BBQ at Santa Anita, and some awesome San Diego times.

I’ve been quiet, but I have been all over the damned place. It’s been an awesome start to Spring, and I hope it continues this way for a while. Good momentum happening.

 

To catch up:

My car is screaming at me for a paint job. I have been driving her around, getting her nice and used to the road again, but the rear tires are still rubbing on the inner fender a bit, I need to finish that off. I don’t have the guts to take a hammer to it like the internet says, so I think a body shop will be on tap for that one. Still, she’s running great, and she did her first burnout in downtown LA in the middle of the night the other day, but we won’t talk too much about that.

 

I got to head down to San Diego for a TOOL show, it was freaking amazing. It was a Sunday, so we had to make a whole day of it to make the trip worthwhile. There was the awesome arena style Tool show, the awesome breakfast we had at the Beach Break cafe, the trip down to Slater’s 50/50 for one of their legendary half bacon half beef (hence the 50/50) creations. Super good. The trip to Stone Gardens and Brewery for MORE beer, and found these badass Adirondack chairs that I must now have.

After that, we went to Ballast Point for even more beer, and this place, while being in a super corporate business park, really was an awesome beer place. The Chalkboard menu says it all, really. Something for everybody, and I got to try the Habanero IPA (Spicy!) and the Curry Porter, which were definitely different, but incredible. I took home a gallon of Habanero IPA for myself, and a couple of souvenir glassware pieces for the home bar. We had a good sampling, then took pints outside to have a nice drunk lunch in the sun. Some great fish tacos and a couple more pints later, we were ready for the show. Tool was amazing, it was my first time, and it blew my mind. I usually get bored pretty quick at shows, but they kept my attention. I love them, and I’m happy to have seen them.

Afterward, we had to drive home as we all worked the next morning, and I ended up getting to be at about 2, but it was entirely worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

On 3/22 I got to hit the Santa Anita BBQ competition with my bro, and we really, really had an awesome time. While all the suckers waited in line for measly samples and sliders (Pfft, bread at a BBQ comp? get real.) we wen over to the competition area, and started chatting it up with the pros. I know my way around a grill, and you could tell these guys were tire of talking to people. It took a well placed good question about BBQ to open them up, but I was able to get them talking, and eventually they shared plates with us! One of the guys opened up a big heavy iron grill, and told my bro and I to “Help ourselves. We couldn’t believe it when it opened up. We must have looked like Indiana Jones picking up the idol in Raiders. Unfreaking-believeable. 

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I like things this way. I’ve also got things under my hat that I can’t really talk about happening, and they’re big, scary life changing things. Let’s just say that as of right now, I couldn’t tell you where I’m going to be in a couple of months. . . the feeling is excitement, anxiety, trepidation and perhaps a little bit of sadness. That’s all I can really say, but it’s big. I promised myself I’d write about it here when it’s all over, either way.

Coming right up is Ciclavia this weekend, hoping to get some good pics there. I also have booked a room and trip to Vegas for the Kentucky Derby. That oughta be interesting to say the least. Buncha drunk degenerate gamblers romping around Vegas unabated. I just hope nobody gets arrested, especially the dude driving the car I’m in.

More soon!

 

– Fred.

 

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Wintry Weekend in the Sierras

Thursday night after work, my good buddy Alex from Margate and I packed up some gear, his wife S and some friends, and headed up east of the Sierra National Forest to the upper Owens River Valley. We didn’t have any solid plans, just to try and fish, go shoot some guns in the mountains, and possibly go snowmobiling. By the time the weekend was over, we had all that in the bag, plus much, much more.

Here’s a whole big album of pics, if you just want to peruse those. 

