Monday, November 11, 2002

Revenge of My Youth

It's always raining in Los Angeles. The group I was with arrived early Friday night and it drizzled both lightly and moderately from the moment we got off the airplane until 24 hours later. A guy who wears glasses might just have a vision problem or two in such conditions.

But let's back up some shall we? I had a note in my drawer at the warehouse from Al a couple weeks back asking if I wanted to go to L.A. November 9 and 10. My immediate reaction was 'sure, I'm game' even though I knew that it was the weekend following what promised to be a long hour work week and it meant doing the newsletter (that you have in your grubby lil mitts right now!) well into a Sunday night before the Veterans Day holiday that I get off from my other job. I didn't have any other details of what the trip was about other than Al had also left a note telling me that we were going to stop in at the In 'n Out Burger restaurant, a California icon.

So a few days before the trip I call the warehouse and Al told me Carl would fax me directions to Sam's house where we were all going to meet. Who "we" were at this point wasn't even clear. So after my favorite blue eyed ex-intern (and dear dear friend thank God) bought me a birthday pad thai lunch in downtown St. Paul Friday afternoon I hopped on into my car and headed out to Highland Park to meet up at Sam's house.

Oh yes it was also my birthday weekend. 38 freaking years old. And I have always questioned whether or not I'd ever make it to 40. Knock on wood (which hopefully is not immediately encasing me. Never mind- it happened to Buffy once).

So I drive up to this specified location and see Pat talking with a guy that I assume must be Sam. And sure enough it is and they are. They don't know much more about the trip than I do making it all seem rather secret spy, Mission Impossible-ish. Having been accused in the recent past of not being spontaneous enough I wanted to scream to the skies (or at least to Mr. Max) that this here might be proof that I'm not always what I might seem to the discerning eye (il est special, il faut aimer). We wait for Carl but Carl is late. We wait for as long as we deem prudent and then take off to the airport, which is located a few mere minutes from Sam's house.

Pat and I don't have to check luggage so we head to the gate after passing through security. A few minutes later Sam and Carl appear together. Then it's a few minutes more until we're off into the wild blue yonder. Carl also gives us the itinerary that reveals it is a summit of some of Cheapo's most powerful and creative minds (and me) with the intent of visiting as many CD stores as we can in a one day time frame.

Can I digress a bit further? When I was a kid and my family would take vacations my parents and my siblings were kind enough to indulge my desire to go to as many record stores as we could in whatever strange town we found ourselves in. A successful vacation to me was returning home with as many records that I couldn't seem to find in the Twin Cities, as I could. So as we spent all of Saturday traveling in a mini-van (the blue team) and a SUV (the red team) around Hollywood and Beverly Hills looking at CD stores I was more than glad I had been asked along. I was part of the blue team (Carl, Johnny, Jeff, Ron, Derek, and Gary) that was by far the cooler of the two teams if the contest was to be tallied. We strutted, we led the way, we traded barbs.

There were two stores (diverse in nature) that stick out from the many we visited. Hear Music was a tidy little place in a outside strip mall that had a lot of little written descriptions of artists next to the product. I loved reading the little blips. I also loved that the store had compilations from artists like Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle that included songs from artists that those particular people considered major influences- a veritable mix CD put together from people I would love to receive a mix CD from. What a fine fine idea...

Like the rest of the traveling group the store that impressed me most was Amoeba Music. I had been in that particular company's Berkeley store less than a month before and the L.A. store was even bigger and better. A true music lover could spend hours and hours in the place and come away wanting to come back. I of course left with a used Buffy season two DVD collection for a really good price but didn't want to tell anyone because I already was coming off dorky enough. I scored and it was my own lil secret. Tee hee. But I had to put back that used Sinatra disc I can't even find new in most other places.

We had dinner at Todai's, a Japanese buffet that featured some really good sushi and teriyaki chicken. The staff came over to sing Al a happy birthday (which is a week away) and I was chucklingto myself, glad that no one knew it was actually my birthday and all the tambourine playing was dedicated to someone else. Whew. It was a great meal and a nice way to celebrate the beginning of my 38th year on this here confusing little planet.

I got home Sunday evening and quickly unpacked my bag of newly bought goods including the aforementioned DVD purchase and a neat Hank Williams bobblehead. Max bellowed upon my arrival and I had 95 email messages (84 of them SPAM). Yup I'm home.

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