The search for the next addition for my garage has seemingly taken an eternity. In high school it felt like I had a different vehicle every 3 months, this was true to some extent but after totaling my turbocharged MR2 in the Santa Cruz Mountains things have taken a slower pace. Without wasting any more time, I was very excited when Volkswagen announced the Passat CC.
Traditionally I didn’t like anything VW unless it was a Samba, GTI/Golf, or the Toureg - however that doesn’t mean I’ve been blind to their other offerings - the Phaeton for example. The Phaeton although awesome, was just not my style. I loved the ‘in the know’ and everything else about it, but come on…if I were to spend over $100k on a car I’d want others to know it. Enter the Volkswagen CC, Volkswagen’s answer to the Mercedes CLS class of vehicles.
Sounded like just what I needed, a car I could comfortably transport 3 grown adults, drive without too much care, and essentially just a solid looking, sporty saloon. Look at the photographs, the thing looks awesome! - or so I think so. Not to mention that interior - dual tone, stitched leather, I ate it up. I FINALLY had the time to stop by a dealer and check one out today - ironically because I needed to buy parts for the other VW.
My 5 word review: It looks better in pictures.
Within the Editor’s Note in this month’s American Photo, David Schonaur writes, “…while light is a real thing, photographs are not. They are approximations of the real world. Once the shutter closes, what is left is a piece of evidence of the past. The photograph is a memory…”
Photographs document history, events, and essentially our lives - yours and mine. Great photographers in my opinion tell stories through their photographs, each photograph tells an enhanced story - who, what, where, when and why. Now, I do not consider myself a photographer - I don’t make a living snapping shutters, but I just do not believe my photos are that special…to anyone other then my subjects and myself that is. The irony in this is neither did my father, but I clearly recalled wherever we traveled he had by his side his trusted 35mm Pentax SLR. He documented our family vacations, holiday parties, summer barbecues, essentially anything and nearly everything that he thought was worth real estate in a family album.
These days my tool of choice is a Digital Nikon SLR and instead of family albums it’s a web of social networks and common web utilities such as this blog, flickr, facebook and whatever else is out there. People often wonder why I take so many photographs, the fact is I don’t believe I do. There are times where I’ll have a camera by my side and others, more often then not, that the only camera I’ll have is my iphone. I believe that photographs enhance a person’s life so much more - imagine all the stories about your great grand parents, now imagine if your grand parents or parents actually had photos documenting these stories? Or when a close pet, friend, or family member passes…you think one wished they had more photographs? It’s true there’s always a tomorrow, but why do things tomorrow when you could do them today?
Anyways…like lowered european vehicles, technology, and marketing…photographs seem to be an anchor in my life. I’m comfortable behind the shutter, and appreciation is more then enough to keep me back there. Here’s some of my favorite photographs from the past couple weeks. Enjoy.
That’s Why I Love Her…
By now, I must have more photos of Crystal in museums, gardens and exhibitions then anywhere else. Since our first dates we’ve been to the Cantor Arts Center, The De Young Museum, The British Museum, The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Seattle Art Museum, Filoli, Kensington Palace, Gamble Gardens, and what seems the world over. We actually spent this weekend re-exploring Palo Alto, a town that’s become so familiar to the both of us. An evening out at Vino Locale with Sia and Shebani, then the following morning devouring brunch of fall seasonal vegtable scramble and eggs benedict at Saint Michael’s Alley. These are what we refer to as our ‘happy places’ somewhere that we’ll go to share a drink and a smile, escapes from the bustle of our every day lives. Also places where we had treasured memories, the Cantor Arts Center for example was one of our very first date spots, and when Crystal stopped by for a brief visit during her stint as an expatriate, we had a delicious brunch at St. Michael’s Alley.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, today’s entry is not about my or our weekend, but just who is Crystal to me. Most of you know her as my girlfriend, lately she’s been asking me an entire slew of questions pertaining to the future and the unknown. “So, do you think we’re soulmates?,” she inquires one evening? Normally this question would frighten me off, and although I don’t actually believe in “soulmates” I smiled and stuck around. I thought “Of course silly!” but we ended up goofing around anyways, if you watched Tina Fey in “Baby’s Mama” think of how Steve Martin rewards Tina Fey for doing something outstanding.
