Monday, August 15, 2011

On the road again

Rangers Park, Dallas.  Photo by Jon Wolfert
Here's another travelogue. I file these whenever I go out of town. A compilation of them is available in my new book, WHERE THE HELL AM I? TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED, available in all ebook formats for only $2.99 and paperback for only $6.99. Order yours here. Heck, order many dozen. Thanks.

Have Announcer Will Travel. Back from a whirlwind two weeks calling Mariners games. My three stops: Seattle, Anaheim, Dallas. Arrived in Seattle – it was 50 degrees. Left Dallas – it was 112. Packing was fun.

This was the start of the annual Seafair festival in Seattle, a stellar summer celebration with parades, hydroplane races (only slightly less dangerous than juggling live grenades), and Fleet Week. Over 5,000 Navy and Coast Guard personal poured out of their ships for a week of shore leave. Everywhere these sailors went in their white starched uniforms they were treated like heroes and deservedly so. Saw quite a few out at the ballpark. They missed a bet in THE LAST DETAIL not having Jack Nicolson take Randy Quaid to a Mariners game on his last day before life-in-prison.

The Navy brought San Diego weather with them. By mid-week it was absolutely glorious. Clear sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. When it’s not cold and rainy, the Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful region on earth. Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with the gloom. They film the TWILIGHT movies in the nearby Olympic Peninsula city of Forks. Although now I hear a lot of the vampires in the area are complaining about the new influx of tourists.

Speaking of tourists, I almost got run over eighteen times by Duck Tours. There must be 1,000 of these land/sea vehicles. Everyone thinks it’s so awesome that a car can also be a boat. Have they ever heard of a Volkswagen?

It’s the 50th anniversary of the famous Seattle Space Needle, erected in 1962 specifically for the Elvis Presley classic motion picture, IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR. Apparently there’s a company that will blast people 60 miles into space and this is the grand prize of a contest the Needle officials are throwing. That should be the second-place prize. First-place is NOT being shot 60 miles into space.

The “Grunge” look is still very “in” with Seattle’s street people.

SEATTLE WEEKLY released their “Best of 2011” edition. My favorites:

“Best Place to Meet Single Men” – Don’t know.

“Best Place to Meet Single Women” – Online.

“Best Public Restroom” – Sanitary Market Building

“Best Hair on a News Anchor” – Dan Lewis, KOMO

The Mariners wound up sweeping the Oakland Bad News Bears and headed south for Anaheim. The flight from Seattle took two-and-a-half hours, roughly the same time it takes me to drive to Anaheim from my home thirty miles away.

We stayed in Costa Mesa across the street from a huge upscale shopping mall called the South Coast Plaza -- Orange County’s answer to the Mall of America. Every high-end store in the world has an outlet there. It’s the Mall of Conservative America. There’s also a Jerry’s Famous Deli, a local chain. But this one is unique in that you never see any Jews in it.

Teams from a girls’ water polo tournament were staying at our hotel. Every time I stepped into the elevator there were eight gorgeous bouncy blond athletic coeds. I felt like Buck Henry as Uncle Roy on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. “Hey, little girls, wanna play ‘Horsie’?”

Went to the Crab Cooker in Newport Beach for lunch. This is a funky seafood joint where everything comes on paper plates and the clam chowder is God’s mouthwash. Very informal; they don’t take reservations. One night the owner got a call from the White House. Then-President Nixon was staying in nearby San Clemente and had heard good things about this humble eatery. The president wanted to have dinner there that Saturday night. The owner said, “That’s great. Have him get here around 5:30 because at 6:00 there’s usually a line.” I can just imagine the subsequent conversation. Aide: “You don’t understand. This is a tremendous honor. The president of the United States wants dine in your restaurant . We’ll need you to close that night. ” Owner: “Look, that’s super but Saturday is a big night. Besides, as a rule I don’t close the place for private parties.” Aide: “As a rule?! As a RULE?! This is not some Bar Mitzvah reception! This is the Commander-in-Chief of the free world!” Owner: “Right. So just get him here at 5:30 and he won’t have to wait.” (Yes, I’m paraphrasing but the incident is accurate.) Needless to say, the president did not dine there. And the Crab Cooker received much better press than if he had. If Nixon were smart he would have just placed a take-out order and had Spiro Agnew drive over and pick it up.

