I’m currently in the middle of a jaunt around the west coast and just finished up my LA portion of the trip. Per usual, LA is always a good time and I always see some a good deal of people.
Thursday afternoon I landed at LAX (an unbelievable zoo) and had to hang around for a little while for my friend Nick to finish up at a meeting and come pick me up. Once he finally escaped the freeway parking lot that is LA driving, he picked me up and we headed to dinner where we met up with a friend of ours from camp, Zack Colman, who writes a fantastic food blog (unvegan.com). With Zack and Nick both loving the act of eating (especially meat) knew I was in good hands.
We went to this little dive stand called Cactus, which sells delicious Mexican food. Nick has hyped this place up for years, so I was pretty excited to try it. On top of that, a six-hour flight followed by a wait in the airport and sitting in traffic for over in hour will build up quite the appetite. I ordered a Carne Asada burrito with cheese and avocado as well as a shrimp taco. After quickly devouring what was in front of me, I went back for a pork taco and a fish taco. All of this food was so overwhelmingly delicious. I knew going into those last two tacos that a food coma was imminent, but I couldn’t help myself.
After dinner and catching up with Zack, Nick and I ventured to his neck of the woods, Studio City. I hung out at his house while he had a brief meeting with his writing partner. Once he returned, we had a few beers and called it a night.
While Nick was gone however, his mother informed me that Gangy of arrested development fame was staying in their guesthouse for the time being. This news, obviously, blew my mind and I wanted nothing more than to go knock on the door at 10 pm. That would have been bad and I restrained myself. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet her in the morning, but it’s a cool story nonetheless.
Friday Nick and I went to lunch with a couple of our former campers. We went to the restaurant where Nick works, which is a fairly new Korean fusion restaurant called Take A Bao. Their main offering is their take on a Bao, but in taco form as opposed to a ball filled with delicious pork. I ordered a Thai peanut chicken bao and a duck bao with a side of sweet potato fries. Much like the dinner the night before, it was an amazing meal followed by a food coma. It didn’t take Nick long to convince me (it wasn’t that difficult) to order a desert S’more Bao. It was so rich and decadent and between the two of us, it lasted all of all of 30 seconds. It really never stood a chance.
After lunch, Nick returned home to get ready for work and I went with our old campers, the Davis brothers, and ventured to Venice Beach. We wondered around for a bit and found a sports shop with a huge assortment of hats. Being Lions fans, they were all over the light blue snapbacks. Unfortunately, they store didn’t have any snapbacks of the Ravens, Louisville or IU variety. The one downside of rooting for an NFL team that only dates back to 1996 is the lack of throwback gear and prevalence of something such as a snapback. Oh well. That is what the Internet is for I suppose.
When we were finished at Venice, they dropped me off at my sister’s apartment on the USC campus. We spent some time catching up a bit and eventually ventured out to meet up with a friend of hers and see an improv show on campus. I wasn’t entirely sure how funny a university improv troop could be, but they surprised me and were quite funny.
With no real parties going on, we attempted to go see a puppy that my sister’s friend had purchased, but upon arriving, the puppy was sleeping and it started to rain. Once the rain slowed we returned to my sisters apartment and got some sleep before getting up to tailgate in the morning.
As I noted in my detailing of my IU trip, I completely failed in waking up on game day to tailgate or attend the game. I refused to let that happen again. We woke up around 9:15 on Saturday morning and headed to campus to tailgate with some of my sister’s friends. This scene is unlike anything I have ever been around. IU without a doubt goes crazier for their tailgates, which may or may not be a good thing, but the USC fans actually care and even show up and are passionate even though their team can’t make a bowl game.
The Tailgate scene is also quite different. Students and fans set up their tailgates all throughout campus. Unlike places I’ve been where it’s relegated to either a parking lot or a field, at USC, they set up shop right outside of their dorms and school buildings, which is pretty cool. I would never be able to get used to having open containers on an actual campus after four years in Bloomington, which is a dry campus. It was pretty cool and different.
We headed to the game about 11: 45 and wound up with really good seats about 20 rows up and right on the goal line which is, for their student section, pretty incredible. The game atmosphere was awesome. Everyone was rather pleased to say the least by the ass whooping USC put on Washington. The band was great and the fans were loud, and my sister and I had an awesome time despite the snafu right around kickoff with the delightful girl next to us throwing up everywhere. Her friends for some reason let her sit in her own mess for about 10 minutes before realizing, “Hey, maybe it’s time to get this blacked out mess home…”
I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a game with more exciting plays in it. We saw a kick return, a safety, an 80-yard run, and many long bombs by Matt Barkley. Really fun stuff.
After the game, we went to Chipotle and gorged on delicious burritos. This was followed up by hours of couch time, Harry Potter, and an early night.
Sunday, my sister was shooting a film for one of her classes all day, so I just hung out all day and watched football, which was more or less awesome, except for the Ravens game. We got dinner with some of my sisters friends and it was another lazy relaxing evening.
Monday we just hung out all day. It was a beautiful day so we took a walk around campus and through the USC cinema building. This is without question THE most extravagant class building I have ever seen. It’s literally a castle mixed with the look of one of the finer homes of Beverly Hills. It’s really an amazing sight. I guess that’s what you get when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg donate.
We went out to a nice dinner last night compliments of the parents and had yet another relatively early night.
All in all, it was a great first portion of my trip. It was, as always great to spend time with the little sis and great to catch up with the people from camp I was able to see. I recently arrived in Portland and will be here until Thursday, followed up by the weekend in Eugene. I’ll post an update once my trip concludes, and if theirs time I’ll try and get some other work up this week.
Random sports bullets I want to touch on:
- I don’t understand the Baltimore Ravens. I have never rooted for a team that is this good and just doesn’t seem to quite “get it” yet. We have successfully erased the huge win against the Steelers, and while it’s lucky that this latest collapse didn’t come against an AFC opponent, the Ravens need to solve this issue of loosing to bad teams. If they don’t have a home playoff game, it’s their own fault.
- I feel very bad for Mike Marra and the rest of the guys on the Louisville basketball injury list. Marra is the latest player to join the laundry list of names as he tore his ACL on Sunday in Louisville’s win over Lamar. It’s frustrating as a fan to keep seeing this bad luck happen, but I feel terrible for these guys who are all so close and will never get to play fully as a team.
- Charlie Strong is doing most things right and will have Louisville football back where it needs to be very soon, but it’s obvious he is still learning the PR machine. You CANNOT come out and say in a press conference following a loss that your team was distracted this week because of the new Call Of Duty game. Are you kidding me? As a young person who knows MANY people who play this game, I can sort of laugh at it, but there are many conservative donors in Louisville who I’m sure are not too amused this week.
- Tim Tebow is single handedly setting the game of football back. He has been so unbelievably horrible, especially last week completing only two passes, but the kid just finds a way to keep winning. It might be time for Jon Fox to actually help the kid out and stop making a fool of himself because he is anti-Tebow. They’re one game out of first place and I can’t imagine what Tebow could do with some weapons and in a system that caters to his style.
- Jerry Sandusky is a dirty Liar. I don’t believe one word he said last night. However, all the props in the world to Bob Costas. He is a class act and kept his composure beautifully while conducting the interview last night.
- Tough blow for the Chiefs loosing Matt Cassell for the season. A much tougher Blow to the Texans loosing Matt Schaub. The injury bug is killing that team in a year when the Colts are down and it’s supposed to be their year. Hopefully Matt Leinart can keep them afloat.
- Finally, Congrats to Justin Verlander, as he rightfully won the AL Cy Young today. Well deserved.