Tag Archives: friends

On to Year 2!

Somewhat shockingly, it’s been a year since our amazing wedding at the Oviatt Penthouse in Downtown LA.  Where’d the time go???  Happily, we’re both still just in love as we were a year ago, and as much as we were when we first met.  I think it helps to be best friends with your partner, and we certainly are.  Anyway, we celebrated our anniversary a day early as who wants to go out on a Sunday night?  So we went to dinner at Cicada, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Oviatt.  It’s a striking art deco restaurant and we’d seen it briefly before when visiting the Penthouse before the wedding.  It was a great idea to go back – and apparently we were one of a few who wanted to be there that night, as the place was kind of empty.  Even the Oviatt Penthouse wasn’t having an event that night.  Kind of surprising, but what can you do?

We had a good time, taking an Uber there, and then indulging in the 5-course menu and enjoying a lot of Montepulciano wine.  We even saw a mid-level celebrity during dinner – Doug Savant – who had a whole bunch of his family there.  Anyway, here are pictures:

Apr 29, 2017 – Anniversary Dinner at Cicada

We had a very wonderful time at the restaurant, the service was great, the food was delicious (Italian-ish for the most part, although my main entree was a filet mignon while Larry had duck), and the ambience was just very nice and relaxed.  A great way to celebrate our wedding a scant 365 days before.

The next day, we had to recover a bit, but then ended up meeting Nicki & Austin at A.O.C., a very popular restaurant and at times, rated one of the Top 10 in LA.  So it was exciting to get to go there for brunch!  Nicki was very sweet and got us flowers and some supercool books by Abbi Jacobson (from Broad City), and also treated us to brunch.  We’re not worthy.

Anniversary Brunch @ A.O.C., April 30, 2017:

Afterwards, it was time to watch Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and La La Land….ah, bliss.  And then of course the weekend ended and it was back to the grind.  But as a weekend, this one was not bad by any means.  In fact, kind of awesome.

A Day at the Races

I’m pretty sure it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve been to Santa Anita Race Track and actually watched and placed bets on horseracing.  At least.  If I think about it, it’s like at the latest, I was in high school, and maybe when Mom, Harv & I would go when that was something we all liked to do and before we got bored of it and couldn’t pick a winning horse to save our life, or maybe it was a time when one of the aunts had a birthday party there in the infield.  Regardless, it was high school or maybe early college when I last went, and man, a lot of memories came back when going back there yesterday.

We went to celebrate our friend Paras’ birthday, and it was a bit surprising to see that was where they wanted to hold the party.  Not really what I imagined younger folk would do, and while it certainly wasn’t a packed house like I kind of remember from my youth, there was  a good mix of young and old, and certainly plenty of people there who looked like what you’d imagine hang out at the track.

The day was a beautiful one to be there, with beautiful blue skies and nice temps – it was certainly warm, but we were in the shade and it was comfortable.  We drank plenty of beer, bet on most of the races (even won a race and got $22!), had some food, caught up with friends, and had a great afternoon at the races.  Happily Uber is a thing now, so it was great to go there and leave without having to worry about parking or drinking.  Anyway, pictures below!

Catching Up, March 2017

Hi – we’re still kicking here, just haven’t had much motivation to update – but here are some quick bullet points:

First:  I got a chance to see my friend and former coworker Sharon as she was in town for a few days due to work.  That’s not a small thing to consider, as she normally lives and works in Israel!  Speaking of, I think it would be fantastic trip to go there, see the history, enjoy the culture, and see Sharon!   Anyway, we met up in the Silver Lake area and ended up having a late lunch at Hyperion Public.  It’s great to have it be so easy to fall into conversation.

Second:  Yesterday, Larry & I picked up my mom and then we went east to Upland/Ontario to visit with Trent and Stacie and extended family.  Trent was down from college for the weekend and it was quite nice to see him, as well as Stacie.  It’s nuts to think he’s 20, I’m 40, and hi, hello, I’m old.

Third:  This past week has been slightly different for me as my current work engagement was kind of in a “pause”, so I’ve had the chance to breathe a little and remember what it was like to not be stressed.  Don’t you worry about me though – my blood pressure will be cranked back up to Max come Monday and I can look forward to a heart attack by 45, probably.  But hey, it’s only what I deserve.

Fourth:  So, Movies!  We’ve been seeing quite a few lately…and need to add some thoughts and rankings on them in this ol’ site.

