Derek in LA
I wanted to rent a canal apartment in Amsterdam this August like I did last summer with Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms. However, several factors were in play this summer that affected my decision to decline that option. I had an amazing time last summer and wanted to return, but I didn't because of the Summer Olympics, two music festivals (one in Colorado and the other in San Francisco), and a crappy US dollar (although it's bounced back in the last couple of weeks... at the time of this decision, the US Dollar was near an all time low against the Euro).
So instead of a Dutch August, I opted for sunny Southern California instead. I convinced my brother to come out here instead of a trip to Europe with me next month. It would be cheaper for him to fly out to Los Angeles and stay with me and Nicky than it would for a four or five day excursion in Europe.
Derek spent four nights and five days here and got to glimpse at my domesticated life in the slums of Beverly Hills. He got to experience the Pauly food tour and eat at some of my favorite dives and dinners and other random food stuffs. His highlight? O'Groats and one of their signature dishes Huevos O'Groats. Of course, the worst part was waiting almost 20 minutes for a table. Lucky for us, we went on a Monday. Nicky and I would never dream about showing up there on a weekend where the waitlist is sometimes over an hour long.
On Saturday, Nicky was invited to a birthday party in Hancock Park with famous Hollyweird actors, producers, and writers. I opted out and spent the time with my brother. We got baked and went to The Grove to eat at the Farmer's Market then see the action movie for potheads...Pineapple Express.
Before the flick, we grabbed a couple of slices at Patsy's. It's not the best pizza in LA, but it's like methadone. We walked around the different stalls in the Farmer's Market and I showed Derek the different variations of food stuffs. We were near the Gumbo Pot when we saw a woman have a seizure. Scary and sobering scene.
The flick was a welcomed surprise, especially James Franco as the weed dealer. Nicky had mentioned that when the film was originally cast, Frnaco was gonna play the straight guy and Seth Rogen was going to play the eccentric wed dealer. But the two swapped roles and it ended up being a home run of a decision.
We also watched a ton of Olympic coverage on the various networks. It was a little confusing at first because Nicky's cable station had a couple of east coast feeds so at times we watched the same stuff twice before we figured out what was up. I watched some soccer, fencing, and volleyball on the first day of coverage. We really wanted to check out USA vs. China in hoops action. I woke up early on Sunday only to discover that it was on a tape delay. I followed the game via ESPN.com and knew that the Americans pulled away in the second half against Yao Ming and his squad.
Last night, I watched some swimming, synchronized diving, and gymnastics. I'll write more about the Chinese athletes for a future post.
I bought tickets to two different local baseball games. The Angels game on Sunday was bittersweet. It's so far to drive down to Anaheim and it was sizzling hot out. Derek got a decent sun burn during his first visit to his first California baseball stadium. The game was going good for the Yanks until they lost the game in the bottom of the ninth to get swept. The crowd was about 1/10th Yankees fans, but they were just as loud as all of the Angels fans. I had a 10-year old kid next to me that was shouting some funny stuff. When Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate for his first appearance, the die hard Yankees fans broke out in a chant of, "Let's go Jeter!" The kid next to me had a hilarious retort, "Jeter's a wiener!"
Our seats were better than average and in the fifth row next to the foul pole. We could see Garrett Anderson make a couple of plays. He seems so effortless with his throws. We even caught Xavier Nady be a part of a play at the plate. Just a healthy reminder that it's crucial to hit the cut-off man in baseball.
The Dodgers game was a different story. I thought it was going to be a lazy Monday night game against the Phillies. The Yankees/Angels tickets took some work and money to obtain. The Dodgers tickets were a breeze to obtain and I pretty much paid face value unlike double the price of the Yanks tickets.
Derek digged the vibe and layout of Dodgers Stadium. We had field level seats on the third base side sort of like the same spot we had them for the Angels game. I bought the tickets before Manny was traded to the Dodgers. Once he got traded, I remembered that the seats were in left field which meant we got to have a great view for the Manny Ramirez show.
Everything seemed to go smoothly for the first few innings. A group of four guys wearing Phillies jerseys sat down in front of us. They were OK guys and we chatted a bit. I noticed that when they'd walk up to the concession stands to get a beer, that they'd get vehemently booed by the crowd. Like most of things in LA, everything is superficial and flashy and lacked substance. I underestimated the crowd's deviancy. I figured their bark was worse than their bite.
It was the bottom of the sixth inning. The Dodgers had a big lead and I suggested that we leave a bit early (at the seventh inning stretch) so we can go out and do some other stuff. We probably should have left when I made that decision instead of sticking around for the seventh inning stretch because that's when things got ugly.
