Athena Scalzi

Day 3 of Santa Monica

Athena ScalziI find it funny that my father and I are doing “Day X of ___” at the same time. At least his numbers match the actual day of the month.

Anyways, Day 3 of lovely Santa Monica! I started this day out right by going to Huckleberry Cafe for breakfast. I’m one of those people that loves breakfast foods more than anything, and loves the idea of getting breakfast at cute cafes, but has a hard time getting up for it. Usually I look for somewhere that don’t have a hard cutoff time for breakfast, or serve a “brunch” until 3pm or something along those lines. However, Huckleberry is one of those places that has cutoff for breakfast at eleven, and closes for the entire day at three, so if you want it, you have to get the fuck up.

And I’m so glad I did! Because this place was totally awesome. When you walk in, there’s a counter to order at, huge blackboard menus, and a display of the most amazing looking pastries.

I had a hard time deciding which to get. The girl working recommended me the coffee cake (all the way on the left), so I went with that. I also wanted to try one of their housemade iced chai lattes, but they were out of chai so I opted for an iced matcha latte instead. She asked me if I wanted sweetener in it, which was shocking to me because I didn’t know that they could even come unsweetened, since the ones I get from Starbucks has 28g of sugar in it. I said yes to the sweetener, and then asked for extra because I had a feeling their idea of sweet wouldn’t be enough for me (I was right, it was still pretty unsweet).

I saved the coffee cake for after my slightly more nutritious breakfast, though, which was this “bagel breakfast”:

You can’t even see the bagel under all the toppings, but it was a plain bagel with cream cheese, spinach, avocado, scrambled eggs, and cherry tomatoes. It was fuckin’ fire. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the avocado was super fresh (I assume it has something to do with California avocados just being superior), and everything went really well together.

The bagel was $16.50, the iced matcha was $6, and I’m not sure how much the coffee cake was, but after a $5 tip my total was like $35 dollars so I guess it must’ve been close to $8? That sounds like too much, but it would make sense if they’re going to charge over five bucks for a mason jar worth of matcha.

Oh, there was a healthcare fee, too, so the place could provide benefits to the workers, but I don’t remember how much it was. Which was a brand new concept to me, as we have nothing like that in Ohio.

Moving on from cost (which I think can be important to mention when recommending or reviewing places), they also had a few grab-and-go items, like sandwiches and salads.

Definitely worth checking this place out if you’re a bit of bougie bruncher like myself.

After finishing eating, I walked down the street to the post office, because I wanted to see if they had any different stamps than the ones my hometown post office did. They did not. I also asked if they had any postcards and they said no. I was devastated. I wanted a postcard that said like “Los Angeles” or “California” or anything like that! How does a post office not have postcards?!

Moving on from my disappointment, I went next door to See’s Candies, a long standing favorite candy shop of my mother and grandmother’s, to get them gifts.

If you’ve never heard of it, See’s Candies is a California based chocolate shop that now has over 200 locations. However, none of those are located in Ohio, so it is only on rare occasion that my mom gets to have some (yes, she could just order them online, but that takes the special out of it). Usually it’s only when we venture to California, or happen to find some in an airport, that we have See’s Candies.

They’re cool! I recommend them, they have tasty candy. They have tons of different chocolates and variety boxes, and also some great hard candies!

Both of these little jars were $10, and the box of chocolate (not pictured) was $26.50 for 28 pieces.

One thing I really like about them is any time you go to one of their stores, you get a free sample, and it’s always like one whole chocolate, not like a quarter piece or half a piece. My favorite thing from them is the lollipops, especially the butterscotch and the vanilla ones.

After See’s, I went across the street to Ulta, and had to tweet about the experience.

Totally upsetting, but I tried to move on from it.

I found out there was a stationery store called Paper Source down the street, so I hurried over there because I could not wait to see a whole store full of stationery! It was beautiful. I practically walked through heaven’s gates. The walls were lined with cards, there were rotating stands full of sticker sheets throughout the store, the entire back wall was a stamp station, and they even had plushies!

I promised myself I wouldn’t spend more than a hundred, and actually only ending up spending seventy!

I got two sticker sheets:

A box of mini notecards plus stickers (it came with twelve notecards total and three of the strips of stickers):

This set of 12 cards (with envelopes):

I love all of these so much, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the Manhattan.

And finally, I got these vintage-style postcards that came in an awesome metal tin:

There were nine designs and eighteen cards:

These are super cool, I’m probably going to mail nine out and keep the other nine just because I like the art so much.

After my exciting day of shopping for dry shampoo and postcards, I ended up having dinner at the place I originally wanted to go to the previous night that had stopped serving food by the time I got there (Longitude, inside the Marriott).

