30 March 2011

Brankton Walks Austin (Part 10)


Having already stuffed a sweater and folded purple checked collared shirt into his bag, Brankton found that t-shirt and khakis still proved an unequal match for the afternoon heat.   He looked down from the grassy hillside and felt the coolness coming up from the spring.  Though the sunlight remained strong and the temps were still in the low 90’s, a coolness nonetheless hung around the springs.  Brankton wanted to jump into the clear water as much as he wanted to do anything in his life. 

Three perspiring coeds lying nearby on large towels on the grass wasted away an afternoon as only college sophomores with graduation and the real world seemingly a lifetime away could. Assuming like most sunbathing beauties that their oiled bodies, skimpy bikinis, and Saturday night plans were the center of the known universe, they spoke loudly to each other as if Brankton were not there in front of them with one of his size-12 Puma’s resting on the metal railing.  

“He is not going to be there.  He texted Marci that his parents were in town and he had to hang with them,” said the blonde coed with the smallest bikini and matching modesty.

“Sure, just like Tommy’s parents were in town except he was out running that game behind your back,” the slightly overweight redheaded roomie chimed in with her jealousy issues and a habit of rubbing her roommates’ troubles into open wounds while feigning concern.  “Is that the new excuse these a-holes use when running around?  Their parents are in town?  You gotta be kidding me!”  The two looked at each other over gossip and fashion magazines whilst lying on their bellies, two tuchases reaching skyward pulled skimpy swatches of cloth with the letters “UT” into ever-reddening clefts.

“Only a desperate woman would fall for such nonsense,” said the hottest of the lot sitting in her low profile chair between them and the least to worry about such infidelities, or so the brunette mistakenly thought.   She was the only one staring at the flickering water through cheap convenience store sunglasses.  “Besides, I’m looking at this fine brother comin’ up at us right now.”  The three adjusted perspectives in their usual move and shared a lusty distraction. 

Brankton watched the three looking down as a muscled blur came into their view.  Water shed off the shoulders and baby dreds of the swimmer as it also did his red lifeguard trunks soaking the concrete walkway that shuttled its shivering revelers to and fro an inclined lawn and chilly spring feeding the pool from deep underground rivers.

“Damn, I think I want to have his baby,” said the hottie in a now pronounced southern accent as she continued her kibitzing.  “MmmHmm,” the others added in unison.  

Brankton did not remember college women this aggressive.  He turned to see who owned the wet calloused feet slapping against the concrete with such gusto.

“Hey, what’s up?!”  Nelson waived in the general direction of Brankton and the young women.  Brankton looked awkwardly at the man-child that now stood dripping before him; all at once he felt out of place.

“Hi,” all three women responded to Nelson.  Brankton turned around looking at them and then back to Nelson.

“What are you doing here?” asked Nelson completely ignoring an opportunity to chat up three female students from the University of Texas at Austin.  The girls stared slack-jawed laughing at their mistake and all wheeled around onto their towels, grabbing magazines in which to bury faces.

“Well, uh, this is my last stop of the day before the hotel,” said Brankton not sure how to stand or where to look.  Nelson began again up the walk.  “C’mon, I’m over here.”

“Okay, well” said Brankton gesticulating with hands, thumb and finger toward the pool.  “I wanted to, uh” and then just gave up trying to speak to Nelson’s long, swimmer’s back.

“Dude, you’re like setting records with your Austin pilgrimage.  You’re like Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales, except not, because you’re a Jew and all,” said Nelson over his shoulder.  Nelson finally grabbed his chair which was in the shade of a baby oak, and pulled a towel out of the bag. 

“You like Chaucer?” said Brankton.

“Let’s just say I’m glad I read him.” said Nelson.   “So, you’re definitely going to go for a swim?  Alright! You got some trunks in that bag?”