There are many ways to describe a person, especially a person you’ve come to know, respect, cherish and love for an extended period - however I always seem to come back to the term “snarky” to describe Crystal’s deposition. Sure she’s goofy, silly, lovable, and when you catch her on a bad day bitter, plotting, and unreasonable, but so is anyone on many occasions. Sure there are things I would like to change about her, but she’s who she is and I by the same right am who I am, although we find each other creating small sacrifices to create balance in an otherwise unbalanced bubble. She suggested we have Indian last evening for dinner, something I would have never expected her to suggest and although I over ate, as usual, I appreciated her willingness.
Just like there’s no wrong or right to an opinion, there’s not exactly a clear thought out reason why we are or we aren’t soul mates. In fact, if you looked at our history we are probably anything but. I believe the most common definition of ’soul mates’ is two apples in a bunch, or two that fit together - perfectly. Abiding by such a definition, I’m not sure if we are - however if you believe in the common belief that ‘opposites attract,’ well…we make a stronger case for that. She hates the outdoors and almost everything associated with nature, although ironically she is pro-green on the whole environmental movement, I however enjoy the outdoors - backpacking, day hikes, sailing, snowboarding, et cetera. I love more ethnic foods with a variety of exotic spice such as Indian, Caribbean, and Singaporean. Crystal on the other hand would rather go to a good steakhouse such as Alexander’s or a French bistro such as Cafe Lateral - although don’t expect her to eat the snails. She grew up along the ocean, riding horses, and taking ballet and is a product of private education. I on the other hand grew up in a mix of Northern California, Seattle, and New York, attended Boy Scouts (which probably explains my fondness of the outdoors), grinding skateboards/inline skates, and mostly a public education (which explains why she’s smarter).
It’s one of those agree to disagree things. She has her vices, and I like mine. She doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother her, together this seems to work out fairly well. Her climbing her corporate ladder, me trying to figure out my exit. Louis Vuitton v. Panerai. Although it sounds like we definitely weren’t meant for each other we understand each other fairly well; she can talk motorsports and sports in general as long as no one gets into the ‘hey remember when?’ as good as any other male oriented brain, and I attempt (and am still trying to) understand The Hills, Britney Spears, and Haute Fashion.
What can I say? We seem to ‘work,’ ‘click,’ and ’synergize.’ Often times she’s the best part of my day; a welcoming smile, a needed caress, and someone to make me laugh in the most miserable of days. There aren’t enough words to describe my exact feelings toward Crystal, although I trust that she understands. She’s affectionate, compassionate, and most of all understands that we must support each other and work together as a team to get through anything. She has her goals and I have mine, not to mention together we have ours.
Speaking of which, it’s time to pack up and head on home. We have a dinner date, and in a nutshell…That’s why I love her.
When I decided that I would minor in Marketing in college I really had no idea what I was going to get myself into. My thoughts then, and this just tells you how unprepared I was, were that I needed a minor to compliment my major. Almost everything I do these days has in some way, shape or form to do with marketing, promoting, and selling. When I say marketing, I really mean perception - people purchase, act, and use items because they feel that those items will have a specific ROI for them, whether that return being practicality, utility, solving a need, status, etc. In other words - some people can justify paying $800 more for a Louis Vuitton bag when a Coach bag would suffice, and others will pay $80,000 for a vehicle when a $25,000 vehicle would perform the same.
This little fact has always intrigued me, a niche known as Luxury Marketing. Same effort, for a substantially greater return on investment. Why are people inclined to purchase such goods and services? For all my clients believe (and I assure you that we are) I am a luxury service - the numbers speak for themselves. Marketing Luxury Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Mercedes Benz, Bentley, et cetera is one thing and fairly simple to understand, what I wanted to figure out was the distinction between rich/neuvo-wealth from the truly wealthy/old money.
If you live anywhere above and outside of a cave you most likely know what the first picture is, a Bentley Continental GT (You may not know that it’s a GT Speed, but that doesn’t matter), however I am willing to bet and am fully ready to put my greenbacks to where my mouth is that you have not seen, nor heard about the second picture, a Bentley Brooklands. You see, the Bentley Brooklands is a whole lot more car then the Continental GT, in comparison the C-GT is pedestrian next to the Brooklands - especially a Mulliner edition. It’s the uber-wealthy’s way of telling the neuvo-wealthy to fuck off. Big, Bold lines, massive motor, and the finest saddle leather without one imperfection anywhere on the coupe. Also almost a quarter-million dollars in price. Joe plumber wouldn’t know what to do with such a vehicle, neither would I imagine the top 1% of the wealthiest people on this planet…but for those who want the absolute, undisputed best…there it is, the Brooklands Mulliner.
