July 2009

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July 25, 2009: Oh the Dore Alley Street fair.... hehehe yes, it can make for a fun day just to go and people watch here. I got to share it with my friends Matt, Matte, Kevin, David, Noam and Ben. Good times :)

July 25, 2009: So today, I spent the day over at Rob and Susan's cooking for their BBQ. They had about 35 people over and I cooked up a storm. Roasted eggplant, peppers, onions, chicken, tri-tip! Mmmmmm, it was a good day, and the testemant to my cooking skills was shown by ZERO leftovers :) Always glad to help out my "mom and dad" here in CA :)


Susan and Penz, as he finishes up an afternoon on the grill

July 22, 2009: Well I just got back form an AMAZING week back on the East coast. Here are some of the highlights:

Tuesday July 14: I arrive in BOS around 12:30 AM and am picked up at the airport by my wonderful sister Gini. We head back to her place in Salem and soon get some much needed sleep. Later on in the morning, we head over to my brother Tim's place in Wakefield. After my nephew Seth got home from school, we headed over to the Royal Garden for some lunch :) That night when Suzanne got home, we had a nice dinner and just relaxed for the rest of the evening.


Penz chilling with Zach. Awww, two puppies :)


Tim and Seth :)

Wednesday July 15: Tim and I would head up to Newburyport for the morning and have a really nice time together. The weather was perfect and we spent more of the morning just walking around and exploring this beautiful little New England seaside town. We'd head back to Wakefield in time to pickup Seth and then do a little shopping in the afternoon. Around 4, Alex McCabe came to pick me up and we'd head up to Manchester, NH to meet up with Mike "Tab" Wasicsko. We'd hang out and then go out to dinner for some tasty pizza before going back to his place for a few drinks. After Alex took off, Tab and I killed a bottle of wine while catching up and eventually getting some sleep.

Thursday July 16: Tab took off for work around 9:00 am and I got up shortly after that. I opted to just hang out and relax, but of course, I needed something to do, so I found his lawnmower and brand new weed whacker and took to the lawn. Hehehe about an hour and a half later, the landscaping was done :) I ordered a tasty steak and cheese sub from the neighborhood shop and had lunch. A couple of hours later, William "Spidey" Wright showed up with his friend Kelly and we all hung out for a bit before Tab got home. As soon as he did, we were off to Concord to meet up with Paul and Kara Barnes and their crew for a night of drinking 'n eating while listening to Scott Kirby perform. Hahah, it was a great night and even Paul's mom Barbara was there to enjoy the festivities as well as Tessie, their new pup.


Tab meeting Tessie (Paul and Kara's new puppy)

After the show, Tab and I went back to Paul and Kara's place for a few more late night drinks before we all finally passed out around 3:00 AM. LOL what a fun night!

Friday July 17: Feeling the hair of the dog, we all got up around 9AM and shortly thereafter, Tab and I left Dover and headed back to his place in Manchester. Mmmm, thank goodness for Dunkin Donuts along the way :) After getting to his place, we cleaned up, ran a few errands and then embarked on our 4 hour drive to Yonkers, NY. The ride down was a smooth one and we got to Irene, Jan and Jennifer's place around 6:30. We were warmly greeted by the family and soon were sitting at the table enjoying a delicious home cooked Polish meal of perogies, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage and kraut. For dessert, it was cheesecake from the S&S bakery in the Bronx. What a great night!


Tab, Jenn and Penz :)


Jan, Tab and Penz :-)

Saturday July 18: What an amazing day..... Tab and I would leave Yonkers and head into Manhattan around noon. At 1 PM, we entered the Soho House and soon met up with my friend Jane Hansom. Jane, her husband Gary and I met last year when me and Kevin Barnes went to La Paz, Mexico together (check out my journal). Well we kept in contact afterwards and about a month ago when they invited me to join them in NYC for the Mandela Day Concert at Radio City Music Hall, I was like HELL YA, I"LL BE THERE :)

So here we are starting our day sipping on some mojito's, eating some tasty vittles and catching up while watching the 'pretty people' swim in the rooftop pool. After a couple of hours, Jane let us know that she had to go to a press conference over at Grand Central Station and asked us if we wanted to join. We of course did and soon were off to Grand Central Station for the press conference.


