My girlfriend and I started our vacation off by heading to Mountain High in the middle of the night. The plan was to get to there when it opened, but that meant driving all night long. The idea sounded a lot better in theory. My body was exhausted after a long day of running errands, so I was quickly getting more tired as time went on. My girlfriend and I ended up switching off every so often so that the other one could sleep. When we were getting close to the ski resort, we learned that the grapevine part of the I-5 was closed due to snow. This meant we had to backtrack and take an alternate route. Eventually we got to Mt. High about a half an hour after opening, but because of the snowy conditions, there were hardly any people there. It's times like these I love having a car with all wheel drive! It sucks putting on chains when it's dumping snow outside. While snowboarding, we met up with Peter, one of my old friends from high school. We snowboarded until our muscles told us enough was enough.
After snowboarding, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Orange County where my mom and brother live. Got in around four-ish and took a much needed nap. We spent the rest of that night just hanging out with the family and catching up. I also showed them the film I had been working on for the last ten weeks ("Rise and Shine") for my film production class at UCSC. We went to bed early in an attempt to catch up on some more lost hours of much needed sleep.
The next day we headed off to Encino near Hollywood to hang out with our friend and big-time film editor Nick Rood. He was kind enough to let us stay in his super awesome bachelor pad of a studio. Unfortunately, because of all the rain, half of his carpet got soaked. This meant that we had to move all the furniture from the wet part of the room over to the dry side. Besides the misplaced furniture, Nick did an amazing job with the setup. There were film poster covering every square inch of wall space, a sweet wool shag rug, and an awesome photo of Nick and my girlfriend as Star Wars characters.
Nick took Jenny and I around to do all the touristy stuff he had meant to do eventually. We grabbed a bite to eat at the famous "Pink's Hot Dog Stand" where I ordered a Mulholland Drive hot dog comprised of meat, bacon, mushrooms, and nacho cheese. Arterie clog to the max. After this, we checked out Studio Depot, a lighting and camera equipment rental house where Nick works. This place was a candy store for me. They had everything a filmmaker could ever need and more. They even had green screen booties for, you know, those times when you want to have invisible feet...
After this, we headed up to Runyon Canyon, a popular running/walking trail that looks out over all of Los Angeles. It's funny because living in LA most of my life, I had no idea about any of these places! I guess I just sort of took the city for granted, and never really did all the things that people come to LA to do. Either way, I'm glad I got a chance to check this trail out. The view was beautiful, and if that wasn't perfect enough, the setting sun was casting a golden glow over all of LA.
We spent the night visiting Jenny's sister who also lives in Hollywood before scouring the streets to find restaurants that were open at 11pm. We ended up just heading back to Nick's place to order a pizza. We put on a movie (Last Exorcism), but I passed out before the intro credits came up. Nick and Jenny quickly passed out as well. A good way to end a great day in the city.
In the morning, Nick had work so we grabbed some breakfast at an IHOP In Westwood before he left us. We mulled around in Westwood for awhile checking out the random camera stores and clothing shops. I was stoked to find where the Banksy piece was behind the Urban Outfitters. Unfortunately, it had been painted over.
This was the Banksy piece before it was painted over.
That night we met up with my aunt and her three kids who had recently moved down South from Connecticut. It was a bit jarring to see my family from the east coast hanging out on the west. It almost felt like we were all back in New York, where the rest of my family lives. We had some Italian and caught up with each other.
The next day, Jenny and I woke up at the crack of dawn. Thursday (3/24) was the release of the highly sought after "Huck Gee 8" Skullhead Dunny." We packed the car with blankets and jackets in case of rainy weather and made the trek back up to LA. Oh man is traffic bad. People aren't kidding when they say LA traffic sucks. I was cruising along the freeway at 75mph and out of nowhere, hit a parking lot of cars that weren't moving. As with any release, I feared that all this lost time would result in me coming away empty handed. After finding an alternative route, we wound up at Kidrobot LA two hours before opening (11am). Seeing that the line was only five people long, my girlfriend and I decided to take a stroll down Melrose avenue. We grabbed a coffee and just admired all the graffiti and urban art covering the surround sidewalks and buildings.
We spent the next hour and a half waiting in line in front of the store, eagerly anticipating its opening. It always gets me every time that the people who wait for these releases are not children but adults, some of whom are well into their thirties and forties. I don't know what it is about waiting in line for these sort of toy releases, but it feels cool to be a part of something not quite understood by most of mainstream society. Who in their right mind would wait two hours for a piece of plastic? I would! I also want to thank my awesome girlfriend for sticking it out with me in the line. Luckily for us it wasn't raining so it really wasn't that bad.
At 11am sharp they began letting people in to get their skullheads. I bought mine and that was it. Before heading off, I took my new companion out of his box just to see for myself how cool this piece really was. Easily one of my favorite art toys in my collection! Before heading back home, we made a quick detour after spotting an OBEY stencil up high on one of the buildings. Being a huge Shepard Fairy fan, I snapped a few photos before leaving. No doubt that this stencil would be painted over in the next few days.
Back in Orange County I had a teeth cleaning appointment. They found a cavity so that was awesome. I spent the next two hours drooling out of my mouth like a fool. Back at home, Jenny and I went for a quick run to get ourselves back in the groove of working out. Later that night, we headed off to Jenny's dad's house to eat dinner and hang out. The food was delicious, the wine was tasty, and good times were had. After getting back pretty late, I setup the film Watchmen on the iPad. Just like all movies I try and watch when lying down, we both quickly passed out.
The next morning we finished packing and said our goodbyes before shipping off. We made it a point to stop at "The Bagel Shack" on our way out. They're the only place I know of that has a French Toast bagel. I don't know how they do it, but it's delicious! Other bagel chains really need to get this recipe, because nothing else compares. After bagels, we stopped by at my aunt's house to check out her place. Having only lived there a few weeks, it looked really nice and homey. It's really cool to see my family starting to move to the west coast. After saying our goodbyes to my aunt and cousins, we began our six hour trek back to the homeland.
The break isn't officially over, but I feel like I've done so much in such a short amount of time. There was never a dull moment. I was also able to finally take care of a lot of business that I've been pushing off for so long. It's always good to see family as well. I'm hoping that this last quarter at UC Santa Cruz doesn't kick my ass (I doubt it will), but if it does, at least I'll have these good times to look back on!