Thursday, July 17, 2008

From My Travel Journal: My Excellent Adventure in Los Angeles - Part 2

On Saturday morning, we hit the Pacific Coast Highway because we had tickets to go to the Getty Villa, which is an educational center and museum in Malibu. Brooke is an art history major, and she particularly is interested in ancient cultures. She has wanted to visit this museum for quite some time, and she was excited at the prospect of going. Initially, I tagged along mostly because it was so important to her; but I had no idea how much I was going to love it! The museum building itself is modeled after a first-century Roman country house. The displays there consist of ancient statues and artifacts from Rome and Greece. Some of them date back to before Christ was born. It's quite mind-boggling when you're actually there in front of them. Additionally, they were statues and artifacts that were created in honor of the Roman and Greek gods/goddesses/deities. Roman and Greek mythology has always been a great interest of mine, so I really enjoyed that aspect, too. We were there for a couple of hours, and I still didn't get to see everything. If I'm ever in the neighborhood again, I'd like to spend an entire day there.

The Getty Villa exterior

The Roman god, Zeus. This statue is made of marble. It was found in Italy, and it dates to 1-100 A.D.

One of the beautiful Villa gardens.

Remember Paul from yesterday's post? The high roller? He has talked often of his good friend, Pete. Pete lives in Malibu, and he also makes his living from gambling. He is apparently very good at gambling, because he generates a substantial income from it. According to Paul, Pete lives a larger-than-life lifestyle, but he's a "really nice guy". Pete invited all of us to stop by the Malibu beach house and have lunch after we finished at the museum. Brooke, Betsy, and I were a little bit skeptical about the legend of Pete, but we were mostly curious. Curiosity won out, so we followed Paul (he came to the museum with us) to a beach house where Pete was staying. Well, it turns out that Pete is indeed a really nice guy. He's in his late thirties, the son of Italian immigrants (his father worked as a cab driver in NYC), and he still has a thick Queens accent. He was remarkably funny, and he was very generous. He was quite open and friendly, and we learned a lot about him. Pete greeted us warmly as if he'd known us forever, offering beer and wine to us all. I'm going to give some details about his lifestyle, but I first want to stress that he was not bragging or name-dropping when he was telling us these stories. He's extremely down-to-earth. He was just very casually telling us about things going on in his life. It just so happens that his life consists of a big things and celebrity friends.

So I ended up spending that Saturday afternoon in a $17.8 million beach front house in Malibu. It consisted of three stories, and it was beautifully decorated. But it was not a $17.8 million house. I suspect, however, that the land it's sitting on is a $17.8 million piece of real estate. The house actually belonged to Pete's girlfriend, Betsy, who happened to be out of town this weekend (Pete's own beach house was nearby). According to Pete, Betsy is worth about $250 million (again, he wasn't bragging, but he was very proud of her and the success she's created for herself). She is a self-made business woman; she sniffed out an untapped market, and she practically created an industry. Pete gave us a tour of the house, and we saw that Betsy is quite the clothes horse. We saw her "black room", which contains all of her black clothes, accessories, and shoes. She had a lot of those, as black seems to be the color of choice if you want to be cool in L.A. We saw the master bedroom which contained a new, trendy, and expensive-looking piece of exercise equipment; I asked him about it, and he casually mentioned, "Yeah, Stevie Nicks turned us on to that." I asked, "You know Stevie Nicks?" He non-chalantly replied, "Yeah, my girl's manicurist also does Stevie's nails, and we became friends through her."

I noticed that Pete was intently watching the Kentucky-Florida football game on TV. He couldn't take his eyes off of the screens (there were plasma TVs in every room of the house). I said "You're watching this game very intensely; who are we rooting for?" He said he had some money on Kentucky, but that it was "only a few thousand, so I'm not sweating it too much." He mentioned that he lost about $40,000 on an earlier game, but he wasn't really worried about that one either.

Pete had menus from a nearby restaurant called "Marmalade" waiting for us. He asked us to look over them, circle what we wanted, and then he called the order in. He went to go pick all of the food up himself, and he treated us to a delicious lunch. We ate out on the patio and stared at the Pacific Ocean. We also stared at the next door neighbors. The houses are literally inches apart. I could have been on the neighbor's patio in one step. Look at how close they are:

I had some really yummy rigatoni cooked with marinara sauce, Italian sausage, and meatballs. When we left, Pete gave us all heartfelt hugs and pecks on the cheek. What a nice guy! For a few hours, I got to see how the "other half" lives. While I'm not necessarily impressed by the lifestyle (though I did find it very interesting!), I will say that I would love to have a house on the Pacific Ocean. I mean really...look at it.

Brooke, Betsy, and I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Dixie Chicks concert. Paul was going to pick us up in an SUV around 6 p.m., so the three of us had about an hour to get ready. Paul and his girlfriend arrived in a rented Suburban, and we all headed to the brand new Nokia theater in downtown L.A. Since we weren't sure how heavy security was going to be, we decided to go without cameras this night. The plan was to observe the security measures and assess what we could get away with the next night (if anything).

The crowd was pretty much there for The Eagles, which is understandable. The trouble is that many of them were pretty rude to the Chicks and to the Chicks' fans. During their performance, people were coming in late and strolling around the theather. We heard some nasty remarks from the people around us about the Dixie Chicks, but we didn't say anything. We decided we'd let them watch the show and see for themselves. We were in orchestra right, row PP. The brand new theater is very intimate---seats only 7100. It's a nice place, but I really don't see what all the buzz was about. It was no nicer than other venues I've visited. The seats did have cup holders, however, and that was nice. I didn't have to hold my cup of wine all night long. The Chicks sounded phenomenal as always. They're wonderful in person...they sound fantastic, and they really connect with their audience. They're natural entertainers, especially Natalie---the lead singer. She catches a lot of flak and gets called a "loud mouth" by Chicks bashers, but she really is quite funny and entertaining. They dedicated "White Trash Wedding" to Britney Spears, which made me laugh. My favorite moment was during their song, "Not Ready to Make Nice". I don't know how familiar you are with that song, but there's a powerful musical and emotional crescendo in that song. When she reached the climax and sang out "or my life will be over" with her arms raised in the air, the place went nuts, even the Eagles fans! Just about every one of those 7100 people were on their feet, cheering with arms raised. It literally sent chills up my spine and my arms. They got about a 2-minute standing ovation when the song was over. After they finished and left the stage, the people around us who had made the snide remarks had changed their tune. A lady next to us vowed that she was going to go out and buy their most recent CD. The guy behind us who had made some pretty mean remarks ended up saying, "Wow! They're really good! The violin player is beautiful! If it had been just them playing tonight without The Eagles, it would still have been worth the trip!"

After a short break, The Eagles took the stage, and the place pretty much went crazy. People were on their feet for almost the entire show, which lasted about 2 1/2 hours. The Eagles may have gotten older, but they still know how to turn it out on stage. They sounded really good, too. The played a few new songs, but then they played all of the classics. The show ended with the 2nd encore...Don Henley singing "Desperado". It was pretty amazing to be there and witness that. Joe Walsh is still crazier than bat sh*t.

After the show, we went back to the hotel and crashed. Once again, I slept pretty hard as my body was attempting to adjust to the time change.

End of Part 2


Brooke said...

Great pictures! Ah, the good old days when rolled like that.

Brooke said...

I mean when WE rolled like that.