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Thursday, November 11, 2010

All Hail Halloween

I have finally said my teary goodbyes to my favorite month of the year, October. The leaves turning orange (yes L.A. has leaves), the enchanting smell of pumpkin pie at Ralphs (no not the rotten fruit smell!), and getting the $H1T scared out of you! Let's take a look back at all the fun activities...

Knotts Scary Farm
In the annual tradition we went to Knotts Scary Farm. My favorite haunted maze this year was the Terror of London. The bloody midget that chases you at the end was a nice, yet terrifying, touch. The show was as stupid as it always is though they did make a crazy at Disney's World of Color which was hilarious. We also managed to scare a bunch of kids in line for the logride and survived the Xcelerator which launches you down the track getting up to 82 mph in 2.3 seconds. Overall, it continues to be a solid Halloween scare choice.

Pierce College's Halloween Harvest Festival
This is the place I told you about last year that I just happened to find. This year, believe or not, it was EVEN BETTER. Two of my girlfriends and a group of about five boys dared to venture into the festival. The boys thought it'd be hilarious to send the girls into the haunted corn maze first ensuring that they would get to watch us sprint screaming in different directions as ghostly creatures appeared in the night. A clever addition was an old shack in the middle of the maze that you HAD to walk through. An actor in a bloody scarecrow costume rocked in an old rocking chair staring at you as you enter. You are SO focused on him that the man in black that rushes at you from the side takes you completely by surprise. I bolted out of that death trap like a racehorse heading out of the starting gate.

I thought that this would be the scariest part of the night but that was clearly naive. We ventured next to the Haunted House. They told us they could only take groups of six so our group needed to split up. Of course, the boys opt to have the three girls go in alone although the operator assured us there were three more people inside that we would walk with. We enter a dark black box with a man dressed like Frankenstein. As the door begins to slide shut behind us we is just us. The gut-wrenching screaming ensued as we sprinted through the maze slamming into walls and each other and using spin-moves to jump past angry clowns and bloody zombies. It was like a fast-paced haunted version of Mario World only when you look at these ghosts - they keep moving. The maze ended with us in a sweaty heap outside the back door with a laughing clown staring at us from the entryway. I felt like I'd just survived a massive asthma attack. Only one maze to go...

The last maze was a new one this year that involved finding you way through a maze of chain link fence while zombies chased you. Not cool. The maze turned out to be pretty easy so I managed to escape without too much mental damage. This festival gets better and better every year.

Pumpkin Carving
Yes, we had a wine and drunken pumpkin carving night and, yes, I refrained from carving something inappropriate. I did want to be creative though so I went with a Pacman chasing the dots around the pumpkin. I later found out that my friend plagiarized me. Criminal.

My Pumpkin

The Copycat's Pumpkin

Hollywood Halloween at the Vanguard
Usually I avoid Hollywood like the plague when a major holiday is anywhere nearby. This year, Miike Snow was playing at the Vanguard so I was convinced to go. We planned ahead this year and made sure to be in line at the venue by 9:30pm already inebriated. Minus some bitchy girls in line who I had to man-handle it was an amazing night filled with great music, pink unicorns, and the cast of Rad Anthem complete with coke dangling from their nostrils. Someone also got the memo about how much I love ghetto street dogs because a lady with a cart was standing right outside waiting for me!

West Hollywood Carnival
It has been many years since I made it to the West Hollywood Carnival and it's a bleary memory at that. I felt it prudent that I go this year, it being on a Sunday and all. It was also my mission to photograph myself with as many other Lady Gagas as I could find. The carnival met every expectation that my faulty memory presented from a flawless reproduction of the Alice in Wonderland cast to Lady "CACA" covered in poo to Wolverine and Ariel and their MerWolf baby. Sadly, I was unable to find the beer gardens that I so vividly remember from last time...

And there you have it - the many festivities of All Hallows Eve. I hope you enjoy the ridiculous pictures.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Weekend in San Francisco

I visited one of my favorite cities this last weekend for the USC v. Stanford football game. Granted I didn't actually make it to the game, but I did make it to a bar to watch the game...

