Friday, August 12, 2005

Postmodern transience in decidedly modern settings (it's more obscure than you think)

Taking the Bonaventure Hotel elevator all the way up to the 35th floor is almost like stepping into a quasi-film noir moment. No, not as sinister as Fritz Lang's M, but equivocal and intriguing, where the city offers hints of pleasure with rooftop bars, and despair with the rows of tents pitched by the homeless on sidewalks. The grand sweep of the view as one goes higher and higher is frightening in its imperiousness, but also mesmerising as we identify familiar landmarks and freeways.

On the 35th floor we stepped out into the Bonaventure's revolving restaurant, offering a great view priced accordingly with expensive drinks. But we were feeling a bit expansive on Tuesday, certainly I was, as it was my birthday, and a very special one at that. Before we moved to the Bonaventure, we had been sitting in a small Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo that serves up more than 20 kinds of yakitori skewers that are perfect accompaniments for drinking warm sake. So there we had stayed for almost two hours, S, Illy, Pho (S' Taekwondo buddy) and I, eating and drinking and talking and then talking and drinking and eating some more. Illy looked radiant and fresh, it seems that the trip home had been great for her.

We had been waiting for Em and Soto to join us, but Soto was tired after a long work day and Em was in the midst of one of the most important events in his life. Even as we were listening to Pho tell stories about the Vietnamese countryside over our sips of sake, Em was catching up with his brother and nephew. And a lot of catching up had to be done, since he was meeting the brother after 26 years and the nephew, now 15 years old, for the first time.

Finally, Em did come over, the dear friend that he is, didn't want to stay away on my birthday. After he came, we wanted dessert and went over to Bonaventure. Em was still quite overwhelmed by the experience and it seemed that the meeting had not sunk in as yet. Pho wanted some coffee with our dessert, and asked the waiter if the coffee was good. The waiter said, "Of course it's good, it's Starbucks"! Voila! But perhaps if coffee quality in the United States is a spectrum, Starbucks is somewhere solidly in the middle, certainly an improvement on the godawful cat-piss they serve in obscure diners. But unequivocally good coffee it is not, certainly not the regular kind that is French roasted to death and then brewed to eternity till it loses all the merits the beans may have possessed. We did get the coffee, and the desserts, each getting a giant slice that was more dense than all the yakitori skewers we had consumed put together. But then there was the view, a panorama courtesy the revolving room, a glittering urban expanse, enclosed by the mountains on the one side and a whiff of the sea on the other.

On the way out, we collected tourist brochures from the hotel lobby and one was of an orchid farm an hour away from where we live. Hmm..who would have thought, apparently the largest orchid farm in the US. I should go, but then I promised to myself that I'd definitely make it to the heirloom tomato festival and I never made it to that. Damn, I need to get out more (and that was fully in jest my friends).


Blogger Urmea said...

Ohhhh! Well belated Happy Birthday girl! Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I shall buy you a drink when (note: when and not if) you come up to visit :)
Take care!

3:04 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

thanku, thanku! Hopefully, I'll take you up on the offer soon. We should go wine sipping across the Napa valley!

10:01 PM  
Anonymous William Bratcher said...

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11:01 AM  
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