Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Saw A Celebrity And His Posture Was Perfect

"Sure baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week that was all I heard--mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.

Page 94 of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac

This passage is especially fitting, since I've put off this post for nearly a month now. Soooo, I saw a celebrity and his posture was perfect, Warren Zevon. Just who was he? You'll have to get to the bottom of this absurd post to find out and no scrolling past the lumpy gravy or you'll miss out on a feast of a tale.

For the first time in my life, I have actually contemplated moving back East. I was happy, being there with my in-laws and while I don't know where I am in Manhattan half of the time, at least I am never truly "lost."

I do find it odd that people cannot divine inspiration from the normal chaos in their lives. Kerouac and so many before and after him, had to discover the vast wide spaces of America, to discover themselves and their writing voices. I have found that being in the middle of nowhere does nothing for my inner narrative nor does being around stable people that I love.

If anything, it is the exact opposite. I write best in the City of Saint Francis...stepping over the junkie panhandlers with their pit bulls. Dodging obnoxious yuppies, SUVs, bullets, prostitutes, trannies, and street preachers. This is where I write best.


That's the voice of the Garmin GPS when you don't take the given route. Sometimes it's fun just to make a wrong turn, just to hear that voice say "recalculating..." Sometimes it's completely accidental, because other drivers won't let you over. Though at one point, the thing got made at me when I didn't take prescribed route and I stayed on Main Street, so it tried to send me to the other side of town.

I mean, what if I drove the car into the Long Island Sound?


Car does not belong in water, please turn back.


Please unplug me and throw me back towards the shore.


I don't like water, please, throw me back to the shore before it is too late.


Look, you bastard, either you toss me back to the shore, or I will shock you with every bit of electricity that's in the car's battery!

On our last night in New York (that is Long Island), I was driving my Mother-in-law's car and we didn't have the Garmin because that came with the rental car, we got lossssst-ah. One of my Brother-in-law's gave me an exit number which I became fixated on and needless to say, we were on the wrong freeway for that particular exit.

No problem, we only overshot our destination by a couple of towns and I had managed to negotiate a nice detour through the Miracle Mile. I recognized the corners, but most of the stores have been completely revamped. The thing that gets me is that the Missus rarely knows where we are, whenever get east or south of Hicksville and she lived here some eighteen years. I guess she is truly a California girl now.

And now? The finale-

So we flew Virgin back and we hit a bit of a bottleneck going through security. It seems everyone was flying that Saturday and the line was a little exhausting. We bought some food, because The Kid doesn't like the roast beef wraps that Virgin serves up and we sat down.

There's a guy sitting across from us who seemed fairly non-descript in a person-watching sense, I didn't see anything I could draw from him, writing-wise until I saw what he was reading. It was a magazine about fantastical and mythical creatures, and this magazine seemed to be pushing these creatures as real. This gentlemen had the magazine folded over and the page that was facing me, had an article about the "The Cat Woman of Brazil."

So my eyes wandered up from the magazine to see who would read this stuff, I knew that it wasn't John Carlucci, because I've seen a picture of him on Facebook before he took it down, though John would've been my first guess. As I looked up, I recognized this guy and my eyes bulged out like a Tex Avery cartoon, good gravy! An Oscar-nominated actor was just sitting there reading this magazine and he had a look on his face like "crap, I've been recognized!"

I opened up my cell phone and was careful not to make it seem like I was taking a picture, and thus, spooking the guy. I typed a message into my cell phone and showed it to my wife...

Don't look up right away, be cool. Paul Giamatti is sitting right across from us.

She looked up after a few moments, very casually, but he knew we were going to be staring at him from here on out. I was so trashed from the trip, that I completely forgot "American Splendor" and "The Illusionist," or I would've pestered him right away. You see, I believe that celebrities should be left alone, it's just the way it's done in New York and that was the way it used to be done in San Francisco, back when we were the playground to the stars before Vegas.

