Wednesday, December 26, 2007

West Coast Driveby

Holy Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future that was fast. My Norwegian brethren have left for the airport and I am alone with my thoughts for the first time in two weeks. Though it's undeniable dork proof that I immediately ran for the computer, I have to get this down before it's ancient history.
For those oblivious to my Xmas '07 plans, here's the scoop: On December 16th I got on a plane to Seattle, only to embark on the road trip of a lifetime. My partners in crime, the K-brothers Andreas and Fredrik. Over the next week we would journey down the west coast of in a rental car starting from the cold rainy state of Washington, penetrating the phallic forests of Oregon and winding up in sunny California. The result, hedonistic behavior in three states and more existential conversations than you can throw a Bible at. The fellowship of Ring 3 visited Seattle, North Bend, Portland, Crescent City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and yes, San Diego - where the Santas are Swedish and the SeaWorld Otter Show is not to be missed. I wouldn't dream of putting everything that happened into this illiterate blog, but GOSH DARN IT I'll try!

Our story begins in a little town called

Them be smarter up North. The average Seattlian is definitely a different species than your typical LA guy. Converging on buses, these environmentally aware scholars pair up on the benches, armed with coffees and books. I guess the humidity keeps them on their toes, it was raining constantly for 3 days. Bergen-like weather probably did me good, I'm spoiled in the that department these days. Getting out of a cab on Capitol Hill, the streets reminded me of the reindeer splattered neighborhoods of Home Alone 1. This area used to be the hippie part of town according to Andreas, now heavily populated by homosexuals and hipsters. Though, as gentrification goes, it eventually attracted the cash heavy wannabe hipsters that would pay top dollar to live in a "happening" area, ultimately driving the broke artist community out. The newspaper said there was an uprising of violence against homosexuals, when some of the newer residents suddenly realized they moved to a gay neighborhood. Gentrification, gaytrification. Potato, potato (Wait! That expression does not work in written form!)

Andreas' place was great, a four bedroom house that he shared with fellow students. Once accommodated we quickly ventured out to explore the nightlife and went wild in some of the better bars I've seen in the states. Chop Suey and The Something kept up happy for the night! Dollar fifty beers, talkative employees and red. Lot's of red. Lucha paintings over the doors and Gremlins on big screen. Doesn't get more Christmasy than that!

They morning after our host took us to see the Downtown area to show us one of his favorite buildings, the Central Library. An intricate maze of knowledge and vertigo it was! Between the many skyscrapers it stuck out like a loose anomaly in a rigid environment. Yellow escalators took us to the top, and the thousand diamond shaped windows played mind tricks on me. There is definitely logic to what appears to be chaos.

For lunch we had a horrendous meal at the diner that Tom Hanks hangs out at in Sleepless in Seattle. Buried in the Pike Place Fish Market the rustic charm of the place still made up for the lacking cuisine. As we passed through the corridors of the marketplace crabs were flying in the freshly filled crustacean booths, so if you ever go there you'll be amazed at the juggling skills of your average butcher! See!

Next on the agenda was climbing Seattle's boner. The Space Needle stood there in all its glory and for a sixteen dollar elevator ride we could gaze upon the city landscape through bloodshot eyes. I celebrated this victory by taking the days first dump in the middle of the tower. Totally worth 16 bucks! Aren't you glad you're still reading my insightful blog?

The next day we went to pick up our cheap Hyundai Accent rental. Lady luck had apparently turned her head, so they were all out and we got a Chevy Impala instead! A lush automobile that would later overcome erosion and an the incredible lack of driving skill demonstrated by yours truly.
It might have been a moronic idea to set out on a road trip of monumental proportion only a month after getting my license, but I believe in paradigm breaking and out of the box thinking and that's precisely the kind of naivety that can get a guy killed! And that's the only kind of naivety I like! HAHAHA! /cry

The plan at hand was simple: Get to Twin Peaks, and fast!! Just half an hour from the big city lies North Bend, a quaint rural community that was the location for history's greatest TV-show. Twede's Cafe, the place where Agent Cooper get his coffee and pie promised great things for a visit. When we got there however, the place had been completely rebuilt after a fire some years ago and looked nothing like the diner I've come to love. Sad really. The coffee and pie were both, in the lack of a better word - shit... I wouldn't dream to criticize Kyle McLaughlan's taste, but rather applaud his acting if he was served the same thing we were (he must be method!). La-di-da. I'm turning into a pretentious negative douche here... ehh... the waitress was hot. So they got one thing right! (Not as hot as Shelley though! Whine whine!)

We sped onto the misty highway and set a course for... WAIT FOR IT!!!

