Category Archives: Travel

THE WANDERING JEW

So I had intended to drive up to Missoula Montana, where my blog Road To Nowhere had left off, and continue my journey of self-discovery and storytelling from all over this great country of ours. But I have paved many paths with intentions that quite often differ from my deeds. I’m back in LA now, I wrote nothing about my trip from the road, although I did write about smashwords / ebooks and the Los Angeles Book Festival…Maybe we should explore a different voice as I now reflect on my most recent expedition. Perhaps sentences, which are short stories unto themselves—a marathon of sprints, if you will. Yes, a marathon of sprints, because isn’t that how one might best describe a robust life.

As I have done so often in the past I departed from my home in my hometown of Montebello. Round midnight the black beast (a 1996 Suburban) beckoned to me from the curb, “Come it is time to go.”

Sunrise breakfast at a diner a half hour south of Pebble Beach, the owner was nice, his business was failing—neglectful ways.

Stopped at Pebble Beach, the U.S Open was about to open, but I wasn’t so impressed by any of it at all.

I drove through the mountains, there was a blizzard, I passed the Donner Pass, poor people had to eat each other, I thought to myself.

The bright lights of Reno made me smile, I had never been there before and I felt like staying. I’ll go back to Reno one day…

I slept at a friend’s house a few miles outside of Boise Idaho, Eagle Idaho I believe it’s called, I hadn’t seen her in twenty-three years—she’s married to a nice guy and has two kids.

The drive from Eagle to Missoula was a wondrous; winter snowscape that wound along the Little Salmon River amongst many rivers and I never for a moment stopped wishing that everyone could one day see such beauty!

Missoula Montana is one of my favorite places, so I stayed for a while. Most people would and should experience all there is to do outdoors there—I sat at Break Espresso and wrote, chatted with Matt the barista, he’s the type that will never fully trust someone like me, but that aside he’s going to be a big success one day. I met a girl named Emma, I feel really good about her because something about her made me feel good about my day. I met a girl named Kelsi who I love because she needs me to. And I mean love in the Godly sense.

I caught wind of a story about a company in North Carolina that had been embezzled by its employees. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE

FOREWORD BY STAN LERNER: downtownster does not celebrate its first birthday until February, but I still feel compelled to post the TEN BEST downtownster blogs of 2009. And while I think all of our blogs have been great, these are the ones that readers read the most and gave us the highest level of props for writing. ROAD TO NOWHERE, originally posted novella style, was not only a great adventure, but a chance for some serious self-reflection. Not a bad thing to do these days… 

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh, you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996, black, Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked.

“Sure. Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and see if Andy wants to come with…No his mom is visiting…Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and stop by to see Andy anyway. Maybe he can meet up with us later… How many miles do you have on this thing?”

“One hundred and eighty-six thousand. Where do you want to eat in Vegas?” asked Mike, seemingly settled into our trip within minutes. Twenty-five years ago a trip in his yellow, convertible corvette took us from coast to coast…

“All these years I’ve been going to Vegas, working in Vegas, living in Vegas, and I’ve never eaten at The Egg and I. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No. Where is it?”

“On Sahara. Let’s go there.”

Forty minutes of good conversation ensued until…  “Hey that’s the 15,” I said pointing at the exit. The Suburban swung across five lanes of traffic as can only be accomplished at such an early hour on the 10 Freeway. We could have wound up in Palm Springs or Arizona for that matter, but that’s the point, it really didn’t matter.

“Hey, let’s pull off in Barstow I like the new Starbucks there—cute girl baristas.”

Mike shrugged. “Okay.”