The effect of this place on me has been tremendous. I felt like the weight of the city was lifted for a weekend, and rising with the sun, I feel like my inner clock has been perfectly attuned to sunrise, just in time for the change in Daylight Savings time. The cold I felt up there I haven’t felt in years, and I knew I was in for it the second I jumped off Alex’s Tahoe up north, at some roadside gas station. I had my big waterproof Columbia snow jacket on, which I thought would be overkill. The freezing wind cut right through it, and I had to shut all the velcro seals on the collar, hood wrists and hips to stay “warm”. By warm I mean not completely freezing. We weren’t even all the way up there yet, but I was already freezing. Great. A couple of layers out of the bag, and I was a few degrees warmer. These are things I don’t run into in Los Angeles, and it felt really humbling. The outdoors I love so much, they strike awe in me for the same reasons. It’s extreme, and unpredictable, and you never go against it. Just like the ocean, where you never press your luck out of respect for her, these mountains demand some serious humility.

About the ride. In the vehicle were 4 adults and one baby and 3 dogs. I was worried a bit when I found out about that, but they were all really well behaved. nobody puked on my leg, and there was never an explosion of poo smell in the car, as can happen when travelling with 3 dogs, especially with two older ones. Good pooches.

When we arrived, there were i think 4 more dogs inside the house, Golden retrievers, labradors, the kinds of dogs you would expect to find in a fishing guides house. Really smart, and really at home, the dogs all made friends and the humans all went to sleep. We arrived at about 2:15 am after some in town lag, and I went straight to the futon I always sleep on in this house. Next to me, an awesome fly tying set up. Awesome. 

The sun woke me up the next morning, I forgot to ask for a blanket, and the futon is by a big sliding window, so some air gets through and my jacket was all I had. The sun warmed me up, and made me jump out of bed. I took a glance out the window, and I was reminded of where I was. I hadn’t seen any snow during the night drive, but now I could see a peek of the mountain, covered in it. I put on more layers, and went outside for what I knew would be clean fresh air.

What I hadn’t counted on was the splendor of a REAL mountain so up close. Every time I’ve been up here, I have remarked about how the awe, the sheer jaw dropping grandeur of the place is never diminished. It’s not something I think I could ever get used to. I wouldn’t want to move there, because then it might be a little less spectacular after the 5,000th time I’d see it. Doug still seems to be awestruck by it all the time though, so I may be wrong. He’s lived there for years, and still gets all dreamy-eyed when talking about a guide trip he’s taken, or even just describing the conditions on the lake. When I stepped outside into the backyard, thje mountains towered over me. I felt dwarfed, and ran back inside, grabbed my camera, and snapped this pic. 

I’m an early riser, and the house was quiet each morning I woke up. My routine would be to go to the kitchen and make coffee, and the heads would roll in one at a time for a cup. The first day I was there, there were probably 7 of us in the house, being loud and rambunctious, some waking up to a beer, others a whiskey. I was fine with my coffee, and breakfast.

Each day was filled with crazy guy stuff. Snowmobiling, Shooting, fishing, hiking, and of course carousing with the group, which is always half the fun. We went through a ton of beer, I had packed a good cooler full of goodies , and that was gone before it was over. We barbecued, sang, drank, and gambled on horses from the living room too.

Also, I figured out which rifle I want to buy. It’s going to be an AR 15 similar to my buddy Scott’s. I got to shoot it, and it was so smooth, so accurate. We set up a huge range of targets at various distances, and were out there shooting rifles until our shoulders were beat. I still have a big, nice bruise on my right shoulder from the stocks of the different rifles. We also had shotguns and skeet, and shot that for a while. I went 4 for 5 on one round, and was proud with that. I also shot a 4 inch clay target from about 100 yards away, which isn’t much, but for me was a hell of a lot of fun. Here I am taking out some targets with the AR 15 I want to build.

We also played craps. Doug was learning to be a craps dealer, and was very professional about teaching us the rules and strategy. He had a little craps corner mocked up for controlled dice rolling practice. I had no idea this existed, but the whole group took advantage of the setup, and Doug seemed more than happy to oblige as dealer. One night the group played till about 4 am, and it was a pretty wild night.

