Week of August 3rd

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last week



today was a laid back, do-your-laundry, see-a-movie, eat some tapas, watch the Simpsons kind of a day. You know the type.

after getting our clothes out of the dryer, Dan and I went to see the new movie Spawn, which our friend Lebo worked on. If you stay 'til the very end you can even see Lebo's given name (Michael E. Levine), though the credits are so jumpy those of you who don't enjoy headaches may wish to take our word for it. We've done your work for you.

for dinner we headed out to Cafe Savia, a tapas bar, restaurant and night club where you can see flamenco dancing as part of the dinner show. We decided to just have the tapas. The food was great and the pitcher of sangria was worth the $16.



since Dan is heading back to Boston this morning to see his folks and our friends back home so they can talk about me behind my back I gave him a lift to the San Diego airport on my way up north to L.A. In the City of Angels lives another set of Brooks': my cousin Larry, his wife Debbie and their two boys Daniel & Jordan.

  when I got to L.A. it was too early to go to my cousin's place, so I decided to hit the beach. Actually, I was planning to go to Malibu Creek State Park and do some biking, but on the way there I got stuck in traffic by the beach parking lot in Santa Monica where a couple of women were putting on their roller blades, which suddenly seemed like a good idea.  
[Click on the "eye" icons to see the pictures.]
[Chainsaw Carvings]
pulled into the parking lot, changed into my blades and grabbed a frozen water bottle from the cooler. I made sure the Club was secure on my steering wheel, checked that my bike was well-hidden under the blanket, and looked to see that the doors were all locked and the alarm was on. I think you know where this story is going.

as it turned out, I wasn't more than a couple of miles north of Venice Beach, maybe less, so I headed off in that direction. Once in Venice I saw a street entertainer who used a chainsaw to carve another guys initials in an apple that had been placed in the second guys mouth. I saw tattoo parlors and street people. I saw rollerbladers, roller skaters and people on low-rider bicycles. I saw aliens in lawn chairs and people lifting outside at Muscle Beach. I saw people odd enough to have pictures taken of them taking pictures of even odder people. (Even odder?) The line between tourist and attraction was blurring.

Muscle Beach
[Muscle Beach]
  after taking in the sites I bladed back to my car. As it came into view I saw that the back door was open. My stomach churned. Apparently someone had smashed in my back window and opened up the back door. Whether they had taken my computer, my bike, my dirty laundry, or anything else I couldn't tell from that distance.

as I got closer I noticed there wasn't any glass on the ground. I looked inside the car and it seemed like nothing had been moved, (although my car is such a pit right now, I couldn't be sure.) I closed the back door and realized that the window hadn't been broken. The only possible explanation was that I had not closed the back door. Maybe because nobody thought that anybody would be stupid enough to leave an open car unattended in L.A., nobody bothered it.

was this as stupid as when I took 28 pictures with no film in my camera? Or when I thought the Memphis prostitute really liked me? You be the judge.

after triple-checking all doors and windows on the 4Runner, I took a brief swim in the Pacific, which for some reason was much warmer than it was down in San Diego.

gathered up my stuff and headed over to my cousin's place, where I saw his wife Debbie, and for the first time met their two boys, Daniel & Jordan, 5 & 1 respectively. If you want to see a picture of Daniel, he's to the left; if you want to see me trying to teach Daniel how to use the camera, click to the right.

  when Larry got home we all went out to the Authentic Grill where Jordan sucked happily on a lemon and Daniel added sugar to his Sprite. We also saw that guy who played the construction worker Billy Crystal followed for show-and-tell in City Slickers, and also played the guy from Total Recall who warned Arnold not to get the Total Recall treatment. Didn't he play a construction worker in that, too? He better be careful of being typecast.  
Rodeo Drive  


ebbie & I went shopping at Neiman-Marcus because they were having some shoe sale there today. Normally, I wouldn't go to such an event, but seeing how I'm in L.A., I decided to check out Rodeo Drive. Unfortunately, you can see most of those stores in other places in the U.S., so it wasn't all that exciting. And since most of the people were like me--taking pictures--there wasn't a lot to see.