Portland (there you go)
I love King Cobra. He must be the most happy go lucky person I know. Keeping in contact since we first met in San Francisco, he turned out to be a groovy host, showing us the Portland underworld and the finest restaurant I've ever been to, Le Bistro Montage. Cajun cooking blows my mind. Something about spice, garlic and wine that puts juice in my funnybone. During the hour we were there, we might as well have been on the other side of the continent in the bosom of Louisiana. Bits of alligator, jambalaya and authentic gourmet macaroni and cheese melted this blue eyed boy's heart and physique.
It was Tuesday night and the few people that were out congregated inside the insane amount of dive bars spread throughout the city. With a thousand yard stare Kansas Steve must have taken us to at least 15 bars that night, one crazier than the next. Portland has a huge music scene, because of the overwhelming amount of stages and the cheap real estate. Gotta love those odds. It's also the location of Powell's Books, the biggest bookstore in the west. The K-brothers being heavy readers, persuaded me to go and we spent two hours in the place, getting lost in each section. Fredrik who reads at light speed and must have blasted through five books on the road alone. Good on him. We said goodbye to King Cobra in the morning and headed South.

With no particular travel plan we stayed on the I-5, the fastest interstate on the West Coast. When we reached the mountains our path was hindered by an element soon forgotten. Snow. God I hate that shit. There are no winter tires in this country, they use chains instead. Not wanting to put chained metal spikes on the wheels of a rental car, we quickly rerouted to different highway that would lead us to the coast. This is where it gets exiting. Halfway into unknown territory we came to an abrupt halt. A rock slide blocked the path in front of us, boulders and mud leaking into the road. A self-proclaimed ranger was playing hero in the midst of it, tossing rocks aside attempting to clear the path. In an act of retarded bravery me and Fredrik exited the car and tried to help him. Andreas perhaps had a clearer view of things, and as more rocks started coming down and slid out towards us, we were commanded back in the car and attempted to turn around and get out of there. The first car passed through the semi-cleared path, however, and making a hasty choice I decided to do the same. Perhaps it was the adrenaline doing the thinking, seeing how potentially dangerous the situation was. I doubt I would have done the same again. Luckily we got out of there in one piece, the car unscratched. With an eerie vibe in the car, we could feel the ominous silhouettes of giant redwoods passing on each side. From time to time the rain would stop because the vegetation above us was too thick for it to drip through. I was tensing up at the wheel. Time to stop and sleep.
The first town to greet us was just after the border to California. Crescent City. Not much to say about it. For us it was all about finding the cheapest motel, and Econo Lodge fit the bill. Since We decided to get up at 7am and get most of the day's driving done in the morning.

Northern California looked amazing in daylight. Giant pine trees and elks decorated the landscape. We passed through one derelict ghost town now and then, commenting on the abundance of land in this country. You can actually disappear here. We stopped for food, gas and CD's at a nameless small town halfway to San Fran. With the best of The Turtles banging on the stereo, the next 5 hours felt like 4 and a half! As traffic grew denser we could knew we were close to our next goal. And suddenly there it lay.

San Francisco

The city looked encased in some kind of mythical haze, viewed from the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Joyous cursing was heard throughout the vehicle. You can help but murmur some no-no words at the beauty of this place. The hypnotizing architecture enhanced by the whopping topography is unlike any other place on earth. Having some hours to spend before we could meet up with Andreas' friend, we parked the car in the Golden Gate Park and did the De Young thing. It was a second time for me, but the view from the top floor was still awe inspriring. On the way out the guard in the door made a joke about the three of us looking like the biker gang in the 80's classic "The Lost Boys". Made sense at the time.
We then went Haight Street, trying on cheap clothes in the many thrift stores and each wound up with some weird shit. At 7pm we jumped in the car again and headed for Jeff's parent's place that lay in one of the many areas that begin with the word San. We were greeted at the door by this caroling family, practicing for this years production of Requiem on their baby grand. We had a couple of beers in San Mateo then went to sleep in soft beds!

The following morning after beefing up on scrambled eggs, we went down to Haight Street again, to fulfill Fredrik's dream of testing every shoe on this continent. The day passed quickly and when the sun started setting we made our way downtown to the Mission District, my favorite part of town. Dive bars, homeless and shysters all over. That evening I was the designated driver for the first time in my life, and let me tell you it sucks beyond proportion. I am never living in a suburb. Not until I'm old and gray/gay.

When will this blog end!!!! Too much info.. Too lazy to finish writing it!!!