Because of these wilder nights, I was usually the only one up early. I really wanted to go fly fishing, and made sure to grab Scott and talk him into taking me out on Monday morning, before we headed back. We went out to the Upper Owens river, source of water for much of Los Angeles, and subject of the film Chinatown, among others.

We went out at 7 am, and got to the upper Owens. It was an absolutely stunning, beautiful morning. The birds chirping in the tall grass, the cold mountain air, contrasting with the warming sun on your face. If you turned in the right direction, there was no sign of man at all. Not an electrical pole, house, or road to be seen. Just mountain and prairie, field and stream. We fished all morning, but the wind was up at about 25 mph. I could lean into it a bit, and it was really blowing steady. Fly fishing is next to impossible in these conditions, but we still managed some good casts and drifts. There’s an old saying, it goes “They Don’t call it catching, they call it Fishing!”. I live by that. I see it as time put in toward the cause. All of it is experience, and it all piles up, then pays off. I’ll get my Owens river trout yet. Scotty’s line fouled up after a while with the wind, and it was just too much. We took off.

We got back from fishing at about 10 am, and everybody was still asleep. I made the pot of coffee, caught a nap, and we all made the trip home. Highlights on the way back down were a stop at Schats’ Bakery in Bishop, CA, and another at the smokehouse, Mahogany Smoked Meats, which I’ll probably never pass through Bishop without getting. They had this killer pic of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig when they spent some time in these same mountains. Picked up some salami and beef jerky for the work crew, and hit the road for the home stretch.

Back home, it was good to see m y pups, good to see my bro had taken good care of them. They were fed and happy to see me. I was exhausted, climbed into bed, and slept deep until time for work the next day. Excellent weekend.

You’re breaking my heart over here.

So after being all excited and anxious for my car to be finished yesterday, there’s an issue with the kickdown gear and the transmission isn’t balanced properly with the carburetor. It wasn’t done last night. I was supposed to leave at 3:30 after a meeting I had scheduled, and the meeting ran long. 4 pm, and I was running to my office to call the mechanic and see if he could stay open maybe twenty minutes. It’s a long drive to Pasadena from Woodland Hills. 

He picked up and gave me the bad news. “Come by tomorrow” he said. Well, that’s today, and today I’m headed up to Mammoth after work. I’ll be gone all weekend, and back at work Monday. No dice on getting to drive her before I leave. I’m spoiled I guess, but I have also been waiting for this for about ten years. It’s true that I got her running well enough on my own. but all this transmission stuff is rocket science to me, and I thought it would be an easy fix for the guy. I’m not bitter with him, i just WANT to drive that damned car. 

Well, either way, all packed up and ready to go fishing this weekend. Inevitably, my thoughts will turn to my car this weekend, but I won;t let it sully the good time I’m going to Have. Vonnegut said yuo have to take a moment every now and then, and say “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

This weekend is a chance to do just that. 

Patience. . . . 

Nerves are all over the place right now.

I feel like my skin is crawling, my stomach is in a knot, and I’m nervous for no reason. 

I’ll be leaving work early today, about 3:30 or so, after a meeting I have scheduled. I’ll be headed to Pasadena, to pick up my Ethel. 

She’s been in a shop in Pasadena for the last month or so, getting a ton of little issues sorted out. Tons of things I just don’t have the tools for, or things that you probably shouldn’t do in a slanted driveway, like my own. People have called me and asked if I sold her, because they saw her sitting there in the shop yard. I even had a friend call me, actually raving mad at me for not offering to sell to him first. When I told him I was finally getting it all done, he tried to claim the first ride in it. I deflected it, but I haven’t really given that much thought. 

So that’s one thing. Another is that I’m going fishing this weekend, for the first time in quite a while. I think the last time I went fishing was either fall or summer last year in San Diego, on a mountain bike trip. This weekend is different. 