This trip I stayed with a friend on Union Street and Steiner in the Marina district. I've only ever stayed in hotels closer to Union Square downtown so this was a new experience for me. Her two bedroom apartment is absolutely perfect and relatively spacious for San Francisco. My favorite part was definitely the shared rooftop.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I got in late on Friday and had to drop my suitcase and then head back out the door so that we would make it out for the night. We arrived at Kozy Kar on Polk Street at midnight (warning before heading to the website - it's a very "colorful" bar). The line looked long but we got in within five minutes. I highly recommend looking up the USC weekender game before visiting San Francisco in the fall if you have any hope of getting into places. The city is overrun with Trojans. The next few hours we enjoyed cheap beers as we were jostled from all sides by drunk college students. Oh to be young!

We finally bailed around 1:30am and ended up at the Tipsy Pig (a local favorite of my friend's). It was here that I was introduced to what would become my favorite mixed drink of all time (though this isn't saying much since I hate mixed drinks). I was so impressed that someone had finally created a drink that put me on the floor without me tasting a pinch of alcohol! AMAZING.

It is called a Strawberry Fields and it comes in a little jam jar with a straw. First they puree fresh strawberries and then squeeze fresh lime juice into the bottom of the jar. They add a little syrup and then fill the rest of the glass with soda and vodka. It's like candy. After taking down two of them, I was rudely interrupted by last call and the lights coming on. Alas, bars just don't stay open late enough.

Due to hunger, we were forced to join the massive line at Pizza Orgasmica at Greenwich and Fillmore. This particular location is tiny and just fits the people staying in line for pizza. It's only immensely drunk people at 2am so you have to watch out for people trying to cut in line. Once such "cutter," a slutty blonde tried the tactic of telling me she was just trying to meet up with her friends inside. I pointed out that it was very convenient that her friends were about to order. She said she'd already had pizza. Something about this didn't make sense to me so instead I just blocked the door. This made her very angry but it was clear she was not a boxer or trained Jiu Jitsu master so I wasn't very worried. Unfortunately, once I passed the door she snaked past the unobservant idiot behind me. Sigh. Luckily, I was able to snag the remaining piece of pepperoni which made the wait completely worth it.

We brought our pizza back to the apartment and then fell asleep amongst the greasy pizza boxes that remained.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We woke up late and headed out for brunch at East Side West on Fillmore, one of the famous triangle bars. However, as far as I know, they are only famous for housing hundreds of drunken USC students during the Weekender. We sat outside on the street just in time to watch an idiot woman parallel park her car across the sidewalk from us. Apparently, it is completely fine to bash the car behind you repeatedly until you have securely parked your car near the curb. I was about to say something to her but then her massive six-foot boyfriend exited from the passenger side so I went back to sipping my mimosa and eating my delicious, messy pancakes.

After brunch, my friend gave me a short tour of the area around her house. We changed into our obnoxious USC gear and then headed to Republic at Scott and Lombard. We'd been to the bar a few years ago when my friend had started a fight by asking for extra cups that ended in two guys bloody, fist-fighting on the street. No wonder we were back right? We got there around 2:30pm to ensure we snagged a table for 20 people before the 5pm kick-off.

I ordered mac n' cheese which looked amazing and tasted like sawdust while I watch our team fight back all game only to lose by two points thanks to a Stanford field goal in the last minute of the game. I did enjoy the almost battle between my friend, Jeff, who is about 6'4" and some tiny little Stanford kid. That should show how annoying Stanford fans are when the MOST laidback person in our group was going to pummel this kid. If I was him I would've given the kid something to bitch about (good thing I'm a girl or I would cause SO much trouble).

Thanks to the nasty mac n' cheese, I needed grub after the game so we walked down the street to Plutos, where I had an amazing chicken sandwich with grilled onions on sourdough bread. If you are looking for mac n' cheese go here instead. We changed after dinner and then headed to the Tipsy Pig to meet up with the rest of our crew.

I can easily say that I fell in love with this dirty, douchebag-ridden bar almost immediately. The gay bartender was hot, the drinks are the most nonalcoholic-tasting-alcoholic-drinks ever and they have plenty of space to stand or sit. Unfortunately, half our group decided that they wanted to pass out earlier after a day of drinking so we were soon left with just four. I was trying to meet up with some other friends on Polk Street and finally got the name of the bar they were at. We walked out of the bar only for one of those friends to call and say they too were headed to bed. I turned around to stare at the massive line outside the Pig. ARE YOU F&$%ING JOKING?? I was pissed. We decided to cut our losses and eat burgers at Johnny Rockets next door while we decided what to do.

