Thursday, December 23, 2004
FIX YOUR VERNACULAR… Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas. Ho Ho Ho. It’s amazing how words change meanings almost as quickly as fashions change meanings. Take that word “ho,” for instance. For years, a jingly upbeat reference to the nicest guy around, Santa Claus. Today, a stark inference of a woman’s indiscrete behavior. (That was well put wasn’t it? My mother would have been proud.) Another interesting evolutionary malignancy has occurred with the word gay. Back in the days of Fred Astaire and Duke Ellington, “gay” denoted a particular form of happiness, perhaps even the best type. More recently, it began to take on synonymatic (Webster doesn’t know that one yet) importance as the word describing male homosexuals—no problem there—in fact, a rather pleasant association between the old meaning and an expressive new one. Now I’ve got a real problem with the recent metamorphosis into “gay” as a derogatory adjective: “Oh, that’s just so gay.” Seemingly upstanding members of our young society casually sprinkle that term throughout their speech like crushed black pepper on house salads. Stop it. Tell your children to stop and listen to what they’re saying. Subconscious, slanderous stereotypification spreads seeds of hate, intolerance and ignorance…Santa Claus ain’t about those things…Santa Claus is about HO HO HO, Merry Christmas.
GOOD WARRIORS… There was a lot of the ho ho ho spirit on display at last week’s 14th annual Feast For AIDS at the Beach and Tennis Club at Pebble Beach. Sweet Thing and I were humbled to be there among all those folks doing their bit to help MCAP (Monterey County AIDS Project), a terrific organization bent on helping victims of HIV/AIDS and their families.
Pebble Beach Executive Chef Jeff Jake, who has been involved in all of the event’s fourteen years, and who typifies the terms “grace” and “class,” is now the chairperson organizing each year’s great lineup of chefs. It is Jeff Jake who pushed to bring the event to the Beach Club, realizing the importance of having this profound an occasion housed in a venue befitting its standing.
Of course, no party at Pebble Beach would be possible without the indefatigable Daryl Griffith, whose title is something like catering director but who actually is like the overseeing angel of all gatherings of humans for whatever purposes: fun, frivolity, whatever…she’s a champ.
Then there’s Wayne Johnson. If Hollywood were doing something about an organization dedicated to helping victims of HIV/AIDS, they could audition leads for months and never come up with a more apt version than Wayne Johnson. With a countenance that is simultaneously equal parts Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mother Theresa, Colin Powell and Alan Greenspan, Wayne Johnson juggles the endlessly diverse tasks and challenges of running an organization faced with ceaseless demands upon all its members.
HIV/AIDS is a weapon of mass destruction and it’s for real—and it doesn’t have any particular affiliation with any particular religion, country or society. It is an indiscriminate destroyer that infiltrates all levels of the world’s population. To sustain an anti-AIDS outfit against this mounting marauding onslaught requires leadership of uncommon strength…Wayne Johnson exudes uncommon strength.
Anyway, without getting overly morose (a natural byproduct of the season), hats off to MCAP, Pebble Beach and all the wonderful sponsors and donators and bidders and supporters of the Feast For AIDS this year. It’s not a particularly easy time for charities, White House propaganda notwithstanding, which makes me even more sympathetic toward the courageous people dedicating their lives to the service of others.
MY OWN PRIVATE SWING STATE… I’m one of those people who has difficulty during the holidays. I know I’m not alone since Christmastime enjoys (?) the highest suicide rate of the year. I swing between bouts of intense joy and abject sorrow so often, I’d be a good poster boy for Lithium. It’s amazing how powerful the forces of tradition, expectations, self-esteem, commercialism, religion, family, charity, greed and humility, plus countless others all intermingle to exert this dynamic tearing at the fabric of our beings. I do so envy those lucky people who joyfully embrace these holidays with an openness and lightness.
One thing for sure, there fun to be had during the holidays. Fifi’s Café & Bistro is doing a fabulous Christmas Eve Wine Dinner with Grand Cru Rose Champagne and Lobster Salad, Amarone and Rack of Lamb, Roquefort, dates and Australian Muscat, available throughout the evening on December 24th for $75 bucks. After a day of last minute shopping, that’s just what Santa’s doctor orders for the perfect entrée into Christmas and beyond—like New Year’s Eve when Michele and Calvin will be accepting reservations at Fifi’s for three different seatings…5, 7 and 9. Call them at 372-5325 for details, rezzies or just to talk about stuff.
TOO MUCH FUN… JR Brewski’s is doing its thing in Gilroy for New Year’s Eve: dinner, music, the works. Call (408) 847-9024 for info…Join Andre and Nargis, the Sonny and Cher of the restaurant scene, at Lugano’s Swiss Bistro for their one-of-a-kind New Year’s party: a four-course dinner with beer and wine, live music, party favors, Champagne at midnight, and the whole shebang at a ridiculously low $69.95. Call 626-3779 to find out how to get in on that wacky party…Pavona Wines and the inimitable Richard Kanakaris will be partying at Blue Fin Billiards on Cannery Row for New Year’s. There’ll be dinner buffet, Pavona wines, free pool and more. Call 375-7000 for details…Montrio is teaming up with Osio Theater for “Dinner and a Movie”—very cool indeed…Tarpy’s is joining with Energia Body Care for a “Shop til you drop” holiday special. It involves a meal at Tarpy’s that includes a bonus gift pack from Energia. Each night Sunday-Friday there’ll be a special menu item that comes with the body care package, and cheap. Perfect for the harrowed, hungry holiday shopper…Rio Grill, the third (actually first, chronologically speaking) of the triumvirate of Tony Tollner’s wonderful Peninsula restaurants, is having its 15th annual “Resolution Run” on New Year’s Day. It’s a 6.8-mile footrace and a 3-mile family run to raise money for Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast. Call each of those restaurants for details or do what I’d do, call Phyllis Grillo-Weinbrenner, overseer of PR at 647-7181; she’ll give you the serious insider info…La Playa Hotel is doing a great New Year’s Eve dinner and party with two wineries, a six-course meal, live entertainment and dancing, midnight toast—the works for $150 per person. Gary Bartram, F&B Director, will make that a big time. Call 624-6476 and ask to speak to Gary; he’s handling all rezzies. Sounds like there are many wonderful reasons to dress up and have fun this year. Do it safely and do it cool.