Monday, July 13, 2009

Finally! A new travelogue!

A number of readers have asked why I don't write those funny travelogues anymore? It's because I haven't gone anywhere. But recently I accompanied the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three city road trip, hosting my Dodger Talk radio show live from those venues. Since it's three cities it's long. So I'm breaking it up into two part. San Diego and New York today. Milwaukee tomorrow. Milwaukee for sure deserves a post of its own. I hope this was worth waiting for.

No one goes from San Diego to New York to Milwaukee unless they’re running from authorities or on a road trip with a big league ballclub. Many thanks to Scott Akasaki and the Los Angeles Dodgers for making the trip and travel so easy. I am now permanently spoiled after only one week. Also thanks to KABC, who told me to “start packing” and did not mean I was fired.
It was the 4th of July weekend in San Diego – “America’s Last Resort Community” (maybe my favorite city slogan of all-time) and firework shows were everywhere. At Legoland non-guests were allowed to watch them from the parking lot for only $2!! If you were outside the parking lot Legoland security officers would apprehend you and insist you only look down.

A number of communities had fairs and festivals for the 4th. Many featured circus workshops, which makes sense considering the increase in San Diego traffic. Now when locals carpool they can get 30 in a Kia.

Speaking of the circus, Manny Ramirez -- lovable baseball drug policy abuser and all around spectacular hitter – returned from his 50 game suspension. This caused a media frenzy the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Farrah Fawcett funeral three days before. Manny held a press conference before his first game. He agreed to talk about anything other than his suspension, steroid use, drugs in general, who his doctor was, and the resignation of Sarah Palin. However, we were able to ask if he was looking forward to playing that night and if it was okay to pet on the first date.

At least there were no bees. The day before the Padres game was delayed almost an hour because a swarm of bees invaded the outfield. First thought: make them a fan giveaway (“Bee Night for the first 50,000 fans wearing netting”), but cooler heads prevailed and a beekeeper was summoned to round them all up (and release them in the new Yankee Stadium).

I watched fireworks from the broadcast booth at Petco Park while on the air. It was like hosting Dodger Talk during the Baghdad bombings.

Missed the San Diego County Fair. Was hoping to enter the watermelon seed spitting contest (soon to become an Olympic event), worm racing, the frozen t-shirt contest (whatever the hell that is), most patriotic costume competition (I even had my “Daughter of the Revolution” dress packed), “Kazoo that Tune”, and what old fashion county fair would be complete without the traditional “Cellphone Texting Contest”?

Breakfast recommendation: The Broken Yolk. A mainstay of Pacific Beach, now also located in the Gas Lamp district. Be different. Try the eggs.

Sunday was getaway day. An afternoon game with the Padres then an evening flight to New York. The Dodgers blew a five run lead in the 9th and finally won it in the 13th. Time of game: a brisk four hours and thirty-three minutes. We staggered into our New York hotel at 3:45 a.m.

That hotel was the Le Parker Meridien, which is a huge upgrade from the Grand Central Hyatt – location of other teams and Columbian drug dealers. Le Parker Meridien is very chic. The d├ęcor is a cross between Art Deco and the Jetsons. It provides sophistication and class for the discerning guest and cartoons in the elevator for Manny Ramirez.

New York was glorious! Perfect weather! You know you’re getting close to Central Park when you’re accosted by five people on every corner wanting to rent you a bicycle, sign you up for a bus tour, or sell you half price tickets to NAKED BOYS SINGING.

How Jewish is New York City? At the Redeye restaurant on 7th they offer miso matzah ball soup. Just like “Obaasan” used to make.

New York Post headline: NEW SEX CAPITAL? IT’S BROOKLYN. In lieu of the Dodgers I guess that’ll do.

Spotted on 57th street: a person NOT checking their cellphone! Spotted on 6th avenue: a young man wearing Aladdin sneakers. Disney characters embossed on athletic footwear just seems wrong on so many levels.

There’s a street vendor on Madison Avenue who hands out business cards. Call “Cheikh” anytime for bags, scarves, and jewelry. His card table is located at 77th St. & Madison Avenue… unless it rains or he’s run off.

The Mets now play in their $800,000,000 new home, Citi Field (although it should be called “Taxpayers’ Field”). What a vast improvement over Shea Stadium, where every tunnel was a sewer and Lyndon Johnson was president the last time it was painted. Citi Field has all the amenities of modern stadiums – lounges, private clubs, luxury boxes, and stands so close to the action you can get clocked with a flying bat. But its most impressive feature is a huge rotunda celebrating Jackie Robinson. So between that and the exterior, which is a nod to old Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, the ballpark is pretty much an ode to the Dodgers. That’s fine for me but the Mets have a rich history themselves and I wish more of that was on display. Where’s a statue of Choo Choo Coleman?

