Saturday, August 21, 2010

Anthony Bourdain on Gordon Ramsey

Taken at a talk Bourdain gave in Santa Cruz a few years ago. Amuse yourselves with this while I figure out how to take a hit out on our architect without spending the rest of my life incarcerated. And also how to talk my husband out of one of the dumbest ideas in the history of dumb or ideas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Like Living Here. What's Your Excuse?

"You live where?" I get that question a lot.

Salinas. I live in Salinas.

I like it here. I just can't help myself.

It is hot here for precisely four days a year. Almost every afternoon, the marine layer rolls in off the Monterey Bay. We're seven miles from the coast, but there is nothing between us and the ocean--no hills--to keep the cold from coming in. I come home from work and drive through what we call "Chill Hill," that grove of eucalyptus on 101, and the temperature will drop 20-degrees in less than a mile. This means my cashmere and I stay connected throughout the year. That's the kind of weather I can get behind.

I like it here because although John Steinbeck was born and raised here, he saw all of its deep flaws and wrote about it accordingly. (According to stories from my husband's family, Steinbeck really only liked one person in Salinas, the Rev. Kemper, late pastor of First Presbyterian Church. When the government was sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII, the rev bought all of the farms owned by local Japanese Americans for $1 each and held on to them, selling them back when the insanity of those camps ended. That was an establishment guy Steinbeck could get behind.)

I don't know if the church would do the same this time around. They seem to be more of a 'round up the usual supects' group. But I hear they have a rather lively rock band on Sundays.

And while the establishment didn't love John Steinbeck in his life, they love him in his death, enough to realize when you have a Nobel Prize-winning author on your hands--bad attitude or not-- you capitalize it by building a museum and holding an annual festival in his honor. This year's events featured a dress-your-dog-like-Steinbeck (or a Steinbeck character) contest. My friend Carmela made her German Shepherds tuxedos, a la Steinbeck at the Nobel Prize Ceremony.

They're kind of cute in a, "hey, is that a German Shepherd in a tux?" kind of way. Carmela is the dog whisperer of Salinas. If you have a pooch with issues, she will tell you that your dog is fine, it's most likely you, the owner, who is the problem.

I like it here because you can buy potted orchids for a few bucks at the farmer's market, because the guy who thought, "Why not pot the orchids before selling them?" is from here. And now that he's made a fortune from his idea, he sends poor, smart kids to college.

The Sausage King of Salinas

I like that there is now a Sausage King of Salinas. Butch Francis, an upstate New Yorker who came here who knows when and now makes about 400-pounds of sausage each week. He also makes the world's best chili. Every Saturday, by the end of the Old Town Salinas Farmer's market, two crockpots of it have been emptied.

We've been doing a lot of trekking back and forth to Berkeley this summer, because Bobby is attending theater school at the Berkeley Rep, and Sam went to computer camp at Cal. We'll get off the 980 and head down MLK, past all of the fabulous Berkeley things--the yarn bombed signs and sculptures, the Arnieville tent city set up to protest Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to Medi-Cal. The restaurants and stores we used to visit. Life's rich pageant. And I'll think to myself, "Why? Why didn't you like it here?"

And then some Trustafarian on a $4,000 bike will ride out in front of my car, flipping me off while doing it, and I remember. That's why.

Salinas is delusional in its own way. Right now the city is searching for a national agency to help it re-brand itself--there's no money involved, but the city is willing to share the proceeds of t-shirt and mug sales. I don't know how you rebrand something that wallows in self-loathing, but it's going to be fun to watch.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Before, After and Enduring

At one point, Roger the Painter got stuck on the roof.

Everyone was gone. He was working alone, and was moving between peaks when somehow his ladder slipped. He had his cellphone, but he didn't want to call 911. (I guess it would have been kind of embarrassing? but better than sitting up there for hours wondering how the hell to get down?) A guy riding a bicycle through the alley heard him call out for help and repositioned the ladder for him.

So for three days straight, after all of the sanding and prep work, they painted. Cream base, white trim and black accents. 15 gallons of trim paint alone. For an extra $100, Roger prepped and painted the stairs and porch a dark grey. The concrete bottom step is still there, but we eventually will build out the stairs and landing.

The painting is mostly done. Roger the Painter is coming back on Tuesday to sharpen the edges, razor blade the windows and finish some of the highest trim. Al is sending along one of his Oaxacan Faithful to install the water main, so it will feel a little bit less Clampettish. Right now we're getting all of our water from a hose.

The city finally approved our SPR-site plan review-the document that determines if we're complying with Salinas zoning regulations. This means we can now submit the for the building permit for the main house, which will be another month of my life that's never, ever coming back.

I'm a little grumpy right now.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just This

Neither time nor energy for anything full blown right now. B and I are up at 5:45 every weekday morning so he can make the three-hour shlep to the Berkeley Rep School of Theater. I don't know where my SD card reader is, thus I can't post pictures of the fabulously painted house.

So until the weekend, I leave you with this:

We are living like the Clampetts, pre-oil strike.