Love & Mercy (2014) (saw it via hulu):  What a life Brian Wilson has lived.  Obviously a Hollywood version of 2 critical points in your life will be overly heightened and dramatized, but even from what you read, it’s kinda crazy.   Love & Mercy takes place during two points in Brian’s life – one is during the Beach Boys’ recording of Pet Sounds, while the other part is during the 90s when Brian Wilson is struggling under the care of his psychiatrist and finds hope and love.   The struggles that Brian endured during the 60s to harness his talent while easily succumbing to drugs is fascinating to watch.  Many moments that Larry & I have learned about from other movies were recreated, especially in the recording studio and at his house.  He was a musical genius but his father was a major muthafucka and he truly does have mental problems.  So flash forward a few decades and Brian has fallen under the sway of a psychiatrist who effectively controls him with drugs and constant supervision.   The movie covers both of these periods and it’s a fascinating tour, albeit quite sad at times.  Spoiler alert – Brian Wilson is mostly fine now, but it wasn’t an easy journey, and he really does have psychological problems that require care.  Anyway, if you like the recordings within Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, this movie is well worth your time.

Moonlight (2016) (saw it via ITunes): We managed to see this before the Oscars as I had heard quite stellar reviews of it from basically anyone I knew who’d seen it along with all the critical reviews.  I knew that it had to do with being gay and black, but surprisingly enough, that isn’t something that I immediately want to go rush out and see, even though I myself am quite gay.  While us whites have a carefree ride being gay (/Sarcasm), I know that for a black man, being gay is a whole additional level of pressure to deal with.  So yeah, I knew this movie wasn’t going to be a light-hearted gay rom-com.  And I was right.  BUT, I was also quite enthralled by the movie as it tells a very tough story, but obviously one that can be related to regardless.  It’s got at its center a character in 3 points of his life:  as a young boy, a teenager, then finally a man in his 20s.  It’s told chronologically, and we immediately know that while the young Chiron isn’t sexually active, he’s already perceived differently and tormented for it.  He only has his mother as family, and unfortunately, mom is a crackhead, and cares not all that much that Chiron is suffering.  Happily, Chiron finds a father and mother figure in an unlikely source, an empathetic drug dealer (played by now-Academy Award-winning Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend, Janelle Monae.  They provide a safe space for him as well as a sounding board, as Chiron has a frankly distressing and difficult conversation with them that sometimes hit too close to home.

The next phase is when Chiron is a teenager, and man, this is particularly brutal.  He’s awkward, gawky, and ostracized in high school, and his tormentors are relentless and cruel.  It’s terrible to watch and to empathize.  But he has one friend that ends up being a lifeline for him.    It’s a very emotional section of the movie, and I will avoid too many plot points, but by the end of it, you’re left wondering what the hell is in store for him, and before you can wonder too long, you see that he of course falls into the path that’s open to him and resembles his pseudo father almost identically.  Then a phone call comes and it’s that friend from his teenage years – a voice he likely never expected to ever hear from again, but there he is on the other end of the line and suddenly everything and nothing makes sense.  So they meet.  And it’s an agonizingly long series of scenes in which you want nothing more than for this grown-up Chiron to finally find happiness.  And maybe that’s why I ended up slightly cold towards the movie at the end – as that happy ending isn’t here.  In fact, the ending is almost abrupt…and from what I’ve read, it’s an intentional choice by the director, Barry Jenkins.  I get that it’s probably more realistic of a choice to make, but seriously, the lack of catharsis is a huge element to deal with.  Regardless, Moonlight is a fantastic movie and certainly deserved the Best Picture Oscar.  But as a gay man, those feelings were all too relatable and to not get some kind of happiness you’d likely see in any “straight” movie felt kind of like a reminder that yeah, the stigma is still there that people don’t want to see it.  Feh.

Get Out (saw this at Pacific Theaters today):   Alright, so you need to know that this is definitely a scary movie.  It’s got a whole slew of tense scenes, eventual violence, and a few jump scares – but it’s not a gross-out film, and with horror movies, I can only take so  much before I’m a mess.  The last horror movie I saw in the theater was The Conjuring and that shit was scary as hell.   Get Out is not like that movie – but it is certainly a fucked up experience that definitely is made for these fucked up times we’re living in.  So what’s the movie about, you ask?  Chris, the black guy, is dating Rose, the white girl, and they’re headed upstate to meet her parents.  It’s 2017, so of course Chris is slightly anxious about the whole situation as it’s not even clear if she’s warned her parents what to expect.  Rose reassures him constantly that they’re the nicest people around.   So once they finally get up there and meet the parents, it’s actually not so terrible and he tries to relax.  But then he observes the various servants around the isolated house and grounds, and of course they’re all black.  And strangely….off.    But we’re reassured that it’s not like that….and of course, things get ever more tense and strange as Chris learns and observes more.  And yeah, it’s all fucked up and holy shit it’s a good movie.  Whether it’s the fact that this is a movie from a distinctly 2016/2017 point of view or just that it’s an expertly done horror/thriller movie….just damn.  Obviously to continue talking about it means I ruin the plot, so just know that it’s quite a well-told story and if you hear the sound of a stirred tea cup…fucking run.