<Click Here: To Buy Books By Stan Lerner> 

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART II

The black Suburban rolled down the highway with the mean rumble of a venerated work vehicle. I raised the cappuccino, which I held in my hand, to my lips and took the first soothing sip. Given the distinctly not stylish clothing being warn by Mike and myself and the rugged “Road Warrior” appearance of our vehicle my choice of a cappuccino, as my early morning sustenance seemed a strange juxtaposition—black coffee would have been the appropriate beverage of such a portrait. Continue reading

DISCOVERING PLEASURES AT TREASURES

It had been a long day of wine tasting at the Hilton, literally more than a thousand wines to choose from. And there was Billy O’ Rourke’s new tequila served by hot girls via cold ice luge—you get the picture. So later as I sat at the Circle Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel one can easily understand why I might be content to sit and watch Fedor knock out yet another MMA opponent. I can’t wait to see Brock Lesnar and Fedor come to blows, my money will be on Fedor who doesn’t bother with product endorsements, although his right hand might just be the cure for Brock’s foot in the mouth disorder. Anyway, I just wanted to sit, drink (more) and watch the fight.

“I have no interest in watching MMA, let’s roll to Hofbrauhaus and drink some beer and…” said my buddy Isaiah, an exec. at The Venetian.

“You go, I’m watching the fight. I’ll come over when it’s done.”

So I’m talking to Ken the dentist visiting from San Diego to my left when a kid, by kid I mean 22-year-old, pulls up next to me in the seat Isaiah had just vacated. I was hoping for someone of the female variety, obviously, but he seemed decent enough. I was slightly alarmed that he ordered a beer rather than a real drink, like Ken and I, but I reminded myself that the youth of today, well let’s face it, they’re little girls when it comes to vice. Anyway, I included him in the fight conversation with Ken and unlike my buddy Isaiah he did indeed have an interest in some good old ass kicking.

“So what is there to do around here,” he asked.

“This is Vegas, what is there not to do?” I responded. “You’re not from around here are you?”

“I’m from Sweden, I’ve been here for four hours…”

“You’ve never been to Vegas before?” He shook his head. And that’s when I notice two average looking young girls eyeing me, they had “college kids playing hooker in Vegas” written all over them—so I waved them over. I figure that I don’t really give as much money as I should to charity, but I make up for it by helping kids like these two get through school. And since I was feeling particularly philanthropic I nodded toward my new friend from Sweden, thinking that he might like to get a proper start in Vegas.

“So do you want to go up to your room and get naked, the four of us?” asked part time college hooker number one. Continue reading

HALLOWEEN LAS VEGAS no small affair

LAST BLOG

So last we left off I had just left the Michael Jackson “This Is It” premier at the Palms / Brenden Theatre. And I was feeling the terrible effects of the bite from the zombie girl that I had, had sex with in the bathroom at Mickie Finnz…And the ghost of Howard Hughes had given me some troubling advice as I drove to meet Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson who was helping Nightlife Marketing Guru Alicia decorate Cherry Nightclub at the Red Rock Casino…

“This is Stan?” Alicia asked Jessie, as I strolled up to Cherry, which was in the process of getting a large pair of fangs over its entrance—to give it the proper atmosphere for the upcoming Halloween Fang Banger’s Ball.

“Yeah,” responded Jessie.

“He’s hot for a middle aged writer.”

I took her hand and kissed it. “Flattery and money will get you everywhere with me. What would you like me to review?” I gesticulated toward my own finely tailored double-breasted suit. “I was at a movie premiere thus the suit…Otherwise I’ve been dressing more casual so as to fit in and get good stories…Fly on the wall kind of thing…But it hasn’t been working.”

“You look a little pale. Are you feeling okay?” asked Jessie.

“We need to talk, I need your help.”

Jessie nodded toward the club. “We have the whole bar to ourselves.”

This of course made me forget about all of my problems!!! Moments later with a Jack and Diet in hand I tried to think of a subtle way to explain my strange pallor.

“Remember the zombie girl I had sex with in the bathroom while I was on a first date with Roxy?”

Jessie nodded. And Alicia laughed and said, “I loved that blog!”

I sighed. “Everyone did. But she bit me and now I’ve got zombie fever.”

“That’s not good,” said Jessie, probably wishing James “Hollywood Deal Maker” Westbrook hadn’t asked him to look after me while I stayed in Las Vegas indefinitely.

