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Dave York 2

Posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Dave!Once again feeling like the luckiest person on earth that I can show up in a city far from home and manage to find such an amazing group of people who would spend their valuable time hanging out with me. I don't know that I could ever adequately express just how much it means, but every time in every city... from the bottom of my heart... I am so very grateful. Who could have ever imagined that this stupid blog would add so much to my life? The people I meet, online and offline, have made my world so much bigger... so much richer... than I could have ever imagined.

Anyway...

The day was pretty simple, actually. Newark to New York. Hotel room not ready. Upper East Side. Downtown. Johnny Rockets (veggie burgers in stock, w00t!). Hotel room still not ready. Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium. Hotel room ready! Times Square. Dave York. Union Square. Times Square. Good times had by all.

Thanks so much to those who could come along!

As usual, I was too busy talking with everybody to remember to take pictures... but a lot of photos were taken, so I'll be sure to link to them once they're up!

Just some random notes...

• If you're going to visit the brand new Hard Rock Cafe at New Yankee Stadium, it's probably best to NOT do so on a game day unless you have tickets to the game. It took me 20 minutes of going from one place to another to another to another before somebody would actually let me in the cafe. I guess everybody thought I was trying to sneak into the game or something, so I kept getting passed around. The cafe itself is smaller than I thought it would be, but quite nice...

Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium

Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium

• I usually don't like to have blogger meets at Hard Rock Cafes because the loud music makes it hard to talk, and they are usually more interested in turning tables than letting people sit round and chat... but the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square was absolutely fantastic. Again! We had an amazing server taking good care of us, and it was a great experience all the way around. Thanks to everybody there for making Dave York... and now Dave York 2... such a great success!

Hard Rock Cafe Times Square

• When it comes to embarrassing you on your birthday... even when it's not really your birthday anymore... people you consider to be friends will happily report you to the "Birthday Humiliation Squad" so you have to stand on top of a chair in the middle of a crowded restaurant with a flaming hot-fudge sundae in one hand (your dignity in the other) while people scream "happy birthday" at you... all because they think it makes for great photo fodder on their blogs. The bastards!

• When they say "DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION WITH ALCOHOL" on your prescription labels, it's probably a good idea to follow those directions. A couple shots of Jäger on top of my pills had my brain struggling to keep up with happenings around me. Which can be fun... or dangerous... depending on the situation.

• I really am one of the luckiest people on earth. Thanks again to everybody for such a great night!

UPDATE: Photos are slowly coming through. Like this one of my and ETinNY he sent me...

Dave and ETinNY
Peace out, baby!

And this shot of me accepting my un-birthday humiliation from Dawg's Flickr Set...

I'm The King of The World!
I'm the King of The World, bitches!

And some terrific shots from the ever-adorable Poppy's Flickr Stream (she has marked a set for Dave York 2, but only put one photo in there!)...

Dawg, Poppy, Earl.
Dawg and Poppy with B.E. Earl.

Dave York 2!
Robin, Libragirl, B.E. Earl, Me, and Cissa!

Dave's Subway Terror!
How non-New Yorkers envision a ride on the subway.

UPDATE: And now Bellaventa and Libragirl have put up a set on Flickr...

UPDATE: And now Cissa has put up her set on Flickr...

I'll add more as I find 'em!

   

Baby

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Dave!I had such a great time watching The Hangover at the movies last night, that I was planning on seeing a different film tonight. All day long I've been looking forward to it. But as the day became night... the exhaustion set in and suddenly none of the movies seemed good enough for me to make the effort. Terminator: Salvation was almost there, but I've read too many shitty reviews to risk it sucking. I guess I could have seen Star Trek for the third time but, given how tired I am, twice was good enough. Instead I walked to Johnny Rockets for yet another amazing vegetarian burger, then headed back to the hotel so I can blog and get ready for work tomorrow. My life is so exciting right now.

Meanwhile...

Work doesn't seem to be moving very quickly on the new Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. It looks the same as it was months ago. Maybe they're just working on the inside where you can't see it right now...

Hard Rock Seattle under construction

Given what a colossal Hard Rock whore I am, I'm understandably excited about the new cafe. My biggest worry was that Seattle would get a shitty property, but the artist sketch from the Official Hard Rock Cafe website looks fantastic...