I wouldn’t think that Ludacris’ target audience would be Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fans but he performed a free concert at the Big A. following one of our games and over 40,000 people stuck around for the show. I can just picture it. He’s singing “You’z A Hoe” and the crowd is doing the wave.

The Mariners outscored the Angels 6-4 in the three-game series and lost two of ‘em. It’s been that kind of a year.

Next stop: Big D. Arrived at 9:30 Sunday night. Stepped off the plane and Holy Christ! It was a blow furnace. Imagine Dante’s Inferno with a lot of WalMarts. Facebook friend, Kat Winn Blanchard said, “It's so hot, Lady Gaga's meat dress is well done”.

Stayed at a fabulous hotel – the Four Seasons resort right next to the Las Colinas golf course, home of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. I’m sure it’s a beautiful course in the spring but now it’s just yellow. There were more golfers than balls in the lakes.

Actual story in a Dallas newspaper: Two new In-N-Outs were opening.

Italian designer/architect, Santiago Calatrava just completed an impressive bridge from downtown Dallas to nowhere. It ends in a slum and there’s no water or anything else to cross. It’s just there. This curious 40-foot structure with cables in a geometric design. Sometimes the Big D. stands for daft.

Oh no! One of Dallas’ great landmarks is gone. The Washateria where Lee Harvey Oswald used to take his laundry is now a Vegan restaurant.

Fortunately, the city is not completely turning its back on its rich heritage. You can take an all-day Bonnie & Clyde bus tour – see bank locations that they robbed, the Barrow family’s original old filing station, and even a house or two were innocents were needlessly gunned down. These are not Duck Tours because there is no water in Dallas other than on golf course and city park lakes, and they’ll all be bone dry by August 18th.

According to legend, Clyde’s last words were, “What do we need a fancy bridge to West Dallas for?”

Highlight of the Dallas leg (besides winning one of three from the Rangers) was getting a private tour of Cowboys Stadium. From the outside it looks like a silver version of Darth Vader’s helmet. It’s the largest domed stadium in the world. And Dallas is so flat you can see it from Lubbock.

Inside it’s a marvel. Seating capacity is 85,000 but it can go as high as 100,000 for special events like the Super Bowl or a Sarah Palin appearance. The stadium high definition video board is literally 60 yards wide. I wonder if the all-night crew ever puts porn up on that baby. Debbie would REALLY be doing Dallas on that humungous screen.

Outside the building there’s a statue of former coach, Tom Landry, wearing his traditional Stetson fedora hat. A passerby wondered why they had a statue of Sinatra out there. What is it with these people? This is the land of religious zealots, bridges to nowhere, Fox News, and (spotted at a coffee shop in a pod mall) nitwits dining outside in 112 temperatures.

Headed home Thursday morning. The TSA process at Dallas-Ft. Worth International was the easiest, fastest, and most courteous of any airport I’ve ever been to. And yet, recently the sheriff of Dallas County tried to push his way through the screening machines, blustering that he could because he was the sheriff of Dallas County. Too bad the airport is in Fort Worth County. Federal authorities led him away. Seriously, what is with these huckleberries?

The Mariners went 5-4 on my stint. Thanks to Kev, Rick, Blow, Sims, Shannon, Eric, Jon, KGJ, and of course Casper for helping to make this a winning trip, even if only by one game.


Melissa said...

Thanks for the new travelogue. I was having withdrawals. I've been reading your book, while using the stationary bike at the gym, and I finished two days ago. I don't know what I'll read today. Maybe I'll take another stab at Moby Dick. (a kindle freebee)It's sort of a travelogue.

Mac said...

Sounds like a fun trip. The Crab Cooker story is so cool. What's better publicity than "the President ate here?" - "Our customers are as important to us as the President of the USA."

RCP said...

"...and the clam chowder is God’s mouthwash."

Love that line! Great travelogue.

Paul Duca said...

Is that a good or bad thing? I mean, you spit out mouthwash.

Tom Quigley said...

