Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Epic Return Part I.

The Weekend:

We spent our last weekend in Los Angeles, not in Los Angeles. We instead went south to San Clemente to surf and have some fun with some damn fine people we have grown to love, The Nash Family.

It was bitter sweet. It really sucks knowing you are departing and yet spending time in the company of folks you know you really are going to miss. The move to Los Angeles was made worth while alone based on getting to know people like Pete, Liz and Jack. I'm pretty sure there is some horribly malformed karbunkle on Lemmy Kilmister's ass from which Pete, Adam and I were all cleaved at one time. We share so many things and in some odd twist of fate, found each other and formed what I would consider a lasting and fiery bromantic triangle.

I'll regret that last sentence, I am sure.

The weekend was fun. The surf was better on Saturday than on Sunday or at least that's how I saw it. Frustration took its toll on me come Sunday. My dead arms and shoulders, atrophied from long hours animating and basting in my own juices, just wouldn't power me through the chop and allow me to catch the waves I wanted. I wanted to quit and toss my board into the surf by the time we left but I knew this was the learning curve.

Pete confirmed it. Most people don't make it past this point. I get why. Getting your ass handed to you and feeling like you've been beaten with a stick is no fun. I was really hoping to go out on a high note and instead got a low one.

"Mistah, I pack your things reeeeal nice."

Monday: The Move

The movers arrived at 9:15 am. I was driving back with Eireland asleep in the backseat after dropping Miete off at Liz and Pete's so she could play with Jack and stay out of the way. I toured around Westwood a little for the last time before coming back so she could get a decent knap.

The movers were two very quite Mexican dudes. One had a long pony tail and a fu-man-chu. He was in charge. The driver to be sure. The other, lankier and lackier was doing the heavy lifting for the time being. The driver looked like a young Danny Trejo. He would quite possibly shank me if I pissed him off. I decided to sit back and stay out of the way.

Hours went by. They wrapped each piece of unboxed furniture and goods methodically in 5 layers of heavy gauge moving paper. Shit was taking for ever. I have never in my life seen a couch wrapped like a present. You name it, it was wrapped like a steak at the butchers. I'll give it to them, they were thorough. They were so thorough in fact that the driver took three shits in our bathroom in the process of packing. I pretty much lost my mind by 3pm when they had left.

Nevertheless, I gave them a $30 tip to make sure my stuff wasn't hawked in North Venice later that afternoon.

The Drive North

Day 1: Los Angeles - Santa Barbara

We took off and headed through Malibu and wanted to make Santa Barbara two hours away to stay for the night. Midway through Malibu Lisa remarked to me that Los Angelinos sure like their personalized license plates. She pointed out the plate on the Camry in front of us which I had not noticed. I broke into laughter at what appeared to be a gross oversight on the owner. The female driver had her first initial and last name embossed on her plate. A real mark of pride for her I am sure. She must have never heard the murmurs or jokes around the water cooler regarding the combination of her first initial and last name.

S Hart.

Always too late, SHart carries a change of clothes in the trunk.

The ironic thing about this horrible choice in names and vanity plates is that it made me laugh so hard I nearly shit myself. I told Lisa to take a picture but she had a hard time focusing on the moving target so the plate is a little unclear but rest assured, Sally Hart was driving her Camry beside us down the PCH that day and probably had stained her whites with a brown bingo dabber.

Entering Santa Barbara it becomes immediately apparent why everyone from Los Angeles comes here to get married. It’s pretty and quaint and most of all, clean. I had never really noticed how dirty Los Angeles was until I left it. I guess it’s a matter of desensitization to filth. The garbage and detritus strewn about the street and sidewalk, the constant cacophony of traffic, the brown layer of haze that sits five hundred or so feet above the ground on days without wind become white noise against the busyness of the lifestyle.

I’ve been running at a sprint pace for seven or more months now and the stroll which Santa Barbara meanders along is a welcome change and marks the end of the Los Angeles experience with double bold and underlined punctuation. So be it. I have no mixed emotions on this matter. My sole emotion is exhaustion.