Movies Seen in 2017:

Fantastic / Rave-worthy:

Very Good:

Okay / Wait to See at Home:

So How About Those Oscars?

Larry & I had the opportunity to attend an Academy Awards party at Ken’s house in Los Feliz – “Ken” being Mila’s brother who I’ve known for pretty much all of his life.  He’s done well for himself and has a great house in the hills of Los Feliz and as you can see in the pics below, the view is REDONK.  It was a lot of fun to watch with this group of people and while I ended up doing terribly in my predictions for most of the lesser awards, when it came to Best Picture, I ended up deciding to pick Moonlight as I figured the awards would get split between Picture and Director, and when Damien Chazelle won Best Director, I thought I was looking good.  Then La La Land is announced as the Best Picture, and while I was happy with that result, I also know plenty weren’t, and it also hurt my ballot (not that it mattered, I lost hard).  But then, that craziness of ‘oh yeah, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope’ occurred and it was like, oh shit, are you kidding?  Not just because that was an insane thing to have happen at the Oscars…but also, my employer is the one who looks to have been responsible for it happening!!   EEEK……. and throughout the news cycle today, it definitely doesn’t look like that assessment is changing anytime soon.  I can’t imagine anything else happening besides THERE WILL BE BLOOD.   This is one of those cases though where shit doesn’t have a downhill option to go….the 2 partners who are there are the only ones allowed to know who won, so anyone else who was associated with helping is in the free and clear as nobody else has that comprehensive picture…and weren’t there with the envelopes.   Girl, this is gonna be a rollercoaster, just saying.

So in the meantime, here are some fun pictures of the view from Ken’s house along with some pictures of people you may or may not know.  🙂

Oh yeah – now this is an Oscar Winning Composer’s signature on the La La Land vinyl!:

Google Street View made it to the Azores

Jason Rubi sent me a text with the picture from Google Street Maps as seen below of the house I lived in shown above, and it’s like, holy shit, that’s where I lived, first with Angelo, then with Jason, while stationed and living in the Azores, specifically the island of Terceira.  I’ve periodically reminisced here about the wonder of living there – it feels like a dream, honestly.  This house, a former church, was where I lived – it was perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  The views were amazing, and it was almost distractingly remote from a lot.  There was one other house across the street, and then a little cafe at the base of the Sao Sebastiao Bay Baia da Salga (how did I not write that at all in this post originally??).  At night, it could be really quiet and eerie.  When it rained, I sometimes braced for the house to collapse down the cliffside.  We once climbed down the cliff to the shore and the way the cliffside was hollowed out was almost frightening.  But guess what?  The place is still there, and looks almost exactly the same.  I’m surprised – the owner/landlord had said he was going to sell the pastures in front and develop them with more apartments….but I guess gentrification decided not to come to the Azores.  I’m glad, to be honest.  I love that it’s still the same.

Terceira, Google Map – with where my house was on the south side of the island pointed out, as well as Lajes AB, where I worked:

The next thing to see is a zoom in of where we lived in ol’ Sao Sebastiao (pronounced San Sebastian, but it’s Portuguese, so everything ends in an “o”) / Baia da Salga.

It’s awesome to see that Google points out one of the restaurants I absolutely loved going to, A Ilha.  SO GOOD.  I had my going away there when I left.  But they served some very good Beef or Chicken Alcatra, which is like the best pot roast you’ve ever had.  There were better places to get Alcatra on the island, but having one so damn close was the best.

And then here’s the Street View of the ol Home on the Cliff:

Man, the MEMORIES while living there!  The drinking, the dancing, the eating, the laughs, the music….the croquet playing, the drinking, the passing out, the rain, the running out of hot water due to the gas tanks emptying, geez, it was a whirlwind.  But those days when the weather was perfect, and the sun was shining, and the ocean was beautifully blue….

Yeah, just amazing.  Loads of pictures can be found on my old site here (but my entire collection is larger, that’s for sure) and one day I’ll eventually get to converting those too into my WordPress site.  I met the greatest set of people there during those 15 months, and that was lucky, as it could have been a very lonely place to end up.  But yeah, I got lucky, and have nothing but fond memories there.