Jane and Scott drinking mojito's at the Soho House


Tab sipping on a mojito at the Soho House

Upon our arrival at the worlds most famous train station, we went to Vanderbuilt Hall which was were the press conference was being held. A few minutes later it started. In attendance was United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and South Africa’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Baso Sangqu, as well as various other dignitaries. Each of them took a few moments to speak and to praise Mr. Mandela for his efforts to improve the world around him.

Soon after the speeches were done, the diplomatic party went to over to a large table to sign a banner which would be presented to Mandela back in South Africa. LOL well not to be left out, I got in line with the rest of the them, and Tab right behind me, to sign the banner. Hehehe, well as we got to the table, one of the members of the UN Security detail came up to me and politely asked me if I was part of the delegation. Being as I was dressed in shorts, t-shirt and Teva sandals, I guess I didn't fit in. But, not to be discouraged, I said "Yes, I am". He then asked if I had any credentials and said "Sure!". I then reached into my pocket, pulled out and flashed my very official Mandela Day after party pass that Jane had given me. He looked at it, apologized and then the ambassador to South Africa handed me a Sharpie so that I could sign the banner. LOL, now that was fun!! After signing, I shook hands with Ban Ki-moon and kept going :)

VIP Pass to the After Party :)

After this, we walked Jane back to the Palace Hotel where we got to meet up with her husband Gary Wilson. It was great to see Gary again, but we only got to chat with him for a few minutes as he was busy as hell. Heheh, well it was t-minus 5 hours until the concert began and he's one of the key organizers :) Heheh, well we let him get back to work and after chatting with Jane for a few more minutes, Mike and I figured she could use a little time to herself to take a well deserved cat-nap. So, we took off for a couple of hours and decided to catch a cab down to Ground Zero.

This was my first visit to Ground Zero and it was quite an experience. Until you are there, you just don't fully grasp how big of an area was devastated. And of course, knowing this is where my friend Graham Berkeley was killed didn't help any. We walked around for a bit before grabbing a couple of slices of pizza and then heading off back to the hotel. It was a very somber experience, but I'm glad that we went.

Around 6:30 we met up with Jane and her crew and we all grabbed a few drinks just down the street. Afterwards, it we joined the crowd and soon were inside Radio City Music Hall! Gary hooked us up with some amazing tickets and we found ourselves 6 rows from the stage, dead center!!! These were $600 tickets that he got us and damn, what an experience! Here is a list of the entertainment, in order of appearance:

2009 Mandela Day Concert at Radio City Music Hall

* SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR
* GLORIA GAYNOR
* YVONNE CHAKA CHAKA
* WILL. I.Am.
* CYNDI LAUPER
* LIL’ KIM
* SIPHO MABUSE
* SUZANNA OWIYO
* CARLA BRUNI
* DAVE STEWART
* JESSE McCARTNEY
* QUEEN LATIFAH
* CHRIS CAMELEON
* BAABA MAAL
* ZUCCHERO
* JOSH GROBAN
* VUSI MAHLASELA
* LOYISO
* THANDISWA MAZWAI
* WYCLEF JEAN
* JESSE CLEGG
* FRESHLYGROUND
* ARETHA FRANKLIN
* ALICIA KEYS
* ANGELIQUE KIDJO
* STEVIE WONDER

Presented By:

* WHOOPI GOLDBERG
* JOSH PECK
* FOREST WHITAKER
* PAUL GAMBACCINI
* MORGAN FREEMAN
* BILLIE JEAN KING
* TIM ROBBINS
* TOM JOYNER
* SUSAN SARANDON

The concert was simply amazing and sitting in the 6th row just made it that much more spectacular! You can actually see it for free by visiting http://www.46664.com and I highly recommend you check it out. Here are a few snapshots of my favorite performers/artists:


Lil Kim and Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time


Morgan Freeman


Carla Bruni and Dave Stewart


Zucchero performing "You Are So Beautiful, To Me"


Aretha Franklin


Stevie Wonder

Here is a great write up of it from the New York Times (lol hey, I'm already doing a lot of writing :)

Nelson Mandela Endows His Birthday Celebration With a Purpose

By JON PARELES
Published: July 19, 2009 - The New York Times

“Happy 91st, Mr. Mandela,” Aretha Franklin announced at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night, celebrating Nelson Mandela’s birthday. She was among the dozens of musicians at Mandela Day, a benefit concert for 46664, Mr. Mandela’s organization for AIDS and H.I.V. prevention. It is named for his prisoner number during his 27 years in jail for fighting apartheid.

