill arrives), our server invited us into the kitchen to meet the Sous Chefs. The chefs were fans of Jade's, which is especially neat since him and I are so in awe of what they do and were so thrilled to be standing there in one of the most esteemed kitchens in the world. Jade invited them to the show the next night at Webster Hall and gave them a cute shout out from stage.

Back at the hotel, I put my nurse hat on and took care of Jade, who was running a fever of 104. The next day, the poor sickling had to visit the record label offices uptown so I wandered around Chelsea in the cold, paying a visit to the outpost of a favorite online lingerie store with the cringiest name - Sugar Cookies NYC - before cabbing over to the venue. After soundcheck, we walked a few blocks away to have dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar, where we ran into Zack, an old and dear friend of mine who is now a bartender there. Leading to much reminiscing about our formative years at Valley pop punk shows, and of course, the one time we met Mr. T while he was eating ribs.


During the show I hung out with our friends Lou and Melissa and company, trying to navigate our way across the balcony amidst a flock of legit goofballs. I ended up just watching from front of house after I was crowded out of the upstairs real estate by some obnoxious bros dominating the scene.






Here I am gluttoning with Per Se take-away treats in the bunk before saying my sad goodbyes and Ubering to the day room in Weehawkin, New Jersey, where I crashed before flying back home to an all too-quiet empty nest the next morning.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chicago: Riotfest

How is it that somehow as I get older, I am getting worse at traveling?

Well. Jade and I jumped the gun on booking my first tour visit, when Chicago was to be in the middle of an extended separation period. The schedule was then rearranged, and we ended up spending a mere two nights apart before I veered Midwestern for our reunion.
Since flying from California to Illinois amounts to a full travel day, fellow band newlywed Eirinie and I opted to go in on a hotel room together Friday night so that we’d be ready with bells on when the guys arrived Saturday morning.

But back to my travel near-failure. My alarm went off at the correct time. Annnndd I promptly fell back asleep. By the time I woke, called a cab, and made it to Burbank airport - my bag check-in tag clocked me in at 7:52 AM. I powered through security and actually made onto my flight with an 8:10 AM take-off. My bag did too, even through a depressing morning stopover in Vegas.


Upon arrival, I got on the Metro at Midway and took the Orange line to the Red line (no escalators in train stations, Chicago? Why?!) and finally arrived to Public to refresh. Eirinie joined me a few hours later, and we got ready for our evening out with my dear friend Jackie AKA Wozniak AKA Woz (who you may know from Vegas, Miami, all the most cultural excursions...) and her friend Emily. The beginning of our night involved Eirinie calling the front desk to politely harass them for a corkscrew (albeit charmingly with an accent) before (and after, actually) our dinner at the Pump Room downstairs. The company was fab, the short rib was fab, even the cushiness of the chairs was fab.


After, we got our corkscrew (victory!), we enjoyed half of our novelty-sized bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and went onward to Old Town. The first stop of the three-part bar crawl was Pour House, of which I was initially weary because I kept mishearing it as 'Whorehouse.'
There, a teetering bro slid up to Woz, leered at her, and summoned this fiction, “You are going to sleep with me tonight.” An expression of literal shock and horror immediately crept upon her face, and then she shouted "PABLO!!!" off into the distance. I thought she was just creating a diversion, but she actually did see an acquaintance named Pablo, who successfully intimidated the creep to slump away. We went onward to two more bars, each slightly lessening in ambiance and grape-based offerings.



Back at our shared room, Eirinie and I ordered a sandwich. My phone's Google history the next morning led me to believe we would have preferred, and were very actively seeking - pizza.


But the next day I sure as hell got myself some pizza. Going a few floors up to Jade’s room, we then walked to the Gold Coast location of deep dish mecca Lou Malnati’s. After filling our gullets, Jade (the victim of a shaving bag incident of which I can fully sympathize) and I enjoyed a leisurely walk back to our hotel via Lake Shore Drive, scoping a regatta on Lake Michigan and all the old tyme architecture.





