I know it's been almost a week - but holy crap.
Where were we?
Friday, 7/21: Got on the flight to San Jose. I was the only one the security guy made take his shoes off. I just think he wanted to see my dead-sexy athletic socks. The flight was uneventful, just the way I like air travel. San Jose airport is still a slum, which is interesting given the gentrification happening all over the Bay Area. When my stepmom bought her little house in Palo Alto back in the '70s, it was a sleepy little college 'burb, not so very affluent. That happened with the rise of Silicon Valley tech culture (and money). Now it's just freaky.
The Varsity theater on University Ave is now a (gulp) Borders. I saw Stop Making Sense there, once upon a time. People danced in the aisles. I saw Das Boot there in its first run (as well as a host of foreign and art house movies over the years). While working on the play Veronica's Room with Sam, I went down to the theater on a break and watched Mark Isham rehearse for a concert. My friend Gordon saw Lords of the New Church play live there. They had a full bar where Cure videos would play and a back alley that was solid graffiti - so much so that it was a landmark; bands would have publicity pics taken back there; Mark, Rob & I shot part of a college film back there. It's very sad, but I must say, unsurprising.
Anyway, veering back on topic, Friday consisted of getting settled with rental cars and motel rooms and whatnot, but I did squeeze in dinner with my buddy Konrad, actor & filmmaker.
Saturday, 7/22: Spent the day with Sam's folks. We drove up to San Francisco and went to the Exploratorium. I still remember when the place opened - I was in Jr. High and it was the coolest place evar. Of course now we're spoiled because we have the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, which is like the Exploratorium only cleaner and with air conditioning. Actually, the Exploratorium has a few more hands-on displays, and a new nanotechnology exhibit that they are getting the guests to build for them. Tyler worked on it for quite some time, and Kayleigh gave it some elbow grease (which we all had plenty of, what with the 90+ degree heat in the old warehouse structure). Even (or perhaps especially) Sam's dad got into it.
Had an early dinner and dropped the kids with the grands for a couple hours while I went to meet with drummer and happy polar bear twin, Steven Fox. Steve will be playing drums on several tracks for the tribute CD. We had a good time catching up.
Sunday, 7/23: Did I mention the Bay Area is having the same heat wave everyone in the country is having? We got some food and headed out to Mitchell Park in Palo Alto for the reunion picnic, the temps already pushing 90 at 10:AM. Crazy heat. Stupid heat. Ended up being 106 that day. Randy reported a high of 115 or thereabouts at his home in Rocklin.
Aaaaanyway, I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in 10 years (since the 10-year reunion), and it was interesting. The guys who were jocks back then mostly hung around the BBQ grill together talking about business acquisitions and whose wife had been caught sleeping with someone else, while the former arts people congregated in the shade of a tree and chilled out (as much as one can "chill" when the temp is climbing toward 100).
I was happy to see several of my old homies. Within minutes we were making with the yak yak like no time had passed. Some of them have kids of their own. Two are filmmakers (New York & Los Angeles), one is a dancer, two are chefs, some own their own businesses, one is a genetic scientist, and others are in software & hardware (of the computer variety). Our friends Paul & Marte showed up, despite the fact that Paul was in Sam's class ('85) and Marte was a year behind me ('87), they average out to '86, and we didn't hang out with our our own class exclusively anyway. Mark Allen & I agreed that we would have ruled YouTube if it had been around back in the day, with all of our backyard video shenannigans (I love that word). Surprisingly, only one person hadn't heard about Sam, so that was easy to handle. (Photo, L-R: Konrad, some dork, Mark, Ray)
After the picnic, some of us congregated back at my motel for a dip in the pool, followed by a nice Mexican dinner (and some muy bueno sangria). Turns out, Paul & Marte are on our return flight to Seattle. This is the second time such a random travel thingy has occurred. In 1999, Sam & I went on an Alaska cruise with her folks. We were on Holland-America, and a Celebrity ship was always right ahead of us or right behind us in every port of call. Turns out, Paul & Marte were on the Celebrity ship. We'd been in the same ports at the same time and had never known.