“Actually, no,” said Brankton.  “I heard some people, well, at our breakfast this morning.  You guys were talking about some festival and I overheard someone talking about Barton Springs.  I decided to come here instead of going to my ex’s house.”

“No sh*t,” said Nelson.  “Yeah, well, that was me telling Jackie not to forget that she had to drop me off here before she headed back home to get ready for tonight.”   Nelson stood up and dried off.   He pulled another towel out and threw it to Brankton.  The three co-eds had a bird’s eye view of Nelson stripping down to his Speedos.  He tossed his swim trunks to Brankton, hitting him in the face with a wet splat.  Brankton pulled them down and just groaned.

“Sorry about that.”

“Yeah, no worries, kid,” said Brankton.  He hesitated.

“You know you want to get in there, so suck it up, man, drop trou’ and slip those on,” said Nelson.   “They’re clean, trust me.  I had these Speedos on underneath.  You’re good to go, man.”

Brankton stood and looked around before walking to the edge of the high-dive.  The place seemed deserted.  He bounced once then twice and launched himself into the deep end.   He was not prepared for how cold it was, nor was he prepared for how much cooler the water was 10 feet down.  It was almost painful and surprising to hit contrasting thermal so quickly.  He swam and kicked as fast as he could to get to the surface.  For a moment he panicked, but now was swimming across the pool with purpose.  It took him almost ten minutes to realize his body was not going to acclimate to the coldness; he'd have to take a break.

He found a spot on the concrete to lie down.   Brankton was exhausted.  Before falling asleep in the sun with one foot in the cool water, he noticed a tall and tan hunk with shoulders Atlas would envy walking with three coeds toward the pool.

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29 March 2011

A Typical Friday ... Night (Largo)

Got a call from a friend of mine on Friday for a night out ... his treat.  That was a very nice offer (and timely as things are tight financially!), and it would work out perfectly with my visit to a client in the WeHo (West Hollywood) area of Los Angeles.

As I was out and about, I noticed someone that looked remarkably like Reese Witherspoon (Pleasantville).  Didn't think much of it until after I read on Sunday evening that she was married in Ojai at her ranch on Saturday and that she had been running errands in West Hollywood before her nuptials.  I admire that SHE was doing her own last minute to-do's before her "I do."  How very non-personal assistant/non-Hollywood of her. I wish her well in her new life.

When I was at the DMV my first week back from law school -- had to swap back the Virginia for the California license-- I met Nia Long (Alfie) in line (polite enough) and her personal assistant.  We were all three trapped in DMV hell for about an hour and a half.  In college, a childhood friend of mine was the personal assistant to Michael J. Fox.  One year he bought her a 300ZX for her birthday.  She had some good stories.  When I went to her wedding to a very successful producer, Leif Garrett and Justine Bateman were seated at my table.  They were hot and heavy as a couple and high as kittens on a roof's ledge.  Man what drugs will do to a body and have absolutely wrecked Mr. Garrett's body and life.  I once ran into Jeff Conaway (Taxi) on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  We were both shopping for furniture.  Dude was completely wrecked; I mean he couldn't even stand erect his posture was so atrophied.  Another poor cat on drugs.  Yes, please, lets legalize drugs so that they're usage will be rare.  Our society will be so much better.  My dear libertarian, we part ways here, sir.  It makes me ill each time I come across another pot store around L.A.  Nancy Reagan was right on when she told the kids, "just say no!"  Too bad she was mocked by those Hollywood types now stewing in their own lifestyle choices.