“Best Hair on a News Anchor” – Dan Lewis, KOMO

He's probably happy he didn't win for "Best KOMOVER"...

Ryan Paige said...

It's not a bridge to nowhere, Ray's Gun Shop is on the other side.

Dylan said...

Not to quibble, but I'm gonna anyway...

Rangers Ballpark is in Arlington. That's why it's called the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're pointing out errors, there's no Fort Worth County in Texas (Fort Worth is in Tarrant County) and the actual sheriff of Dallas County is a woman (it was a pretty big story when she was elected since she is openly gay).

And parts of D/FW airport are in Dallas County.

Chris said...

Here's one for friday: Something I noticed about sitcoms in the early 90s, the audience used to laugh less, nowadays they laugh almost each line (which can be annoying, sometimes the line isn't for laughs).

Is/Was there someone "directing" the audience, asking them to laugh as much back then? The writing was exactly as funny, in my oppinion.

Graham Powell said...

And parts of D/FW airport are in Dallas County.

I used to have to drive around the north end to get to work, and it seems like parts of it are in Oklahoma and Louisiana.

As for the heat, Ken, you were here for 3 days. Add another 37, all over 100. My lawn is best described as "extra crispy".

And the woman with the most fans at Cowboys Stadium is not Sarah Palin but... Taylor Swift. My 11-year-old daughter wants to go, and I'm looking at $85 per ticket. Sheesh.

Unknown said...

Didn't know that Randy Quaid got life...

benson said...

Ken, Took my son to Cooperstown today. Among the items for sale are CD's of announcing greats. Saw Dave Niehaus' and thought of you.

Also, not to pick nits, but The Last Detail was after the Pilots and before the Mariners.

Michael said...

Benson, Pat Hughes of the Cubs put a bunch of those together, and they have become the default present around here--they automatically get me one or two.

I'm reminded of the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon with the spinster hen Miss Prissy, of whom he says, "She reminds me of the highway between Dallas and Fort Worth: no curves."

Ramsey Dan Lewis Gossett Jr. said...

Nice line, Tom Q.! That picture of Dan must be several years old, tho he's still sporting the quasi-Trump-do, it's just grayer.

Can't make a single mistake on this blog or someone will call ya out! Not even a nit will range free w/out being picked!

Soooooo, Ken, yesterday the Brewers wore their German script home uniforms, BIERBRAUER, and even Pittsburgh wore a German version of their PIRATES unis, which I believe is PIRATEN, but Sebastian can correct me if I'm wrong. Since you've probably enjoyed many a brat/beer/broadcast from beautiful Milwaukee - & I'm not being sarcastic - do the Brewers also have a German language broadcast of their games? Would be fun to hear a little of that, once.

70-deg. in Seattle today.

Blair Ivey said...

That line about Ducks and VW's is probably going to be completely lost on anyone under 40. VW did make a big deal about the Bug's maritime properties in their ads of the 60's. As a kid I saw someone float thier Bug across a large puddle (it filled the street) after a running start.

Lansing said...

Since this is turning into a nitpicking party, I can't help but join in. Unless Ken took an undocumented side trip to Italy, the illusration of the Santiago Calatrava bridges in Dallas is wrong. These are actually the Reggio Emilia Bridges in Reggio Emilia, Italy by the same designer.

One dead giveaway is that the bridges connect to the adjoining roads through traffic circles. Texans would rather secede from the union before being forced to drive through these socialist Euro contraptions on their Interstates.

Craig Russell said...

No nit picking here, just thought I'd point out the photographer is none other than Jon Wolfert, president of Jam Creative Productions in Dallas...the leader of radio ID jingles for over 35 years. If you have listened to WABC, WLS, KVIL, WCBS, WRBQ, KIIS and thousands of other radio stations in the US and across the world, then you have heard Jam jingles. The station I work at here in Michigan is having Jam jingles sung as we speak. Guessing a throwback to your "Beaver Cleaver" days, eh Ken? :) And Hi Benson!

HogsAteMySister said...

It was only 112 when you left Dallas? You must have left at midnight. Surprisingly, my comments about yesterday's snowfall in Auckland prompted many Facebook friends to send many bad words down the internets at me. Oh well, I think I need another sweater and a hot totty...