So what’s the deal? Do these products really exist? You just witnessed it with your bare eyes above. They do, and they sell…just most of us do not know about it. It doesn’t stop at bespoke vehicles, take Louis Vuitton for example, they have their bread and butter lines - the monogram and damier canvas collections, along with their epi leather collections in such iconic designs such as the speedy and bowling, however what if a person wants more? For the deep pocketed Louis Vuitton enthusiast they offer the Le Fabuleux in a variety of sizes and finishes - the same size bag will easily run you twice what one pays for an epi.
One of the best examples in this game is Hermes, their luxury marketing worked out so well that even though it’s common knowledge that they’ve created a false market for their Birkin Bags no one cares, a Birkin is a Birkin is a Birkin to most people, however amongst the handbag elite they know even within the Birkin collection there is a hierarchy. It starts with the Leather Birkins, appropriately named the “starter birkins” - beginning at around $8000 these are the lowest of the sought after. Then you get into the exotics, ostrich, lizard, and the most coveted crocodile which would set the buyer back anywhere from $30,000 and up. All for a bag right?
These are just 3 examples but one can find this niche of products in every industry from iphone to vertu to goldvish, to dell to mac to alienware, they’re everywhere and few are willing to pay for it. Something I’ve pondered about for quite some time, and although I think I have it figured out…I might very well know nothing about this niche. So, there’s really no real point to this post other then I’m stuck in the office late on a Friday and going to leave in a few minutes so I could pay a restaurant a premium for less food then I could get with a 5 spot at a Taiwanese Cafe, but you know what? We’re going to enjoy it.
Stars & Cars…
American LeMans is back in town for their now traditional Race into the Night at Mazdaspeed Raceway, formerly Laguna Seca in Monterey, Ca. Along with the Audi R10 and Marco Werner is Stevens Creek Audi’s Third Annual Stars & Cars event where the entire dealer puts on their Sunday best and rolls out the plush red carpet for us past, present, and future Audi owners.
I’ll have to admit that due to an over eager lunch of Indian food combined with a gulp too much of Metromint water I was not feeling too good. Frank actually texted me a hour before the event to see who aside from him would show up, after a few seconds of pondering I figured why not…it’s once a year, they’re going all out, and I was already down the street. Why not? So I arrived somewhere around 6:15pm and the place was already filled.
First person I got to greet was Jim Rose of Stasis Engineering who rolled up in their gorgeous Stasis Tuned Audi S5, then Mike, then Jim, Edwin, Benny, Jon, Frank & Carol, Anthony, Mike, CJ, and the list goes on. First thought was…whoa, the Beer Maids are a whole lot more decked out this year, they looked identical to St. Paulie Girls, except in Spaten Green laderhosens. The Spaten Oktoberfest was delicious.
Marco Werner was signing autographs as usual, so we decided to foot around the campus and to our surprise there was not only a few Stasis cars but an entire fleet of them in their meticulous service bay in addition to the three hidden R8’s in the back. Did I mention that I need one?
Aside from the Stasis S5 and the R8’s, the coolest car I seen here was a an Alpine White modified Audi S8. Lowered on 22″ black lipped HRE’s and a flat black vinyl roof…the car spoke for itself. It was hot.
Thanks Stevens Creek Audi for putting on another mind blowing celebration. I’ll be cheering on the R10’s this Saturday along with the rest of you.
Fresh Apple Wares…
It’s unfortunate that I’m actually working this morning, as I’m trying to get up to the city this afternoon to meet Karl. However Apple announced a new line up of notebooks as well as notebook accessories today, these caught my eye.
I want…wait, nevermind want, I NEED a new Macbook Pro and a fresh 24″ Cinema Display to hook it up to. I knew there was a reason why I waited on an external LCD monitor, and now Apple has sold me on why.
