I’ve known Jason maybe nine years now. First met him as just the brother of someone I was becoming fast friends with, but it wasn’t long till I called Jason a friend myself. We’ve done a lot together over the years. From stumbling around Los Angeles blind-drunk, exploring the streets of Barcelona and Madrid, to somehow jumping out of a perfectly good airplane together. I’d say I’m not sure how he got me into that last one, but Confidence is his middle name, and he can be very convincing.
Jason is getting married soon, and to show him just how much we all love him, a few of us hopped on planes and rented some cars for his bachelor party. By “a few of us,” I meant 23 grown men. Most of whom I’d never met. At face value, all the ingredients of this turning into a mess were there. Two things were certain going in though. First, was that Jason was all our common ground. Second, was his brother Drew was organizing the whole thing. In another life, Drew might’ve been a master clockmaker. What I mean is, he’s very good at taking a lot of moving parts, and making them all work together. So about a month ago, we flew in from almost every corner of the country to set out on an adventure together that started in Salt Lake City.
We spent our first day getting acquainted over some food, beers, and disc golf. If you’re unfamiliar with that last bit, it’s just how it sounds. Golf with discs. We even had the discs custom made for the occasion. Jason loved the discs and the game. As for me, I may’ve come close to causing an car accident when a rogue disc escaped me on my first throw. Predictably, Jason destroyed everyone and took great pleasure in that.
Our first night we stayed in what I’d a call mansion, but I’m no expert. An indoor hot tub, in-ground trampoline, and sleeps over twenty seems like it qualifies to me. We drank, ate, laughed and narrowly escaped brawling over a few hands of poker. I may have also beaten my personal record for consecutive time spent in a 104° hot tub, which I generally measure in hours.
As much fun as Salt Lake was, we were already moving on by morning. Our plans had us on the road bright and early, heading a few hours south to Bryce Canyon National Park. My body was in disagreeance, but it was hard to be sore about it when every color of the rainbow was passing by my window in the form of rock, flowers, trees and skies
Wasn’t sure what to expect once we got there. Hadn’t read up on the park before hand, and was glad I didn’t. I’d never seen land sculpted in such a way. Certainly not with my own eyes. We could’ve been standing on another planet by the looks of it. They really are pretty pictures, but truly, you just had to be there.
Some of us ventured down into the canyon depths. The deeper we went, the richer the colors. It seemed bottomless for a minute, but the bottom did come, and so did the start of our hike back up. It was a little rougher than I think anyone thought it’d be. The group took their time, by necessity and through common sense, but I unfortunately had already committed mentally not to stop. There’s that saying, “no man left behind,” but there’s also that other one too, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” I was half expecting a medal when I reached the top.
It’d already been a long day and the next was planned to be an even longer one. Our lodging that night was another mansion as far as I was concerned. Equipped with a game room, home theater, gym, and honestly I lost count of how many bedrooms. Before we wound down for the night, we feasted on a Chili’s catering spread fit for royalty, and Jason’s brother and best man Drew, gave a toast. It was well delivered and one for the books. Not solely for it’s words though, but also for what was in our glasses. By the grace of God, Drew managed to commandeer two bottles of a particularly rare bourbon. If you’re familiar with it, you understand no matter how green your money is, the stuff is just hard to come by. It was the first and probably last time I’ll ever come to have it. Even the glasses themselves were special, branded with the logo of Jason’s yacht servicing business he operates in South Florida.
I couldn’t believe it when my alarm went off the next morning around 6am. I shared a room with Jon and Duncan. Between their snoring, it sounded like I was in the middle of bustling lumber mill. A few hours into that, I got the brilliant idea to seek refuge in the closet. I managed to get maybe a collective two hours of sleep there. Like I said, I couldn’t believe it when my alarm went off. But the road was calling, and we had about an hour drive to Zion National Park.
Yes, I was exhausted, delirious, and maybe as cold as I’d ever been, but that was all fine once we started walking through the park. It’d be hard to fix your mind on anything else other than the natural splendor you’re entirely surrounded by. We hiked in the shadows of towering cliff walls, walked under falling water, spotted a few deer, and explored long enough to see a frozen day turn warm. With that, meant it was time to be hitting the road and moving on to our next stay.
