Tag Archives: mike munoz

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… 

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“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

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

ROAD TO NOWHERE—BIG MOUNTAIN

The email from Tilly on facebook said something to the effect, “I think you may know Paula Greenstein. And if you’re in Montana, anywhere near Whitefish, I think she owns a restaurant there called Wasabi—it’s supposed to be really good.” I read the email again, amazed at the Lord’s hand in all affairs. I had just found a former Camp JCA counselor named Gary Rappaport on facebook and while I inquired as to the whereabouts of Eric “Rico” Abrams, I could not for the life of me think of Paula (Plunger) Greenstein’s name—so I just asked about Eric and made a mental note to think of the name of that vivacious girl, who always wore green.

“Paul “Plunger” Greenstein, that’s her,” I thought to myself as I examined her picture on facebook. “It’s been thirty-five years old-friend, I wonder what you’ve been doing. And how did you come to live in Montana?” I decided that I would do some writing in the morning at City Brew in Kalispell and then continue up 93 to Whitefish.

Perhaps a reader of this arranged assortment of letters is wondering why I could so easily make a plan to find Paula Greenstein? And this very question is a testament to inspired human thought. Because the human mind intrinsically knows that all of life is a story. Even creation is a story in which God used the power of letters, to make words, which in someway beyond human comprehension caused matter to continuously congeal into the world as we know it.

Three Days Earlier

Subsequent to taking in the beauty of Flathead Lake from my balcony vantage point I ventured down the staircase. The sound of rustling dogs reminded me of my valiant protectors, who apparently feeling profoundly guilty about the mountain lion incident, would not budge from my side unless locked up—in this case in the laundry room. So I freed Thing One and Thing Two, as I call them, since I did not and still do not know their given names. Happy, as only a dog can be at the sight of a master, we strolled across the lawn to the lake and sat. And this, after eight hours of sleep, would be the end of my seclusion. Leaving the dogs to guard the cabin I fired up the Black Beast (Suburban) and made a right onto 93 for Lakeside and then Kalispell.

Kalispell, a nice little town at its center, is the home of several well-run establishments. Norm’s News is a must first stop for all travelers through this town—my father’s name was Norm (a sign). The hundred-year-old building features a soda fountain counter manned by two adorable teenagers who are the kind of kids I hope my daughters might be one day, if I ever have children. And, although the residents of Kalispell are not aware of it, the ancient “Los Angeles style” bar behind their soda fountain counter holds mystical powers. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART VI

Although I’d become accustomed to the forward motion of a life lived on wheels, a few days in Missoula were an extraordinary detour into the Land of Normal. True, this was not my idea; indeed it was Mike who thought it best to give my old-body a few days of healing time before moving on. (refer to the Road To Nowhere Part V, the mountain lion fight, if you are a new reader) And since I was finding it difficult to move without a variety of pains formerly unknown to me—I acquiesced.

Interestingly, as I settled into life in Missoula and watched all of the normal people go about their normal lives the pain of my spectacularly failed life began to hurt more than my body, cut and bruised from head to toe. Husbands, wives, and kids everywhere seemingly happy and content. Not a single one bothered by Osama bin Laden’s still being alive and well, his hands dripping with the blood of our fellow Americans. The national debt? It doesn’t exist for these people with bright eyes and warm smiles.

And I gasped for air, suffocated by this reality—that for a plan beyond my understanding is not my own. My escape, the written word, only because of this life source does my heart beat. And I sat at Break Espresso for as long as my body would allow the pen and I to do our dance. There are several stories, which spawned from these days, Heather the most interesting, but her story, quite involved it is, shall remain for another occasion. 

Nightfall came on the fourth day, the black beast was saddled, and the comforting lines, which I fever for, passed at seventy-miles-per-hour. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART IV

My sleep had been deep and restful. But I awoke somewhat disappointed that nothing had come to me. No dream, no vision, nor epiphany that would change my course in life—I was hungry…

The big, black Suburban, with not even two hundred thousand miles on it yet, headed down 800 Street, Salt Lake City, towards the great mountains that make Salt Lake such a special place. On the right side of the road about two miles into the wilderness is Ruth’s Diner. Mike who has seen much of the world nodded his approval. They had renovated since last I had been fortified there, but quite smartly they had restored, rather than remodeled—Larger kitchen and bathrooms had been the primary goal. The rear patio, where one can imagine what it might have been like to have coffee and biscuits in Eden—was untouched.

The ride to Idaho Falls featured my thoughts on the economy: Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART III

Just as the Road To Nowhere is a time and place to relax in the present, it is also a time and place to have a blast from the past. The device I used to advance this objective, an ipod, was considerably different than the Eight Track player of my original road trips, ohhh, but the music was the same! “We are stardust and we’ve got to get ourselves, back to the garden…By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong…Can I walk beside you? I have come here to lose the smog…” And I plugged in the ipod filling the cabin of the big, black Suburban with timeless music and memories.

The rock formations in the land somewhere between the states of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, for those who have not traveled the 15 past Las Vegas, are mind tingling beautiful—cliffs, valleys, streams, escarpments of every kind. And there is no doubt to the thinking man who sets eyes upon this terrain that the Earth itself has a soul. These massive protrusions are not monuments, but a quest by the Earth to reach out and be close to God. The struggle is so similar to our own; the Earth like the body of man anchors the soul so desiring transcendence from the physical realm back to the spiritual reality of all creation. I cry at the sight of these mighty boulders stretched by such an epic struggle…And I feel sorry for myself because of the futility of my own struggle…Surely if the soul of the mighty Earth, which can shift tectonic plates and create mountains can’t…

A stop for lunch in Cedar City, a nice little town with an abundance of Mexican food, a University, and a Wal-Mart—and up the road we continued. From Cedar City to Sandy the topography is that of an enormous, green valley, the surrounding mountains of which, are green as well, seemingly more content with their lot than those encountered earlier—there is a tranquility about them…Even the grazing cattle is happy. Yes, these cows that graze the natural grass are happy not mad.

And the conversation that transpired originating a few miles before St. George and lasting to a click past Beaver went something like this:

“I almost built a factory over there,” Mike nodded the direction of Colorado City. “But when they told me I’d have to meet with the elders I decided not to.” Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE

“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. Continue reading