Thursday, June 21, 2007
Happy Birthday, Kip.
I have been startlingly busy lately, and seeing as how writing these things doesn’t pay the mortgage, MySpace and its contents gets pushed to the back burner.
BUT…I have just been informed that today is Kip Winger’s birthday, and I couldn’t consider myself a good Jersey girl without acknowledging such a spandtastic event.
(BTW, I have just created the word “spandtastic” and I absolutely love it.)
Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this story before. I may have blogged about it in the past, but I’m not going to slog through previous entries to check, nor do I expect my current readers to flip through “back issues” of my meandering tales whenever you’re bored.
1988. I won a local radio contest (WSOU, South Orange, Seton Hall University) to see Winger at a smallish club back when I was a permed, teased, and hairsprayed young girl of (sing it with me, folks) Seventeen. I do not recall the specific venue, but it, like most things in New Jersey, was probably a 40-minute drive away. Coming from a family of modest means, I did not have my own car. Alas, relying on the kindness of friends didn’t pan out that night, and I was in tears when faced with the reality of missing the show. Crushed as I was, time somehow managed to march on.
2002. My sister works at the venerable Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Kip Winger is playing, headling for a show with Zyris, Wayward Soul, and Hat Trick of Misery. My sister, bless her heart, remembers my disappointment at missing Kip 14 years earlier, introduces herself to him, tells him the sad sad story, and gets him to autograph the show poster for me.
My sister ROKKS. And still wears a disproportionate amount of spandex.
Thank you, Kip. And happy birthday.
Currently listening :
Friday, June 15, 2007
permanent vegetative state
We made every effort to resuscitate. It’s time to pull the plug, and declare the iPod dead. On the one hand, I’m in the rare position of actually having spare money at the moment to buy a new one. On the other hand, I was hoping to keep the 3G going for another 18 months or so, until my Sprint contract expired and I could switch to an iPhone.
Still, there’s a bit of glee at the thought of a sexy, shiny, sleek, new iPod. Purrrrrrr.
And Missy, if you’re reading this, my first iPod was an amazing and outrageously over-the-top birthday present. I have loved every moment of it. Four years’ worth. Thank you again and again.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Add Five Inches Instantly
Men may come and go, but I’ll always have outrageous shoes.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I bring to the register at Safeway:
1 bottle ginger ale
1 container sour cream
1 bottle balsamic vinegar
1 head garlic
1 sweet potato
1 vidalia onion
1 chayote squash
1 pkg radishes
1 bag veggie chips
1 bag dehydrated strawberries/bananas (impulse purchase)…
and a beat-up canvas tote bag in which to carry it all.
The cashier asks me if I wanted my groceries in the tote. I resist the urge to say, “Duh, yeah” and instead choose a more polite, “As much as will fit, please” though I’m pretty confident that it will all fit. After helping the cashier identify a few of the produce items, swiping the appropriate cards, and signing my electronic receipt, I turn to gather my bag from the bag “boy” (in this case a middle-aged man) and can’t find it. Hmmm, where’s my tote? Oh! It’s PACKED in one of the FIVE plastic bags that my groceries have been split into. I explain that it all should have been packed into the canvas tote, and he chides the cashier as if he would have no idea to do such a bizarre thing unless she directed him to do so. While I repack the items into the tote (Bag Man is working on the next customer’s groceries now), I realize that in at least two instances, a single item has been placed into its very own plastic bag. I pick up my tote and as I’m walking away, I see Bag Man pick up my five now-empty plastic bags and THROW THEM AWAY.
So much for ecology.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Part III: Amsterdam
Sunday: This morning, we board the Thalys high-speed train to Amsterdam. On our drive to the hotel from the train station, Chris explains that “Amsterdam” is actually a corruption of the original Amstel Dam, so named for the Amstel Canal that runs through the town. A-ha! I’ve heard of Amstel! Upon arrival at our hotel, our scheduled luggage porter is absent. A hint of things to come. The hotel is undergoing a massive renovation, and those of us with rooms in the “lower level” have to exit the hotel and re-enter via an emergency exit a smidge down the block. Dragging the luggage down the stairs is a bit clunky, our hallway smells of mildew, and the rooms show evidence of being hurredly cobbled together for our arrival. But the room is well sized (tho’ the carpet is damp), the window is large (if overlooking a pile of construction rubble), and this trip is an adventure, after all. Chris has arranged to take us on a walking tour of the city on the way to our dinner, but our plans are “dampened” by an unexpected rain shower. We take the walk anyway, but shrouded by our umbrellas, it’s difficult to take everything in. Chris does give us our first important lesson in Amsterdam culture, though: cyclists have the right of way, not pedestrians or cars. Also, most bikes in Amsterdam lack brakes. Through some small miracle, no-one in our group has an unfortunate interaction with any cyclists. Our group dinner is at Haesje Claes, where Chris, who feels terrible about the luggage issue at the hotel, buys us all a glass of wine. Afterwards, we walked over to the Anne Frank House Museum, which was incredibly moving. Being so far North means that it remains light for much longer than Mandy and I are accustomed, so she gamely agreed to accompany me on a walk into town to find a net café. We couldn’t find the one that my guidebook suggested, so we would up walking all the way back to the Anne Frank House neighborhood until we found the one we had spotted on the bus ride back to the hotel. Alas, they were closing, so we trudged back “home” to get some much-needed rest.