“It gets weirder,” I continued, “the ghost of Howard Hughes was just riding shotgun with me in the Benz and he said the only cure is to seduce a married midget—otherwise I’m a zonbie—f*ck, I can’t believe this happened. Everyone else just gets herpes and I get this.”

Alicia just giggled, clearly realizing that Jessie wasn’t’ kidding when he told her he had never met anyone quite like me.

“Stan do you think the fact that you’ve only slept nine hours in the last seven days might have something to do with all of this.”

I pulled up my sleeve and showed him my see through skin and fluorescent veins.

“Wooooo,” said Jessie, as he stared at evidence of my rapidly changing state.

“Do something,” said Alicia, no longer giggling.

“Okay, no big deal, I’m a VIP host I can make anything happen in this town. Why not this? How long did the ghost of Howard Hughes say that you have?”

“He didn’t, but I don’t think too long.”

“Look it’s Halloween all weekend. I’ll just invite a bunch of midget couples to our table at Prive…I’m sure you can take it from there.” Continue reading

PRIVE, TAO, NOIR – LAS VEGAS GRAND SLAM

Foreword by Stan Lerner: WARNING! this blog is a sexual escapade. If you are offended by promiscuity do not read any further. And for my readers who demanded some Downtown Oliver Brown salacious behavior you owe me because this really tired me out.

Roxy wanted to go to dinner—and I was confident that I could squeeze it in, drop her back off, she lives way the hell out there, and still meet Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson at Prive by 10:30. And that’s how good a time I had the night before—I was going back to the same club two nights in a row—unheard of in Sin City. Oh, and then I planned on going to Toa and Noir…I call this a Las Vegas Grand Slam…I know Alec Silverman is out there somewhere waiting to correct me factually given I’ve only named three places, but a Las Vegas Grand Slam has nothing to do with places, so not going to happen old sport.

What I hadn’t planned on was a sexual encounter with a zombie. See, I decided to take Roxy to Freemont Street and enjoy some fish tacos outside at Mickie Finnz…Out of the gutter boys I really wanted fish tacos. Anyway, it turns out unbeknownst to either Roxy or myself that there was a dance of the dead going on upstairs—and a good dance of the dead is always preceded by a march of the dead, in this particular instance down Freemont Street. So there I was in the bathroom minding my own business taking care of business…

“Excuse me this is the men’s bathroom,” I said to the extremely attractive, mutilated, Catholic schoolgirl. Continue reading

PRIVE – LAS VEGAS

Before there was Prive Las Vegas, there was lunch at Country Club at the Wynn. And this little event disserves some recollection—not easy since I got in at 7:00 this morning and I have to recollect something from 48 hours ago. First, given the thousand room nights I’ve logged at the Wynn / Wynn Tower Suites I don’t know how it escaped me that there was a country club there that overlooked an incredibly scenic golf course. I knew it existed, but I had just managed to not walk down the hallway fifty feet past the buffet. And no, I don’t eat at buffets.

Enter: Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson now known to all from my previous blog “Tao”…If you haven’t read the back story you’re not getting the full benefit of my debauchery—and I sacrifice for you / your reading pleasure.

“Let’s meet up at the Country Club at Wynn,” said Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson. “You’re going to like it, it has a great view…And I spend my whole life in hotels and clubs, so I can use a view of the outdoors.”

“I’m on my way. Oh, and I’d like to schedule some time with Roberto “Chef Dos Caminos” Hernandez to talk about Dos Caminos and his whole chef story.

“He’s sitting here with Roxy and Armando,” replied Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson, satisfied to have anticipated my desire to get to know the destined for greatness young chef. Discovering great things and great, talented people is my thing. It doesn’t pay cash, but it makes me a happy person.

