1. The airplane deposits me squarely into murky warmth of the Los Angeles midday sun. And into the waiting embrace of an In N' Out protein style, animal style double double. With hand-wrung pink LemonadeArnold Palmer. If by hand wrung we mean shuffling slightly to the left and back to the right, depressing the nozzle and adding a slice of iffy lemon. The enduring nonsensical allure of the In N' Out burger only sends me into a personal moment of reverence for Dick Spady, a man who really knew how to make a burger. In N' Out is good. But not Dick's good. Or for that matter Rainbow Drive-In good.
2. What is it with hotels these days? The Standard in downtown L.A. is a pile of shit. Seriously. Good food. Good enough food. And absolutely shit in everything else. The room service guys are nice, but they screw everything up. There are two foosball tables, but they're both crocked. The front desk people are full of blank stares. The valets, despising ones. There are no towels by the pool. There is no love in the elevators. The Indigo in downtown Nashville has good sounding live music in the bar every night. And the front desk staff are refreshingly quirky with their platinum dyed blonde heads and only slightly make-up'd lip heather. She studiously walks you to the elevator. But the waiters are a sad, uninterested bunch and somehow they've figured out how to make a whole hotel uncomfortable. Usually it's just the beds in the rooms that are lumpy.
3. I would blame it all on the Millennials. Everyone tells me Millenials are lazy, know-everything, prematurely disenchanted know-nothings. Which just sounds like what every old person has ever said about a young person. But I swear all the Millenials I know are peaches. I think. I'm not sure what a Millenial is.
4. A quick, true story: Sitting in a bar with Jamie and Pascal walks up. He offers to take us to Nobu Malibu but has locked his keys in his car. We drink scotch and sodas until Pascal extracts his keys, a feat he accomplishes with the Triple A guy standing at arm's length while he has one final crack. At Nobu I see the real-life son of the 80's family sitcom dad who recently made a music video full of naked women dancing in front of a nude background. The son not the father. We sit a table over from a famous Malibu surfer and his date, who has a lovely accent. The date not the surfer. I drink more scotch and soda. Later we all (except the singer) find ourselves back up at the bar in the hinterlands. Everyone is incredibly genial. Pascal steps in for a round on the drums with the house band. When he comes back to the bar, I lie and tell him he played terribly. I don't know why. He plays pretty good. And he took me to Nobu and was super funny on top of it all. And he plays pretty good.
5. I surf Zuma for two mornings on a Wavestorm softtop. Everyone on the beach and in the water knows Jamie. Everyone on the beach and in the water is handsome and good natured and rip and are ready to accept me because I know Jamie. Two days spent west of Rome are two days spent in an effervescent muddle of comfort and confusion.
6. This morning it snowed in Tennessee. I shot a film about a furniture maker who makes furniture in a converted ancient general store on a 100 year old farm. I filmed some cows. They were scared of me.
7. Our Uber driver to the hot-chicken shack is a jazz clarinetist and music theory professor at Fisk University.
8. People believe in Donald Trump because he tells the truth. It is the secret of his success. It isn't truthiness, it's truth. The truth that comes out of his brain and through mouth. Folks love truth. Folks want to be told the truth. Truth like Donald Trump's truth however, not Bernie Sanders' truth. Two different truths.
9. As we descend into New Orleans, that harbinger of acknowledgement
flits through the aqueous and Vitreous humors to be baked by my noodley
bits. There is something about the color of the south, the further south
really, the tropics, that lets one know one's whereabouts instantly. It
is, I think, the unmistakable hue cement takes on in this climate.
Something warm and mildly green. I wonder if it is a fungus that creeps
between the sand and stone that gives it this particular color, or maybe
it just has a peculiar peaked suntan. In any event, the Big Easy has an enchanting take on the definition of tropical and accepts me as one of its own immediately. A practice I'm sure is well-worn itself.
10. It snowed in NYC and I'm stuck in NOLA. The artist I interviewed yesterday mentioned, as we sat in her half of a southern craftsman house, "You'll find the walls in New Orleans are a little thin." The hotel at which I'm living for the moment, the Old 77, has comfortable beds, thoughtful room design, good food, helpful staff and thin walls.
11. It is currently 27˚ in New York City and the surf is clean, perfect, double overhead and 42˚. I am grateful I am not in New York. Not because of the hardship of shoveling snow, but of being relieved the onus of putting on a public charade, pretending to bemoan the fact that my snowed-in car doesn't have four wheel drive which sadly precludes a paddle out. "Surphy's Law!" I'd yelp. Oh my performance would be almost believable, I just know it.
12. I can feel the skin on my face crinkling like filo dough convection-baked in the furnace of age. I look in the mirror and laugh at my once youthful pining for the world-wariness bespoken by crow's feet, those glorious wadis of wisdom etched into smooth sands, so momentarily of lacquered context, crevices turning from pebble to boulder, dry creek beds turning dead rivers then rock strewn canyons. Like the confident widow's peak of the impossibly, but ephemerally, full-haired dandy whose wave-perfect flickish mop is like a wake from the prow of a ship perfectly angled atop the face, until, drifting further and further back over time, nothing is left but a solitary dome of has-been beauty.
13. And the ass sags. Forever am I haunted by the episode of Sex and the City where the loose blonde gasps at her older lover's sagging and pock-marked bottom wagging away from their bed, realizing the affair is over then and there.
14. The approach to the city carries us directly over Long Beach with Rockaway in the distance. For the first time in 16 years, I can make out surfers in the water from the airplane window. I see the amazing contours of the sets and hope I luck into a take off but witness only paddling. Still, my belly loosens and my chest tightens and I know soon I'll be surfing those frigid waves as well.
15. Stepping off the gang-plank there are arrows each way, left and right, to the baggage claim. I ask the attractive attendant which way to go. "You can go right and catch a shuttle, which is probably running behind, or go left and walk a mile and a half." I walk a mile. Just before I call a car, a sub-continental gentleman asks to borrow my phone, getting no service himself. He needs to call someone to pick him up. I oblige and then wait five minutes while he speaks rapid fire curious language, getting caught up on what I can only assume are a vast array of familial politics. Finally I wave to him and ask him to hurry, but he thinks I'm asking for a ride from his brother as well. My sign language is apparently provincial.