Hard Rock Seattle sketch

They're taking a classic old building and turning it into something special, which is what the best Hard Rocks do. They've also got a great spot... just one block from the Pike Place Market entrance. Hopefully it will do well so the location can stay open for a while... I'd be heartbroken if the cafe I've been waiting over two decades for shuts down after only a year or two. That would suck worse than never having one at all.

I just hope the guitar is right-side up on the finished building. It looks really funny up-side down in that sketch.

   

But what I REALLY hope that the baby in the room across the hall will settle down eventually. It's been screaming almost non-stop for THREE HOURS now. I need sleep tonight!

   

Dallas

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Dave!Just back from L.A., and now I am off to Atlanta. Via Dallas. Where I met up with a friend and got to see the brand new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up downtown (just across from Hooters!). The opening of a new cafe in Dallas is bittersweet. On one hand, they have a cafe again after two-and-a-half years. On the other hand, it could never live up to the sheer awesomeness of the original Hard Rock Cafe Dallas which was closed and eventually demolished.

This is a darn shame, because the original property was mind-blowing amazing. Seriously, you have no idea. To get an idea, click here to take a tour.

Anyway, the cafe itself is nice, but fairly unimpressive so far as Hard Rocks go. The exterior is just plain sad...

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

One can only hope that they hang a giant guitar sign outside one day soon to make it look at least a little bit like a Hard Rock Cafe. Because right now it's just so boring. It looks like a parking garage... which is what I think it is.

The interior design follows the new "L.A. Club Chic" look that they put into the Yankee Stadium property. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel very "Hard Rock" to me. It seems way too polished and trendy instead of classic and inviting. Still, it's not like I can blame HRC Corporate for trying a new look in the hopes that it will interest locals. They need new blood and new traffic in order to keep their doors open, and catering only to tourists in the current economy is disastrous...

Hard Rock Cafe Dallas

After dinner, I rushed South so I could ride up Reunion Tower and see the city at dusk...

Dallas Reunion Tower at night

Except it's closed for renovations.

Which is a genius thing to do in the middle of summer when all the tourists are here. Not.

Oh well. Now I'm off to bed so I can try and get a little bit of sleep before leaving again early tomorrow.

   

Denver

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2009

Dave!There are plenty of things I could blog about, but the only thing that's in my head right now is how I get to sleep in tomorrow. For the first time in months I have nothing going in the morning. No calls scheduled. No meetings to attend. No places to be. No flights to catch. Nothing. I could sleep in until noon. Heck, I could sleep in until 5:00pm if I wanted to. The whole concept is so bizarre that I can't quite wrap my head around it.

Of course, the odds of me actually sleeping in are small. I'm sure my insomniac nature will take over and I'll be waking up at 4:00am as usual... and I'll be bored as usual... so I'll start getting some work done as usual. Oh well. I suppose just the thought of being able to sleep in if I wanted to is enough.

Anyway...

This morning started out early because I wanted to visit Denver's very own independent book store... The Tattered Cover. There are a couple locations, but I went to the beautiful LoDo store on the 16th Street Mall (years ago I visited the "original" store in Cherry Creek, but it has since moved). Much like Powell's City of Books in Portland, The Tattered Cover is a wonderful experience for people who love books...

Tattered Cover Book Store

I then walked around the corner to visit The Old Map Gallery. As a die-hard map-lover, I had been really looking forward to seeing the shop... but it was closed. And there were no hours posted, so I didn't stick around. For all I know they could be closed Mondays, and I'd be waiting for nothing (the website isn't much help either). This is probably a good thing, because a look in the window shows that I would have been dangerously close to spending entirely too much money there...

Old Map Gallery Window

From there it was time for lunch at the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Denver...

Hard Rock Denver Outside

Hard Rock Denver Inside

And then back to the hotel so I could catch my ride to the airport. The sky, which had been blue with scattered clouds when I left in the morning, had become dreary and overcast by afternoon...

Capitol Building Grey Sky Afternoon

And by the time I got to the airport we were on weather delay. Fortunately, it was only 30 minutes, which put us into Salt Lake City just 14 minutes late (it's the old "we'll make up time in the air" trick!). Or would have if we didn't end up in a holding pattern for ten minutes once we got there.

