Last week I got to go to L.A. to present at a conference. During the trip - subtitled "Random Girls Weekend in the Desert" - I got to spend time with some of my favorite people, like my brother Andrew and my good friend, Sargibso.
Obviously, I took about 5 pictures to commemorate my travels.
2 of the five pictures were of Zorro, Andrew's dog. Surprise!
Instead of tons of picture of sunny Santa Monica, here are some highlights!
- This was the sixth trip I've taken to L.A. since my brother moved there in '94 to go to film school at USC. And I finally had my first celebrity citing! Nothing too life changing. We went to a restaurant called Rustic Canyon and saw Michael Keaton at the bar. Andrew asked if I knew who he was (a fair question, I've only seen about 12 movies in all my life), and I said, "Of course! He's Batman! And Beetlejuice!" At that point Andrew told me to stop looking at him, so as not to be obvious. Michael K. looked good for his age, but older than I picture him.
- I went on two pretty memorable runs while on the trip. The first was during my day alone in Andrew's neighborhood in Santa Monica. Since his house is only about a half mile from the ocean (!), I started there and ran 6 miles total along the ocean-front path, including a brief stint in Santa Monica Pier. To my right were trendy, cool houses, to my left was the ocean, and dead ahead I had a great view of the mountains.
The second run was more impromptu. I left on Sunday morning from Sargibso's apartment, in a totally different part of town than where Andrew lives. From his house, it's hard to get lost, since the ocean is a good mark of where you are (duh, on the land). But from Sarah's, all I had was a giant mall (The Grove), and my mental image of the route she and I mapped. Unfortunately, my 3-mile route turned into a 5.35 mile exercise in suppressing fear, since one of the key turns did not make it into my list of directions. I managed not to panic, though, and got directions from a dude at a Von's grocery store.
Related side note: for some traveling entertainment, I bought the Kindle version of Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?, which I would totally recommend. Near the end of the book, Mindy reveals that she lives in a Spanish style house near the Grove - Sargibso's neighborhood! In my 10-block hike up Sarah's street (after getting directions and figuring out that I was a mile out of the way), I may have passed her house! Very exciting. Maybe even more exciting than seeing Beetlejuice.
- The real reason I got to go to California was to present a paper on George Crumb at the Frederick Loewe Symposium on American Music, at the University of Redlands. It was a productive little conference of 5 papers by grad students and 1 young scholar, followed by a keynote by Larry Starr. We had a modest panel discussion at the end of the day, and the topic was something like this, "Analysis: what's the point?" My favorite topic!
Sargibso agreed to go with me to Redlands, and we stayed for the night at the Dynasty Suites, a perfectly nice motel with a few oddities inside. Sarah kept referencing an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Frank recounts the story of a bar he once owned called "Shadynasty," (terrible youtube clip, but it's the only one I can find and you get the point) pronounced either sha'Dynasty or Shady-Nasty. What with the fake fire place in the entertainment center, or the torso-level mirror in the shower,* you can guess which one we used to describe our lodgings. But it was fine, for what it was. Sarah and I bought cheap wine and bridal magazines at CVS and then settled in to Shadynasty for the evening.
- The night after we returned to L.A. from Redlands, I went with Sargibso and her boyfriend, Aaron, to a vegetarian restaurant named Hugo's in West Hollywood. Hugo's had a HUGE menu, or so it seemed, since I'm used to picking the one veg thing on the menu and calling it a day. I ended up choosing the vegetarian club sandwich, with tofu, guac, and fake bacon,** and it was delicious - though not better than the AMAZING lentil soup with carmelized onions. I need to recreate that.
- The only other restaurant whose name I wrote down was Zengo, where I had brunch with Andrew, his wife Nora, and some of her family. It was a belated birthday brunch for Nora and her brother, David, and the food was tapas style. Of course, they had several delicious vegetarian items, like the veg omelette, the veg benedict, and veg sushi with a tasty sauce. I loved having so much choice! It's a wonder that I did not eat my weight in brunch food. The hilarious - and best*** - thing about brunch at Zengo is the DJ. Oh yes. They can't just play an ipod or internet radio. They had an actual DJ for brunch. Andrew leaned over and said he expected to hear a record scratch, followed by, "This is BRUNCH, muthafuckas!"
- Andrew and I got to take a walk around Santa Monica the day before I left, where he graciously bought me beer at bars on Main St. The weather was perfect for my entire visit, and it was great to do something relaxing and mundane with my brother, who I rarely get to see.
- Sarah had some errands to run at USC the day we left for Redlands, so I chilled in the main library and (theory nerd alert!) read Thomas Christensen's edited book of papers presented at a conference on early tonality (two thumbs up, if you're interested). Andrew pointed out to me that the inside of the main USC library has been in several movies, like - wait for it -
It has an impressive painted ceiling, and when I walked in, I immediately thought, "Wow!...Private school." And then I pictured Andrew, Nora, Mike, Heather, and the other folks I know who have gone to USC, studying for their undergrad classes there.
It was a great trip! All this is to say, I wish I lived closer to California.
The view from basically every spot on the Redlands campus.
*"The mirror I never knew I always wanted."