Saturday, September 01, 2007

Celebrity Trifecta

This was, without question, my favorite trip to LA. I have a completely different impression of the city now, and just calling it a city is indicative of that. I have long observed LA to be a clusterfuck of suburbs and commutes and freeways, but because Kelly lives so in-city, I finally realized that there is a dynamic community of urban dwellers whose lives don't involve hours on the interstates.

Yesterday morning, I finalized part of the agreement that brought me to LA and spent the majority of the beautiful afternoon working in my hotel room. Glamorous, that. I was on the fifteenth floor of a Century City hotel, facing west, so I had a commanding view. I worked on the deck until the direct sunlight sent me back inside while my niece swam in the pool. Kelly finally made it over (literally around the corner) about 4 or so and, all of us exhausted from the night before, we napped a little.

Still mindful of the unbeatable Craft experience, we ended up going to a Brazilian churrascaria at Century City Mall. I have been to many a churrascaria and this was a little different from, say, Fogo De Chao, which is often the gold standard in major markets. I am used to the tableside carving of every type of meat imaginable, but Ummba Grill was more of a cafeteria style and kind of an ingenious set up.

I am still too burned out (read: not talented enough) to attempt a quality review, but the food was damn good and more affordable than most churrascarias. We had Brazilian sausages, lamb, garlic beef and chicken, and, the highlight, the Brazilian tenderloin. Utter meatfest, washed down with caipirinas (which contain nectar from the gods - cuchasa). If there is a better summer cocktail than a caipirina, I haven't had it. Notable sides were the light tabbulah (yes, a Lebanese salad in a Brazilian joint - whatever your head), the roasted cassava root with cheese, the Brazilian garlic rice and this interesting (but only for a few bites) carrot and sweet potato puree. And holy hell, Brazilian biscuits are the shit.

The niece went to a double feature at the Century City Mall's theater, so Kelly and I hit the town in her car(t), which she refers to as "Chi Diddy." We headed down to Santa Monica and hit the Promenade. Incidentally, I find it delightful that they offer two hours of free parking at most of the garages, to say nothing of the fact that they have electrical outlets for folks like Kelly. Yes, we were w00ted and hollered at the whole way there.

Almost immediately after arriving, we were corralled by some very attractive PA types to participate in the filming of a reality television program. As I am decidedly hostile to the camera, I initially declined, but upon learning that Carson from Queer Eye was the host and that we would meet him, I promptly signed a waiver that I would advise any client to burn. Carson, you see, was on Queer Eye with Ted, who is now a guest judge on Top Chef, where, of course, the inimitable and adorable Tom Colicchio reigns supreme. Even though I was sporting the spectacled look, owing to a lost contact, I participated.

The premise of the show is people (women?) with severe body issues. They had projected the (faceless) body of a woman - who had recently lost 75 pounds after a pregnancy - onto a nearby building. Apparently, she thinks she is hideous when, of course, she has a completely normal and attractive body. We were called upon to remark on whether she was, in fact, hideous. Carson is the host of this Lifetime show, and while he wasn't my favorite on Queer Eye, he is, without question, made for TV. He is delightful, engaging, affectionate and real, although he is Botoxed beyond belief. When I met him, I told him that I had just met Tom, Ted's new colleague, and Carson said "OH, I LOVE HIM! LET'S TAKE A PICTURE TOGETHER LATER!" Then he interviewed me on camera, where I was surely stilted and uncomfortable. Minutes later, when interviewing Kelly, the first thing he said to her was "I love you! Look how cute you are!" They had a great interview which concluded with Carson saying "we need a hundred more of her."

Kelly belongs on camera. I do not.

Fuck, getting long again. We went to a tequila bar and befriended two cops. As a funny aside, as we were pulling into Santa Monica, we saw a pack of guys running fast and furious across the street, holding their low hanging pants up in their getaway. We both laughed, then saw the very out of shape cops chasing them. Jesus, it was like watching Cops in slow motion. When we bonded with the cops at the tequila bar, we found out that it had just been a fight (that had precipitated the chase), which was oddly disappointing to me.

We then again cruised Beverly Hills and Sunset in the Chi Diddy, which garnered much of the same responses at the night before. Goddamn, that is more entertaining than I could ever explain, and confidential to the gorgeous guy who talked us up on the way home? If I thought I could have driven that goddamn car by myself? We would have made sweet, sweet music all night.

There is a great story to be told about Kelly and I furiously racing (in a car(t) that only goes 35 miles per hour) before the 2am cutoff for alcohol sales, to say nothing of the cop who took a load off in our backseat and the freaky experience of being at a stoplight and having someone attempt the same thing, which scared the shit out of us, but alas, this I am le tired.

After changing my flight at 4:30am, we resolved to hit The Griddle, where I desperately wanted to dine, but the night before had taken its toll and we didn't get there before the hour long lines. Kelly was adamant I try a dog at Pink's, which I did. While I am hardly a hot dog guru, I completely understand why that place is such an institution. When we passed it late on Friday night, there was a line snaking down the street. I am still gobsmacked at Kelly's choice - tortilla wrapped around two hot dogs, PASTRAMI, chili, cheese, onions, etc.

We had just enough time to hit In and Out for my sack lunch of flight food, and I arrived at the airport with time to spare. After getting everything checked in and ascending the escalator to security, the security agent was gushing "OMG, he is so good looking in person." I asked who she saw and she said "Will! From Will and Grace!"

I was directly behind him in the very short security line. He was with his wife and son, and there were jokes made about his son stealing my In and Out and, of course, the willful denial that one must observe when walking barefoot in LAX. He said he loved my shirt and we walked a few steps apart to the gate. I strongly considered asking him for a photo, but was sensitive to the fact that he was, like me, dealing with the hassles of travel, but with his family in tow.

I called Kelly to tell her the celebrity trifecta was complete and she urged me to get a photo. I looked around for them and didn't initially see them in the area, but finally realized they were sitting on the floor behind the counter for their gate. Heading to Vancouver, of course. I sat down a few feet away and took a few clandestine photos, trying not to invade their space. Then, he walked right by me to put some stuff in the trash.

I very quietly said "Eric?" He looked down and laughed when he saw me (he really liked my shirt), squatted down said "yes?" I said "hey, listen, I don't want to disturb you, but this will be a running joke for me and sister. You are my third." He looked at me blankly and asked "third what?" "Third celebrity I have seen in the three days I was down here. I promise I won't put it on the internet"(my fingers were crossed). He said yes and smiled and I took a quick photo.

He then asked who were the other two celebrities I had met. I told him about Carson, then said "you probably don't know him, but I met Tom Colicchio at Craft" and Eric ABSOLUTELY SQUEED. He said "I love Top Chef" and "how was Craft - it JUST OPENED." I gave him a quick review and told him what to order and how amazing it all was. He said he was going to take his wife there when they got back and then started to get up because his wife was calling him over. I asked him if he was heading to Vancouver and he said yes, and I asked him if he knew where to dine in Vancouver. He said "do you have some recommendations?" I laughed and he took my hand and pulled me up, saying "my wife would love to talk to you."

Yes. Yes, I gave restaurant recommendations to Will, from Will and Grace, as well as other notable sights and scenes to be seen in Vancouver. His wife took down every word and hugged me when they had to leave to board (she was especially delighted when I told her about this hole in the wall oyster bar). She is lovely, he is darling, and his kid ate some of my In and Out fries. I should have asked for a her to take a photo of me and Eric, but this one kind of captures the moment. God, I suck at pictures.

I hope this doesn't really count as posting it on the internets.

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