Saturday, October 30, 2004

My Pen, I Am

Yesterday's 6 a.m. appearance in Santa Maria on KSMA's Doug and Hoot show went well. Doug and Hoot were kind to me, Hoot especially.

For this on-the-air election forum, their show was broadcast from a meeting room in the historic Santa Maria Inn, in downtown Santa Maria. Apparently the Santa Maria Rotary has met at this hotel since 1922.

They invited a local elected official to join in the questioning of their guests discussing various issues on the ballot. I couldn't tell if she was playing Devil's Advocate or not, but she gave me a tough time. She wanted to know, since they have an Indian casino in Santa Barbara County, what's wrong with spreading casinos throughout the rest of the state. After my first answer, she said I hadn't answered her question and asked it again.

After our exchange as I was leaving, you can imagine my surprise when the local elected official asked if she could have my pen. (She had been trying to make do with a thick-tipped Marks-A-Lot pen.) I told her she should have thought of that before she hassled me on the air.

OK, not really. So I spent the rest of the day reaching for the pen that no longer existed in my pocket. I'm a creature of habit. I always carry a pen. I always carry a hanky. For twenty years I carried a pocket comb. I guess I finally accepted being folliclly-challenged when I didn't buy a new one after I lost my last pocket comb a few years ago.

Where does that little charge I get come from when a sales clerk offers me a pen to sign for something and I'm standing there -- Bob Dole-like -- with my own pen ready to sign?

Fortunately, I now have a new pen and am ready to face the day.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Not Like a Virgin

I'm spending tonight in San Luis Obispo to be in place for a 6 a.m. (oy!) interview tomorrow morning on the radio in Santa Maria.

I had a late lunch at the coffee shop at the venerable Madonna Inn. The M.I.'s kitschy decorative style remains in full display. (They're famous for their uniquely decorated rooms, like the Stone Age Room, the Valentine Room, etc.) The men's urinal where the water runs automatically (which was amazing in the 70s) still works. Since Alex Madonna recently passed away, I don't know how much longer the Madonna Inn will remain open. Seems like our culture is trending towards "sameness" in our experiences -- how different is one Starbucks from another? How much longer will the quirky decorations at the Madonna Inn pull travelers off the freeway. They may stop by for a nostalgic visit -- but will they stay there?

I remember visiting the Madonna Inn with my parents when I was little. Back then they had a few buffalo in a stable on display. I was terrified when my Father wanted to open the sliding glass door in the back of our room for some fresh air. I knew the buffalo would get out and come and get us! I don't remember exactly what I did, but I know the sliding glass door remained closed. And that was the last night I slept at the Madonna Inn.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Oops...I Did It Again

Another early morning today -- this time for a 6:30 a.m. (!) interview on The Beat 100.3 FM, L.A.'s leading hip-hop station. I like the way the host, The Poetist, introduced me twice with, "Ted Green is in the house." I don't know how many listeners there were up at that hour -- but they all heard my key points against Prop. 68.

After two very early mornings this weekend, maybe I'll sleep in until 7 tomorrow.

Celebrity Sighting: Britney Spears was hanging out on the sidelines yesterday at the USC vs. Washington football game. (The Trojans shut out the Huskies 38 to nuttin'.) They kept putting her picture on Jumbotron and she'd act like she didn't want to be noticed. But she certainly didn't try moving away from the cameras and then exited the long way through the stands causing a little bit of a commotion. I would say she's at 14:30 on the 15-minute stopwatch of fame.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Up early this morning -- this time for a breakfast speech to the California State NAACP convention in Sacramento on Proposition 68. I did my best to be lively -- even got some laughs from the crowd.

I'm just glad I didn't have to follow their President, Alice Huffman, who got most of the crowd on their feet with her stirring defense of the economic justice of Indian Gaming which crescendoed with her declaration, "if they were sovereign when they were poor, then they are sovereign when they are rich!" It was a relief to have already made my presentation -- because I know I would have been a "whimper" to her "bang."

Celebrity Sighting: At breakfast I sat next to former California Secretary of State and current U.S. Senate candidate Bill Jones. He also addressed the breakfast. (Boxer is the luncheon speaker.) With the current sad state of his campaign it was hard for me to come up with much small talk beyond, "you must be real busy these days." He seemed happy to sit silently and stew, anyway.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Crossing All the Ts in China

I stopped by the Chinese Consulate this morning to request a visa for my trip in January to Shanghai. The woman behind the window (she didn't look like a Godless Communist) was concerned that I was requesting a visa too early. She explained you have to enter China within three months of receiving it. We did the calendar math together and she relented.