The two main reasons why I didn't recognize him right away, was because his posture is so much better in person. So much so, that you realize that he is hardcore method, the guy gets completely into character when he is on screen. He also looks much better in person to the point that he can pretty much travel incognito, as long as no one studies his face for more than a few seconds.

You'd think that I was the only one, John Lennon, but no one else recognized him right away either. I pointed him out to The Kid, who only knows him from Big Fat Liar and The Kid was suitably impressed. I tried to get The Kid to ask him for an autograph, because I'm a coward like that. The Kid wouldn't do it. In retrospect, I should've threatened to cut off his XBox 360 privledges to force him to get that autograph, because I'm a bastard like that.

Paul was trying to stay below the radar as much as possible, he sat in the third to last row, instead of First Class. He had his headphones on the whole time and the few times I got up, either to use the restroom or let The Missus or The Kid back into the seats, he wasn't talking to anyone nor was anyone bothering him.

We landed at LAX for our stopover and I called Katie about my Giamatti sighting...she of course wasn't home. She has a life and stuff, so I left a message. Then of course Paul walks right by just as I hung up. I was going to get his autograph, but The Missus said to leave him alone and you figure that if someone waits that long to leave a plane, they don't want to be bothered.

An elderly Indian lady in a sari recognized him right away and he smiled at her. This was a fitting ending to a brief quasi-surreal encounter.

Paul: You want to know true terror? I survived a flight with Cormac Brown.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Into The Trailer Park

Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hooair of New York with its millions and millions of hustling fortaking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City.

Page 106 of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac

I always get turned around in Times Square and this trip was no acception. We were looking for Jamba Juice because The Kid for the most part, still doesn't eat his vegetables. We couldn't find it and it turned out that I herded us one block short of where it actually it was. This would happen again and to make things worse, Starbucks's fruit shakes were fairly horrid and Jamba was giving out two-for-one coupons for just that day.

We were staying at Holiday Inn near Columbus Circle, when I told everyone before we got to New York that we would be near Times Square. I emailed Coaster, Chelene and Becky the Friday before we got there, to ask them all out to dinner (just like last year).

Coaster was the first to respond and he was to be in Boston on Tuesday night and he and George had another engagement on Wednesday. Becky was the next to respond and her calendar was so full that it seemed like she would be exhausted for Tuesday. So I suggested Wednesday instead.

Chelene was the next to respond and Tuesday seemed difficult. So it looked like Wednesday and I left the choice of restaurants up to them. Tuesday, The Missus, The Kid and I went to Mama Sbarro's which is like Sbarro's, only with better food and some of the dishes are even good. I am a sucker for hearty Italian fare, so it doesn't have to great everytime, but cooked as if some Italian mother put some amount of love in the dish.

Becky came up with Trailer Park Restaurant, which is a fun little dive in the Chelsea district in Manhattan.

A hip little exterior, right? Chelene couldn't make, major work changes both that night and the next day. The wonderful Becky did show and they were both patient, as this required more phone tag than I would've liked, as I don't have the Internet on my phone.

If you look at the top left of this picture, you'll see the official "Trailer Park T-shirts and panties." The Missus said she was going to get a pair of the French cuts with the slogan and I said "hell-to-the-no!"

There are about eight tables in the joint and only four of them could seat our party of four. These faux hipsters were just taking up space, neither eating or giving up their seats. Let's see, I will coin a new phrase for them...let's see, faux + hipster = "fipsters?"

We talked to Becky for a bunch and we tried to tough it out for one of those precious tables. Becky and I agreed that Bubs would love Trailer Park.

Elvis has arrived at the building! So what do you say, Bubs, would this place make your list? We got sick of waiting and we made for Dallas BBQ. They have pretty good food and seats. Go figure.

Becky was a blast to talk to. She was nice enough to put a stay on the restraining order she has out on me. You already know that she is up on all things pop culture and she really knows her 70's music.
This restaurant serves nothing but "burgers and cupcakes." Insert your own dirty joke here. Unfortunately I dashed down the street when we left Trailer Park to take a picture of this...

It's the famous Hotel Chelsea!

