Yeah, so LA’s the best. I tried to be objective, and not get caught up in the fact that I was hanging out with truly incredible people, eating amazingly wonderful food, and doing seriously spectacular things, but it didn’t work. I just love every moment I spend there.
The trip started out with some time spent with Blake and Bonnie, two very dear friends who both graduated from UT and now go to USC. It was amazing to catch up and see the USC campus – it is really a beautiful place. My friend Kristen, with whom I stayed, had to work on Thursday so I got the whole day to myself. I took Kristen’s car and drove to Santa Monica to shop and just enjoy the weather and the complete lack of responsibility. I sat outside at an adorable Italian café, and drank a Bellini, people-watched, and read. This was the view from my little table:
And this was the Bellini (I just really like this picture):
It was an amazing day – and it made me think that I might actually be able to live in LA. If I have a GPS. And lots and lots of money. That evening, Kristen and I went to Jinpachi, one of the best restaurants I have ever been to, and certainly the best sushi I have ever had. The last time I was in LA, I went there at the suggestion of John Mackey, and I can’t stop going back. (Here is one of his blog posts about the incredible experience.) This is my favorite thing I have ever had there – yellowtail with jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, yuzu, and soy sauce. (And I am fully aware my little point-and-shoot camera doesn’t hold a candle to Mackey’s.) :)
The next day, with Jackie finally in LA, we went to Disneyland. Seriously though – I freakin’ love that place. Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Soarin’, corn dogs, and extreme pain in the lower extremities – who could ask for anything more? This is the classic picture of the three of us waiting in line for the 3D Toy Story ride (we do it every time…note my killer sunburn.)
We’re significantly hardcore.
Saturday was the reunion. I have next to ZERO pictures from the day, because I was too busy experiencing it to remember to document it. :) There were over 100 people there from all over the place, who had been in the band anytime from it’s inception (in 1971!!) to last year’s band. It was truly magical. We played a set in front of the Castle and a set walking down the parade route on Main Street. The thing I miss most about that unbelievable experience/job/band is making a whole bunch of people smile every single day. It was great to be back out in the park, dancing around like the huge dork that I am, and playing fun music with wonderful people. Life doesn’t get ANY better than that. Ever.
Sunday was wonderful – an Angels game with the Disney folks, and that evening Kristen, Jackie, and I went to “In the Heights” at the Pantages Theater.
Now, I saw “In the Heights“ when it was in Austin for the touring show, and it was damn good. It’s one of my favorite musicals and they did a fantastic job. However, Lin-Manuel Miranda rejoined the cast for this stint in LA. Miranda was the original Usnavi, the main character in the musical. And if that’s not enough? Oh yeah – “In the Heights” was completely his concept, and he wrote the music and lyrics. Oh, and did I mention it won the Tony for Best Musical and Best Original Score in 2008? It was an experience I never thought I would get to have because he left the Broadway cast in February of 2009. The rest of the cast was great when I saw it in Austin, but they had very obviously stepped up their game because Miranda was there. I laughed, I cried, I glared at the people sitting beside us opening candy wrappers – it was INCREDIBLE. I wanted to go back on Tuesday, but David talked me out of it. (Sidenote – here is a great video from College Humor involving Lin-Manuel Miranda. Check it.)
So then my incredibly wonderful friend David came back to LA from Nebraska, where he had just been to a wedding of our dear friend Jenna. Oh, and by been to a wedding I mean he officiated the wedding. He got ordained online – which apparently is the easiest thing in the world. Hilarious. David and I have been so very close since the 7th grade, which is a crazy long time, but he’s worth it. He works at the Ellen Show, but they don’t film in the summer so we had all kinds of time together. We shopped a bunch, saw “Inception” (HOLY FREAKIN CRAP THAT MOVIE IS CRAZY AWESOME), and hung out with some of his wonderful friends. One evening, we went to this incredible coffee shop called the Bourgeois Pig (which, in turn, will be the name of the band I form someday). It looks like a normal coffee shop, but there is a back room that is decorated to look like a jungle. There was a big white light, posing as the moon, and vines and stars and craziness. I tried to capture it, but I don’t know that it really worked…
I will most DEFINITELY go back there. We also went back to Jinpachi with a few of David’s friends and ordered way too much food. It was glorious.
On my last day, we went to Amoeba Music, which is the world’s largest independent record store. They have every possible genre of music, plus movies, TV shows, VHS’s, concert DVD’s, you name it. Afterwards, I figured I should probably at least see the beach before I went home. We went out to Santa Monica and walked around for a bit. It was a beautiful ending to a very, VERY wonderful trip. I have incredible friends who are doing wonderful things with their lives, and they inspire me. Life’s pretty darn good. :)