September Vacation, part II (west to east)

September 16, 2007

Dear sweet Lord, I had forgotten how lovely California weather is! It’s a reminder that 80 degrees and sunshine didn’t have to make you sweat through your shirt within seconds, in contrast to the festering swampland of DC. Aside from venturing into Los Angeles to visit some friends, I spent a good bit of time with Lauren, who toured me around campus and to whom I gave some practical stick-shift advice. Don’t mess up any clutches, Durf (again)!

Come Thursday night, I was off to New York. I remembered all too late how much I hate red-eye flights. They are the mortal enemy of everyone over six feet tall. The last one I had taken nearly ended in our whole mock trial squad dying at the hands of a driver too sleepy to safely make it from the Minneapolis airport to campus. This one was as good as it could have been, I guess – the extra legroom JetBlue makes standard was much appreciated, and the baby sitting next to me stopped crying immediately after takeoff. Thankfully, I realized early on that instead of trying to sleep with my head back, my little black satchel I’ve had since sophomore year of college makes for a fine pillow when propped up on the tray table.

We landed in JFK a little after 8 a.m. Before getting on the plane, I had the good sense to know that I’d need to rest up before enjoying the city, and that I’d prefer to sleep in a real bed instead of someone’s floor/futon/countertop after putting up with a tailbone-crunching plane seat for four-and-a-half hours. So I started skulking about the Internet for cheap hotels. Thanks to an insanely lucky lowball bid on Priceline, I finagled a room in a three star hotel four blocks from Penn Station for a ridiculous 80 bucks, more than 1/3 their regular rate. Hell, you can barely get a room in Jersey for that little! And the hotel even let me check in that morning! Suffice to say, by the time my head hit the pillow at 10 a.m., I was one happy camper. After only a few hours rest, yours truly was ready to enjoy the town.

The New York weekend went by awfully fast. I caught up with several friends over French food and partook in some upper west boozing with Dana. And as a sucker for good dress clothes, I also stopped by the Brooks Brothers “flagship” store on Madison Ave. to get measured for some custom-made shirts that I’ll definitely need for the November trial. Before you judge, let me say that most upscale gentlemen’s stores don’t accomodate men of my… stature. Being 6’6″ and not rotund makes it nearly impossible to buy dress shirts that, while fitting in the collar and sleeves, don’t make me look like I’m tucking a parachute into my trousers. Just y’all wait and see – I have every intention of looking sharp in court.

Lessons learned:

– In-N-Out versus Five Guys – The ultimate battle of the locally- owned and renowned burger chains. West coast against east coast. Decision:I’d say it’s a draw. Five Guys burgers are thicker and greasier, and their cajun fries can’t be beat. On the other hand, In-N-Out is faster and cheaper, slices potatoes for fries onsite, and douses their burgers in special sauce on request. The good news is that eating at either means you automatically win… and your coronaries probaby lose.

– Wii = Wow. Wells Wants.

– Arrogant Bastard Ale – one of the best beers I’ve ever tried. It’s hoppy, complex, and packs an almost overpowering smell that can be whiffed from across a room – the brewmeister’s equivalent of a dropkick to the taste buds. What a wonderful dropkick it is. I ordered it at three different bars after taking my first sip in L.A., and I have every intention of keeping it stocked at my apartment. Perhaps plugging it (and maybe chugging it) is my way of repenting after being an accessory to the purchase of PBR and Icehouse kegs. Tsk, tsk…

– If you’re stuck in traffic along Sunset Boulevard, tuning in to a Bush address on Iraq is a terrible way to calm down and/or avoid spikey-heeled pedestrians. Doing so will accomplish nothing except induce semi-psychotic yelling and a propensity to stomp on the gas pedal.

– No amount of wishful thinking can make one or more bratty, obnoxious, undeservingly wealthy “celebrities” jump in front of your car while you’re driving around the ritzier parts of L.A. Believe me, I tried. Maybe there are some out there with a stronger will than mine; if so, then please, do humanity a service and keep hoping.

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