I had my heart set on a new Macbook Air when the new ones came out, but now I’m not so sure. Although the portability would be nice, the new Macbooks and Macbook Pros look sooooo sweet, not to mention Apple has ingeniously incorporated the iPhone’s glass trackpad into these notebooks. Did I mention the aluminum unibody? Take that PC’s.
Now…what to do with my not even a year old Macbook? Ugh…
I was stoked as my fresh set of moo cards arrived Friday afternoon. Just in time to whore out to those who attended happy hour at The Wine Room and Coconuts in Palo Alto. Great Food, Great Company and Great Times, what more could anyone want? The following evening I had a chance to catch up and really chat with Sunny about life’s big ‘to-do’ list and where he was on his as well as where I was on mine. Encouraging Words, Obvious Truths and Fresh Goals were the theme of Saturday evening…as well as an unexpected but delicious dinner at Tanglewood and Jack (Daniel’s) with Ashtons that finally wrapped up the evening.
Sunday was dedicated to re-igniting the momentum that was once Northern California Audi Club or NCAC. A few months ago I wanted to re-group everyone with an end of summer bbq, that few months turned into only a couple short weeks worth of planning but even with the last minute red flag notice (no charcoal fires) our team, consisting of Sia, Jeff and Stefano was able to pull it off. Jeff found a sizable propane grill as well as a plethora of food, I picked up the propane and raffle materials, Stefano some condiments and our DSF demo vehicle and Sia coordinated the entire day. Great job team! We’ve proven to be a pack of problem solvers and now have a strong track record of being that ‘productive team or formula.’
Much thanks to our sponsors: Rick of LeMans Karting, Dan of 034 Motorsport, and Jason and Jim of STaSIS Engineering, who brought out their super sweet fleet of modified Audi’s Also every each and one of you who took time off their Sundays to attend. We had a bigger turn out then Sia or I had previously expected. Hope to grow this event stronger and larger as years pass.
Joe must have logged a few hundred miles to attend, leaving San Francisco for a crew race in Sacramento that morning then joining us in Cupertino right after the race. The Domino’s sign was hilarious. Tough times these days.
Gloria’s impeccable Oettinger A3. Giving the boys a run for their money. If it isn’t tucked, it’s not low.
Jeff and his wife surprised us with his fresh R8 by driving down the coast from Marin. Good to see the both of them again, thanks for the show! (and rock chips?)
Finally…newest ‘dessert’ I’ve tried. Thursday’s affrogato via Vero good, and Friday’s pineapple ice cream and fried plantains via Coconuts was decadent, however was nothing compared to these grilled Twinkies. All we needed was a scoop of ice cream. Also, the CEO of Hostess was in attendance yesterday. Turns out he’s an Audi enthusiast as well! Who knew? Fun times.
Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier, uh…Net…
14-1 vote today by the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors in favor of hanging nets to prevent suicides off our beloved bridge. The lone vote against this absolutely insane idea came from Mendocino County’s Director James Eddie, and for this he has my applause. Mendocino did not support these nets or any other form of alteration to the Golden Gate and according to all the recent poles on the subject neither did anyone else. I know for a fact that I sure as hell didn’t vote for this.
Oh wait…I’m not done yet, did I mention this is going to cost us $40-$50 million in tax payer’s money? All this money for what? To build the world’s biggest trampoline for bridge jumpers? More space for nesting birds and other pests? Just what are they trying to do, beside waste a portion of our hard earned income? Come on, you really thing this ugly net is going to prevent jumpings? Yeah, job creation is a high priority but this is ridiculous.
They forget they’re dealing with people who have no will to live anymore, come on now - they want to die! You think a net’s going to stop them? Barbed wire? Lasers? Glue Traps? Idiots.
Pimpin_Sam said it the best, “great — uglify a national monument to protect people from themselves. meanwhile, why don’t they create a median barrier to protect people who actually want to live?”
Wash those Jeans…
Do you remember your first favorite pair of pants? I certainly do, although I am unable to remember the label or specific cut I do remember that they were black denim carpenter pants. I wore those pants as often as I could get away with it and as a result everywhere my mother let me get away with. They started out dark and shiny, by the time I was done with them they were patched multiple times, work out in all the expected areas, frayed, and in a word, used. It was a difficult day when those jeans finally went into the trash.