 Woolly Mammoth
after Rodeo Drive I went to the La Brea Tar Pits, although apparently not the same tar pits that Homer almost drowned in before Stampy saved him. (A Simpsons reference, as if you didn't know.) It turns out that the first Tuesday of every month the museum is free. And what do you know, that's today!

ou can see the remains of saber tooth tigers, mastodons and for you Dead Heads, the skeletons of Dire Wolves.

 Dire Wolf
[Dire Wolf]

i was surprised to learn that although they have uncovered one human skeleton, dinosaurs pre-dated the tar pits by quite a while. However, they do have an ongoing movie of dinosaurs fighting so youngsters won't go away unfulfilled.

once outside I saw a site that made me sick, so I took a picture of it. Another Mastodon was stuck in the tar, while a group of passer-bys did nothing but gape and point. What's wrong with this town? You expect that kind of behavior out of New Yorkers, but not out of tree-hugging west coasters. I would have helped but you can't get tar off suede Converse sneakers.





Apollo 13

[Daniel & me]


daniel and I went to Universal Studios today. We went on the E.T. adventure (twice) where we helped E.T. save his home planet by flying our bicycles through outer space. Then we went Back to the Future (again, twice) as we jumped through the past and future in our eight-seater Delorean to catch Biff.

we also took the tram tour where we were attacked by King Kong. I tried to take a picture but the attack was so violent I only got half of him in the picture. We also passed the Bates Motel, experienced an earthquake and barely escaped an attack by Jaws.

King Kong (sort of)
[King Kong]
  i also managed to keep Daniel on my shoulders while standing in a 45 minute line for the E.T. ride, buy him ice cream and myself a water, get change, put my wallet away and stay in line all at the same time, without having him drip the ice cream all over me. That's got to be a record for a non-parent.  


saying good-bye to my cousins I headed to the center of L.A. where the Siggraph '97 show was being held, and where my friend Lebo was presenting with his new employeer, Puffin Designs. Siggraph is the premeire show of computer graphics in the industry; all the big boys were there: Microsoft, Apple, (or are those the same company yet?)

i met the people who work with Lebo, or "Mike" as he's going by these days. Hey, "Mike", you can't escape your past just by changing your name. (Side note: the character "Leebo" from the Star Wars game was named after Lebo, no joke. He even has his own action figure. That's pretty freakin' cool.)

Siggraph '97
VR Suits
[VR Suits]
there were guys at the show wearing virtual reality (VR) suits that controlled 3-D animations in real time; a computer-generated bear and fish were moving in sync with them as they walked around the stage. There was an entire VR garden where people could play video games just by punching the air or alter virtual waterfalls by waving their hands in front of them. I got to race a virtual racing car and steer by moving my head to the right or left.

some things overheard at the Siggraph show:

"Yes, we're completely integrated with the hardware."

"It's being rendered in real-time."

"You're in my database."

puffin Designs had all the great buzz on them at the show; they had just been awarded Best of Show at MacWorld in Boston, so Lebo was pretty busy throughout the show, so I kept myself busy with all the eye candy. Unfortunately eye candy, like regular candy, does not a diet make. By the end of the show I had come down with a bad case of optical diabetes and had sugar coming out of every orifice of my body. 

  after the show Lebo and I drove through the LA traffic up the coast towards San Francisco. By the time we pulled off to a Motel 6 I was pretty beat. I left Lebo in the car and headed into a scene out of a David Lynch movie.

a heavy set man behind the counter told me he had a couple of rooms open and asked for my I.D., which was strange because I had never had to show before. Looking it over he told me that they don't often get people from "that" part of the country. I told him I was on a cross-country trip, and he started to look me up on the computer. I noticed a stack of business cards on the counter with Bob's name on it, and the title of Manager on it, so I figured I was in good hands.

wow, I typed in you zip code and here it is, Jame--Jamam--Jamaica P--Jamaica Plain," he fought out.

yeah," I responded, "it's part of Boston."

till?" he asked. Now that was odd; did he have some inside information on J.P. seceding from Boston?

  n the background a little woman was walking around, hunched over like a cross between a preying mantis and C. Montgomery Burns, back and forth, back and forth like a duck at a shooting gallery.

