Kelsie turned 30. Normally a group of us would be descending upon a new city and taking it by storm to celebrate. But then a global pandemic hit.
We’ve always gone all-out to celebrate our 30th birthdays and Kelsie’s the last one to join the club. She deserves a special 30th, pandemic or not. So we put our heads together on how to do that, and this is what we came up with. Judging by reports that she was a sobbing mess when she saw it, I’d say mission accomplished. Happy 30 Kelsie, we love you.
Finally got around to putting an edit together of our Nashville trip from OVER A YEAR AGO. What a time it was to be able to just hop on a plane to meet your friends in a new city for the fun of it.
Our friend Jon turned 30, and a group of us descended upon Nashville to celebrate it. It was a quick two-night trip, but we did a lot with a little.
We pushed our way down Broadway, watching the bands play at one honky tonk after the other. We sang at the top of our lungs in a year-round Christmas themed karaoke bar, packed in shoulder to shoulder. Some of us were even brave enough to do it with a microphone. We learned about craft cocktails, and then drank some. We hit the dance floor at a bar disguised as an unassuming single family home. And in a period of two days we ate more Nashville hot chicken than any respectable physician could recommend.
It was a lot with a little, but most important of all, we raised our glasses and wished our friend a happy thirty.
Jason and Cat got married, and boy did they knock it out of the park. Their vows were funny and moving. The speeches were heartfelt and well delivered. The food was rich, the drinks kept flowing, and the dancing never stopped. There may’ve been actual flames coming off the soles of my shoes.
It was sincerely a beautiful day, and I’m thankful and lucky to have been part of it. I walked away from their day excited for their new chapter, and reminded and inspired to make good on my own vows.
I also walked away a little hungover the next day! Yes, I broke my no-hangover New Year’s resolution, but my Dad put it well when he said, “If there’s ever a time to be hungover, it’s the day after a friend’s wedding.”
Congratulations Jason and Cat. You deserve it all, and you got it all.
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.
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, of all places, we were at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Yep, and Bad Company was opening. 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.
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.
Impromptu trip to Hawaii thanks to our MVP status friend Drew. It a was time for slowing down, and connecting in ways you’re just not able to when you’re a gang of ten plus. Thankful for the laughs, the drinks, and the ears. Thankful for friends like these.
Few of us got together on The Oregon Coast for a weekend getaway a few months back. Twelve friends, two dogs, a pool table, a jukebox, a hot tub, and plenty to drink. We trekked the windswept shoreline, hiked the forest trails, and wandered the sleepy town of Lincoln City. It sure is a pretty place.
It was the last time a lot of us saw Hunter. He was a dog that above all else, loved food. Any food. Never had a dog, and never quite knew what you could and couldn’t feed them. I try to stay out of it when the begging starts. But the way he looked into your soul as you were about to take your last bite, of literally anything, defeated me every time. Godspeed Hunter.
Jenn and Duncan have been inviting us up to Sacramento to float down the American River with them pretty much every year they’ve been up there. We’ve missed a few, but this was the third time for Alexis and I. We love it. It’s brings close friends who live far apart, together again. There were 16 of us this year. 17 counting a baby girl on the way from Jenn and Duncan.
Have this feeling that this time might be one of the last of this scale. Things are changing. Priorities are changing. Life isn’t slowing down. So I brought the camera.
Even though these memories are just a few days old, and their pictures are still perfectly sharp and clear in my mind, can’t help but smile watching the footage. Have to imagine that feeling only amplifies with time. It’s not the most fun being the guy carrying the camera around everywhere, and I’m sure it’s not fun having it pointed in your face the whole time either. Seems important though.
If there’s anything we’ve all learned this time around, it’s when you’re on the river, bring a damn knife. Life jackets couldn’t hurt either. For all the worried mothers out there, we’ll just leave it at that.
First comes love, then comes marriage they say, but there’s usually a bachelor party somewhere in between there. From left to right, Drew, Ryan, Giov, Michael, Jesse, Duncan, Jon Kim, Giancarlo, me, Mike, Levi, Ricky (George and Charlie not pictured here). We were a pretty big group. Fourteen strong, coming from all over the country. We chose to party in Denver, Colorado. Most of us hadn’t been before, and It was pretty close to meeting in the middle geographically. It felt right.
We did a lot over 4 days and 3 nights. Usually it’s your best man who puts these things together. My best man was my brother, but planning really isn’t in his wheelhouse. My friend Drew offered to take up reins and get it all figured. He’s a good guy to know to say the least.
One day my friend Drew told me he wanted to move into a new place with his girlfriend Kelsie. They really hadn’t been dating very long at all, and the new place was a pricey two year lease. There was never a thing not to like about Kelsie, but I still owed it to one of my best friends to warn him he might be rushing into something here. He agreed he was rushing in, but rushing into the right thing, so why wait. I remember thinking it to be pretty bold.
Turns out, they just signed a lifetime lease, and tied the knot. They married near Palm Springs on April Fools, because well, it’s Drew and Kelsie we’re talking about here. It was a beautiful Saturday.
The ceremony and reception took place at the Lautner Compound near Palm Springs. There are only four rooms on the property, and Alexis and I were offered one. Had to be the most stunning room I’ve ever stayed in. It felt so open but at the same time totally private. Couldn’t help but feel pretty cool even just standing in it, and the entire grounds followed suit. Was really a sight.
