Sunday, May 02, 2010

My Dad came to visit on Thursday and we had such a great time. He stays in the hotel just blocks from me, Hotel Amarano, which is the same one that he stayed in last time when he was here. A bonus, is that it's conveniently located across from one of the Starbucks that I frequent, so I was able to take him over there and let him meet some of the regulars and workers whom I've befriended. One of the patrons, who is from England, asked me later if my dad was a dignitary, as he said that my dad appeared very distinguished. When I picked up my dad for dinner, I relayed that to him and we both had a good laugh.

He got here Thursday night, and after a delicious cocktail at his hotel, we drove over to a pizza place and had dinner. He was three hours ahead of me being on East Coast time, so we made it an early night to prevent him from being dead tired the next day.

On Friday, we went to the Page Museum, home of the La Brae Tar Pits. I've always wanted to go to that museum since I moved to Los Angeles the first time. I'd seen the tar pits several times from outside the fence, but never knew the history of it and that it's one of the world’s most famous fossil sites. It has the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age animals and plants in the world. Absolutely fascinating, and methane gas and tar still bubble up in the small pond, which is actually a fissure in the earth. What's so amazing about this site, is because the animals became stuck in the tar back in the Ice Age, thousands of complete, intact and for lack of a better word, varnished fossils of animals like giant ground sloths, horses, bison, coyotes, birds, dire wolves, saber-toothed tigers and get this, the American lion were found in the pits. They just discovered another tar pit when excavating for an underground parking lot on the site, where another cache of bones was found, including an intact mammoth with 10-feet long intact tusks. They believe several more caches lie in the ground nearby, yet to be excavated. If you get to Los Angeles, definitely put that on your visit list, as it's very cool.

After that, we headed to the Renoir exhibit at LACMA, which is right next door to the tar pits. We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day, with a cloudless blue sky, warm weather and winds that picked up during the day. The exhibit was awesome, as was the people watching. That night, we headed to downtown Burbank for Thai food where we ran into my neighbors, two guys in their early twenties who my dad said jokingly, "looked like they were up to no good." They were on their way into the mall, and I have a feeling he was right.

Saturday, we went art gallery hopping in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. My dad is an avid oil painter, and wanted to get a taste of what artists were being displayed in Los Angeles. He's sold quite a few paintings and is in four galleries in Asheville, NC. He donates the profits to Trout Unlimited, where he also volunteers for many of their programs. The proceeds help send disadvantaged boys and girls to the annual NC Trout Unlimited Youth Camp. You can see his work on his website.

We had lunch at the rooftop Conservatory Grill at Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills under a turquoise sky. Behind us was a mosaic tiled pool where guests with toned bodies soaked themselves on thick cushioned lounges in the sun. We had planned to go to Hotel Bel Air for lunch, where my dad had stayed a few times before, but they are undergoing a complete renovation, and therefore it was closed. We enjoyed the drive though, as everything is blooming and green. After lunch, I bought my dad a birthday cupcake at Sprinkles, where we lucked out at a brief lull in the line. Of course, I couldn't let him eat alone, so I bought myself one as well. His birthday wasn't for two days, but when it comes to delicious cupcakes, who's counting?

Saturday night, we invited Shannon for dinner at Malbec, an outstanding Argentinean restaurant in Toluca Lake. As always, it's fun to see your dad through your friend's eyes, and your friend through your dad's. They get along great, and my dad really likes Shannon, saying he has the unusual attributes of being a great conversationalist as well as a great listener. Both have great senses of humor and my dad is one of those guys who has some awesome stories. After that, Shannon managed to talk my dad into a Guinness at Nolan's, which we'd done the last time he was here after dinner.

After I dropped him off at his hotel, I went back to Nolan's to hang with Shannon where I was hit by a sudden, surprise sadness. I think it was post-dad-visit letdown, and it did hit me harder and sooner than I was expecting. It sort of lasted into today so I countered it with a drive over Coldwater Canyon after a visit to the coffee shop. I happened to find myself behind a red Ferrari California, and heard the high-pitched engine of the $200,000 car the entire way. Getting out worked for a little while, but the sadness reared again when I was home. I think that being unemployed had a hand in the severity of the gut punch. When I'm not working, I tend to feel things out of proportion to normal, as there aren't the normal distractions and demands on your emotional and intellectual bandwidth that level out the waves when they come.

Hopefully, something will come along soon, and everything else aside, will offer smoother emotional sailing. For now, I'm sipping a delicious glass of wine, from the bottle we had at Malbec. An Argentinian red wine that provides a comforting, sensory bridge to a good time had.