Cody said...

I tried to buy your book at the B&N on the Promenade in Santa Monica today but those snooty cous cous eaters didn't have it in stock. Do you get more money if I buy the paperback edition? I'm sure you've answered said question before earlier back in your blog but if the book industry is anything like the movie industry I'm guessing no. Guess I'll just buy the ebook version so you can at least get the .12 in royalties.

Cap'n Bob said...

No nitpicks tonight. You mentiond the deli. I was in Vegas last month and there's a Stage Deli in the MGM Grand. I went over for lunch and had a nice corned beef sandwich made by a sweet little Jewish man named Pablo.

Pat Reeder said...

If you think it was hot in Dallas when you were here, you should have been here anytime in the previous month. You actually arrived the week that we finally got a little rain and the temperature dropped below 100 for the first time. It cost us a new world record, one that I was more than happy not to set.

BTW, I couldn't agree more with your mocking of that "signature" bridge. Stupid, pointless waste of money that looks like something made with an old set of white plastic Vac-u-form toys. Dallas can't afford to fix the potholes or enforce the zoning laws in my old neighborhood, but we always have millions for projects like the Escalator to Nowhere, the Giant Magnifying Glass and the Popsicle Stick Skyscraper. It's one of many reasons why I gave up the beautiful 1913 house I loved and moved to the suburbs. In some towns, people flee crime or urban blight. In Dallas, we flee the City Hall's stupidity.

LouOCNY said...
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LouOCNY said...

Of course the Volkswagen-as-flotation-device reference always makes one think of the old NATIONAL LAMPOON ad parody reminding people that if Ted Kennedy had been driving a VW, he would would be President (this was in 74 of course).

John said...

When I was with a bunch of people in Phoenix a couple of years ago for a Cardinals-Cowboys game, one of our group that night at the hotel bar/restaurant had enough spirits in him he decided to sing Hank Williams' "There's A Tear In My Beer" to the nearby table. Which was made of of 13-year-olds from San Diego and their parents attending an ice skating competition that weekend. He sings quite well, but I don't think it was appreciated.

Further west here in Texas, we just broke our string of 65 straight days of 100 degrees or better on Saturday. I thought I was coming down with a sore throat on Saturday with the highs only in the low 90s. Brrr.

I'm also more pumped about the Five Guys showing up in Texas than the In-n'-Outs, which are basically taste like large-scale versions of White Castle sliders (not that there's anything wrong with that at one in the morning).

I've already mentioned watching the third quarter of the Cowboys-Chargers game two years ago on the stadium's big screen in 3-D. Which was the moment I knew the new 3-D HDTVs were never going to catch on as long as you still have to use special glasses. Add a five-hour taigate party and half a game of beer consumption in and the Nazis couldn't have thought of a more insidious form of torture than what Jerry Jones and the people marketing "Avetar" for 20th Century Fox came up with for 90,000 people that day.

And speaking of Fox, I was on I-81 south of Syracuse last month -- but no south enough to be in Pennsylvania, let alone Texas -- and stopped in the rest area and Fox News was on in the lounge area. No wonder Gov. Cuomo's going after the public sector unions (and if they've lost the map & tourist brochure distributors and the highway janitorial state workers in Onondaga Country, they've really got public relations messaging problems...)

Also congrats to the Mariners for taking 2 of 3 over the Sawx this past weekend.

Joey H said...

The first thing that caught my eye was the photo credit. As Craig pointed out, Jon Wolfert, is the jingle king. His first radio ID jingles, I think, were just down the road from me at KGMO, Cape Girardeau.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...
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Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

As someone who has a long and debilitating history of gephyrophobia (fear of bridges), I have to ask if Santiago Calatrava who designed that "bridge to nowhere" was related to Caligula?

bevo said...

Having lived in both cities, I know the difference between heats. Dallas suffers from a wet heat, which makes you hot and sweaty. Nasty stuff at 7 a.m.

Lubbock enjoys a dry heat. You are hot but dry. Enjoyable weather at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m.

Give me hot and dry any time of the year.