We ended up at City Tavern (another triangle bar) because it was close and there was no line. The reason there was no line, it turned out, was because everyone was already inside and thus it too us about one hour to get a drink. That's just wonderful because as soon as I'd paid for our beers the lights came on and we couldn't even enjoy them. Tonight was a FAIL.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I woke up this morning determined to have a better day. Things started to look up after a nice breakfast at Unwind on Union St. near Laguna. I had the potato skins and a margherita pizza, both of which were good (not amazing). We stopped at my favorite store, Ambiance, on the way home where I scored an awesome leather jacket for cheap.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on my friend's rooftop watching the Blue Angels. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that this year the Weekender coincided with San Francisco Fleet Week when all sorts of military personnel flood the city. Thursday through Sunday the Air Force was doing aerial displays over the Marina. We had a PERFECT view from the roof and at one point a Blue Angel surprised us as it flew directly over our heads. It was exhilarating!! I haven't been to an airshow since I was a kid and I immediately regretted not taking my grandpa up on flying lessons in eighth grade. Oh the mistakes we make...

After the airshow, we had just enough time to grab cupcakes from Takes the Cake downstairs before heading to the airport for our flight. This weekend was definitely a mixture of good and bad. The drama I could've done without but it was nice to see what it feels like to be a resident of San Francisco (for those of you who read last week's New York blog you get where I'm going).

Sunday, October 3, 2010


You know how they say "a picture is worth a 1,000 words"? While on my trip to the Big Apple this last week I managed to do only a passable job of taking pictures of my experiences. I know I know BAD blogger. I've noticed that when you first visit a city you see it through the lens of your camera, but the second time you visit you see it through your own eyes for what feels like the first time. I caught myself numerous times staring up at the skyscrapers around me with a sense of awe...and my camera still tucked in my pocket. However, I did try to take some so this blog won't be completely bare!

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

I arrived at JFK around 7:30pm and called 212-777-7777 for a towncar into the city. It is a great service but I recommend not upgrading to the deluxe car because there is really no difference. A ride to Chelsea runs about $48 dollars. I arrived at the Maritime Hotel at 363 W 16th Street between 8th and 9th ave. It is a very eccentric hotel designed to feel like you are inside a sleek, seaworthy ship. Even the rooms feel a little like cabins thanks to the dark wood, small quarters, and nautical colors. Thankfully, it also seemed to be bed-bug free (yes, New York is going through a massive bed bug epidemic).

After dropping my things I met one of my coworkers downstairs and we ventured out to a small Italian restaurant, Boom, for dinner (152 Spring Street in Soho). Apparently, they are famous for their lasagna and I can see why as the layers of bolognese, parmesan, and pasta melted in my mouth. It washed down perfectly with a bottle of Amarone.

We decided to pass up Tiramisu in favor of Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. Magnolia is at 401 Bleecker St. in the West Village and is famous for its baked goods. I settled on a vanilla cupcake with purple frosting and rainbow sprinkles. We ate our cupcakes while sitting on a bench in the small park across the street. There was a color array of people hanging out in the park and I soon lost interest in the cupcake in favor of eavesdropping (the cupcake was a little rich for me).

Image Credit: Magnolia Bakery Website

It was approaching 11pm so it was time to head for the bars. We started off with a game of pool at Hogs 'n Heifers, which is the bar that the movie Coyote Ugly was based on. As you enter the bar you can see an array of brightly-colored bras hanging from every available hook, rafter, and beer bottle. It also turned out that Anheuser-Busch was giving out free Budweisers that night so we drank to our hearts' content.

We continued deeper into the Meat-Packing District to Plunge a top the Gansevoort Hotel. Plunge is on the 14th floor and is hip and crowded with a wraparound patio that shows off the beautiful Hudson river below. We had expensive drinks out on the patio admiring the view and gawking at the young execs circling girls in short dresses.

Image Credit: Gansevoort Hotel Website

So much alcohol called for another round of food at the infamous Popburger, a late night burger joint for the hungry and hungover. The burgers are "bitty," the bathroom is dirty, and the clientele sitting near us were puking into plastic bags but otherwise it was a great place for the 2am nightcap. We wiped our hands and faces and headed back to the hotel (after all we had a client presentation the next morning!).

Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010

We started the morning off with hunks of thick, crispy toast and jam in the hotel lobby before heading off for our presentation. It went fabulously and luckily my hangover didn't set in until an hour or so after. To dull the pain, we wandered down the street in search of comfort food. We first looked through Chelsea Market but nothing really sounded good. The place itself is beautiful though.