s I looked up to see why it was taking so long, I saw a very frustrated man. He told me he was having trouble with the computer. "It's not letting me enter in the right price. It's not letting me enter in the right price," he kept repeating, getting more and more frustrated with each passing moment.

bob," he called out. I then realized I was not dealing with Bob the Manager. I looked at his name tag. He was George. George the assistant. I was immediately reminded of the caretaker from "Newhart."

bob, the computers doing that thing again," he said as he walked to the back office where I couldn't see Bob. Finally the little old lady walked out to the front counter. Bob.

george explained the situation, obviously frustrated. "The computers doing that thing again. It won't let me charge the right price." The old woman looked at George, trying to grasp the situation. Finally she said, "well, there's no reason for this gentleman to have to wait. Just take his credit card information down and we'll fix it later."

but the computer won't let me in to change the information."

just write down the information," she repeated.

it's completely locked me out," he said, voice shaking at this point.

here, just take down his information," she said, handing him a piece of paper for the job.

don't understand why the computer won't let me in--"

listen." He stopped.

.K." He stood at attention like a good little boy. At this point I felt the whole scene would be better in black and white.

take down his information so he can go to his room."

you don't understand, the computer--"

never mind George, I'll take down his information," she said in a "I'll save the day" tone of voice. She grabbed my credit card and brought it close to her face.

as soon as I get glasses." And so it went.

finally I read my credit card number to Bob who could barely see the cash register's numbers to enter in the number, but she did. George, in the meantime, continued to mumble, "she just doesn't get it, she just doesn't get it."

as I signed my name at the bottom of the page I saw George starting to tap on the computer keyboard. "George, don't touch anything. Don't touch that. Don't--" suddenly a bright flash went off and the computer started printing something out. "Nevermind," said a tired Bob. I took my stuff and went to my room.

 Mantis Impersonation
[Rich's Bob Impersonation]


lebo and I finished our trip up the coast, stopping off for lunch in San Francisco, then driving up the coast on route 1 to Inverness, where he lives with his girlfriend Juli.

i was supposed t hook up with Lebo's brother here, Judd "Big Talk" Levine, so we could travel together up to Glacier National park in Montana, but he bailed without calling!! Not that I'm bitter. I'm too big for that.



today, on the second anniversary of Jerry's death, we had an interesting day. Juli has made a recent tradition of going to Point Reyes National Seashore on the anniversary, so we headed off. On this beautiful, nearly deserted beach we saw low-flying pelicans swooping down just inches over the cresting waves then disappearing behind them, seals bobbing in the water and great huge pieces of driftwood washed up on the shore.

Point Reyes
[Point Reyes National Beach]
 The Mask
[People getting
just down the road from the beach was a benefit for Bolinas-Stinson School System where a band called Vinyl was playing, so we went to go check them out. We had also heard a rumor that Phil Lesh, (bassist for the Dead, for those who don't know,) was going to join them on stage. I didn't really have too much hope for that, but it sounded good anyway.

when we got there and saw how small the set up was, I was pretty sure Phil wouldn't be there. It was free parking, free to get in, and a small donation for the school system requested. No police, no guards, no ushers. Just a very relaxed community of hippies dancing, grooving, and occasionally smoking.

it was so laid back in fact, that when we got in, the "band" was made up of two little children singing songs and playing flute. It was actually kind of cute. In between bands a man with the last name Green stood up and told us how important the children of the 60's were, how we needed a viable third party, and how we needed to recycle.

i ran into some old friends, including Dan Conners and John Monihan who I knew through Lebo.

soon Vinyl took the stage and people started to groove. I guess they're starting to get a good buzz going here, and they did cook. One of the percussionists from Santana took the stage with them, and things started to get really funky. It was about this time that Juli told me that there had been a Phil sighting.

 skeleton three or four songs into the set they introduced a "special friend" and Phil took the stage. He rocked out with them on covers of Good Lovin' and Gimme Some Lovin', and people were psyched.

as I looked around I saw people getting down, children dancing, and the hills rising up in the background in this overcast but beautiful day. It was a great way to observe the anniversary of Jerry's death.

[Click on the "Phils" below to see the pictures.]
Phil Lesh
[Phil 1]
[Phil 2]
[Phil 3]
[Phil 4]
[Phil 5]

next week


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