Later on, Eirinie and I (keeping tabs on each others human levels via text all the while, which quickly dwindled from a 62% to under 40%…being old is the worst), convinced our dudes to take us to the festival site to enjoy our unbridled love of Glassjaw. Daryl certainly did little more than meander around onstage, but the band sounded great.


That night, Jade and I and our collective hunger debated the follow-through of waiting for our 11:15PM Girl & The Goat reservation made weeks in advance (Chicago, you take your food very seriously and I commend you.) So we taxied to the West Side around 9 (such a cute part of town that I hope to revisit soon) in the off-chance we could be taken early as a walk-in. After about thirty minutes, we were seated at a communal table outside on the street. Beggers can’t be choosers.
I know everyone glosses over food descriptions so I digress, but for the record, I had goat empanadas, sumo, anddddd wood oven roasted pig face. I'm still not sure how to get past that last one without sounding like I'm not a really terrible person.

The next morning, it was raining. Hard. So I wore shorts and suede boots, just so everyone could hear me complain about my excellent decision-making.


We took a van to the festival grounds, where I promptly ate all the food on the bus before forcing Eirinie to watch Saves the Day with me. Sidebar 1: Saves the Day is the single most influential band of my entire existence. Even if I don't know any songs they've released in the past decade, I will still stand in the rain forever for the purest form of happiness that comes from hearing "You Vandal."

There, I ran into fellow Saves the Day fan Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré. Sidebar 2: I was so stoked to learn AFI was touring with them. I have known Jeremy since I was 15 from our mutual hometown all-ages 'punk' scene, and he and everyone I've met in the band are basically the nicest humans that could ever exist. I then dragged Eirinie (she's super draggable) to go watch two Brand New songs before AFI went on.


I heard a rumor that Canadian tuxedos are acceptable now, as long as the denim is of a slightly different wash. Obviously Eirinie, our friend Esme, and I are all aboard this Carpe Denim philosophy. (By the by, do you know how much I hatttteee being photographed next to models?)


I'm biased, but my goodness, such a great AFI set. The second show back I had seen, counting the Troubadour (which at [400? capacity] was markedly different) but it was a phenomenal set, slippery stage and all. And they didn't even get electrocuted!

(photo credit of me above capturing the shots below goes to the lovely and ubiquitous Carl Ryan)













Swoooooooon.

Eirinie and I watched a few songs of the Pixies afterward, before the saddest sadness of saying goodbye to our mens and being shuttled back off from whence we came.

Her and I may be a bad influence on one another. She noticed me glancing over at the hotel bar while we were waiting for the elevator, and let's just say she missed her 5:15 AM flight (but really, who would ever makes a 5:15am flight?!) Later on Monday morning, I ventured on foot to Topshop and beyond before returning to the hotel lobby for a few hours to meet a sudden deadline. My $19 flatbread and I (fontina, truffle and a very heavy hand of frisee) were quite the sad/broke scene before I finally headed off to the Metro, and ultimately, home.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wailea, Maui

I've been spoiled for a while now, having my (now) spouse home for nearly three years, save a blip here or there. And yet, all good things must come to an end. Which meant celebrating our one year wedding anniversary a month early, before Jade had to go on tour for the foreseeable future, to do that flying-guitar-playing-thing he looks so goddamn cute doing. So we took to Maui (tropical and convenient: sold!) for five nights to get our laptop-free celebrating/bon voyaging/hammocking in hard.

I have been to Maui many times (I am from Calabasas, and the very best accessory statement for the first day back to school was an armful of neon Grand Wailea waterslide bracelets, which sounds pretty cringey in retrospect) and Jade, the Big Island once. Since our honeymoon, he now understands the wonders to be enjoyed from (the shade of) the tropics. (I even got him a hat to dabble in the bro aesthetic for island purposes.)

Having not been there in a decade, I kept my "I used to..."s to a minimum.





Save a few exceptions! (which I will hereby number for archival purposes, and so you know how much that statement was a lie.)