Just looking at this place makes me want to write or something and I'm not entirely sure just why. Either that or shoot heroin while the ghost of Cornell Woolrich hovers over me. I'm pissed because I ran down the streets to get a picture of this and I didn't get a picture of Becky and us together.

I mean, it's Blogger tradition, ya know? Well, here's the one from last year to make up for it...

On the next post? A celebrity encounter of the worst kind.

Cormac Brown came out to Long Island... the back room, he said "don't touch me! Get lost!"

C'mon Cormac

Take a walk on the mild side

I said hey Cormac

Take a walk on the mild side

We went to Jones Beach last Monday, the Mother-in-law rented for us a Mitsubishi Endeavor and the Avis supplied a Garmin GPS for us. The Garmin was pretty nice overall, though it had its difficulties with the antiquated freeway lanes and on-ramps from the 1930's that populate all of Long Island.

By the time it said "stay to the right," it was almost too late and the actual global positioning could be a little off...but so are the Google Maps on Virgin Airlines, which have you traveling too fast sometimes when you are cruising up to the airport terminal, or have sitting too high when you are just coasting on the runway.

The Mother-in-law gave us a Barnes & Noble giftcard and we tried our best to redeem it at the nearest B & N that the Garmin had given us...but that location was actually a cemetery, across the street from a Pizza Hut and right by Eishenhower Park. Go figure. The other address on Country Road was "oh, so wrong" as well. We finally made it to this one, no help from Garmin who I believed was hacked and their directory filled with bogus information.

The Garmin did get us to Jones Beach just fine...

They have a lot of garbage cans there. Check the clouds, they stayed nice and high, and kept the heat down.

We don't have green flags for the areas that are permissable to swim at in Northern California. There is usually a sign saying "no swimming." We also don't have the same amount of lifeguards, they went away with Proposition 13 and they haven't been back.

See that The Missus was looking down? She was on the hunt for sea shells, though she wasn't going to sell them by the seashore.

She found them and they will be come jewelry.

Look a shark egg! There isn't as much seaweed as there is in California, but we saw more shark eggs than usual.

"There will be no recreating Lawrence of Arabia here!"

The clock tower is really to far away to see. There is the amphitheatre next to it and see what I mean? I told you that there are way too many garbage cans...though they will probably come in handy for Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cormac Travels Tramples Testy Trifling Tourism Touters

Yes, this is a traveling blog, but that doesn't mean that I cannot cover other things that are travel-related. And no, please don't jump to the conclusion from this post that I have a problem with Canadians, my problem is with the Canadian Tourist Board. They are simply not trying.

Oh, they are spending money, but they are just half-assing it. Witness below...

"Found new world cuisine amid old world charm." A wonderful slogan, though if you are going to put an ad about food up in San Francisco, try actually putting food in the ad. A salad from the local supermarket, coupled with some fish scraped off a pan, would not entice even someone from the Velveeta-chugging suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area, to go to Canada.

This ad says even less about Alberta...

...come to Alberta and see our unusually large "Step Brothers" posters!

Actually, this is what happens on the American end, when only half of the ad is taken down. Down below is the ad in its entirety...

What it says is "who knew that blogging was so popular 3,000 years ago?" Well, if you had the carvings translated, you'd know why...

Yesterday afternoon, I believe that the Kiowan Bear Lady gave me a bad batch of bear stew. When I confronted her about it, she said "oh, I must not have completely rinsed out the deer urine I used to clean that pot. No problem. Come back tomorrow and I'll give you a slightly different bowl of bear stew."

So Canadian Tourist Board? Please, give it a little effort and not like this, but a real effort.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

(amended) I Come From The Land Of The Pale Blue Legs

Alternative name for the post? "While the world unravels, Cormac travels."

So we embarked on our trip from the Land Of Pale Blue Legs (tourists who expect San Francisco to be warm during the summer, ha!) to The Island Of Long.

