Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wining and dining

L.A. is always crazy nuts during the Columbus Day weekend so the lovely Mrs. L. and I decided to escape to Northern California.

Flew from Burbank airport (now Bob Hope International Airport) Friday morning. Thank God the departure monitors aren’t cute and say “On the road to San Jose”, “On the road to Tucson”, etc. It’s disconcerting enough to hear “Thanks for the memories” when you take off. Departed from the Dottie Lamour terminal. Arrived in Oakland (Bobby Seale International Airport), which is now under construction for your inconvenience.

Struggled to find the rental car lot. No wonder we got lost. It’s on Earhart Street. Who names a street after the most famous woman who disappeared and was never found?

New security rule – all your little liquids must be presented for inspection and must be in a plastic bag. What if you don’t have a plastic bag, you say? No problem. The gift shop has them for the price of a small dinette set.

The Hertz “Never Lost” system hated me for some reason. In the middle of the Oakland Bay Bridge it said, “Make a hard right turn. Now!!!”

This was Fleet Weekend with big air shows at the waterfront. Great fun. Grid locked traffic and being strafed by the Blue Angels.

The Bluegrass Festival also took place in Golden Gate Park. Not that anyone heard any of the performers with an air show roaring overhead and the ground shaking.

Another great San Francisco landmark bites the dust. Tower Records at Columbus & Bay has gone belly up, a victim of the internet. This, two weeks after radio legend KFRC abandoned its heritage to play Ricky Martin records. If Janis Joplin didn’t kill herself 35 years ago or any day since, this would have done it.

At least Capurro’s on Fisherman’s Wharf is still serving the best Italian food in the city. Been there for sixty years and probably safe until you can download cannelloni.

One institution that should close is Sears Fine (?) Food. My son waited an hour for a mediocre steak and when it finally arrived was told they were out of steak knives, it would be another five minutes. Maybe that was because you needed a steak knife even for their famous Swedish pancakes.

After seven corporate sponsor name changes Candlestick Park has returned to its original name – WorstStadiumInAmerica Park.

Big showdown there this weekend as the 49’ers played the Raiders. Week 5 and between them – one win. Kinda like bragging rights between Spam and Head Cheese.

There was a Mariachi Festival in San Jose. The mayor has applied for federal disaster relief.

Needed to get a Bat Mitzvah gift so swung by Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. Couldn’t decide between the water bong or the color changing hand blown glass pipe. Ultimately went with the pipe. She’s conservative.

Had a lovely dinner Friday night in Berkeley only two blocks from the 119th shooting in the area this year – all part of the city celebration for the A’s winning the AL division title.

Big sex trafficking scandal exposed. Who knew the Asian Massage parlors (that seem to be on every block) were not on the up-and-up? Of course it doesn’t help that most have massage permits issued to them through the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Nearby Modesto has a minor league baseball team. No joke, they’re the Modesto Nuts. Seems the area is known for its dry fruits with one seed, testicles, and crazy people.

On Sunday drove to Napa Valley (made famous as the setting for ENCORE ENCORE). Knew we were almost there when we saw the first outlet mall. If San Francisco is “Baghdad by the Bay” then Napa is “Tuscany by the Target”.

EVERY place in the Napa Valley has a gift shop selling wine, candles, glasses, sesame mustard, and lavender soap. The Arco also offers brake fluid (but from ’97, a really exceptional year).

There are 260 wineries in the Napa Valley. Mogan David is considered a soft drink factory.

Doesn’t take long to get into that pretentious wine tasting spirit. Stayed at Villagio Inn which was playfully articulate. Had dinner at Brix which was saucy yet aggressive.

Didn’t get to Coppolas’s winery unfortunately. It’s in Geyserville ( or Geezerville). Was hoping Francis Ford would be there, greeting people and assuring them he could ship anywhere. And I could ask him what he was thinking letting Kathleen Turner try to pass for a teenager in PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED.

During public wine tasting sessions my wife was the only one doing the brucha.

When you tour any winery you’ll notice it smells just like that guy who is always out in front of your local 7/11.

The movie title SIDEWAYS refers to the way wine bottles are stored. The other question about SIDEWAYS no one could answer – how did Sandra Oh become the biggest star to come out of that film?