Every day we’d spent on the road traveling to these parks, we were also working our way towards our final destination. Somewhere to cut loose, throw caution to the wind, and wake up whenever the hell we wanted. Had to be no where other than Las Vegas. It was a bachelor party after all.
We pulled into the Cosmopolitan on the strip by late afternoon, showered, and got to business. Jason and his groomsmen stayed in a huge suite, large enough that it had its own network of hallways in it. We all got together there and kicked things off right. Jason gave a speech from the heart, and we raised our glasses to him. We surprised him with some shirts we had made to walk around and look like fools in. He has his Captain’s License so it seemed right to superimpose his face on Cap’n Crunch’s body.
Our first night in Vegas, I told myself I’d be in bed by before midnight, hoping to pay back some of the debt I was starting to owe my body. It was a nice thought, but I ended up being out till 8:30am. Drinks were flowing, dice were rolling, and cards were turning. I got to teach Jason how to play craps, and he fell in love with the game. The sleep depravation was really a small price to pay considering Jason is usually the guy teaching me something.
I paid the price the next morning of course, or more accurately the next afternoon. It was our last night though, and the dice weren’t going to roll themselves. Everyone spent the day scattered to their games and vices of choice but we all regrouped in the suite for a drink and a surprise I didn’t even see coming. Drew got a legitimate magician to come up to our suite and perform. I’m a logical person, but I just can’t explain some the things I witnessed that man do there. We were all just shy of losing our minds watching it all. Someone actually left the room because it was too much for him. Funny, but really gives you an idea of just how damn good this guy was.
With us all on the verge of a mental meltdown after witnessing what seemed to be actual magic, we headed down to Momofuku for our last dinner together. It was here that Jason’s dad Andy gave a speech that had a rowdy group of mostly drunk men, silent and hanging on every word he spoke. Jason also took the time here to walk around the table and personally thank each and every one of us for being there and for being in his life. All the while we were moving through a full course dinner, and an open bar of specialty cocktails. Everything was insanely delicious, and served as one hell of a base for the rest of a night which we spent doing all the things one does in Las Vegas.
After 4 nights, our adventure came to a close. One by one, we each headed back to our own cities, scattered across the country. Tired, hungover, and smiling.
I don’t think anyone could have guessed such an ambitious trip, with such a limited time-frame, and so many guys of diverse backgrounds who really didn’t know each other, would go off without a hitch. This is largely because the best man knocked it out the park meticulously coordinating the entire thing. But there’s something else to it too. Everyone wanted to be helpful. Everyone wanted to make it work in anyway they could. Of course we all had a blast, but I promise you, each of our top priority was to see Jason have the best bachelor party he could. No one blinked at the vacation days, the travel, the spending, or the 5am deathly hungover wakeup calls. This was for our friend, and there really isn’t much that any of us would let get in the way of that. It speaks volumes about Jason, and it’s because the kind of guy he is that made the whole thing work.
It was an adventure I was lucky to be a part of, and one that I won’t forget. Thanks for having me Captain.
It’s inktober 1st. It’s a busy time for me right now, so I’m just going to be doing a half marathon and posting every other day. So contrary to this doodle, I’m thinking this year is more of a graceful backflop than an olympic precision dive, but still the right spirit.
Mike explaining a few components he’s been working on for the Mars 2020 rover. It really is something to see and understand what he works on. Certainly puts into perspective how silly by comparison much of the work I do for a living is. Anyhow, my main takeaway is how under qualified I am to be in the company he keeps. I’m not asking any questions though.
A quick weekend trip to hang with Drew, George, Duncan, and Jon in Seattle. My friend Jesse was in town by happenstance too. We got into all sorts of fun but there was an obvious standout from the trip.
Over the years, our friend Drew has mastered the art of surprise, and frankly, generosity. He’d planned something specific for us all to do together for Saturday, but kept it under wraps. When it was go-time, he announced our ride was out front and we headed out the door to find… a stretch limo waiting for us. A classy move if I’d ever seen one. Still none of us knew where we were going or what we were getting into, but drinks were flowing and we were cruising in a limo. Morale was through the roof and I would’ve been set if that was the extent of our night. It wasn’t.