Monday: An unexpected treat! Chris brought anyone who was interested to a tour of Coster Diamonds, the diamond cutters responsible for creating the Koh-i-Noor diamond. A number of people in our group bought very well priced diamonds, but Mandy and I managed to restrain ourselves. We did, however, make some purchases in the Van Gogh Museum gift store across the street. It was a nice day, so we walked back to the hotel in a roundabout way, stopping off at a place called Toom (on Overtoom in the Oud-west section of town) where I had the most delicious grilled vegetable sandwich ever. Well-seasoned vegetables, baby greens, and a thick wedge of Boucheron topped with a dollop of a rich tomato pesto and a sprinkling of pine nuts, all packed into a whole-grain bun. And, of course, glasses of Amstel. We then met up with a few of our group members to take a tour outside of the city, visiting both a cheese-making shop and a clog shop before heading to the traditional (and touristy) town of Volendam and then the open-air museum community of Zaanse-Schans. Overall, such a scenic trip that it was actually quite ridiculous. Once we got back to town, Mandy and I sought out the local library (and its free Internet access) and in the process discovered that the street-numbering system in Amsterdam MAKES NO SENSE. Seriously. I still haven’t figured it out. Yes, the odd numbers are on one side of the street, and the even numbers are on the other… but 565 might very well be across the street from 834. Which means that the library was many blocks away from where we expected it to be. Luckily, we found it and there were terminals available for us to use. Then we meandered over to the Rebrandtplein and enjoyed dinner at an Italian terrace café. Amsterdam is a very walkable city, so we did just that to return to our hotel once more.
Tuesday: Ouch. I awoke with the painful sore throat that eventually became the lung disease from which I’m still suffering. I blame the grotty hotel room, though Mandy has now dubbed the city Amsterdamp. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Our day begins with a proper visit to the Van Gogh Museum which turns out to be my favorite of all cultural institutions we visited on this trip. Though his career as an artist spanned only 10 years, he was prolific and the collection here is inspiring. It took us a while, but we eventually found our way to the tranquil Begijnhof garden. After passing a particular Grolsch-tied “bierencafe” about 47 times over the past couple of days, we decided we had better eat there. And drink Grolsch, of course. We had a leisurely lunch (perhaps too leisurely; this is a very laid-back culture), interrupted only by an irritating crazy man dousing himself with an entire can of aerosol cologne directly in front of our table. We later found that he was secretly filming an editorial commentary on the stupid Axe ads, so Mandy and I may show up on some sort of Dutch TV show. With the stench of Axe in our nostrils, we took a looooong walk back to the hotel, getting a little European shopping done along the way. After a much-needed nap during a rainy afternoon, we hoofed it on over to the Hard Rock Cafe for some American-style grub in preparation for our long trip back to the States.
Wednesday: Home again, home again, jiggity jog.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Part II: Paris
Thursday: Ride the Rails. Another early morning as we left our luggage with the porters and hightailed it down to Waterloo Station to ride the Eurostar to Paris. Discovered that a high-speed train, when going through tunnels, causes a big enough shift in air pressure to make your ears pop uncomfortably. Once we got settled into our new hotel (The Holiday Inn Bastille), Chris offered a unscheduled walking tour to help familiarize us with our surroundings. Alas, our luggage was on the NEXT train and I wasn’t wearing Appropriate Footwear. Mandy and I read and napped by the breeze of an open window instead. We all met up to ride the Metro for a group dinner at Chez Clément. Upon discovering how close we actually were to the hotel, Mandy and I chose to walk back, stopping at a street market along the way. With no euros on hand we were limited to “window” shopping, but saw enough to plan a trip back. It still felt early when we finally reached the hotel, so we stopped at the bar for a beer and wound up involved in engrossing conversation (and more beer) with Yannis, the hotel bartender. Mandy impressed him with her French, and I amused him with my embarrassment at being monolingual.
Friday: New city, new bus tour! Paris is beautiful, and our local tour guide was both knowledgeable and friendly. We stopped at Les Invalides, the Trocadéro (Palais de Chaillot), and finally walked over to the Île de la Cité to visit Notre Dame Cathedral. After being awed by the architectural details, Mandy and I headed off and found ourselves in front of a streetside crêperie. We had a lovely time eating our crepes in the park and watching kids chase pigeons and play soccer. We then meandered our way over to the Centre Georges Pompidou for my modern art fix. We also got to see a bird’s eye view of Paris from the upper floors, without having to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or wait on line at the Eiffel Tower! After taking the Metro back, we got off at the Bastille stop so we could once again visit the street market, this time with money to spend. Mmmm, fresh nougat! After stopping back at the hotel to freshen up, we still had plenty of time to walk back to the Bastille and find ourselves a lovely brasserie (La Bastoche) at which to have dinner. We ate outside under the restaurant’s canopy, moving one seat closer to the building only when the evening rain turned heavy enough to splash.
Saturday: Our last day in Paris, this time starting at the Arc de Triomphe, where we bumped into a few of our tourist friends who were just coming down from the long climb up. There were plenty of photos to be taken at ground level, and when we were satisfied we hoofed it on over to the Eiffel Tower. Wow. Just wow. It’s beautiful. The lines to visit the top were prohibitively long, so when Mandy was finally able to drag me away we caught ourselves a bus and rode over to the Louvre. Our tour guide had warned us that the museum is so large that it would take six months of eight-hour days to see the collection currently on view (averaging one minute per item). We decided instead to spend the sunny day outdoors, and hopped back on the bus to ride it all the way to Pere-Lachaise. After paying our respects at all the major touristy gravesites, we picked up a picnic lunch of cheese, paté, and a fresh baguette from a local market. Back to the hotel for a little relaxation before stepping out again, this time for dinner and a boat cruise down the Seine.