We ended up settling for Pastis because a bowl of French onion soup and mimosas sounded perfect. Yes, it was only 2pm. We were going to order more when we found out that Minetta's, home to the infamous Black Label Burger, only had reservations at 6pm and 11pm for dinner. We decided to hold out and eat there at 6pm (it is impossible to get reservations).

We arrived at Minetta's and were transported back to the 1930s. The walls are covered in caricatures of famous people and photographs of famous boxers. One photo that hung above our booth was of Eddie Minetta, Rocky Marciano, the welfare commissioner, brigade general, and the state tax commissioner celebrating together over cake. Fixing a match perhaps? It was here that I learned from one of my coworkers that Nascar originated from Prohibition days when the men who made moonshine built fast cars to avoid the police. Eventually they began racing these cars and once Detroit entered the picture it blew up into the biggest sport in America. SO RANDOM.

I, of course, ordered the Black Label Burger, which in my opinion isn't technically a burger. It's a combination of dry aged ribeye, skirt steak and brisket that are ground up and then cooked with clarified butter, salt and pepper until it is dripping with juices. Its served with a dusting of grilled red onion on a simple bun with a side of mayonnaise. It is worth every dollar of the $26 price. Once I bit into the burger, an intense hunger hit me driving me to gulp down the entire thing faster than I wanted or had anticipated. It felt like I hadn't eaten for days as I licked every last drop from my fingers. I would've licked the plate if everyone at the table wasn't staring at me with their jaws hanging open. I literally felt like a rabid wolf hungry for more.

Extremely satisfied and licking my chops (to extend the metaphor farther) we wandered across the street to a wine bar where we shared some hilarious stories. It was here that I learned that the bikini swimsuit was scheduled to launch at the same time at the testing of the atomic bomb which not coincidentally was tested on the BIKINI islands. My coworkers are FULL of random facts!

We paid our tab and then headed to Times Square for a little tourist entertainment. We stood in front of the Forever 21 billboard and watched the model take our picture (see if you can find me in the crowd- answer is at the end of the blog). We tried ten times to get a good photo of the new Sony logo that our company had designed, and then we headed to Blue Fin for some people-watching.

Within five minutes of entering Blue Fin and snagging a table our coworkers was attacked by four Southern women ranging from 25 to 50 years old as soon as they overheard him use the word "ya'll." We spent the next two hours talking to them about everything from the early years of advertising to the Twilight book series. They were hilarious but eventually we had to bid adieu as my coworkers were headed back to L.A. early the next morning.

Image Credit: NY Magazine

Friday, Oct. 1, 2010

I woke up this morning nursing my second hangover of the trip and somehow managed to pack up my suitcase. I then walked to 15th Street and 6th Ave to my friend's building who I'd be staying with for the weekend. It had poured down rain the night before but luckily it was only drizzling as I lugged my suitcase the five blocks. People look at you really strangely when you are wandering down the street with a suitcase. Perhaps I should've taken a cab.

My friend's apartment is a newly renovated studio close to the West Village on the third floor of a beautiful apartment complex. It is fairly small but featured stainless steel appliances, large windows, and a sizable tub in the bathroom. I dropped my things and headed back out the door to the East Village to have lunch with another friend from my days at USC.

Upon arrival, I took a tour of this friend's apartment which was like night and day in comparison to the apartment I had just left. This apartment was a long, narrow slightly dated studio across from a park. The apartment is white-washed brick with small windows at either end and a kitchen filled with crooked shelves. I loved it. My friend had also acquired a crazy cat by the name of Caspian who would stalk me and then attack when I wasn't looking. He was hilarious and absolutely adorable.

After catching up on our lives, we walked down the street to Westville, a stylish little cafe on the corner of Avenue A and 11st in the East Village. The menu was fresh, organic-style foods. I ordered the corn-on-the-cob appetizer served with lime, cumin, and cotija cheese, and the turkey chili with a side of sour cream. The corn was piping hot and delicious. The chili was also piping hot and thick with vegetables and chunks of turkey. It was so relaxing eating hot food while looking out at the lightly drizzling New York landscape.

My friend and I parted ways (she had an art show she was preparing for) so I struck out towards Soho for some shopping. In doing so, I managed to walk right between Nate Archibald and Dan Humphrey from the CW's Gossip Girl. I shouldn't had my number ready and written on a slip of paper to give to Nate (boyfriend if you are reading this no hard feelings). But the chance passed in a split second and they were gone.