A bunch of knucklehead started throwing peanuts at the Phillies fans in front of us. Then beer. We were collateral damage and got hit several times. Nicky got pegged by a beer. Derek stood up and told the Dodgers fans to stop. They continued, specifically two guys in Dodger hats. He stood up and dropped an F-bomb. That's when I got hit by a lime. The next thing I knew it, the two guys in Dodger hats where screaming and they charged us from three rows up. I told Nicky to duck, as one guy ran down the aisle while another jumped the rows and hit Derek in the face. We were both stunned. Usually those situations, people at sports events scream and yell and talk shit... but it ends right there. We were all stunned that the guy threw a punch. It happened so fast. But the guy puled a hit and run. I think he was shocked he hit Derek, so he tried to run away and hide in the crowd.
By that point, security had intervened. When they saw the blood trickling down Derek's face they quickly grabbed both guys and hauled them away. They also called a medic for Derek. They escorted us out of the area as an angry crowd booed Derek and threw stuff at us. That was the lowest point of the game, something you'd see in Philly. Those Eagles fans are tough and booed Santa Claus and Michael Irvin when he got semi-paralyzed. We were shocked that happened in LA.
When we got up to the top of the section in front of the food court, there was a swarm of suits with head sets and things were super confusing. The cops hanfcuffed the guy who hit Derek but his buddy was talking shit and screaming at me. One tough-guy cop warned me that if I didn't stop stirring the pot that I was going to get cuffed as well. What the fuck? So a bunch of drunks attacked my brother and we're the bad guys?
Derek had to make a citizens arrest since the cops didn't see it and they hauled the guy downstairs. We had to go to down to the first aid room deep in the bowels of the Stadium. Derek got one stitch while we waited for the cops to arrive. That was a huge side drama. There are no video cameras at the game so nothing was taped. The guy who hit Derek lied to the cops and said that he hit Derek in self-defense. If he was going to jail, then he wanted to press charges against Derek. Total bullshit. The cop said that he'd have to arrest Derek due to protocol and let the court figure it out since there were no other third-party witnesses. The Phillies fans quickly bailed once the fracas went down so there was no one else there to back up the story.
The only other option was that Derek would have to drop charges and they'd both go free. Hmmmm. Both go to jail? Or both walk? Fucked up situation but we knew that we had zero options.
Derek agreed not to press charges. The cops took our statements and suggested that the next time this happens... drunks throwing things at us at Dodger Stadium... to tell a security guard instead of taking matters into our own hands. Both cops actually told us that they would never take their kids to Dodgers games and that's the reason why they go to Angels games. They were surprised when I told them that things were more civilized in New York, especially during Red Sox games.
The only funny thing about the incident? The guy hit Derek with his hardest punch and Derek didn't even flinch. Derek only got cut because the guy wore a ring. The cop told us that the punk changed his story a couple of times about the strength of the punch. He was embarrassed that he hit Derek with all his force and nothing happened.
In the end, it was a bad beat, but we got lucky. Derek walked away with a stitch and that was it. He didn't have to go to hospital or to jail. Although I wished the cops investigating the incident handled the matter differently, they were up front and could have made things a living hell for us. Also, Nicky wasn't harmed at all, and thank God for that. We didn't have to deal with slimy lawyers and backlogged court system. I also got lucky and didn't do anything stupid like pounce on the guy. I showed restraint mainly because Nicky was there. Perhaps if she wasn't things could have gotten ugly. Because then, we all would have gone to jail. And man, if the Rooster was with us? A full on brawl would have erupted.
Anyway, we missed the end of the game and Derek vacation ended on a not-so fun note. I'm sure we could look back on this in a couple of years and joke around about that night, but at the time it was scary and stressful. Does anyone like dealing with the LAPD after a fight?
If anything, I left the game with a loss of respect for Dodger fans. I know that a couple of drunken idiots shouldn't taint the entire organization, but you know what? It did. The only power that I have these days is where I spent my money. So I'll exercise my power and avoid giving that organization any of my money in the future.
We needed something light on Tuesday to do before Derek went home. Since we dug Pineapple Express so much, we went back on Tuesday afternoon to see it again and brought Nicky along. She's a stuck-up jaded former industry executive so it's tough to get her to actually have a good time at a movie without overanalyzing it. Sure, it wasn't a crowded screening at all (unlike the packed theatre on Saturday) but Nicky was by far the loudest laugher in the theatre. She was probably the biggest pothead which meant all those subtle stoner jokes struck the funny nerve.
The flick put all of us in a better mood and before we took Derek to the airport, we stopped at Pann's dinner near LAX. It's most famous for being one of the shooting locations for Pulp Fiction. They have great soul food including fried chicken and mac & cheese.
I wonder if Derek will ever come back to LA again?