There’s a Jelly Belly Factory tour. If you go to a few wineries first you’ll be saying, “Jesus, these grapes are chewy.”

Skipped the hot air balloon flight. I just don’t want my obit to read, “died in a balloon.”

All in all, a great time. We celebrated Columbus Day just like Columbus – by getting hopelessly lost at every turn. If Chris had had the “Hertz Never Lost” system they’d be celebrating his day in Rangoon.


Christina said...

I live in Pacific Heights and every year, the Blue Angels completely rattle my place for 4-5 days. (They practice for a few days during the week before the official event.) Next year, I'll probably leave town. Maybe I'll go to LA.

Anonymous said...

This blog was insanely clever. I used to live in the Bay area, and you made me feel homesick. How did you do that?

Unknown said...

I'm happy that you had a great time!!! But why didn't you go somewhere abroad? I've recently returned from Cyprus!!! There you'd have spent a greater time for sure!!! :) The fact is that it's my favourite place to spend holidays!!! The only thing to decide is where to stay (and you know, it's not the last thing to think of!) The hotels on Cyprus are suppper with all the conveniences, entertainments!!! I've stayed in many of them! But this year I’ve made up my mind to chose another place for staying and it is a Cyprus villa!!!How it was great: no noisy neighbours, crazy crowd, always hurrying somewhere and knocking you down!!! :) Silence, your best friends and almost empty beach!!!! That's my way of spending holidays!!! :) Highly recommend such to you too!!! Best regards!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce has finally checked in...

the third coast said...

I was in San Francisco last week and also lamented the loss of Tower Records at Columbus & Bay. An even larger regret, the disappearance of the Compass Rose bar/lounge at the San Francisco Westin, where one could enjoy wonderful live music and cocktails and feel like you were back in New York in the 40s (or at least what geezers tell me New York in the 40s was like). It was like visiting a noir film or one of the Thin Man flicks.

Apparently, visiting Cyprus gives one a case of exclamationpointitis!!!!!

David in PS said...

Jeez, just when I thought there might be a day when I didn't think of ENCORE ENCORE, I innocently read your "what I did on my vacation" column.

Mike Barer said...

For a day of wine tasting, you can try Walla Walla WA Which is becoming known as "Napa Valley North" with new winerie spouting up daily. It makes a great road trip and offers real bang for the buck. Once you get sick of wine, not much else to do. That's why I live in the Seattle area now.

TV Minion said...

Mmm. Jelly Belly.

Though too much of said 'chewy grapes' and wine could result in interesting colours later on. That'd be -my- luck, anyway.

Sounds like an excellent trip!

Anonymous said...

Geez..can't imagine an Asian massage parlor with out the requisite "happy ending". Guess SF is turning into the San Fernando valley!

Anonymous said...

I've taken that "Hard Right" off the Bay Bridge. It takes you to an alternate reality San Francisco, where everything is invisible except for strip-joints and novelty wine shops.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning KFRC. Such a waste, now that they call themselves "Movin' 99.7" They did a lot of good work over the years.

Dwacon said...

I always found Neverlost to be helpful, but your mileage may vary.

I loved it so much, I got a Garmin unit for my vehicle.

Your mileage may vary...

Anonymous said...

L.A. is crazy during the Columbus Day weekend? I never noticed that. Is there a parade I’m not being invited to? Burbank Airport was renamed Bob Hope International? I didn’t know that. Was there a parade I wasn’t invited to? I think “Earhart” is the perfect name for rental car lots, and doubly so for those with machinery that directs the driver to spiral downward into deep water. Perhaps we should be happy that “Earhart” wasn’t chosen by the people over at Burbank Airport. Although, I think Bob Hope was in a movie called “Cancel My Reservation”. That’s a bad omen.

dave said...

Hey, that Jelly Belly's closer to Vallejo than Napa... next time you're in the area, stop by!

BTW, I used to work at Tower Records (in the San Jose area - see how it all ties together) about a million years ago... if you ever want to pitch a sitcom to HBO or Showtime with a lot of drugs, I'll be happy to be your consultant...