educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
I can officially cross my first item off the 40 by 40 list!
My wife and I celebrated our 12th anniversary by spending 24 hours in Hollywood. It was amazing from the first minute to the last.
Literally…the first minute.
We exited the 134 freeway at Cahuenga, and as soon as we left the off-ramp, we made a right turn into the parking lot of Vendome Liquors, one of our favorite stores back when we used to live in North Hollywood. The plan was to buy some big people juice before checking in to the hotel. Tara was in one area of the store browsing wine selections, while I looked aimlessly around the whiskey aisle. I got bored and went back to the register to ask one of the employees for a bourbon recommendation. At the register, buying three cigars, was none other than RICHARD ROUNDTREE. But at the time I couldn’t quite tell it was him (he didn’t exactly have on a black leather jacket). Anyway, I asked the store clerk for a bourbon recommendation when Mr. Roundtree interrupted and said “Have you ever tried Gentleman Jack?” I thought to myself, “Psshh…Amateur.” Of course, I didn’t say this out loud out of the dear love I have for my precious life. Instead I replied, “Oh yeah…I know Gentleman Jack very well. I’m just looking for something different.”
At this point, Mr. Roundtree took it upon himself to walk me back to the bourbon/whiskey aisle to search for a brand that a friend of his owns. While he led the way, I signaled to Tara with my hand a kind of “Get your ass over here quick” kind of gesture. She followed us over to the aisle, and when she recognized who it was, she let out a sigh like…it’s hard to describe, but it’s the kind of sigh women make when they run into men like Richard Roundtree or Denzel Washington or me or Sidney Poitier…you know, the “I can’t believe you’re you” kind of sigh.
Anyway, we couldn’t find the bourbon Mr. Roundtree was looking for, so we politely said our farewells to each other, and he exited the store to the faint orchestral strains of an Isaac Hayes piece (at least that’s what I remember hearing in my head). After I picked up Tara’s jaw from the floor, we bought our libations and left, repeatedly telling each other “That was Richard Roundtree. We just talked with Richard Roundtree.”
So we contined down Cahuenga, made the left onto Lankershim, then the left onto Universal to arrive at the Sheraton. The Sheraton Universal is really nice and the lobby smells like mandarin oranges. When we made our way to the check-in desk, Tara points behind me at some gentleman, but I didn’t recognize him. She told me that he is one of the cast members of the TV show The Closer on TNT. It turns out that there was a party in the hotel later that night celebrating The Closer’s 100th episode. Of course, it was a private event, but I did go down to the ballroom area to watch the crew set everything up. Really cool “casino night” type of theme.
The whole day was cool. We got upgraded to a corner suite at the top floor (partly because I’m awesome…but mostly because there was going to be a debutante party right above our heads and they wouldn’t be able to sell that room anyway.) We walked around Universal Citywalk, breezed past the Jon Lovitz Theater and picked up two free (yes FREE) tickets to that evening’s comedy show (FREE because the show consisted of 6 or 8 amateur female comedians, each trying out 15 mintes of material.)
We ate dinner that night at the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse and Lounge. It was amazing. The smells of grilled meats hit you as you enter the door, the sounds of Samba music is blaring from the speakers, and they have Samba dancers in the aisles at irregular intervals. And the tastes…We had a Brazillian drink called a Caipirinha made of rum and lime and a choice of fruit infusion. I got the Basil and Blackberry Caipirinha. After that, the servers kept bringing skewers of grilled meats…sirloin, prime rib, skirt steak, bacon wrapped chickens, pork loins, etc, etc, etc.
But I digress…
This post is about completing my first item from the 40 by 40 list.
The next day (Sunday) we drove down to the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. for their Sunday Gospel Brunch. Tara and I went to a House of Blues in Las Vegas, but this was our first time to the Hollywood location. This venue is incredible, and the service by EVERY employee there that day was excellent. We got there early and were allowed to walk around the place before everyone else arrived. Then we started in on the food. Brunch is served buffet style and everyone eats their fill until the show begins. The food was outstanding…cheddar cheese grits, omelets, barbecued chicken, biscuits and gravy, turkey, breakfast potatoes, sausages, french toast sticks, bread pudding, apple crisp and cheesecakes, chicken and shrimp jambalya, salads, blackened fish, etc, etc, etc. HOWEVER, they had this hickory smoked bacon that can end world wars. My goodness, it took every thing in me not to sneak out plates of this stuff from the venue.
After everyone ate, the gospel music began. The curtains parted and the host, Sylvia St. James, was center stage in this HUGE white southern dress, with this HUGE white matching hat, and singing in this HUGE voice. Amazing.
The best part was during the second song when they get three volunteers from the audience to sing with them. The first person they picked was Tara. Here’s a quick photo I took right before Tara grabbed the microphone:
I knew Tara could sing, but I didn’t know she could SANG! She was good…I mean freaky good…the kind of good that makes you want to be her manager.
The whole weekend was incredible, and it was a fantastic way to spend our 12th anniversary.