The shuttle van for the airport was on time...we were not. Minus one Karma Point. As we put our luggage in the back, there is a German woman in the driver's seat and people, she was not the driver. She was on her cell phone, shrieking into it...when she wasn't shrieking at the driver. Long story short, she didn't leave herself enough time for an international flight and somehow is everybody else's fault.

The Missus was convinced that the woman was Danish and my wife has certainly spent more time with Danes that I have. In retrospect, I believe that the woman was from Apoplecxia. She was quite a multi-tasker, hounding the driver and shouting at whoever she was talking to on the cell phone while looking for a taxi cab to jump ship to. The poor shuttle driver found a taxi before she did and we pulled over in somebody's driveway.

She ran off to the cab and a silent cheer went up throughout the van. Silent because no one wanted to break the new wonderful silence, Depeche Mode.

At SFO...

The family that wears travel head rest pillows together, shall be mocked for wearing travel head rest pillows together. Take them off and carry them like anyone with common sense would, dorks!

One day soon and though it probably won't even make the papers, the flight attendants for Singapore Airlines will all look like a bunch of polyester pirates, because of the eye patches that they will be wearing. They insist on tying the scarfs they wear into a bow with highest part of that tie sticking up at above chin level. Conceivably they could lose half of the flight crew, just bending down to fast and picking things up.

we watched a KLM plane unloading packages and parcels both in containers and plastic-wrapped/cargo-netted to a pallet. These pallets would then go on this articulated platform that would control the direction of the pallets by turning the wheels underneath them.

Guess what came out of the 747 next? I'll give you a hint, it's bigger than a baby's arm...

...and unfortunately, my in-laws computer won't let me upload the f*cking thing. Arrrggghh!

Trust me when I say it is fairly fantastic and you'll have to wait until I get home to see the thing.

(amended version) and here it is, a Lamboghini Gallardo!

Is that cool or what? The person who owns this must have made their money off of Ikea.

We flew Virgin American, mostly because I was scared that the other airlines would go belly up in between booking the flight and the actual flying. Virgin is cool, you get your own MP3 player, Television playing live TV, movie player, and you can even chat with your seatmates (though the keyboard is tricky).

There is light pink and purple neon lighting just like in a nightclub and you can order food or drinks at fifteen minutes after take off all the way up until fifteen before landing. The flight attendants are re-laxed and if not for having to wait a year for our luggage because Virgin had to share the luggage carousel with another Virgin flight and two other airlines, I would say don't bother flying with anyone else. But standing around JFK for thirty-five minutes waiting on just two bags of luggage, is not my idea of fun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Mighty Quin Speaks

When Quin found out via email that I am in New York and with rent-a-car, she dispensed the following advice...

"Just remember, when driving in new york... that middle finger they are holding up does not mean you are #1 to them."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

And So It Begins Anew

So as I begin this new chapter in blogging, I look to the spirit of Jack Kerouac for guidance by reading "On The Road" for the first time in my life. I don't know why I chose this book in particular, other than the title came to me while I was at the bookstore. I was looking for a diversion from my usual steady diet of crime and mystery fiction.

I am the polar opposite of Kerouac in every sense of the word...

I am still on my first marriage and happy to be so. I have done everything possible to stay in my hometown, even though it is becoming nearly impossible financially. Rarely do I imbibe, though if I'm on vacation and I'm not driving, that will be the most likely time that I will. Not to mention I have never hitchhiked nor have I seen the Midwest, outside of various stopovers in airports.

The one thing I do have in common with Kerouac is the desire for kicks. For the experience of that which is unique, that which is different. I search for the thing that spurs the mind and all of the senses into a full gallop.

Alas, the spirit of Kerouac has left me on my own for now. He said "Frisco" one time to me and one time is one too many. So I will be without the spirit of Jack to guide me, but I will not be alone. The Missus and The Kid will accompany me on most of my misadventures. As always, I will be my stoic, detached and snarling self...ever on the cusp of turning into an anti-social misfit. It's what I do people and damn it, man has to do something in life.

Fortunately for America and the rest of the world, The Missus is here to balance all of that out.