Denim is one of those things where I found one is completely infatuated with or absolutely hates it. Myself being the prior, have been wondering what’s the proper method of washing denim without compromising the fit, finish, age or finish. We all agree that machine washing is out of the question(especially at what some pairs cost these days), and wearing them into the pacific then wearing them till dry is for extremists, not to mention a masochist.
A.P.C. e-mailed out this post by A Continuous Lean, I found it useful, hopefully you do as well. How to properly wash your denim.
Beef. Lots of it…
Remember those “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” commercials? Lately I feel as if they’re the theme song to our meals. Earlier last week we picked up a couple filets to accompany our mushroom themed dinner (risotto and soup if you must ask). Then the usual burgers at lunch, and a meat course here and a meat course there. Although our dinners never had the beef as a focus point, they were all very much a part of our meal, and the cows made sure that we knew. So when Friday came, and I realized that I’ve been working harder then usual for the past 3 or so weeks I was just looking for some time off, a relaxing evening was what I needed. After confirming with Crystal we ran through a few options but none sounded as tempting as Alexander’s Steakhouse. Yes, more meat. I mean it is a steakhouse, right? Well…not so much, we really go here for the small plates, namely the hamachi shots, and the outstanding service our waiter Richard provides, however being that it is a steakhouse we can’t just dine and dash without partaking in cow. Hence my hesitation.
Fois Gras - Cold
Crystal, however needed no second opinion, you mention Alexander’s and her ears literally perk up. Before I realized it we were whisked off to Alexander’s for a wonderful evening of avant garde service, magical cuisine, wine pairings, smiles, sounds of satisfaction, and therapeutic dining. Tuna tartre, fois gras, hamachi shots, blueberry foam, kabocha squash, etc., etc., and finally we split a 6oz filet mignon topped with candied bacon and roasted mushrooms. So like I said, we really don’t go here meat, but essentially everything else, especially the obligatory cotton candy.
With Friday wrapped up we were amped up for Saturday’s activities. We headed up to the city where Benson and Olivia awaited us at Crissy Fields. They woke up early, picked up oysters via Hog Island Oyster Co., and reserved a picnic area for us and many other guests as we celebrated “For the love of oysters…and Benson.” Afterwards we locale hopped, everywhere from Fatlace and Super 7 to Reiss and Nordstrom’s, oddly enough no Kid Robot. My phone battery went somewhere in Nordstrom’s so my apologies that I didn’t call/update a bunch of you. We contemplated Burma Superstar or PPQ Dungeness Island for dinner, but due to the likely hood of Burma Superstar being packed, and the sheer distance of PPQ we ended up having dinner at Izumiya in Japantown. A Crystal first, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve eaten there. Simple. Delicious. Cheap.
Almost customary now, but we needed a nightcap before the drive home. Bourbon and Branch was our top choice, but being it a Saturday evening there was no way we were getting a table, so after a quick minute or two we settled on Ducca in the Westin. Crystal had a refreshing cocktail while I opted for a Laphroaig as my earlier pour of St. George left a bit to be desired. Finally, we wrapped up the evening with a tour of the View Lounge inside the Marriott. Must have a drink or three there sometime in the near future.
Sunday finally came around and Crystal did her traditional Sunday nap-in. By that I mean sleep clear thru 2pm. As soon as she got up we scrambled over to Sunny’s bbq where it was good seeing Tran, Jonathan, Anthony and of course Sunny again. There was deviled eggs, pork tenderloin, tri-tip, and Sunny’s special shrimp on the menu. Better food then I expected, and all around just a nice casual evening to wrap up the weekend.
Now, Crystal insisted on picking up new denim for me so we left early to head over to the mall. Little did she know that the watch she borrowed off of my desk was an hour slow, so our 2 hours of ample time turned into a 1 hour rushed affair. I don’t know how girls do it, but I think trying on any more then 3 pairs of pants is torture. That being said I must have tried on at least 15, well to be technical 8-9 pairs of pants but many multiple times. The words, “never in my life…” resonated through that dressing room.
What have I accomplished this weekend? I think everything that I set out to accomplish, a whole lot of nothing. It was relaxing, refreshing, and extremely easy going. As the social calendar builds up starting with this coming weekend it’s looking like quite a while before I have another unplanned weekend. Well, c’est la vie…or so we dream, right?