After my client visit, I worked my way over to see a friend in from China who may be interested in speaking with us about our little business venture.  President George W. Bush gave a speech at an annual big-wig dinner of a trade association that I belong to on Thursday (picture 1,200 attorneys in a ballroom listening to former presidents Clinton and Bush (41), Veep Al Gore, Colin Powell, et. al, over the years) which I, unfortunately, could not attend (the first I've missed in a few years).   A couple of years ago, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his police escort were directly in front of me as I drove to another of our dinners.  It was like magic watching the California Highway Patrol cruisers drive up and sweep every car off of the road as their colleagues up ahead closed intersection after intersection as they (and I!) rolled on through.  Eventually one of their brethren pulled up to me and smiled and said to me, "Keep a little further back; but feel free to follow."   Blair gave an amazing speech that night, and did not once refer to a note in front of him (or God forbid a teleprompter).  The Brits (Maggie Thatcher, Chris Hitchens, Stephen Fry) exude erudition, and make most of our Yank compatriots pale by comparison, except for you Dear Reader.

My acquaintance from Hong Kong flew in just to see the speech.  It turns out that he has experience in raising VC and running companies similar to mine and my partner's whilst he lived in England.  I need to pick his brain and to re-think our strategy b/c daddy needs a new pair of shoes and baby's mother is about to kill her ex.  (I'm also looking for work full-time right now which is oxymoronic in lots of ways.  More later.  Job sooner!)

A girlfriend from Sony Pictures legal called and wanted to get together for a drink.  I told her I was meeting a friend to see an act in Beverly Hills at Largo at the Coronet; she should meet up.  We agreed on the St. Felix on Santa Monica because I'd heard good things as had she.  I suspected that it might be a gay bar (though Yelp* doesn't say so), and when my buddy and I showed up for our pre-show drink, we found it very much was in full bloom as it were.

My friend James (another in-house attorney who used to work at Paramount), has a house just around the corner, and I half-expected him and his partner to roll in at any moment (his partner is an exec at a gay cable network).  Oddly, we haven't spoken for almost a year since our conversation about Prop. 8. I'm sure we'll talk soon.  The last party I went to at his house was replete with a few hundred folks in the industry with red carpet and camera crews snapping arrival shots.  I heard it took an hour for valet to get your car for ya.  Perspicacious moi parked several blocks over.

The beautiful babies and lovely ladies showed up at St. Felix over the next hour; two were friends from Sony and two were new to me, and their arrival swung the gay/straight ratio hugely in hetero favor.  I half-expected a musical number of "Jets v. Sharks" (inspired by the new Book of Mormon on Broadway) to break out, but that would have swung the ratio back the other way.  One of my girlfriends said that she didn't think the place was "gay," but when our waiter, Drake, looked directly at me and shouted over the din of the joint and the loud music, "what'll you have, baby?!" (yours truly IS rocking a beard and full head of hair these days after all.  why shouldn't he say, "baby"?!) she concurred with the general consensus of the table that our joint in WeHo was indeed a wee bit fay.  Drake didn't steer us wrong:  we all had the kobe and ahi sliders with sweet-potato fries.  Note: our host was a very polite and attentive cat rocking a very cool 50's hat, and when he saw that our party had grown by 200%, he wedged a couple of tables together (and snagged an additional purloined highchair or two) for us to use in the corner.  Nobody puts "baby" in a corner, Drake.  Oh, well.  We loved the food and atmosphere.  50% happy hour drinks and appies worked also!

After three Presbyterians (Maker's Mark and ginger ale -- is that fay?), and kisses goodbye from the missuses, we bounced over to Largo at the Coronet to see Jon Brion in a -- "concert" isn't exactly the proper descriptor I'm looking for here --  one man session in-progress like "Prince. Or on alien prodigy in your room."  That quote is according to Sean Lennon.  Jon Brion has worked with everyone, produced everyone and scored everyone's films.  Google him to see what I mean.

