Tag Archives: starbucks

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

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

DOWNTOWN OLIVER BROWN AN INTERSECTION OF LOCALS

1100 Wilshire had been an office building with no tenants before the most recent housing boom came along and made it a place that people who enjoy a sky-pool call home. Frankly, the pool at the Skyline, where I am currently borrowing a rich friend’s place, is probably the nicest in Downtown—I’ve used it once. Anyway, it was David Kean’s fortieth birthday so there I was.

“Happy birthday, old boy,” I said handing David a bottle of wine that I had just picked up from Mike Berger at Ralph’s.

About a year ago I signed a copy of my last book for a very nice woman who approached me at the Water Grill while I was having dinner. It turned out that her husband is the CEO of Kroger and much like Starbucks I got one of those plastic cards in the mail—I haven’t had a grocery bill in a year.

“Forty, welcome to my world,” I said to Dave.

 “I know. I woke up feeling older,” David mourned.

 “Not to worry old boy, it only gets worse.” I laughed. “Is that an olive spread?” I asked gesturing toward the red, lacquer, Chinioserie tea table.

 “It is, help yourself,” said David, happy to not have to listen to anymore of my getting old jokes.

 I plopped down on the modern, tan, mohair sofa next to Eric Everhard the porn star. I don’t think Everhard is his real last name, but if it is, I hear that it suits him.

 “Hi Eric.”

 “Hey Oliver!”

 I reached for a cracker and some olive spread. “So what’s up…I mean working hard…I mean how’s life treating you?”

 Eric smiled; he’s a very cool guy. “Oliver I’m a porn star, how bad can life be? Other than my back is just killing me—job hazard.”

 I had never thought of the strain that his particular line of work puts on the back and hips, but suddenly it made sense. Continue reading

OLIVER BROWN – HANGING WITH STRETCH

Foreword by Stan Lerner: as mentioned in a previous foreword, I’m working on the motion picture screenplay for our dear Downtown Oliver Brown, so I thought it a bit of fun to repost some of his classic adventures. Enjoy!!!

“Hey Oliver, slow down a second.”

I stopped half a block short of 7th on Flower so my homeless buddy Stretch could put a torch lighter to the pipe in his hand. I call him Stretch because he’s almost seven- feet-tall and looks like he weighs one-sixty or less. “Stretch, you know I don’t approve of you smoking crack.”

 “Oliver, I’m a homeless black man with HIV—give me a break. Smoking crack is the least of my problems.”

 “Well maybe you wouldn’t be homeless if you didn’t spend all the money you panhandle on drugs.”

 Stretch laughed. “Oliver, you spend more money on coffee than I do on crack.”

 “Not anymore, Howard Schultz sent me a Starbucks’ card with a couple of grand on it, for a signed copy of my last book.”

 “Does that mean you’re going to pay me back the money you owe me?” asked Stretch.

It was my turn to laugh. “I knew there was a reason I hadn’t told you about my Starbucks’ card.” I stopped at the corner and stared up at the Wokcano sign.”

Stretch looked at the sign as well, although thinking a completely different thought than my own. “I did some good business here when this was Burger King—it’s all about foot traffic for me,” said Stretch.

 I had a plan. “You really shouldn’t smoke crack on an empty stomach…Wait here I’m going to get you some sushi.” Continue reading

INTRODUCING DOWNTOWN OLIVER BROWN

Foreword by Stan Lerner: as I began work today on the motion picture screenplay version of Downtown Oliver Brown I could not help but to think he should once again grace the home page of downtownster. And while all of Oliver’s adventures are available under the downtownster feature section there’s nothing like reading him off of the homepage — so enjoy, and I promise there will be some new adventures soon!!!

“I just dropped Kevyn off at the airport, so I can come hang out,” Joe’s voice rang out through my iPhone. “Where are you?”

 “I’m at Starbucks on 11th and Grand—come pick me up,” I answered back, wondering how I was going to get my hair cut at Salon Eleven and meet Joe in the same one hour time frame—oh well.

 Some background: Joe, like most of my friends, has become rich over the years. And yes he’s good looking too—whatever. So, now that he’s sold his luxury mansion rental business in Sun Valley for zillions he’s decided to come back to LA, specifically Downtown to get serious about business.

Who better to call than Oliver Brown? I’ve lived Downtown for fourteen years—that would be before it was cool and the Lakers were still playing in Minnesota or Inglewood or somewhere. Anyway, when my rich friends decide it’s time to get richer or cooler Downtown they usually call.

How did I come to live Downtown? I left the mansion I could no longer afford in Doheny Estates and moved Downtown. Somehow my failure to make enough money as a writer to live in twenty times more space than I needed has made me an artistic / business visionary. If I could have thought that one up and sold it to NBC I probably wouldn’t have moved.

Starbucks on 11th and Grand is as good a neighborhood hangout as one can ask for. I spend most of the day writing there. 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 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.

“But this is one of the strange facts about Stan Lerner that even you don’t understand,” I thought to myself. A profoundly civilized man and wild beast doing battle in the same being…I smiled at this thought, not because there was any humor to be found in it, but because it is this type of self-reflection that makes it incumbent on all us to travel the long and winding road of life.

Soon, the sun began its ascent above the horizon—its rays of light pouring over the sea of sand, so many grains—countless as the possibilities before us. The slope of Interstate 10 toward State Line still excites my body and soul, as I’m sure it does most. Funny and comforting to think that as time passes there are still sights that can excite even the most veteran of travelers—albeit now in a comforting way. Comforting, because there is a sense of freedom that comes with being able to move around one’s own country with such a sense of anonymity. And with so many freedoms nearing extinction it’s pleasant to know that there is still one left—I wonder if in the future children will understand what I mean by this. Or will they say, “A long time ago people used to be able to travel from state to state without being scanned.” 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

SPECIAL GUEST BARISTA

A FEW MONTHS AGO

“Another Jack and Coke,” I said, ordering my fifth drink—I try to drink minimally at Lakers’ games. “Look Ray, you have to have an espresso machine at the bakery,” I urged.

“We’re going to have coffee,” responded Ray politely. He’s from Denmark they’re polite.

“That’s great, but you have to have espresso.” I wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Look how busy the Starbucks right around the corner is.” Referring to Starbucks at 11th and Grand. “You could take half their espresso business in your first month…They don’t even make their drinks by hand…And they still get the orders wrong half the time.”

“I don’t know why I come to these games,” chimed in Ed, as in Ed Yawitz our host. “Stan’s right Ray, you have to have espresso drinks.”

“Hell, I’ll be your barista—no charge, if you’re worried about the extra staff,” I offered getting carried away in the moment.

Ed nodded. “Stan’s a world class barista—I’ll come every day.”

Ray hadn’t had as much to drink as I. “Okay, I’ll put in an espresso machine, but you have to come in as our barista, not all the time, but…”

I held up my hand. “I’m there. I’ll be your special guest barista and I’ll train up some protégés.”

A FEW MONTHS LATER

Ray opened Hygge Bakery (1106 South Hope St.) and if you’ve read my blog “Let’s Hygge” you know that I was there crafting a very fine story, which I later wrote while on vacation in Las Vegas. Oh and while I was on vacation I launched downtownster’s sister site blogsincity.com a must read before any trip to Vegas. And if you haven’t read my blog “Let’s Hygge”, you should!!!

So on my way back from Vegas I received a text from Ray. “We’ve got the espresso machine.” I texted him back, that I’d be in the next day. Continue reading