Vacation In Hollywood
It isn’t often that vacations truly live up to our expectations. Almost every time we go away, we find that our destination isn’t everything we thought it would be. So I usually like to include activities that will enhance the experience whether I like the locale or not. This past week I had the unique development where both aspects of my travels were exactly what I was hoping they would be.I spent the week out in Los Angeles.
I went to visit friends out there, some of whom I had only known through internet and phone conversations. I was so excited to go and meet these people. All the people I saw were folks who are truly good friends, and who were as excited to see me as I was to see them, and they treated me to a vacation experience like none I’ve had in the past.
Ryan Opray and his roommate Alison Law spent a good deal of time with me. We went to the world famous Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard and we also ate at Aroma just down the street. The Saddle Ranch was very homey with a lot of atmosphere and an Old West meets 21st Century feel to it. I didn’t ride on the mechanical bull but I did have my picture taken with it. Ha ha. Aroma is a great restaurant that features outdoor dining and it is run by an entirely Israeli staff. The food was excellent and the place is just first class all the way. Ryno and Alison were lovely company and they intended for me to have a great visit…which I surely did. (And yes, guys, I did bring the Sammy Davis Jr. hat home with me!)
Writer pal Nick Nolan took me to The Abbey in West Hollywood for lunch one day and Reese Witherspoon was two tables over from us. (Yeah, go eat your hearts out!) The Abbey also offered outdoor dining and is apparently a favorite hangout for Elizabeth Taylor and various other celebrities. It was great to meet Nick and hang out with him. He’s a top notch guy and he’s a good friend. He’s also a sensational writer! Go check him out.
Burton Roberts and Alex Boylan really made my birthday get off to a great start. They took me to lunch at a place in The Hollywood and Highland Center called The Grill. Again we ate out on the promenade and they arranged for me to be served a HUGE slice of birthday cake as well. It was more than I could have hoped to consume myself. Alex doesn’t eat sweets but Burton helped me polish it off. We had a great time and it was so wonderful to be with those guys. They have both become good friends over the past few years and I couldn’t have asked for better company.
One friend I didn’t get to go out with, but who I did get to meet and spend a little time with, is Scott Long. Scott has been a special pal for a long time and he works on Hollywood Boulevard, just down the hill from where I stayed on Highland, and so I walked down there a couple times to spend his break with him. It was so great to get to chat with him in person. Next trip I will spend more time with him. What we got to have was great though.
That evening I had the experience that I have been waiting for a very long time. Miss Susaye Green of The Supremes has been a friend for years now. She and her husband Steve Coton came into town from out in The Valley and took me to dinner back in Encino at this great little Italian place where the food is authentic and the atmosphere is true Italia. We had a smashing meal that was more than any of us could finish and the company was sensational! Beingwith Susaye was everything I thought it would be and we laughed so much that we could hardly eat. (Just like we thought we would.) Steve is a charming British gentleman who instantly became my good friend. These two made my birthday complete. If I live to be a hundred I shall never forget that dance Susaye did when she saw me coming out of my hotel.
Thursday was the busiest day by far. That evening I got to meet Justin Giovinco. He and I have known each other via email and phone for over five years and just being together was so natural. Our friendship easily translated into first person. We had dinner at Firefly in Studio City, in the back where it’s secluded and private for its diners, and then we were off to Kulak’s Woodshed in North Hollywood for the next treat!Susaye was involved in a show at Kulak’s that also featured Patsy Moore, Soul Kiss, Mhyrr, and Michael Mishaw. Kulak’s is a very homey place where the shows are webcast around the world as they are performed live. All the acts were sensational but Susaye, with her five octave range and rich musical legacy, was the piece de resistance. Her son Dan, known professionally as Schizm, is a rapper who joined her on a rendition of “Children of the Ghetto” that was mindblowing. Susaye’s standout performance of the evening was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” I got goose flesh listening to her.
Then the incomparable Miss Scherrie Payne, who was Susaye’s groupmate in The Supremes, arrived for the show and I could have died. Two Supremes in the same place at the same time! Scherrie was a sweetheart who made me feel like I have known her for years. I was so honored to meet her, and to see her and Susaye together was just a knockout! I was so hoping that she would join Susaye for a number but it was not to be…at least this trip.
My good friends Miss Lisa Mae Brunson and Vince Ancona came into North Hollywood from Long Beach for the show and this was the first time we had met too. Seeing them and being with them was just wonderful. They are both extremely talented writers who have become very good friends over the years and I was delighted to be with them for the evening. Lisa Mae’s friend Sarah came along and it was a pleasure to meet her too. They all rounded out the evening for me, making it a truly splendid experience.
Like all good things, my trip had to come to an end but it was everything I hoped it would be when I set out on this journey. I have to compliment the staff at The Hollywood Heights Hotel for making my stay there as pleasant and as comfortable as possible. All my wonderful friends who came to be with me and spend time with me and treat me like a king hold a special place in my heart and I promise you guys that we shall do it again soon. And I don’t break my promises…
And that is my sole focus right now.