Marty and Reba (of Banal Leakage fame) were then nice enough to pick me up at the SLC airport so we could head to the Rio Grande Cafe for Dave Lake City 3! The last time we were there I was doped up on massive pain killers for kidney stones and couldn't really enjoy it, so I was really looking forward to eating there again. It was (as expected) delicious, and it's always great to hang out with Marty and his better half...

Dave Lake City 3 Badge

And tomorrow, Depeche Mode, baby!

   

UPDATE: Annnnnd... I was up at 5:15am. That's a whole 45 minutes I got to sleep in!

   

Vegas Weekend Day 1

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009

Dave!And so here I am in Sin City. I've been a lot of bizarre and strange places, but all of it pretty much pales in comparison to the bizarre and strange stuff you see in Las Vegas. Limos with hot tubs in the back... people puking on the street... half-naked partiers on the sidewalk... gamblers sobbing inconsolably... drunks EVERYWHERE... it goes on and on. Some might say this parade of non-stop debauchery is the ultimate expression of humanity's downfall. I just think it adds to Las Vegas's already considerable charm.

My day began very, very early as I drove to the airport at 4:00am for my 6:00am plane ride. From there I had three quick back-to-back flights which deposited me in Vegas around 11:00am. I packed light to avoid Horizon Airline's STUPID FUCKING $15 LUGGAGE FEE, which allowed me to skip baggage claim and head directly to my hotel.

After checking in, I played the slots for 15 minutes before winnings $200. Yay me! This money got pocketed, leaving me $62 of my original $100 daily gambling budget (which I would eventually lose, netting me out at +$100 for the day).

I'm guessing that was all the luck I'm gonna get this trip. But you never know.

I cashed out my winnings and headed out to have some drinks with a good friend and his wife whom I haven't seen in nearly seven years. That's when the magic began, as we headed out into the wilds of The Vegas Strip. We started out at The Excalibur where I decided to go out and people-watch while my friends played the tables...

Excalibur Hotel Vegas at Night

In wandering around the South end for a while, I came to the inescapable conclusion that a lot of people... a lot of people... come to Vegas to fight. Every 50-feet I ran into people yelling about something. One drunk woman was causing a major scene as she screamed for her boyfriend/husband to "GIVE ME SOME MONEY!!" over and over and over again. Next I'd see two people yelling over who's turn it was to buy cigarettes. More than a couple of times I overheard people fighting over where they wanted to go next. A particularly nasty brawl erupted in front of the MGM Grand Casino because, from what I could gather, one guy slept with his friend's girlfriend and was freaking out because the guy who got cheated on was threatening to tell the guy's mother on him. This might have been funny, except I'm guessing the guys were in their late 30's or early 40's.

In an attempt to get caught up on the USA Hard Rock properties I haven't visited yet, I dropped by the new cafe on The Strip (leaving only the new Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma remaining)...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

After joining back up with my friends and losing $50 at blackjack, the three of us decided to eat a late dinner at the original Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas, located in front of the Hard Rock Hotel...

Hard Rock Cafe Vegas Guitar

The hotel's casino is where I decided to blow my last $12 in nickel slots before we started doing Jäger shots at the bar. Oddly enough, it took well over an hour to lose my remaining money... even at MAX BET. They really know how to drag things out in Vegas... but it doesn't really matter, because the house always seems to win in the end. At least they're patient about it.

My friends were staying at Paris Las Vegas, so we decided to take the shuttle back to the MGM Grand and walk back to their hotel. I didn't have any gambling money left, but my $100 in winnings was quickly consumed in alcohol-related expenses along the way...

Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower

After saying goodnight to my friends around midnight, I walked north along The Strip to catch The Deuce Bus back to my hotel, when I saw something interesting at the Flamingo...

Donny and Marie Play with Pole Dancers

Yes, that's right... it's Mr. Morality Himself, Donny Osmond. I find it oddly satisfying that this self-righteous ass is more than happy to tell people how to live their lives according to his beliefs with his lobbying against gay marriage... and yet here he is, right next to his twice-divorced sister advertising at a venue where pole dancers are shaking their ass to beckon people inside the casino to smoke, drink, and gamble (all three of which I'd imagine are also against his beliefs). I guess Donny's moral superiority can be yours... IF the price is right.

But I'd imagine that would hold true for a lot of people in Las Vegas.