The bride and groom have a lot of gravity in my life, and it meant a lot to me to stand up with them on their day. It’s the only wedding I’ve ever been in. Another first they’ve given me. They do that a lot. During the ceremony, I remember watching them, and watching Alexis, and wondering to myself, just how in the hell I got here. How did I get so lucky to have this family. It was a weird feeling. Like a wealth of time and memories, all converging to a single point. I don’t know that I’m explaining it right, but I do know I couldn’t stop smiling. Really, my face was starting to hurt a little.
We set their union in stone the best way we know how. By partying. We danced, we drank, and we laughed the night away. I can’t imagine they could’ve wanted anything more. It was a great day and they’re gonna do great things together. I’d wish them all the good things there are to wish on their journey, but they don’t need anything besides each other, and they’ve already got that.
Drew E. Cohen, the leader of the pack, had a bachelor party and it was one for the books. Twelve of us shared a cabin in North Lake Tahoe. There was poker, a hot tub, alcohol, billiards, a personal chef, monster trucks, karaoke, and eight feet of snow. As alcohol often does, it led to some heart felt speeches and even some tears. Though, none of mine of course.
I designed some t-shirts for the weekend gang, and Michael wrangled getting them printed. The design was just an oversized image of Drew’s face staring dead at you. We wore them the whole time. Some folks in town were asking who the mystery man was on our shirts. Was he that MMA fighter they wondered? Why were we so many of us wearing it? Were we going to see him tonight? They were a hit, and if we’re being honest here, I still wear mine every few weeks.
There were plans to do this that and the other while we were up there, but the weather was so severe, that we couldn’t really wander too far from the cabin. Setting record snowfall for the month of January will tend to have that effect. It was so severe, that we decided to abandon ship and leave the cabin a day early to avoid getting stuck as things worsened.
We made our way back to Sacramento, where most of us flew in and would be flying out of, to continue the party for our last night. Not having Sacramento in the original plan, we scrambled for a minute on what to do. By the grace of God, there was a Monster Truck Jam event going on. It was awesome, and I felt like I was twelve years old again, only I was many inches taller, and fairly intoxicated.
Karaoke followed, but that’s where my account of things start to get a little fuzzy, as I started traveling through space and time. All in all though, it was a great time, with great company, celebrating the next chapter of our great friend’s life. Cheers and godspeed.
The highlight of course, was George winning a bet…
I asked the girl I’ve been crazy about (and driven crazy by) since the day I met her, to marry me. How we got from there to here is a long story. One that I’ll save for another time. But today, I want to tell you about the best day of my life.
A few days earlier we started to plot our weekend, and talked about spending the day together. No friends, no family, just us. The weather was shaping up to be nice, so I suggested we go downtown to layout at Grand Park. I knew this is where I wanted to propose.
There’s been plenty of opportunities to propose in more exotic, adventurous or even stereotypically romantic places, but Los Angeles is where it was meant to be. It’s always been the backdrop to our story. It’s where we found each other. It’s where we fell in love. I also knew how much this city means to her as an individual. She moved around a lot growing up, and Los Angeles is the first place she’s ever called home and truly meant it. I figured what better place to propose than in the heart of LA, in a sprawling park overlooked by one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
I usually have a hard time getting out of bed, but on this particular day you’d have thought I spent a lifetime in the military. I left Alexis in bed and got breakfast started for us straight away. I had some time sensitive plans in place, and I wanted to get ahead of the day. Thank God she still wanted to go to the park.
We got ready, packed a bag and headed over. When we got there, we found a blaring children’s dance festival of some sort taking place. It was loud and it was weird. Not exactly what I expected. Thankfully, it’s a big park and where we were headed was on the opposite end. It was a hot day, really hot, but we found some shade under a tree to lay our blanket across. We sat down and talked a bit while I doodled the iconic LA City Hall building across the park. I gave up after a few minutes and told her I was going to just draw her instead.
I repositioned myself so she couldn’t see what I was drawing. I lifted my eyes from the page every few minutes to examine her features, all the while she was doodling too. After a few minutes, I said I was done. My heart was racing and was hoping she couldn’t hear it in my voice. With a worried face, I warned her not to be mad, since the portrait didn’t really turn out that great, and didn’t quite look like her. When I spun my sketchbook around, she found the words “Will you Marry me?”
Her eyes lit up and moved from the page to me, back to the page and back to me again. As she stared at me with wide watery eyes, I took the ring from my pocket and offered it to her. I told her I loved her, that I always had, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my days with her. We kissed and held each other. After a few beats… I had to remind her she still had to give me an answer. It was a strong yes, and I finally put the ring where it’s always belonged.
Once our nerves settled, I pointed to a man that was hiding out behind some bushes. His name is Archi, and I hired him to photograph the moment. He’d been there the whole time. We all finally made eye contact and laughed. Honestly, I didn’t even know where he was for a while. True mark of a pro. We spent the next half hour or so taking some photos with him. Some in the park, and some across the street in front of the LA City Hall building. It’s was just too beautiful a building to pass up with a professional photographer on hand. As we were walking up to City Hall, I joked to Alexis that I was really just trying to fast track this thing, and get the papers today.
Visited Seattle for the first time. Beautiful city and geography. Good eats, good drinks, and good company.
The idea to go was suggested and agreed upon, among friends sitting in a hot tub with full beers in hand, with plenty of empty ones nearby. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the idea would fade away in the sobering light of tomorrow.
People don’t really do what they say, especially if they said it after a few drinks. But as luck would have it, we did what we said.