Since 2003, concerts have been presented by 46664 in South Africa, Spain, Norway and England, before New York City this year. This was the first one Mr. Mandela could not attend, because he no longer travels outside South Africa. Now Mr. Mandela’s admirers hope to see his birthday, July 18, become an internationally recognized Mandela Day: “Not a holiday,” Mr. Mandela admonished on video, but “a day dedicated to service.”

His call for volunteerism has a theme song, “With My Own Two Hands,” which was written by Ben Harper and was performed on Saturday by a South African singer, Chris Chameleon, and a Senegalese one, Baaba Maal.

Pressing the case, and calling on the audience to devote time to unselfish deeds, were Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, among other actors.

Stevie Wonder concluded the show, flanked by all the other performers, exulting in his own “Happy Birthday” — a song that once supported the creation of the Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday, now repurposed.

It was a briskly paced concert of songs with messages — protests, exhortations, laments, rallying cries — and a few pop love songs on the side. Top billing went to American musicians, who also included Alicia Keys, Josh Groban, Will.i.am, Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah, the improbable duo of Cyndi Lauper and Lil’ Kim, and Jesse McCartney, a 22-year-old would-be Justin Timberlake, who proposed “Body Language” as a path to multicultural entente. Europeans were also on hand, including the chanteuse who’s now the first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy — breathily singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” with the English rocker Dave Stewart — and the Italian rocker Zucchero.

Musicians from Africa, including Mr. Mandela’s fellow South Africans Vusi Mahlasela and Thandiswa Mazwai, were equally prominent, and vivid. Mr. Mahlasela, who had protested apartheid, sang his “Weeping,” about lives destroyed by it, with tender crooning, rushing declamations and dramatic crescendos. Ms. Mazwai, who sang with the South African group Bongo Maffin, unleashed a bright, penetrating voice with growls, wails and ululations.

Suzanna Owiyo, from Kenya, had a song with a salsa beat; Loyiso, a younger South African singer, had clearly been listening to American R&B singers like Usher. Collaborations were frequent and jubilant, like the duet of Alicia Keys and Angelique Kidjo (who is from Benin, but now lives in New York) extolling “ Afrika” to a township groove.

The Soweto Gospel Choir was onstage throughout the concert as a rich-voiced, brightly dressed embodiment of the ties between African and African-American music. It lent harmonies to both dance tunes and inspirational songs, which were often one and the same.

There were songs from the apartheid era like the steadfast “Asimbonanga,” performed by Jesse Clegg with the South African group Freshlyground; it was written by Jesse’s father, Johnny Clegg. “Gimme Hope, Jo’anna” was performed by the gathered African singers; it was a bouncy hit in Britain by Eddy Grant, while it was banned in South Africa for its lyrics bluntly protesting apartheid.

Rappers took up other problems. Will.i.am warned of global warming in “S.O.S.” Wyclef Jean sang about genocide in Rwanda, then went on to praise “Madiba” — an honorary title for Mr. Mandela — joined by a female South African singer named Zulu. Mr. Jean strutted down into the audience, bounded across the stage and ended the song with a backflip.

There were also songs of gratitude, including the hymnlike “You Raise Me Up,” performed by Mr. Groban and Ms. Franklin; he clung earnestly to the melody while her voice swooped and fluttered above him. Ms. Franklin followed through with another churchy ballad: “Make Them Hear You,” from the Broadway show “Ragtime.” But then she proclaimed, “Hallelujah!,” revved up a handclapping gospel groove from the band and danced offstage. This wasn’t a concert that stayed somber for too long — not when it could be a birthday party.

After the concert, it was back to the Palace Hotel for the after party. Hahaha, now this was just too cool. Lots of good food, 3 open and totally free bars including one hosted by Patron, and some movie stars just made this night totally surreal. I got to meet Cyndi Lauper, say hi to Morgan Freeman and have Jessie McCarthy help me bus the bar and get rid of the empty glasses (hehehe, he is a cutie!). I also just got to meet and talk with some very nice people throughout the night including Judy Sikuza. Judy is a lovely young woman of whom I had the pleasure to meet and chat with at the party and she may come out to visit San Francisco later on this year :)

Around 2:30 AM, Tab and I made our farewells, and headed out towards Times Square where we got a few slices of pizza before heading back to Yonkers. At 4:30 in the morning, we woke up his sister Jennifer to share our crazy adventures of the day before passing out.