The lobby was like any Marriott, elegant and ornate, and the bar/restaurant was at the back of it. There was literally no one there, so I sat at the bar. I decided before arriving that I didn’t want to get an entrée, I wanted to get an appetizer, a soup or side, and a dessert. I wanted to be able to try a variety of things instead of just getting one dinner and that’s it.

So I started with a pesto burrata crostini:

As someone who is a fan of pesto, burrata, and balsamic, this shit was fuckin’ bomb. The bread wasn’t too crunchy, the burrata was wonderfully soft, and the balsamic was the perfect topper to this dish. It was a little messy though.

I settled on the French onion soup after that:

The soup was good, but it was pretty much just regular French onion soup. There wasn’t anything special about the way that the Marriott place did it. Though I will say there was definitely a lot of cheese, which is a plus. ‘Twas a sizeable portion of soup.

As for dessert, they offered crème brûlée, so I obviously had to get that. If you didn’t know, I’m on the search for the greatest crème brûlée in the world. So if a place offers it, it is my duty to try it.

While this crème brûlée was good, it was certainly not the best in the world, so my search continues. While I did think the custard part was actually super good, the top was too torched for my liking. I’m more of a golden brown person, so the extra dark top was too burnt for me. Still very impressed with the custard portion, though.

So, yeah, that was my fun-filled day yesterday! All this walking around is definitely starting to take a toll, but it’s been great regardless.

What pastry would you have picked from Huckleberry? Do you like your matcha sweet? Have you ever been to a stationery store (and was it glorious)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


Personal History of Music

A Personal History of Music, Day 22: “Something That You Said,” by The Bangles

There’s a natural progression to the careers of most (successful) bands: The scrappy “new kid” phase, where the band is starting out and struggling, and maybe has a couple of songs passed around by their “first in,” fans; the “rising star” phase, where they get picked up by a major label, get their first Billboard hits and gold records; the “Imperial” phase, which is where the big hits that define their career happen; and then everything else. The “everything else” phase is not a bad thing, per se — you can make a lot of money touring in the “everything else” phase! — but from a creative and legacy point of view, it means that everything you do in that period has a tendency to be overlooked or an afterthought. This is why, at a concert from a band in the “everything else” phase of their career, the phrase “this is from our new album” is so frequently taken as the cue to hit the bathroom.

The Bangles had their imperial phase in the 80s, with hits like “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Manic Monday” and “Eternal Flame,” and then broke up at the end of the decade, sitting out most of the 90s before coming back with their sole first post-imperial studio album, Doll Revolution, in 2003. Doll Revolution went essentially nowhere on the charts; Wikipedia tells me that it got to number 23 on the US Independent Albums list. It’s too bad, because the album itself is pretty good (if, like so many albums of the CD era, overlong — it has 15 tracks where it should have ten or eleven at most). It also has, in my opinion, one of the finest singles the Bangles ever put out.

That would be “Something That You Said.” Sonically, it’s right in line with the band’s poppier output, and would not be out of place on Different Light or Everything, the band’s two biggest albums. Lyrically, on the other hand, I suspect it could have only been written outside of the band’s imperial era, after the individual members of the band had gotten a chance to step back from the treadmill of constant fame and were able to, you know, live different lives than those of being a rock star. The song is about being in a place and time in one’s own life where one has the perspective to actually appreciate love, and the effort it takes from both parties. It’s a grown-up pop song! Which is nice.

Not for nothing, the listed songwriters for the track include Charlotte Caffey, best known as a member of the Go-Gos and the writer or co-writer of most of that band’s big hits. The Go-Gos followed a very similar arc to the Bangles: Big in the 80s, sat out most of the 90s, popped out an album in the early 00s. That album included “Talking Myself Down,” a co-write with Susannah Hoffs, so perhaps “Something That You Said” is Caffey returning the favor. Whether it is or not, what is true enough is, like the members of the Bangles, Caffey did her own time away from the spotlight. I’m pretty sure it informed the songwriting.

Which was fine by me. I was 34 when this song came out, and lyrically and sonically, it hit a spot in my psyche that no other Bangles song had previously managed. I was ready for that song because of my own life experience at the time. Basically, the band and I had aged into each other just a little bit. I had liked the Bangles well enough before this song, but this song became and remains essential to me, and for years was my one “go-to” song from the band (in the fullness of time I have also become fond of their cover of “Going Down to Liverpool”). Should I ever manage to see the Bangles live, I will be the one cheering for this song the loudest. I don’t mind being an outlier in that crowd.

What does “Something That You Said” tell us about the nature of pop and songwriting — and, dare I say it, creativity in general? Mostly that no matter how or when an artist’s “imperial period” happens, they are likely to creative interesting, excellent and sometimes cherished work outside it; this in itself is a reason for fans and others to explore their work, and for artists to keep creating, whether “the market” cares if they do so or not. Those works can still matter to people, like this song matters for me.

— JS

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