Monday, 7/24: Randy met us at the motel and we carpooled "over the hill" to Santa Cruz. I was a little rusty on highway 17. It twists and turns through the Santa Cruz mountains, and I used to navigate that sucker on autopilot. But the old knowledge soon returned and I shook off the rust. We congregated at the harbor where my dad had taken his intermediate sailing lessons. It's really cleaned up down there. As a kid, I used to play around the dumpster, which was usually full of porn.
We boarded the Chardonnay II, a beautiful 70' Santa Cruz design. The captain and his two crew were wonderful. We were under sail the moment we were past the breakers. The day could not have been more perfect - not too hot, not too cold, a steady breeze. We couldn't go out as far as we'd wanted to, simply because there was enough chop to make a burial at sea somewhat problematic. Some of my dad & stepmom's closest friends were there - all family, really. They threw flowers until the sea was a colorful carpet. Katherine released the ashes of Admiral Nelson, my dad's Amazon parrot. Then more flowers, then my dad. I was videotaping the whole thing, and was so intent on getting the shot that it wasn't until I was following the light gray splotch on the water's surface that I realized I wasn't "in the moment". So I put the camera down and filled my sunglasses as I watched the remains of my father drift away to be claimed by the sea. "Fair winds, Captain," I heard Randy say. "Following Seas," I added.
We gathered for lunch at the Crow's Nest, a great restaurant there at the harbor. Then Sara, Gavin & Michelle took the kids to the Boardwalk while Randy & I met up with another old Santa Cruz friend, Randy Rhodes (aka Dick Hollywood). Film connoisseur, critic, production guy and all around hack (in the best way possible), RR was a year ahead of me at Aptos High, and was in some film classes with Sam at SF State. We met at the top of Pacific Garden Mall and wandered down to The Catalyst for a couple beers. There is a certain vibe creeping back into Santa Cruz - it feels a bit more like its old self again. There was a homogenization after the big quake in '89, and it hadn't retained that old Santa Cruz bohemian weirdness. Some of that is back.
And The Catalyst hasn't changed at all.
Tuesday, 7/25: Still hot. The whole family met at Hobee's in Sunnyvale, where we had a trustee meeting and ate the famous blueberry coffee cake. Sara, Gavin & Michelle took Kayleigh and went to Great America, while Tyler & I headed into Palo Alto. I helped Katherine get to some stuff in the storeroom (which is basically the finished room in the garage of her rental home, the room that was once my dad's office, and my room when we kids moved in with them in 1984).
Then Tyler & I went up to University Avenue to meet with my buddy Mark, Pixar veteran, husband, father of twin 5yo boys. Mark and I went to school at Aptos, then lost touch when he moved to Athens, GA and I moved to Palo Alto. We reconnected in 1989 when Dave Beach and I were taking film courses at De Anza College and Mark just happened to be in one. The last time I'd seen Mark, the twins were less than a year old and Sam got to hold them. I'm happy that Mark & I have the kind of friendship that is always good - it's not a high-maintenance thing. There is always love and respect, regardless of time and distance.
Came back to the motel and let Tyler have a swim, then I collapsed and got a short nap between phone calls. Sara and the girls finally made it back about 6:PM, and she took off to hang out with her friends. My old friend Mike (whom I've known since 3rd grade) came out and we took the girls out for Chinese food while Tyler hung out in the motel room. After some digestion and whatnot, the kids got a swim and Mike & I got to chat. I'd seen Mike last year when he took his motorcycle road trip to Seattle, but it was still good to get caught up. Good things are happening to the two of us, and I hope it continues.
After a day at Great America, an hour in the pool and a belly full of Chinese food, the kids crashed out and are still not awake at the time of this posting.
Today we plan to have lunch with my uncle, and hopefully will get to see Dave Beach again before we leave.
This has been a wonderful trip, made so by the friends and family with whom we've interacted. But once again, it reassures me I live in the right city, that this area is not my home. I can't wait to get home and see Wiley and James Brown, see what progress has been made on the house, get set for Ordinary Angels casting... it's coming up on Crazy Time this fall.
Hang on tight.