It felt a little odd leaving my passport behind for "processing." But I have a reciept in Chinese -- so I guess I can rest easy that it'll be there when I go back next week.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Don't Spit On Me From Your Rooftop

Since the Dodgers won the National League Western Division, Dave Fogarty had to take me to lunch today and I got to pick the restaurant. I'd heard about the Carnellian Room which I thought used to be the Executive Dining Room at the top of the former headquarters of Bank of America in downtown San Francisco.

It turns out the Executive Dining Room was on the 51st floor and the 52nd floor is the Carnellian Room at night, but during the day it's the down-on-it's-luck Bankers Club of San Francisco. Apparently they've recently opened their doors to the public during the day.

As you can imagine -- the view is spectacular. But when Dave and I were shown to the worst table in the place, Dave asked for one with a better view. It was then the maitre'd, with his nose held high, informed us we were stinking up a private club and the best views were for members only.

Well, we still had a nice lunch and I was pleased to see the "best" tables remained vacant throughout lunch -- producing no revenue for the club. (And the truth be told, the view was pretty amazing from where we were sitting.)

Celebrity Sighting: It was nice seeing former California Assembly Republican Leader Carol Hallett on my flight home to LAX. Mrs. Hallett reports she is semi-retired, but continues to work two days a week for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Of course, I'll always remember her for her 1982 campaign for Lieutenant Governor when, at every campaign stop, she tormented her primary opponent Marz Garcia with the fact she was leading in the polls, "5 to 1."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bridging the North-South Divide

A personal first today: I attended both the Los Angeles City Council meeting and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting. The L.A. City Council voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 68. And the S.F. Board listened to my plea to pass a similar resolution next week.

It's raining in California -- so the flight up was very turbulent. Personally, I like it when it's bumpy. It seems more dramatic.

Had dinner tonight at one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants -- Original Joe's on Taylor Street. The City (as people from San Francisco modestly call it) seems to have several "Original" Joe's -- but this one is the real McCoy.

In fact, Jack McDowell's WW II -era Pulitzer Prize winning article about the revolutionary delivery of blood from the Bay Area to the battlefront describes one soldier's plan to have a hamburger steak at Original Joe's on Taylor Street after the war was over.

I hope he made it -- I know he had a good meal if he did.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

When It Rains It Pours

USC trounced Arizona State 45 to 7 this afternoon. What a great game! Everyone loves a winner. I was blown away at how many people were on campus before kick-off. And as my friend, Greg Gloede, said "they all have an extra bounce in their step."

After the game I dashed off to be a guest on Barbara Simpson's KSFO radio show -- the Babe in the Bunker. I guess the show went well -- Barbara asked me to stay on 15 minutes longer then the original 60 minutes.

In order to make this live radio show after the Trojans football game I used a room at the Hilton Checkers hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Sadly, I can't recommend this hotel for visitors to L.A. I asked for a quiet room -- they put me next to the elevator. I asked for turndown service -- it didn't happen. Their television package doesn't include KTLA -- so I couldn't watch my favorite 10 o'clock news. And while I was impressed with their car service to the Music Center -- you can imagine my reaction to waiting 20 minutes in the pouring rain while waiting for a ride back to the hotel after the show. What are the chances it'd rain in L.A. at the same time I have to wait outside for a ride!

And what did I see at the Music Center? John Kani's touching play Nothing But The Truth -- about a modern day black family in South Africa coming to grips with the aftermath of the country's apartheid policies.

I might have more to write about the three good actors in the show -- except my program is soaked.

Take Me Out...Again

Enjoyed seeing Take Me Out at the Brentwood Theater tonight. Unfortunately, this show has been trimmed down from the three hour, two intermission version I saw at the Donmar Warehouse a couple of years ago in London. The show lost some of its power while being edited to a length suitable to American audiences' short attention spans.

It was nice seeing former colleagues Chris and Kathy Lucker in the audience. It's hard to believe I left the Dolphin Group 20 years ago this December to move to Washington, D. C.

Celebrity Sighting: Thanks to GeezBob for spotting Terence Stamp having dinner alone at the counter at the Daily Grill in Brentwood. I would have noticed him if he had been wearing his Priscilla get-up.

Thursday, October 14, 2004