By now, we’d been driving a while, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Tractors, corn, and cows were the only things flying by our jet black windows. Traffic eventually stacked up and came to a crawl. Wherever we were, we had arrived. Didn’t take us too long to realize, we were at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Yep, and Bad Company was opening. The confederate flags, were the giveaway. I’m not sure I could’ve imagined a more ridiculous thing for us to do with our night. Needless to say, we were the only stretch-limo in sight. Just about everyone we passed in the lot squinted and smiled at our impenetrable tinted windows. Pretty sure they thought we were the band.
I was big Skynyrd fan back in high school, around the time I was learning to play guitar, obviously. Turns out I still know all the words. Anyone who was standing within 100 feet of me can attest to that. Don’t think the guys particularly cared much for the them, but that’s not really the point though, is it. Fun was had and memories were made.
With my wife Alexis and our good friends Drew and Kelsie, we ventured to the island of Japan for the better part of two weeks around Christmas and New Years. We spent our days taking in both the man-made and natural wonders. From the shrines of Kyoto, to the endless urban sprawl of Tokyo.
We sipped beers traveling 200 miles an hour on rail, watching the country crawl across our window. Amazed and terrified that just a few feet away, trains traveling in the opposite direction blinked by at the same breakneck speed. We took part in traditions. Ate strange foods. Walked through shrines and structures that’ve stood hundreds of years. We watched snow fall to the ground while we floated in a heated pool. We celebrated Christmas in the most bizarre way any of us ever will. It involved animatronic dinosaurs. We wandered and drank and wandered some more. We brought in a new year, in a new place. And we saw Mickey Mouse in a seemingly alternate universe.
It’s a place of a very different culture than my own, and I was only able to experience and capture just a fraction of it, but it’s made for one of the more humbling and memorable experiences I’ve had yet.
Second trip to Hawaii in six month. Could get used to it. We have Kirstin and Nick’s wedding to thank for it this time around. Some rain clouds kept us all on our toes up until the moment of the ceremony but it turned out to be a beautiful day and night. Thankful to have been invited along for the ride.
A month ago George and I had our show. I’d been holding off sharing the experience until I had the time to cut together an edit from the footage Alexis shot. To just get right to it, the night went as good as it possibly could’ve.
Family, friends, friends of friends, and strangers poured in all night. Some traveled a few blocks to be there, some a few thousand miles. The rest coming from everywhere in between. Everywhere you looked there was laughing, drinking, donuts, and of course the art. It was one of the most fun and memorable nights of my life. George would tell you the same. Couldn’t have asked for a thing more, but even more is what we got.
We were honestly shocked at the amount of enthusiasm we received for everything we’d done. The look on George’s face up top really says it all. He showed 9 pieces and sold 7. I showed 36 and sold 31. We raised several thousand dollars for a charity we decided on together, called P.S. Arts. They’re a nonprofit that works to keep art programs alive and thriving in underserved public schools and communities across California. Growing up, art was obviously always my favorite subject. Can’t imagine having gone through all those years without it. Who knows where or who I’d be, if that fire was never stoked. Guess I’m just trying to say it was an easy cause to stand behind.
In the end, It was all a lot of work, but was all entirely worth it. Sure, the months and weeks leading up had their stresses and snags along the way. Some literally up until the hour before the doors opened. The thing is, you can make short work of just about anything with the kind of friends we’ve got. From day one, they just wanted to know how to help. And each in their own way, they did exactly that. Truly grateful to call these people friends.
Thank you to everyone who shared their support, regardless if you made it out or not. Really, truly, means the world to us.
Happy 40 George, we did it.
A.A. Bondy at the Zebulon in Los Angeles with Alexis. He doesn’t play often, but I see him any chance I get. He hung around after the set, which I’d never seen him do. Walked straight over to meet him. I had to. Said I’d been to every show he’s played in LA since 2010, and that I really appreciated him. He thanked me, said that he appreciates that, and shook my hand. Fun to think that after 9 years of listening to him, he’s listened back.
Oh The Vampyre by A.A. Bondy.