[VOID] Friday

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 17:06:43 -0800

Woken up by the FedEx guy with my birth certificate. Waited in line
for an hour last Tuesday to get a replacement for the passport stolen
in Orlando, but they wanted the original certificate instead of
searching the existing passport file for me. Only took another hour
in line this time. Got my bills paid in the meantime: paper takes
waaaay too much time to wrangle -- especially when things go wrong on
the bill -- I'd estimate I face a 10-15% dispute rate, which is far
too high.

Took the car to Jiffy Lube. 74,000-odd miles in five years of
ownership. In between lusting after curiously out-of-class upscale
Conde Nast Traveler articles, I calculate ownership costs at: $10,000
depreciation, $10,000 insurance, $5,000 gas & consumables & service =
about exactly the IRS's published rate of $0.32/mile. Kind of scary
to think that every trip up to see Adam costs $35. Good thing we
haven't spoken but once since the wedding.

Had an eggplant parmesan sub at Peppino's in Lake Forest
(recommended; get the handmade gnocchi; 10 ff miles/$ with your
Transmedia card ;-). Read the very reasonable Brill's Content cover
argument for CNN to buy CBS News.

Came home in to a bright, sunny room in the middle of January and
lazed in the glory of California. Some phone time back East,
downloaded some WWW8 papers to review.

Got the mail, which included the new Economist with the Monica
lookalike on the cover and a timely offering from the American
Association for the Advancement of Science: a gradiose "certificate
of membership" (if only I'd send in the bux for a subscription to
Science by the end of this month). Came in handy gate-crashing...:

8:15 pm. 8:15-10:30, Anaheim Marriott, Grand Ballroom Salon G.
AIR's annual special seminar presenting the latest in improbable
research at the annual meeting of the AAAS (American Assn for the
Advancement of Science). Highlights:
* KAREN HOPKIN will unveil plans for her Studmuffins of Science
2000 calendar, and will unveil at least one live specimen.
* AIR editor MARC ABRAHAMS will present a strange magic lantern
show concerning the improbable research and the Ig Nobel Prizes.
* Brief video tribute to Ig Nobel Prize winner TROY HURTUBISE and
his grizzly-bear-proof suit of armor.
* The classic slide show "PROFESSOR LIPSCOMB Goes Shopping."
[SPECIAL NOTE: If you have a brass instrument, please bring it.]

Went up to Marc after the reliably hilarious show and introduced
myself as a friend of the Chief Picker of Nits and
scientist/supermodel Symmetra, which tickled a foreboding "Oh! so
you're the one both of them have been talking about to me... you must
be quite an interesting fellow!". We crashed the New Scientist press
suite for a beer, but I was on my way as he went to the BBC
interviewers'. I picked up a slogan fit for IETF use: "Migrate,
Mutate, or Die!", from the mute star of the impromptu recapitulation
of the final act of the opera buffo on the invention of Duct Tape
(which, incidentally, is provably useful for almost any use, but not
for heating ducts). Another life lesson is that under a
chromatograph, the mass spectra of apples and oranges are, indeed,
virtually indistinugishable.

Ran into David E. Shaw in a tux in the elevator. Told him how glad I
was I didn't work for him :-)

Looking for a cafespace to read my pdf files, I was tempted to head
up to Hollywood and revist my old haunts -- I largely haven't
returned to Toi or Fred's or Canter's or Daimano's or Jerry's since
last spring. It's not the same without Rifkin. I certainly don't have
the excuse to be up there as often. So instead I headed back, in
search of the mythical Block at Orange. The Block, as it turned out,
wasn't to hard to find: several dozen acres I once thought empty by
the side of the road was now lit up like an alien landing zone.

Circling the beast from the 5 and the 22, it became clear that the
heart of it was a 30 (!) screen AMC, flanked by an equally massive
Ron Jon surf shop and surf grill. In between were light standards 8
stories tall with 10-foot wide illuminated black-and-white banner
portraits of no, not Communist party personality-cultists, but
equally discomfiting old white residents of the community that must
have been there before the Irvine Company decided to replicate the
Irvine Spectrumten miles further up the 23-lane-wide I-5.

At about midnight on Friday, it looked fairly deserted but for the
movies letting out (midnight shows?! in Orange County?!) and one of
the dog's breakfast of culinary themes, www.cafetututango.com. Other
abandoned yuppie-kid accoutrements included Smarte Carte Stroller
rentals, loud 50's oldies on the ambient PA, and strategically scaled
"billboards" placed above the outdoor walkways -- all in order,
presumably, to make walking as comfortably familiar as driving. Don't
want to alienate the customer, you know.

So there it is: another Puck (shifted downmarket to accomodate
take-out), another Left at Albuquerque (not a NM original, but rather
from Palo Alto), another Tony Maroni's Sausage kingdom (translated
from Venice Beach), another Hilo Hatties (how cute! soulless chain
stores from another state!), another... well, mall. The CityWalking
of America.

The other fertile ground for such contruction of synthetic
streetfronts for fear of the original is Florida. That's the home of
the other five locations of Cafe Tu Tu Tango. I was suspicious of the
boisterous spandexy crowd, but since it was my only choice, I
eventually divined that the space with the artwork all for sale and
the showily in-formal scheduled-impromptu dance floor was a Tapas
bar, only more expensive. "No, we're not a Tapas bar -- we're a home
for starving artists. We sell their stuff and we feed them." From the
looks of the John Wayne Gacy-esque crap on the walls, I'd rather put
them to sleep...

And as for the food, they were right: Tapas bars at least have
culinary pretensions. But at least the place succeeds on its *own*
terms, as group entertainment. I'd definitely have a party there. And
the food easily passes subsurban expectations. But still: limp
crabcakes more of undercooked cornbread than anything else; 'beef
napoleon' interleaved with portobello mushrooms that had one thick,
overdone, unslicable hunk of meat and cold 'shrooms in soy and onion
rings; five cheese pizza that promised manchego but delivered cheddar
quesadilla, and chocolate bread pudding out of a box, burnt to boot.
At least they have Widmer Hefewizen on tap...

And that was my Friday night.