The next few hours proved to be uneventful in terms of purchases but I did finally figure out where to find all the sneaker stores! They line Broadway just north of Bleecker. I finally gave up and headed back to my friend's apartment on the westside to catch up on emails and take a nap before dinner.

For dinner, my friend and I met her grandma at Mediterraneo on 2nd Ave and 66th St. It is a tiny little Italian restaurant that is extremely popular and doesn't take reservations so be prepared to have a drink at the bar while you wait for a table. We only had to wait 15-20 minutes to be seated which on a Saturday night isn't bad at all. I ordered the Pappardelle All' Anatra (homemade pasta with fresh duck ragu) which was absolutely incredible. I can't believe the food that I've had on this trip! My friend's grandmother was hilarious and so much fun to talk to. We left dinner in a great mood and ready for a night of dancing.

Our first stop of the night was at Double Crown bar and restaurant at Bowery and Bleecker. The coolest part of the place is that if you enter from the main entrance and walk through to the back dining room there is a door hidden in the wall that when pushed leads to a secret bar in the back. My friend was so excited to show me this hidden door but it was so secret she had trouble finding it! She pushed three or four different parts of the wall before it finally gave beneath her hand. The back bar wasn't anything too terribly exciting so we ended up back out front. At one point a bunch of her girlfriends from highschool met up with us for some appetizers before they headed back to New Jersey. The fries with Italian sausage and Sriracha mayonnaise were so tasty! They looked like lipstick containers and tasted like mini hashbrowns.

After saying goodnight to her friends, we headed to another friend's apartment to pre-party. Upon entering the apartment, we were swept up in a crazy dance party of fifteen people. We were encouraged to throw off our heels and have some Gatorade/vodka shots (ick). After dancing it out for about an hour, we decided to hit the bars.

We eventually decided on Pianos at Ludlow and Stanton, which is a great place to dance. It's a $5 cover to go upstairs but I highly recommend it. We then proceeded to dance the night away and then shared a taxi back to the westside with this crazy girl and her boyfriend who invited us to come back to her apartment and smoke some pot. We politely declined and opted for late night thin-crust pizza instead. Sadly, my friend managed to drop her piece in the elevator.

Image Credit: Pianos Website

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010

I can already feel the sadness hitting me as I realize that this is my last day in New York. The only thing keeping me sane is that I will be back here for Thanksgiving.

We woke up late and did what all New Yorkers do on a weekend morning...we went to brunch. My friend had been wanting to try out a place called Friend of a Farmer on Irving between 18th and 19th. We sat upstairs which literally felt like eating in a high-end farmhouse. I had an omelette with egg whites, ricotta, spinach and tomatoes that was served in a searing hot pan with potatoes. The service was a little loosey goosey and the omelette was okay but my mimosa went down nicely.

On the trip back we wandered through the Union Square farmer's market and stopped in Urban Outfitters and Steve Madden to add to our ensembles for our night out. We then spent the rest of the afternoon huddled in her bed watching Grey's Anatomy.

My friend went to Penn State so before dinner we stopped by Irving Plaza to meet and greet with some of her college friends. It was a weird place to watch a college football game considering it is a small concert venue. There were only three TVs so there was no way I was going to get the bartender to change one to the USC game. DAMNIT. They did sate me with free tallies of Natty Light.

From there we headed out to dinner at Kingswood at 121 W. 10th St. It's run by Australians. I had a halibut dish that I thought was lacking flavor but the bread was delicious. We were almost immediately harassed by a group of finance guys celebrating their buddy's 30th birthday. They turned out to be fairly nice and one of them gave me a lot of advice about the best places to get an MBA.

We spent the rest of the night at Arlo & Esme on 1st street between 1st and 2nd ave. At first it felt too crowded but I was soon convinced by the cavorting Canadians around me to get my dance on (I admit it doesn't take much). The dance floor was far to congested but once you get started there is no stopping. Eventually the continuous pummeling of elbows and booties drove us out around 1am. I had to leave early the next day anyway so we decided to call it a night.

Image Credit: Arlo & Esme Website

On the taxi ride home I reflected on my second experience in New York, so different from the first. I'd had fun with my mom last Thanksgiving hitting the Broadway shows, climbing the Empire State Building, and lunching at Tavern on the Green but I definitely preferred this trip where I'd finally started to see what life is like as a real New Yorker.