My most familiar fishing grounds are the waters between Los Angeles and Catalina Island, up to the Channel Islands and Ventura. They’re familiar, comfortable, and very SoCal. This weekend however, I’m going to the fishing spots that have inspired the most Zen moments I’ve ever had while fishing. I’m heading up through the Owens River valley, on the CA 395 to Lake Crowley, and the waters surrounding. 

My good buddy Doug is a pretty well known guide with the Sierra Drifters. I’ve been out with him a couple of times, and he’s guided me to some of the most exciting fishing I’ve ever experienced. Not heavy reeling and fast paced sport like deep sea fishing, Fly Fishing is more of a deliberate attempt to think like a fish, forcing you to meditate on what you;re doing, and hone senses that don’t get used in everyday life. Not for most of us anyway. Doug has been working at his career as a guide for a while now, and fishing is all he does. If he weren’t such a nice guy, I’d envy him, but he shares. He shares his knowledge, his favorite fishing holes, and his home with me, so I appreciate him deeply. I can’t wait for this weekend. 

I’ve otherwise been quiet because I’ve been busy. I tore out what was left of the floor in my mud room, replaced the old tile with some fresh vinyl tiles. Problem is now the rest of the room needs to be updated to match the floor’s nice condition. Here’s a pic about halfway, with the underlayment and a couple of tiles going in. Here’s another with a few more tiles in. It looks really nice, so time for paint, and a new front door. I’m hoping for something imposing, with some iron in it, like so. Mine probably wont be as fancy, but I’m also considering buying a base door, and adding the metal reinforcements myself. Then maybe it will be as fancy. 

I also went down to San Diego a couple of weekends ago to see a Frida Kahlo exhibit. It was good, except that I didn’t realize, until I was all the way down there, that the whole exhibit was replicas. I’ve seen original Kahlos before. I don’t know that I would have driven all the way down to SD to see replicas. Still, I didnt regret it because my buddy Rick came out with me, and we met up with one of his friends for a night on the town.

Rick’s friend J summed up the exhibit perfectly when she I asked her what she thought. “Emotionally Exhausting” was what she said, and that was all it needed. It was one of those exhibits that makes it tough to say “I enjoyed that”. After the exhibit, the feeling was more of a “I needed to experience that” thing, like I finally truly understood a lot about Frida. I have always loved her story, but to see it chronologically spelled out, and accompanied by the paintings that she made, as she was going through different things in her life made it very easy to get lost in the emotion of it all. Is pain an emotion? A sensation? It was hard to grasp, I couldn’t see why her life had to be so hard. So frequently, an artist’s life is tumultuous because of things they do, because of bad decisions or terrible life choices like Heroin. Frida didn’t owe her pain to any of that. She was frail, small, broken at an early age in a bus accident, and suffered the rest of her life for it. The man in her life hurt her, but all she did was love him. True, it might not have been the best decision, but can you fault someone when the only emotion they give is love? She loved Diego Rivera, and she hated him, but she kept her class and kept her chin up. A proud woman indeed, and deservingly so. Devastatingly so. 

All in all I had a blast. I’ve never really had a chance to explore San Diego, usually when I’ve been there, it’s been with a band. I’ve performed at the San Diego Sports Arena, sat in the press box at Jack Murphy Stadium, and probably been to SD for music stuff 30 times, but I had never really just cruised around SD drinking, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Rick’s friend was cute, and was driving to boot. She had just moved to SD, so didn’t really know where to go. Rick suggested The Pearl, a hotel dolled up in 60’s style, complete with Rye whiskey at the bar, and furniture, decor, and ambience that seemed to have come from a sealed package, stowed away since the 60’s just for us. I had brussel sprouts and Rye manhattans, a well made Old Fashioned, and a few beers. I had a good buzz on by the time we were dropped back off. Great times. 

So this is what has kept my mind occupado while the car was in the shop. Today, it all resolves with me driving her home, hopefully not to return to the shop for a while.