It's no wonder then why I put up no fight when Lisa strays from the advice that Liz and Pete gave us to stay at the humble but clean Motel 6 and instead opts for the place across the street because she prefers the appearance. The Cabrillo Inn does look moderately nicer than the Motel 6 so I put up little resistance and check us in. The rate is decent so I'm not too worried. We will only be here overnight in any case.
As we enter the room it's like we stepped back in time to the mid-seventies. Tacky as all getout. What's more is there's no air conditioning and the room is hotter than hell. We open all the windows and leave the door ajar and turn on a massive floor fan they have left in the suite for cooling purposes. The room is brutal. The bed is like lying on broken springs. After a harrowing day of running about and being generally stressed this is not the relaxing stay I was hoping for.

We leave the "comfort" of our room and head into town to grab some food. Lisa suggests fish and chips and I look up the restaurant directory and as it turns out, there's a Brit run chippy with great reviews. I'm stoked. We arrive at Mac's Fish and Chips and order and we are not disappointed. This is the best fish I have eaten since arriving in Los Angeles. Delicious. Good chips too. I highly recommend this place should you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara.

We get back to the Cabrillo (s)Inn and crash out in the hot sticky room. Lisa and Miete go for a quick dip in the heated pool and come back shivering twenty minutes later. I have a brutal sleep and awake grumpier than a bear with a sore ass.

 A/C or not, this kid doesn't care.

Day 2: Santa Barbara - Carmel

We head back into town and hit Joe's Cafe for breakfast. I get a really decent Huevos Rancheros but the other meals are mediocre. It's like they knew I really needed that meal. We're packed up and we head out shooting for Carmel if we can make it.

We hit Morro Bay by lunch and Miete has been melting down in the car for the last hour. Both Lisa and I are ready to leave her on the side of the road. We pull in to the small fishing town and I take Eireland for a walk around the small single strip which runs the length of the sheltered inlet. We look for a restaurant and find something that looks decent enough and decide we'll hit the fish and chips again since we've been so deprived for the last seven months. Lisa, in the meantime calms Miete down and meets me outside the restaurant. We hope we can get through the meal without another melt down.

We barely get through the meal. Miete is restless and wants to get up and leave so Lisa takes her into a neighboring shop which sells little porcelain keepsakes. They select one to bring home and break another so two are purchased. Miete comes back and sits through our meal as there are some sea otters playing in the ocean outside the window of where we are seated. They're super playful and almost pose for photos as kayakers pass.

Pete had told me that Morro Bay apparently has a good wave but that he had never checked it out himself. I go to the tourist office and do a quick read on a pamphlet and it says the large rock which towers out of the ocean and lies in front of their power plant has a decent surf spot to its right. I elect to check it out and we drive to the area and lying there is some pretty nice looking waves.

Don't let the weather fool you. It was warm and so was the water.

One of the best things about Morro Bay is that you park your car and can walk past the break and put your board in the water and paddle a mere forty feet and catch waves. There's several areas of break and it looks like the main area is down the way but I elect for the easy and less crowded area right around the parking lot. I am not disappointed. 2-3 footers are rolling in with the odd 4 footer.

I share the break with one other guy. The perfect three wave sets of easily managed 3 footers keep rolling in. The waves are benign and boost my confidence so I am going for almost anyone that rolls in provided my sole competitor isn't trying for them first. I catch a small ride which is short lived but enjoyable and paddle back out. After the disappointing trip to San Onofre I am really hoping to exorcise the demons of uncaught waves. I see a really nice 3.5 footer forming up and paddle for it. I catch it and stand up and ride it to the beach pumping my fist as I drop off my board and into the water at the end. Consider the demons gone.

After another half hour or so the kids are wanting to get back in the car and Lisa is itching to get going so I change and pack up the board and we hit the road.

We drive through Big Sur. It's apparently scenic and beautiful but we wouldn't know it. Mist and fog obscure all but the road directly in front of us as we press on slower than usual. The cliffside drops away sharply into the murk below. I'm sure that more than a few lives have been lost to a lapse in concentration.

As we get closer towards Carmel we have some snacks while driving and decide we will make the last push although everyone is tired and wanted to get out of the car. We are all glad we did when we finally hit Carmel because it is so beautiful and quaint. After a quick look around we rent a three bedroom cottage minutes from the beach. It's so nice we both decide that we could stay in it permanently.