When we got to Largo at the Coronet, we had another pop.  There was one very attractive young lady, and I said "hello" in the courtyard and asked how she was.  She said, "excited."  Madeline Zima (Heroes, Californication) and a girlfriend and guy friend all held hands and walked giggling into the show.  Even celebs get giddy to see talented and inspiring artists.  Just another Friday ... night.
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23 March 2011

Brankton Walks Austin (Part 9)

Twelve new members of Temple Beth Selah  were in attendance for the afternoon meal.  Included in this get-to-know-ya soiree were two sleeping baby girls presently tucked away in orange and red strollers respectively, each of which could be converted into DOT-approved car seats or Austin-appreciated and Sierra Club-endorsed baby carrier backpacks.  Three rosy-cheeked young brothers (3, 5 and 6) with yarmulkes falling off their skulls as they wrestled each other to the floor alternated tactics between harmless punches and hugs and kisses, all of which elicited laughter and tears that dried quickly in the Texas sunlight.  Brankton envied the brothers’ warmth and affection for each other.  Their mother, the one gently and rhythmically shaking the red stroller, looked to be about 22 years old.  She looked like she could be in school at UT with Nelson or his rude little friend Jackie.  Maybe she was.

The monthly new member's bbq menu offered the usual heart-stopping murderer's row lineup of tri-tip steak and chicken slathered in a tangy bbq sauce that only UT alumnae football players were privy to know.  A generous heaping of freshly cut summer fruit including kiwi, mango, strawberry and a pomegranate, grilled heirloom tomatoes with a pesto marinade, and a Caesar salad with warm, cubed chicken breast that made one weak in the knees were also stacked high-n-deep along side the main course.

He was surprised to find an appetite still hiding in the nether recesses of his gullet in spite of the painful knowledge that he was being pushed out after a relatively short tenure with NBC Universal.  It mattered little that Marcus Spilka, massive prick, little man, no-talent-hack -- always had been -- was behind his now imminent departure.  Once the gears or wheels of the rumor mill were set to spinning, their inertia was tough to abate.  Brankton remembered what Mark Twain had said about a lie getting halfway around the world before the truth had a chance to put its pants on.  Until he heard otherwise, officially, though, Brankton determined to sign Jack Mann before he left Austin.  Getting even with Spilka was the furthest thing from his mind, though survival mode was kicking in.  Besides, the network would be on the hook for two more year’s worth of salary, and maybe he could land another gig before his demise was reported in Variety or the Reporter.

The app on his iPhone told Brankton that there were still several hours before sunset.  The wind out his sails, he paid his respects to the first Jewish cowboy he’d ever met as he headed out.  “I’m going to take off.  Really nice meeting you.”  Brankton tried to offer a strong, athletic handshake, and was met with the same.  “And, thanks for the food.  Again, Rabbi, sorry for my, uh, language earlier,” Brankton looked off to the side where the firefighters next door were polishing their rig.  “Kind of a bad day.”

“No explanations necessary, and please call me Mo'.  You’re welcome, Brankton.  It’s not just a Texas thing, you know, the hospitality,” said Rabbi Yauch. The Rebbe walked him down the drive where Brankton packed up his leather satchel and pulled out a set of headphones and his phone.  “It’s nice to know you, bud.  Where do they have you staying the night?”
Barton Springs, Austin, Texas
Brankton looked at the ex-linebacker and wondered when, if ever, he had been called "bud" before.  Sounded like something out of Leave it to Beaver or Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and it was something Brankton didn't want to be called again.  He hoped the longish pause and one raised eyebrow conveyed this to the Rabbi, hospitable or not.  “I’m over at the Driskill,"  Brankton eventually said, putting a hand in his pocket, fishing around for car keys before he realized he still had a walk ahead of him.  "Hear good things about it?” said Brankton a bit annoyed for having forgotten he didn't have his rental car yet.

“Yeah, no, it’s actually a very nice place.  Been in Austin forever.  You’ll do fine there.  Great bar,” said the Rabbi.  And he meant it too, as if he knew a thing or two about single malt Scotch.  "Come visit next time you're in town, Brankton."