The outside tables had all been taken, the weather in Vegas is gorgeous this time of year, and Jessie “James VIP Host” Gibson, his sidekick from LA whose name I can never remember but he knows a bunch of people or something, Roberto “Chef Dos Caminos” Hernandez, Roxy, and Fat Andy, who I brought along to keep me company, all sat in a large round table in the far corner. But of course there is no table far enough to keep a group like this from clearing the place.

I should mention here that Roxy is attractive, not textbook attractive like most of the girls I sleep with, but there is that something special about her. And she is way smarter than the average person. And her wit, though not quick as mine, but whose is, her wit is keen. And I like that. So when she said to Fat Andy, “I want to teach second grade, but I don’t think I want to have kids.” I said, “You’ll change your mind about that once you get to know me.” She retorted, “I’ve changed my mind already.” Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson’s friend whose name I can never remember with a sweeping motion of his arm cleared the dishes to the floor. “Just go for it!” And for a moment I seriously contemplated having intercourse with Roxy on the table. But then it dawned on my that she was probably just kidding about having my children, which made for a good laugh for all…And some explaining about the dishes—the old allergic reaction excuse came quickly to my tongue. Continue reading

TAO – NIGHTCLUB

I think I mentioned last week that I had a great dinner at Tao. What I didn’t mention was that on this one night little Vegas excursion with James Westbrook, Hollywood deal maker extraordinaire, that good old (he’s not actually old) Jessie Gibson plopped down and joined us for some vittles. Jessie “James” VIP Host as I call him is actually just that. Much like my little brother (we’re not actually brothers) Carlos “Pure” Harper, Jessie is a guy that can get you settled and all comfy with a bottle of the good stuff at Tao and or Prive. And for those not so familiar, two of the better clubs in Vegas. And so it went that Jessie and I resolved to go out and do some merry making—thus I returned to Sin City and Tao, but not before a couple of stops.

“Let’s meet at Don Vicente’s and smoke some cigars,” said Dave The Jew.

“Good idea,” said I, as I plowed down the 15 toward Sahara—completely blowing off a very important meeting with Steve Wynn. Okay, the meeting with Steve Wynn is a complete falsehood, but you have to admit the pretext makes for a funny story.

Anyway, check out my blog about Don Vicente’s Cigars—in fact I’ll repost it on Monday when I will be way too tired from the weekend to write anything. So I sat and smoked cigars, really good cigars, with the boys—Dave The Jew, Fat Andy and others. Andy and I have been friends since second grade; just to throw in an extraneous fact meant to cause an endearing feeling about long lasting friendships. At some point Jessie stopped by. He’s not a big smoker, but I lighted him up anyway and Dave The Jew insisted that he drink some good whiskey…And I did too.

Six cigars and half a bottle later I met up with Jessie “James” VIP Host and a friend of his from LA whose name I can’t remember, but I’m sure he knows everyone. At Dos Caminos, which is located in Palazzo…And last week I gave Palazzo a pretty good review. Strange that I had noticed Dos Caminos, but didn’t mention it because I hadn’t eaten there. Anyway, at Dos Caminos we chilled with Executive Chef Roberto Hernandez and ate an incredible assortment of food. Roberto is all of 28 and he’s been cooking since he’s 4-years-old or something. I’m not going to get into a review here, but seriously my new best friend knows how to make some guacamole and chips. Funny, but just a touch of lime really makes a difference apparently. This restaurant is a sleeper—it could easily be way hot one day.

Tao—Jessie “James” VIP Host whisked us through the line. Continue reading

PALAZZO

Why in the middle of writing a script, “Downtown Oliver Brown”, I would hop into James’ Hummer and road trip to Vegas I don’t know. I miss the “Road To Nowhere”, gypsy, just irresponsible, need change of scenery, all of the above—whatever, I’m in Vegas.

So why not a travel blog? This qualifies as work. But what to blog about? I called the Wynn PR department, no spa reviews on such short notice, I was notified. Too bad because I could have used a day at the spa to go along with not writing. Of course I jest! Somewhere around Barstow, James decided we’d be staying at Palazzo. And I’ve never written about this still new hotel…UNTIL NOW!