 Our quaint living room.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On Electing Fandom.

The only thing more disappointing to a sports fan than following his team for thirty plus years and watching them reach the cup three times only to lose it is the riots which have followed two of the last three cup attempts.

Vancouver played well during the season and displayed far less of their on-again-off-again style of play. Luongo, was even a little better this season but still had a major blow up every fifteen games or so. It looked like we really had a decent chance as we headed into the post season and although I didn't have high hopes, much to the dismay and disgust of fellow fans, I awaited each round with a healthy dose of nervous anticipation and giddy excitement.

After making it past the second round I was pretty stoked. At least it wouldn't be another typical blowout. The third round passed and we were headed for the final where I thought we really had a good chance of winning.

Whatever your view on the last game of the playoffs, Boston won the series fair and square. It looked as though Vancouver was squeaking through as Tim Thomas stood on his head time and again to make amazing saves. He truly did deserve the Conn Smythe over and above anyone else on the ice. Well done Tim Thomas.

The predictable riots which followed and the apparent public disgust evidenced on Facebook was truly illuminating for me.

"Those aren't true Canucks fans".

The mantra was repeated in hopes of washing the blood off our hands.

"A few bad apples".


Those Canucks-logo-clad miscreants burning cars and smashing windows are every bit as much a Canucks fan as the person sitting in the stands twirling a towel.

"WHAT AN OUTRAGE!" you say.

Those idiots, and they are exactly that, probably cheered just as hard, watched on average as many regular and post season games and were probably as aware of the roster as anyone else. Certainly no sane individual would say that someone who smashes a window but watches eighty games a season is less a fan than someone who only watches the last round when the Canucks are in the Cup. The fact that their behavior is disgusting has nothing to do with them being a fan. People who say as much are seeing a correlation between two unrelated values. After all, isn't it just as possible  for a law-abiding person to NOT be a Canucks fan? Criminality and fandom have no relationship. I'm sure there were plenty of incarcerated individuals in both Boston and British Columbia cheering in front of the prison television.

"Well then, those people are not fans like me", you state in defense.

Well actually they are in many ways. You have both elected... ELECTED to follow the Canucks and call yourself a fan. You weren't born into a system of Canucks fandom. You weren't made to be one by some dictator. You possibly grew up watching them and therefore consider them your home team but at some point you looked at all the sports, leagues and teams in the world and said, "Yeah, I'm a Canucks fan". You made a conscious decision to follow this team and it was instant acceptance as there were no qualifications for entry.

The criminal smashing windows did this as well.

Criminals exist in society. 32000 or 0.13% Canadians were in prison in 2001. 10% of Canadian have a criminal record. We know there are criminals in Vancouver and it would be foolish to suggest that none of them are Canucks fans.

Does a criminal record make the three hundred thousand Canadians with criminal records in Canada not Canadians? It does not. Not by law or by any other line of reasoning. Do criminals in our society make us not want to be Canadian or to relinquish our citizenship? More than likely not, as much as we all wish there were no criminals. We accept that there are criminals in our society and attempt to dissuade their behavior through punishment but even when there is no end to criminal behavior in sight most of us rarely reach a point where we burn our passports and set off for another land seeking asylum. Why? Probably because ever country has criminals. By the same token, does a criminal record exclude one from Canucks fandom? No.

So, to sum up:

With citizenship you earn or are born into it and there are qualification requirements. With fandom you elect it and there are no qualification requirements. Just as every country has criminals, every sports team fanbase does as well.

Those who say the criminals who perpetuated the destruction on Vancouver's downtown core are not "true Canucks fans" are creating a distinction between themselves and those idiots which frankly does not exist. Remember, there was no qualifications for entry in Canucks fandom. The only distinction which exists is that one group of fans rioted and another did not. The rioters are Canucks fans and more than likely they are Canadian. Many are probably native born Canadians but NONE of them including yourself was a native born Canuck. I have yet to see one person write that the riots have made them not want to be a Canadian (though they may exist). I have read a few posts that it has made some not want to be a Vancouverite. I have read far fewer that no longer want to be considered a Canucks fan.

So as you choose to stay a Canucks fan remember you are electing to be a member of a group which has no qualifications for entry. A group that includes the people responsible for the riot.