Brankton waived to the Rebbe and put his headphones on, sizing up the man as he walked Lavaca Street toward Barton Springs.  Calloused hands and a Talmudist; the two didn't usually go together.  Still athletic build and southern twang intact. Black wife? Sharp mind.  Ramrod posture.  It was becoming more apparent to Brankton exactly how badass Texas Jews truly were.  Or, maybe it was just the folks in Rabbi Yauch's congregation that intimidated him somewhat -- even the wrasslin' kids were a mystery to him. 

Finally making it to "Lady Bird" Trail, Brankton veered to the right and began his final approach to Barton Springs, the freshwater spring bubbling up from the aquifer that runs underneath much of Austin.  It had been an important part of Austin for decades.  Many senior citizens swam there daily, and youngsters (including Robert Redford, whom Brankton had met skiing in Deer Valley) learned to swim there each year.  When Brankton arrived to the side of the pool, it shone brilliantly with an expansive shoreline and not as many people as he had imagined would be there.  If only he had some swimming trunks.

21 March 2011

A quick word from our sponsor ... SXSW and Blogger for 2011



Just a quick word from our sponsor.  Seriously, even though I never put Google ad words on my site, or hyped up the Blogger utes that we all enjoy, I have to say thanks to Blogger and Google for allowing me two years of free hosting and stable blogger service.  Really, truly, very nice of them.

Click the above YouTube clip and see what the hard working folks at Blogger shared at SXSW in Austin recently.  Portends good things for all us bloggers in 2011, I'm sure.

Someday when we're all good and rich and successful from our grand experiment with Blogger, we can meet up in Austin for a grand pow-wow of us like-minded and creative types at SXSW.  First round is on me.  Ciao for now.

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12 March 2011

Version 2.0ld ... Too Old to Party?


Yes, that older looking lesbian woman underneath her chapeau with G&T in-hand is none other than Mr. Truman Capote, bon vivant quick with the bon mot, ever the raconteur and trouble maker at Studio54.  Of course, I recognized this man's visage instantly, long a fan of his since my high school days, even before I knew Harper Lee had based "Dill" on him (Scout and Jem's friend from next door) in her To Kill a Mockingbird.  (Query for your droll fave: Oscar Wilde or Truman Capote?)  Truman loved to party until the last; he and Andy Warhol and, apparently by the looks of the above picture, Ms. Gloria Swanson at 79 (Go-on, girl!!!)  The above shot is from a very witty little article found on Mr. Porter (the XY version of net-a-porter ) by Dan Davies.  All the geriatric swells loved the nightlife.  They liked to boogie.  But, could they boogie in their Depends?  When, Dear Reader, is it time to roll the sidewalks up on our galavanting about town and -- say it ain't so -- "act our age"?  Hmmm?

I wrote about a time in my life, (here) after my divorce a few years back, where I was routinely at the greatest restaurants and, yes, loud/obnoxious clubs, and amazing bars because of my job where I was asked to spend no less than $2,000 each month (of company money) entertaining prospects and clients.  My clients were 80% lawyers and execs from Internet start-ups and major Hollywood studios in Los Angeles.  Needless to say, for someone who was a teetotaler and a self-imposed virgin (I'm happy to admit it; I'm not ashamed of my faith ... non-party hand in the air, y'all!!!) into his early-20's, I was a very quick study on catching up on the party scene.  Even my nephews who ran a legendary "Bar One" on Sunset Blvd. were having a hard time keeping up with their Uncle J. for about two or three years there.  It was awesome ... for a season, as the Bible says.

But, back to the question at hand.  The topic has been decided.  The issue has been raised.  What do you think is the age-limit on "partying"?  Is there one?  Don't talk amongst yourselves ... LEAVE an opinion (Pithy Comment forms are below!) here for all of us to enjoy.  And, bonus ... if any of you brave souls send in a party pic of yourself in flagrante (not delicto! ... you know who I'm talking to!), I'll add them below this post!  If any of you add one, I'll include myself as well.  My email is over to the left over there somewhere ...

The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Your opinions and incriminating photos are warmly welcomed, Dear Reader.