September 2008

Go Dodger$$$

I was hanging out at the stadium before a game last week, and I saw a fan wearing a Dodgers cap.  Sounds about right, yeah?  But this wasn’t just any baseball cap; the nice blue L.A. logo was stitched onto the front, but it also had the stamp of a swanky clothing brand printed all over it.  I pointed this out to one of my players, and he said that hat costs more than $100.  For a baseball cap.  That’s not even AUTOGRAPHED.

My buddy went on to tell me that one of the big sports brands recently came out with a baseball glove that costs several hundred dollars.  This thing is made of top-notch Italian leather and is supposed to be a lot more comfortable and durable, but still, I can remember running down to the local sports-goods store in Brooklyn and picking up a perfectly good glove that’d last for years for around $15 or so.

So I’m starting to think this kind of status thing is L.A.-centric, what with Rodeo Drive and the high quantities of “beautiful people” residing here.  Sure, New York has Madison Avenue and all the fashion mags, but what do New Yorkers do for four months of every year?  Bundle up in huge scarves and big puffy coats, and stay indoors as much as possible, that’s what.  L.A. is a fashion capital all year long.

What does this mean for me?  Well, maybe nothing; after all, I clean up pretty good when I’m not in my uniform — no cut-off shorts or muscle shirts or anything.  Then again, maybe you’ll spot me at a game wearing a swanky brand or an Italian leather something or other.  But don’t hold your breath.

See more of Joe’s L.A. adventures at

Wheatgrass is Still Just Grass


It was a strange transition, moving from Deli-and-Dog City to the Health Food Capital of the U.S.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of weird foods anywhere you go (fried snack cakes, anybody?), but I think L.A. takes the prize for the highest concentration of them.

Let’s take wheatgrass, for example.  It is EXACTLY what it sounds like: the grass of wheat.  From what I’ve read, wheatgrass contains good-for-you stuff like vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and it’s really caught on as a health thing; out here, lots of people squeeze it and put it into drinks like juices or shakes, and some folks grow it themselves.  I’m not quite that ambitious, but I like to think I’m open to trying new things.  Let’s just say it tastes like somewhere in the neighborhood of where chalk meets… well, GRASS.  Yuck.

If there’s a lesson here, I guess it’s just to take small steps into a new experience.  I’m proud of myself for taking a step into the health-focused L.A. food culture, but I think the next thing I try will be something a little less outlandish… like sushi or blowfish.  As for wheatgrass?  Hey, I can say I tried it, and be perfectly satisfied that my grass of choice is in the outfield at the ball park.

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LA Landmarks

One of the nice things about moving to a new city is that you can be a tourist at first. So once I got settled, I figured I’d get to know my new hometown so I could start to fit in a little better (or at least fake it for my East Coast friends when they come visit). Oh sure, I saw the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame and the La Brea Tar Pits, but there’s also a bunch of other stuff to visit. So here are a few places this LA newbie can recommend.

Griffith Observatory
This place has been around since 1935 and sits on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood; the view of LA below is second-to-none. It’s THE place to see stars, and I don’t mean the ones that end up in the tabloids.

Dodgers Stadium
Okay okay, I know if you’re reading this blog you’re familiar with this ballpark, but I have to put in a plug–did you know we have tours? The friendly guides will take you through restricted areas for a behind-the-scenes look at one of the game’s most notable stadiums. Come over and say hi if I’m around while you’re here.

The Original Farmers Market
Sample cuisine from all over the world, take home an international souvenir or two, and hang around for the special events that always seem to be taking place.

And then there’s the food; you could eat every meal there for a week and never have the same dish twice. But you won’t find much stuff like the pretzel or Italian ice stands I’m used to frequenting back in NYC. Squid salad? Uh, no thanks, pal.

LA County Arboretum/Botanical Garden
Remember “Fantasy Island”? Who doesn’t, right? You’ll see the Queen Anne Mansion from the series at this urban oasis. And in general, it’s a pretty place to visit. That’s all I’ve got for this one–I’m more of a city fella.

Skeletons in the Closet
The LA County Coroner’s office has a gift shop (no, I’m not kidding). You can buy coroner-themed t-shirts, mugs, corpse-shaped Post-It notes and even toe-tag key chains. I filed this under “I just don’t get it,” but that didn’t stop me from buying a chalk-outlined mousepad for my office.

I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that it’s never too early–or too late–to get to know your town. I mean, I lived in New York forever, and now that I live across the country, I wish I would’ve gone sightseeing a little more often. Well, there’s always the away games against the Mets. Think I’ll start with the Statue of Liberty.

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Downward Facing What?!


Today I went to a yoga class. For all of you who aren’t familiar with yoga, it doesn’t involve learning to use the Force and talking backwards.  Apparently, the goal of yoga is to get you “in touch with your inner self.” Now, I don’t know if I’m the kind of guy who’s okay with touching my inner anything, but I figured I might as well try it. And for something that’s supposed to at least be “relaxing,” it was a bit stressful at first; contorting myself into 18 different “poses” in front of a bunch of strangers isn’t exactly my style, either. But everyone seemed to mind their own business, and I think I did okay until we got to Downward Facing Dog (or Butt In the Air, as I called it).

I think just about any new experience–skydiving, your first day at a new job, driving on the freeway–can be stressful, but once you get the hang of it, you realize it’s pretty good for you. Just start out slow and easy and work your way up, sort of how I began with the Cow Pose; by the time I got to Downward Facing Dog, I felt pretty confident. And the proper attire never hurts.

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