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Digs.

We found new digs. That is to say, Raphael found new digs for us. My sister is my house hunting proxy and sniffed out a nice place with some shoddy neighbors in an otherwise great neighborhood in Vancouver.

We will be moving to East Van on our return into a brand new, never been lived in duplex. It will cost us a pretty penny per month but should be worth it as it seems to meet all our needs and exceed a few.

Here are some pics which can also been seen in greater detail on Facebook:

 There's a little yard with a white picket fence in front. The covered porch has a gas hook up for BBQing and brewing. This shot is looking east so the entire front gets unimpeded southern exposure, great for tomatoes and hops.

 One sweet ass new kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. Lots of cupboard space for once in our lives.

Small but nice living room. All out furniture will fit but the large dining room table we have will have to stay in storage. There's just nowhere to put it.

My favorite room of the house.

We take possession whenever we get back. The landlords seem amazingly sweet and very accommodating and just want us to take great care of the place as it's their future retirement property. I'm sure we can manage that. I could have been a little more centrally located but at this point we are just happy to not be looking anymore and subjecting my sis to it as well.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Down And Out In Cheviot Hills

I feel like Nick Nolte looks. I've been rather negligent in updating this blog in the last couple of months because frankly, I don't have the time. 

Work has gone from intense, to extremely busy to all out insane. I have about two and half hours of waking time a day that is not spent at work. I'm up before seven and at work by eight, home between seven to nine in the evening to eat, watch a little tube, talk to my wife and then promptly pass out for a few hours before being woken by a teething eight month old or a bouncing three year old. When you only see your kids for fifteen minutes in the morning and half of the nights during the week you miss them altogether before they go to bed, they want to play with you if they happen to wake up at quarter past six ie. yesterday.

Surfing? Working out? What's that? I'm tired and getting more so by the moment and as I write this I sit on the couch, sniffling with a snotty nose at home sick for the afternoon.

Alas, all this comes to an end on the seventeenth of June a mere fifteen days from now. The road has been long and hard and a lot of fun and at this point, I can't wait for it to end. I will miss this city and the awesome people I have met here but it is time to return home where I have work waiting for me. The adventure has served its purpose. I've made the contacts and worked on another film and if it all works out, I will return to work for Sony in the fall at their Vancouver location.

Our three year old Miete became rather upset this afternoon when she saw the first couple of boxes Lisa had packed. Change is never easy when you're a tot but I know she'll love being back with her friend at daycare and seeing family again.

We are searching for a place in Vancouver to rent and is it ever an ordeal. The challenges of finding a place down here seem insignificant in retrospect. The prices in Vancouver are pretty high and we are looking for something to live in long term and therefore our standards are elevated. We'd like a three bedroom house close to or in Mount Pleasant and have found a few candidates. Nothing is cheap. All are over two grand a month but there is a couple of gems which I would gladly pay that for. In the long term if we can't afford it we can move and downsize and adjust. For now, that is the plan. Get something nice and enjoy it for the summer and next year while I work away at Rainmaker on their film with Woodsy.

It is truly amazing what some people consider rent-worthy in Vancouver. I know there were some real shit-boxes down here ie. The Hacienda Del Dookie I saw in Culver when looking for a place but I think Vancouver takes the cake. We have been sending my sister to look at places most of which are in the eighteen hundred to twenty two hundred dollar range. She has left more than one with some stories. A few quotes:

- " It needed a cleaning but was pretty nice inside. Two guys were moving out. There was a real bad smell in there like mold. I could still smell it on my clothes an hour later." (Commercial area $2000/month)

- "The front yard was tiny, like unusable. You could never leave anything out there or you'd lose it overnight. The neighbour's was a shit pile and the two garages across the street were interesting. One had a band jamming in it and the other was wide open with two guys in lawn chairs drinking beer and watching the hockey game." (Fraser area $2300/month)

- "It was small. You would have to saw your table in half. " (Main area $2200/month)

So we have all that to look forward to when we return. We are planning a June 30th arrival or thereabouts and are making the family road trip back over four or five days. I thought it would be a fitting way to end this blog so before I end it all  or transfer it over to Wagnerfied British Columbia I thought we could wrap it up with some family fun/lunacy on the road up.