Now my regular readers know that the style of my writing varies upon my mood, the full moon, cash or lack there of, and on and on….Admittedly, I’m in peculiar mood today, so let’s call this, yet another innovation to the craft of writing, my fast and loose style. Frankly, this could be dangerous to anyone or anything that falls or in this case, past tense, fell into my bull’s eye…So watch out Palazzo!

Actually, I’ve strolled through the Palazzo a few times since it first opened and to be fair, I held off writing about the new addition to The Venetian because it opened its retail in phases and in general I garnered that it opened a bit sooner than optimum—and in a terrible economy. But there’s been plenty of time to get it together so…

 Next Day—Tired In A Good Way From Vegas

I liked the Palazzo. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE

Foreword by Stan Lerner: the numbers came in last week “Road To Nowhere” was downtownster’s most read blog in September 2009, which at least to this author merits a reposting on the homepage. New readers enjoy! Longtime readers, enjoy again!!!

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh, you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996, black, Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked.

“Sure. Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and see if Andy wants to come with…No his mom is visiting…Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and stop by to see Andy anyway. Maybe he can meet up with us later… How many miles do you have on this thing?”

“One hundred and eighty-six thousand. Where do you want to eat in Vegas?” asked Mike, seemingly settled into our trip within minutes. Twenty-five years ago a trip in his yellow, convertible corvette took us from coast to coast…

“All these years I’ve been going to Vegas, working in Vegas, living in Vegas, and I’ve never eaten at The Egg and I. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No. Where is it?”

“On Sahara. Let’s go there.”

Forty minutes of good conversation ensued until…  “Hey that’s the 15,” I said pointing at the exit. The Suburban swung across five lanes of traffic as can only be accomplished at such an early hour on the 10 Freeway. We could have wound up in Palm Springs or Arizona for that matter, but that’s the point, it really didn’t matter.

“Hey, let’s pull off in Barstow I like the new Starbucks there—cute girl baristas.”

Mike shrugged. “Okay.”

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART II

The black Suburban rolled down the highway with the mean rumble of a venerated work vehicle. I raised the cappuccino, which I held in my hand, to my lips and took the first soothing sip. Given the distinctly not stylish clothing being warn by Mike and myself and the rugged “Road Warrior” appearance of our vehicle my choice of a cappuccino, as my early morning sustenance seemed a strange juxtaposition—black coffee would have been the appropriate beverage of such a portrait. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE — BEGINNING TO NO END

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh, you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996, black, Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked.

“Sure. Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and see if Andy wants to come with…No his mom is visiting…Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and stop by to see Andy anyway. Maybe he can meet up with us later… How many miles do you have on this thing?”

“One hundred and eighty-six thousand. Where do you want to eat in Vegas?” asked Mike, seemingly settled into our trip within minutes. Twenty-five years ago a trip in his yellow, convertible corvette took us from coast to coast…

“All these years I’ve been going to Vegas, working in Vegas, living in Vegas, and I’ve never eaten at The Egg and I. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No. Where is it?”

“On Sahara. Let’s go there.”

Forty minutes of good conversation ensued until…  “Hey that’s the 15,” I said pointing at the exit. The Suburban swung across five lanes of traffic as can only be accomplished at such an early hour on the 10 Freeway. We could have wound up in Palm Springs or Arizona for that matter, but that’s the point, it really didn’t matter.

“Hey, let’s pull off in Barstow I like the new Starbucks there—cute girl baristas.”

Mike shrugged. “Okay.”

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART II

The black Suburban rolled down the highway with the mean rumble of a venerated work vehicle. I raised the cappuccino, which I held in my hand, to my lips and took the first soothing sip. Given the distinctly not stylish clothing being warn by Mike and myself and the rugged “Road Warrior” appearance of our vehicle my choice of a cappuccino, as my early morning sustenance seemed a strange juxtaposition—black coffee would have been the appropriate beverage of such a portrait. Continue reading