The next day consisted of the lengthiest car ride of my life. We drove for 11 hours, pulling into Downtown Los Angeles around 9pm. Fredrik announced to his friend Daniel, who happens to be Owen Wilson's cousin, that we were in town and ready to roll. The night turned out to be one for the history books. After doing some serious Korean dining, we set a course for the Standard Hotel and it's rooftop bar, that lies amidst the sea of skyscrapers in the Business District. With a classic TGM movie being projected on the wall building next door, an infinity pool and Japanese rich guys coming out the yin-yang, you can't get a better feel for the LA scene in this part of town.
One overpriced drink later we were back in Daniel's car headed for a bar in Silver Lake. The place was rugged and androgynous rocker stereotypes filled the room around us. One of them knew Daniel from before. He told us to check out a party in Culver City and feeling way too up for it we went, hoping for more upscale bliss! After 20 minutes on the I-10 we exited into a quiet suburban neighborhood. Leaving the car we could here the dampened sound of what appeared to be some kind of punk band coming from the address in question. When we got in the door, I again, as I have many times over here, felt like the whitest person alive. We were outsiders in a toned down Mexican teen party, a band of three playing random emo hits in the corner. We took obnoxious photographs of ourselves and were out of there in a jiffy. When we got back to our pad, we found Tommy and his gathering in our pad. We ate ice cream until we passed out. Lovely!

The drive to San Diego is two hours, which to an experienced driver such as myself IS NOTHING!! BEEEYOOOTCH!! Once there we finally met up with Hilde as planned. This being the day before Christmas, she had decided that we would spend the 24th celebrating xmas the Swedish way, with some pilots she new from said country. And sure enough we did. Funny people the Swedes. These techno music loving all year tan SAUSAGE ON CHRISTMAS eating funny remark nudge nudge type emigrants provided us with a great feast! Honestly, we freeloaded that party like K-Fed during the Toxic days. (Pop reference y'all!) At least we brought some wine and a bourbon. They even supplied us with that prince of beverages, the akvavit. It contributed immensely to my sudden urge to dance when we later hit the town. Before that however, we suffered trough the dubbed version of the Disney Christmas Special. Funny how every character sounds like and old man in Scandinavia. Then we got a visit from Santa Claus. Literally. One of the dudes bothered dressing up and handed out presents in a nice manner. I must admit I found that pretty swell. I got two pens. Huzzah! Am I sounding ungrateful. I assure you it's just the way you're reading it.

Hilde rocks, for the record. Not just because she reads this blog, but because she puts up with three random douche bags for four days, building forts in her living room. She chauffeured us around as if we were royalty and we got to see the beach, The Salk Institute and La Jolla. We even rode the merry-go-round in a marketplace downtown and went to SeaWorld. The main attraction, Shamu - the killer whale, was to busy for us, but we caught a glimpse of him posing it up for some eager Germans. We also sat in on the amazing Sea Lion and Otter Show. This left me with a heavy heart as these animals have skills I will never possess. Like the skill of being a sea lion or an otter. The next day we decided to have our own little gift giving ceremony and I wound up with some great stuff. I got 4 books, yo! One on skyscrapers, one about different artists, On The Road by Jack Kerouac and Breakfast At Tiffany's by Capote. Zing!

And so it was that the voyage of a thousand kilometers came to a halt. The memories many, the feeling of accomplishment enormous! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Andreas and Fredrik for their impeccable companionship. Spending every waking moment together can be a tedious affair, but we managed to get along at all times. The lonely child in me needs to be challenged at times, and thankfully they put up with me, pissy remarks and all. I wish them both the best of luck in Seattle and Bergen. Go forth and multiply!!

Some things were left out of this post for obvious reasons, but some honorable mentions will now follow in a fast paced manner. Such as: the hideous Science Fiction Museum next to the Space Needle, when Fredrik lost his ipod, when Fredrik lost his credit cards, when Fredrik lost his innocence in Hollywood, exploring the Embarcadero in San Fran, playing California Games on the NES in the Mission Disctrict, the fruit market in the middle of nowhere, when we went to The Eames House, when we went to The Schindler House, the rooftop "Nå hører du her!" session, the original Amoeba Records Store on Haight, ice skating in Pershing Square, dollar tuna and dollar salmon at East on 1st Street, the steak at Pete's, the Animal Style burger and Neapolitan shake from In-N-Out Burger, getting lost in the Barmuda Triangle- Charlie O's, Bar 107 and La Cita and last but not least the amazing new year after party dress up session! Good times, good times.

So don't tell me I don't do stuff, OK! I am after all making up for four years of procrastination here! To those back in the old country, I still miss you when I'm in my bed curled up in the fetus position, alone in a city full of strange and sometimes scary magic! Merry Christmas ya bastards! Hope the packages were hard. I know mine is!! GET IT!!??

PS: Check the book of faces fer photos later. AND! Look what I did:
View Larger Map

No comments: