Friends, today marks a milestone for us. First is the fact that after more than a week since our Denver event we return to actual “grill’n” today. Second, today marks our fiftieth day on the road! Think about that. It has been 50 days since I walked out the front door of my house in Texas. On that day I had such high ambitions. The sun shone down on my manly visage, enlightening my golden hair, and added just a slight glint to my hazel eyes – kind of like how a Tiffany diamond sparkles from across the room. My wife put her hand on my massive shoulders and, with a nod, said “Stud (that’s what she calls me sometimes) take me around the world.” My children looked up and said in unison “Daddy, you’re the greatest!” I got behind the wheel and – What in the hell am I talking about? Let’s recap the golden jubilee day, shall we?
DAY 50/Grill’n in Burbank
Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Dr. Warren Carrol. Certainly he was smiling upon us today as everything came together so beautifully.
You will surely remember our experience at the Crystal/Christ Cathedral from yesterday. Can I tell you I’m a glutton for punishment? Checking out of our hotel in Anaheim early this morning we drove the 45 minutes (something like 12 miles in LA-area traffic) to mass. As much as I like pretty churches I also enjoy visiting local cathedrals when I can. Los Angeles’ Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels meets one of those criteria. Here’s the story… Following the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, Roger Cardinal Mahoney (try to keep reading, please) deemed the Cathedral of St. Vibiana unsafe and sold the property in order to build the $250M current cathedral. Some would say this new structure is a tribute to the styles of the American southwest. Others would say it is unmitigated bovine scatology (to borrow a phrase from William F. Buckley). Personally I think it’s the ugliest thing crafted by man since Milwaukee’s Best. What’s worse is that St. Vibiana’s wasn’t in such bad shape that the current owner couldn’t turn it into, of all things, a nightclub. Think about that for a moment. A beautiful structure that once housed the earthly remains of the third century virgin-martyr, Vibiana, not to mention the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord now hosts Sweet 16 parties and
orgies wedding receptions. So what on earth was I thinking?
As I mentioned I like to see the cathedral church. Also, the new cathedral does house Vibiana’s remains as well as a crypt-level mausoleum wherein lie the earthly remains of Gregory Peck. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to us, today was the “celebration” of Illegal Migrant Sunday or something like that. If you think I’m joking, go check out their website. Mass started at 10. By 10:20 we were still waiting to enter the parking garage. Thanks to our phones we discovered a nearby church with mass at 11:15. So we drove to St. Stephen of Hungary parish. Strange design though not horrific, this church was a grand sight better than “Angels”.
Imagine our surprise that mass was in Hungarian.
“Well that was different,” I said to my beautiful wife as we left. “I’ll bet we never have a chance to hear mass in Hungarian again!” I continued. “Shut up and drive,” said Karla. “It’s your job.”
We dropped Wilma and Rita off with Karla’s sister who is still in town and on her way to visit a friend for the day in Simi Valley. Then Benedict, Karla, and I drove through Beverly Hills and into Burbank.
The only thing I know about Burbank prior to this trip is that it was for many years the LA home of NBC studios. Johnny Carson, after vacating studio 6-B in Rockefeller Center, broadcast his show from Burbank. Also, the 1960’s variety show Laugh In was produced here. Announcer Gary Owens would begin each show with the line: “From beautiful downtown Burbank…!” Did you forget I’m a TV historian? In my mind…
I wasn’t looking at my phone while driving. But as I was looking at my phone and driving I noticed a message from Therese Peters, ’02. She was posting a pic of her front yard showing her eagerness that the hour was upon us. I have to say that at some point along this journey I became aware of Miss Peters’ presence. Not only was she a regular commenter but her posts on the Facebook page were quite enjoyable to read. Also, and I think this was in Minnesota, some other alum had mentioned to me that I would really enjoy meeting her. “Is she crazy?” I asked. “In a good way,” came the reply. My kind of person.
Anticipation building, I quickly posted a shot of our location and said “We’re almost there!” What a silly use of technology.
When we pulled up to her house she rushed out to meet and welcome us. We went inside and she showed us around. What an awesome place! It is blessed with not only a great location but also a beautiful design. Therese had just purchased the place and it had only recently been renovated. The biggest plus for her is the proximity to her equally awesome parents. Their houses back up to each other. How’s that for convenient?
Once in the kitchen, other guests started arriving. We were joined by such luminaries (it’s Hollywood, after all) as Heidi (Eubanks) Oligny, ’06 and her husband Nick, also ’06; Mark and Pauline (Ellis) Gallagher, ’90 and ’92 respectively; their daughter who is currently a Christendom Junior; Vanessa Anderson, ’06; Sarah (Parker) Silveira, ’98 with her husband Desmond; and Molly Morey, ’12. Also joining us (in addition to the children) were the Duca brothers – Frederick, ’14, and Joe. They brought a third Duca bro with them but he was quiet so I forget his name.
While opening up a beer (I don’t usually drink beer so figuring out how to pop the cap off is still a challenge for me) Therese asked her mom for a ladle or spoon for something at the stove. Her mom handed her a spoon and she laughed. “This one is from Christendom!” she exclaimed. Apparently it had somehow made its way from the kitchen on campus into her bag when she left for the last time. Hey, I collect ashtrays and broken dreams. Who am I to judge?
The Duca’s had me in stitches. Having returned from my outside smoking station I relayed how a few kids had just walked frantically past the front of Therese’s house. “There’s a Pokemon in there!” cried one of the kids. “Nah, it’s around the corner,” said another. I found this amusing. “Therese, do you have a Pokemon infestation?” I asked. She told us of how her neighbor, a man so caught up in work that he rarely leaves his house, recently came running off his front porch in robe and slippers in search of a Pokemon character. Apparently there really is one nearby. The neighbor is in his 40’s. This is not cool. It is funny. The Duca’s then proceeded to explain the whole Pokemon craze to us. We’ve been hearing about it and I read up on it but it could not have been explained better than this line from Frederick: “Don’t try to repackage my youth to me on my iPhone.” Gotcha.
Mark Gallagher was excellent in his turn as our live feed interview. Many of you watched the clip and had some very nice things to say about him. In fact, everyone I’ve met who knows him says he’s a stand-up guy.
We took our group shot, sad that this was coming to an end. We were really enjoying ourselves. But I felt confident knowing that with Therese involved, the Christendom Burbank Alumni group (we’ll save the designation “chapter” for later) was off to a phenomenal start. She really is crazy in a good way and that spells fun to me. Karla and I stayed a while longer to help clean up and were entertained by Therese’s story of a cross-country train voyage she had taken from Christendom to LA in the wake of 9-11. This woman could serve me well if I ever run out of incredible things to write. Before it was all said and done she handed us a basket she had prepared with gifts for us and the kids. Now that was an unexpected surprise. I do hope we come back through these parts again!
On our way out of town (after collecting my daughter and mother-in-law from Simi Valley) we drove past a few houses that just screamed to be in my selfies. You remember that I’m a fan of truly good writing and classic TV shows. Top on my list was an address in the Brentwood neighborhood of LA. It was the exterior in the first season of The Golden Girls. Don’t say anything. You know you watch and you know you laugh very hard when Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia sit on the lanai with their drinks. I wanted to join them but they’re mostly dead and completely fictitious. Next we hit the Sherman Oaks neighborhood and the real-life Brady Bunch house. The kids were excited as they are also fans of the Brady’s. Looks a bit different today. Also of note to us was a house on Bundy Drive where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were brutally cut down
A twilight drive to our hotel about an hour east of town rounded out the night. I can’t believe we only have one more event on the road. Stick with us, though. You will not be disappointed (I hope).