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.