So after our first night settling into the Marriott Wailea, we drove to Ma’alaea Harbor early the next morning for our pre-booked Molokini adventure [1] and embarked upon the Alii Nui. I am pretty much Johnny Seaquest and consider my sea legs well-earned, but the Alii Nui is by far the nicest snorkeling excursion (or catamaran for that matter) that I’ve ever been on. Sixty-five feet long, less than 25 passengers (and none of which were children), an impressive breakfast and lunch, open bar (for me, anyway), the friendliest crew ever, and dolphins riding the bow of the boat! Need I remind you that Marissa means 'of the sea'?






Snorkeling together for the first time was absolutely dreamy. We held hands treading water with our little fun noodles, scoping the sealife, including two octopi camouflaging into the reef, and pointing out to each other which of the hundreds of fish reminded us of Munch. Serious bliss.



This smoldering man...swoon. (And Tumblr folk, as cute as Jadigans is in a rash guard [and so cute, RIGHT?!] please entertain my widely-ignored request - if you want to use an image, just ask first.)




On the way back, the crew cast lines off the aft and caught an Ono AKA a Wahoo for those down under, or those (like me) who eat fish tacos on the reg in America. We also got to put up the sails, which meant me eagerly leering at the crew and asking Jade, "should I offer to help?!!!" definitely more than once.





Hawaiians non-ironic usage of the shaka is actually really refreshing. When in Rome, suckas.






American tourism, at once:


One night we went to Sansei [2], a popular sushi spot in Kihei, where my memories of rock shrimp tempura were left unsatisfied. The duck tea roll, however, was on point. Another night we went to a restaurant virtually right next door to Sansei recommended by dear family friends called Cuatro, which boasts a rather confusing Italian-Asian fusion cuisine. And it was fab. Apparently when Italian and Asian come together, it just means double sauces. And who doesn't like sauces?! Also, no liquor license means BYOB - and they are conveniently located next to a market. My wine palette is around the $9/bottle range, so it proved to be a win-win for everyone.

However, the knockout revisitation was Maui Tacos [3] in nearby Kihei. Ooooh, Maui tacos. I just ate 3 meatballs and a plate of pasta and I am hungry typing those two words.



One day we continued on to Maui's most praised shave(d?) ice place, Ululani's Shave Ice. I got a small "Hawaiian Rainbow" of strawberry, pineapple and vanilla, which was certainly not small. At all. And don't you dare think we both didn't get a scoop of ice cream at the bottom, and a "snow cap" sweet cream mixture on top. Our cups promptly melted before we had even crossed the street to eat under the shade of a palm tree nearby an entrepreneurial hobo and his outrigger canoe, dripping syrup all over our mitts.




Another afternoon, post-taco, we kept driving past Wailea to Makena, site of a recent shark attack (!) prior to our visit. Basically, we went as far as the island would let us go, presenting us with beachside mansions next to half-excavated lava rock wastelands, and local fisherman and their families packing coolers with their catches in the coves. Either of those two lives sound pretty great to me.





When trying to get my 3rd of the series, my husband said, “Honey, let it go. I don’t think you have a career in salamander photography.” OUCH.


Last but not least in my revisitation file [4] was the smoothie I've dreamt about since I used to stay at the then-new Four Seasons Wailea Maui. Sadly, the 'Jet Lag' did not live up to my long-held fruity memories. The hotel lobby, however - still fabulous.







On the way back to our hotel, we marginalized a conference being held nearby on hotel property by setting my camera's timer on a rock and flinging ourselves every which way.




Mind you these were taken minutes apart. This man has some GREAT FORM.




All the while, not pictured: dunking in the Pacific whilst holding hands, reading together at the pool, nighttime hammock swings, staring googley-eyed at each other for a week of extra-googley moments, etc.

On our last night we ventured to the north side of the island, to Kaanapali. My grandparents gifted us with a Roy’s gift certificate for a wedding anniversary present - very appropriate for our destination and very much enjoyed.



Upon check-in at the newstandless-Kahului Airport, we were notified of an 8-hour flight delay (and then some). However, the 4AM arrival was the only mark on an otherwise completely magical anniversary trip!