On Sunday, we got up and had a tasty breakfast with Jan, Irene and Jennifer before we made our farewells and headed on back up the coast to MA. Four hours later, we made it to Wakefield. After a couple of hours, Paul, Kara, Gini and Aunt Bernice joined me, Tim, Suzanne and Seth for a very tasty BBQ that Tim put together. It was a fantastic way to end up the weekend and I'm really psyched that Paul and Kara were able to join us, as they had spent most of the weekend up in Maine.


Tim (took the picture), Tab, Gini, Paul, Penz, Kara, Bernice and Suzanne


Penz and his nephew Seth :)


Penz and Kara


Bernice and Suzanne


Tim and Seth (and Tyler eyeing the food)

On Monday, Gini came and picked me up and we spent the day down at the beach. It was a lot of fun to just sit, relax, and enjoy the sun, ocean and time with her. That night, she picked up 15 lobsters and we cooked 'em all up at Tim's place. I can't think of a better way to end up a fantastic trip back East :)

Tuesday morning, Johnson (who was at the lobster dinner and let me crash at his place, 10 min from BOS), took me to the airport bright and early, and by 1:00 PM local time, I was back in CA :D

July 12, 2009: Happy Birthday to ME!! 39 years young :)

So yesterday was an amazing day. As it was my birthday weekend, I decided to throw myself a little party and invited some of my good friends over for a little food and drink. Originally, I was going to do some cooking and throw a big old BBQ, but after thinking about it (with approximately 25 confirmed guests), I realized I'd be cooking the entire time and wouldn't be able to enjoy my party. Instead, I ordered 7 pizza's from Patxi's Pizza. They make an amazing deep dish Chicago style pizza and those turned out to be a hit. LOL that an my pretty full wine rack of which we put a HUGE dent in (about 27 bottles were consumed and let's just say there wasn't a bad bottle in the batch!). It was so cool having so many good people over that day to share in the fun. The party started at 1 PM and the last 10 guests didn't leave until midnight! It was a great way to spend my last day at 38 years young.

On Sunday, it was off to San Jose for a home cooked birthday dinner at Anna and Ralph's place. Matt and Ben Daniels were with me and it was a great way to celebrate. I'm very thankful for having such wonderful people in my life :)


The birthday pizza's!


My birthday icecream cake courtesty of Ashish and Jill from Tucker's Ice Cream


A happy and drunk birthday boy :)


40 Year Old Tawny Port - Bob and Lisa Snyder (who brought bacon cupcakes!!)


Penz and Matte Zovich


Tim Sherrill


Kevin Langer


Dark chocolate bacon cupcakes!!!!


Matt Rooney, Kaina Young, Matt Consola, Brian Mayer, Tim Sherrill, David Parker, Josh,
and the rest of the crew from the Mission Beach Cafe.

July 8, 2009: Just got back from spending a couple of really fun days down in Yosemite National Park with Ashish, Jill, Amy, Nikhil and Ajay. We stayed in the tent cabins at Curry Village and it was a fun time. I'm looking forward to posting some of the amazing pictures that Ashish took with his kick-ass camera as soon as possible!


Nikhil, Ashish, Ajay and Penz on a really fun hike together (the boys did great!!)


Poor lil bears. You'll find this sign at the location of a fatal bear/auto accident.


Christopher and Clarice hanging out

July 5, 2009: Had a fantastic time today down at Ralph and Anna Consola's place in San Jose today. We were celebrating Matt's birthday in classic family style by sitting around all afternoon drinking some great wine and eating some amazing food cooked by Ma Consola :)


Birthday boy Matt Consola making a drink

July 4, 2009: Happy Birthday to Mike Wasicsko and Matt Consola!!! Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday to the good ol' USA :D

Tonight I did an impromptu BBQ that turned out to be a pretty awesome night. Dinner included: 11 lbs of rib-eye steaks, 3 eggplants, 10 sweet peppers, pitcher of sangria, bottle of 04 Silver Oak Cab, bottle, 03 St Supery Cab, bottle of 30 year old Tawny Port from Sandeman, chocolate devils food cake from Tartine, 2 ice creams from Humphry Slocombe.

In attendance were Ryan, Matt C, Matte Z, Brian Mayer, Jimmy, Mike, Jimmy, JP 'n Clarice! A recipe for an impromptu 4th of July/BDay BBQ that was quite good :P

July 2, 2009: Went and saw Howard Jones at the Red Devil Lounge here in San Francisco with Matt Consola. Now that was a fun night! At the end of it, I got to meet Howard in person and listen to him chat with Matt who is really one of his huge fans :)


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