Most new ballparks have gleaming concourses adjacent where fans can spill out into restaurants, bars, and souvenir arcades. At Citi Field you have your choice of muffler stores, repair garages, and auto body and paint shops. Usually the teams get a cut of the action but in this case I suspect the Sopranos got there first.

That nice weather I mentioned ended Tuesday just as a group of us piled into a towncar at midnight to leave the park. I wanted to stay longer and browse for fuel pumps but was overruled. So we headed back to the city right when a tornado hit Yonkers. (Since when did New York become friggin’ Kansas?) The sky opened up and we were deluged with rain. Add to that construction work near the 59th Bridge so we were living “Bonfire of the Vanities” during a monsoon. And picture Mel Gibson from LETHAL WEAPON as the driver… with Jews in the car.

“Manny Mania” continued. The New York press converged on him like a Tootsie Roll at a fat farm. He agreed to not answer the same questions he didn’t answer in San Diego.

From there it was on to Milwaukee. That story tomorrow. Hint: Food is involved.

And below is info on my free teleseminar.


Anonymous said...


As a NYC native living in PA in temporary exile from Northern California, I enjoyed your brief take on the Mets' new home. As a lifelong-suffering Mets fan to boot, I'm appalled by the Wilpon family's obsession with the Dodgers, who have been in LA almost as long as (longer than?) they called Brooklyn home.

One minor nit: as one wag wrote a few weeks back, the ballpark should properly be called "Debits Field."

John said...

I was also in New York for the week, but was visiting a friend in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday night, which also was where a convention of little people was holding forth. So I had the pleasure of watching Manny get tossed from last Tuesday's game while in an Irish pub full of the vertically challenged and their families (and given the Mets' recent hitting success at the plate, yes the combination did make me think that the second coming of Eddie Gaedel probably wouldn't have been a bad thing at that moment).

Anonymous said...

I totally agree the Citi Field doesn't focus enough on the Mets and their history. The Jackie Robinson rotunda is cool, but I think they should have some kind of memorial for both the 1986 team and the 1969 team.

Rutgers Theatre Alumni Network West Coast said...

We mets fans who venture out to Citi Field like to call it either , "Debits Field" or "Bailout Ballpark." I do often wear my t-shirt that states, "I'm Callin' It Shea."
- Wally

Anonymous said...

"How Jewish is New York City? At the Redeye restaurant on 7th they offer miso matzah ball soup. Just like “Obaasan” used to make."

This goy doesn't get it.

Anonymous said...

Saw some of the games on TV. Citi Field missed out on "sign-age" opportunities. They actually left some viewing room for the fans in the outfield. Never seen so many billboard/advertisments in a ball park as in Citi Field. That ought to help pay back the bail out money!

David K. M. Klaus said...

I keep thinking of the story I once heard Bob Costas tell of Red Barber being asked "Who are the ten most evil men of the 20th century?"

He supposedly answered "Hitler, Stalin, and Walter O'Malley," and stopped there.

WV: "pinesshi" -- finesse', but drunkenly.

sg said...

Miso Matzoh Ball soup? That sounds amazing!

Nathan said...

I haven't made it to Citi Field yet. I'm still paying off the loan I had to take out for a couple of sausages and a beer at Yankee Stadium.

Graham Powell said...

"Where’s a statue of Choo Choo Coleman?"

Right next to the statue of Mookie Wilson hitting a dribbler to first.

A. Buck Short said...

When Robert Altman was here in Dallas, we got him the presidential suite at Le Meridien. Get to the room and the toilet’s all stopped up. I cover with, “Oh did I say Le Meridien? I meant Le Merde Inn.”

Tom Quigley said...

Graham Powell said...

"Where’s a statue of Choo Choo Coleman?"

Right next to the statue of Mookie Wilson hitting a dribbler to first

They should justifiably also have a statue dedicated to Bill Buckner. For notoriety, only Madonna has probably had more famous balls pass between her legs in our lifetime...

Watch FREE TV Online said...

Nice sight photos. I haven't traveled for such awhile now.

Tom Quigley said...

BTW, no "Marvelous Marv Throneberry Food Court"?...

Buttermilk Sky said...

There used to be a restaurant on Seventh Avenue that served "Kosher Chinese Cuisine." No shrimp, no pork...what's left?

VW: untall. That convention of little people.

Mike Schryver said...

Also a lifelong Mets fan here. I agree that there should be more evidence of Mets history at the park, but I think there's something else working here.

The move of the Dodgers and Giants has continued to be something of an open wound all these years. Citi Field could be seen as an effort to being some closure to the issue, by paying tribute not to the Dodgers, but to NL New York baseball history. (I know, where are the Giants exhibits? Has anyone found some?)

Anonymous said...

Frozen t-shirt contest? that sounds dangerous.. they could put someone's eye out with those things!

Columbian drug dealers

I didn't know DC had such a big drug problem.