Me included!*

   

*My morals can be rented for very favorable hourly rates. Long-term leases also welcome!

   

If you're not afraid of bugs, there's more to today's post in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Vegas Weekend Day 2

Posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Dave!Today was filled with surprises, and all in a good way... for once.

I started out kind of early, because I wanted to head back down the strip and see my friends off before they left to the airport. As we were wrapping things up, they asked me if I was going to the Grand Opening of the Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas Strip Edition. I had read that the opening was being postponed, again, so this kind of caught me off guard. So after everybody was bundled up in a taxi, I walked down The Strip and confirmed that the new property was indeed opening up this morning at 11:00.

Score!

After waiting around for 35 minutes, I was the first one "officially" up the escalator to the new venue where I found...

Disappointment.

This is an absolutely beautiful restaurant. Unfortunately, it's a pretty shitty Hard Rock Cafe. And let me tell you why... it's the memorabilia. Or lack of memorabilia, to be more accurate.

From the very moment that Eric Clapton hung his guitar on the wall of the original Hard Rock in London, rock memorabilia has been an integral part of the Hard Rock "experience" for its visitors. When you walk through those doors and see the expanse of one-of-a-kind items, it's like a rock-n-roll museum you'd find in your dreams. For music-lovers, its perfect.

But not here. Not this time.

The memorabilia is so anemic that the place barely feels like a "Hard Rock" at all. It's sad, actually. As an example, here's the bar area. How much memorabilia do you see?

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Uhhh... yeah... there's a few mannequins in the background. And what about here in the main dining room...

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

What is that... like SEVEN whole pieces and two televisions? Compare that to but one small corner of the Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi's hotel and casino property...

Hrc Biloxi2

Or Lisbon, Portugal...

Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon

Or Foxwoods, Connecticut...

Foxwoods

Or Memphis, Tennessee...

HRC Memphis

Or even the cafe they just closed in Salt Lake City...

Hard Rock Salt Lake

... Just to name a few. Now those... those are Hard Rock Cafes!! The memorabilia is so thick you're swimming in it. You have to visit again and again just to see it all. THAT'S WHAT A HARD ROCK CAFE IS ALL ABOUT!!

But this new cafe on The Vegas Strip? Almost nothing. In fact, there are entire sections of the restaurant which are practically devoted to nothing. Here's the upstairs bar...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And the mini "Hard Rock Live" stage...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And some kind of small VIP room also upstairs...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Occasional random pieces hidden away, but really nothing. NOTHING!! This is supposed to be a Hard Rock?!? The only thing that keeps the place from being a total failure is the staff, which is terrific. And also the sweet "Microsoft Surface" touch tables they've got scattered around the joint (like the one behind the curtain above). You sit down, and it's like a giant iPhone on steroids with its awesome multi-touch interface. Here I am looking at pins from various cafes...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

You can toss them around, rotate them, move them in and out, stack them... or even pinch and pull them to zoom in for a much, much closer look...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Other toys include a memorabilia viewer for cafes around the globe which you pick out from an actual spinning globe. This is cool, because it's not like this cafe has much memorabilia to look at here...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

They even have distractions like puzzles, videos, and even a piano...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Alas, it's by Microsoft, so you have to brace yourself for all the crashes and failures...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Knowing what this cafe COULD HAVE BEEN almost makes me cry. All that wonderful space that COULD have been crammed with awesome memorabilia from the Hard Rock's extensive collection... wasted. I have no idea who is designing this shit, but somebody needs to stop them. Take the Hard Rock back to what it is at its core. Take it back to what makes it special. Take it back to what people want to see. Take it back to what makes me want to travel the globe and see them all. Take. It. Back.

Sigh.

After goofing around at the Hard Rock for a bit, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with the Official TequilaCon 2010 Planning Committee... Jenny, Vahid, and Brandon. The day kind of went like this...

Drinks. Accusations. Threats. Apologies. Sunglasses. Cigarette holders. News. Drinks. Slots. Slots. Drinks. Craps. Slots. Video Poker. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Slots. Dinner. OFFICIAL TEQUILACON BUSINESS...

TequilaCon Map

Then Walking. Goodnight Brandon. Slots. Drinks. Video Poker. Slots. Walgreens. And lastly, the Fremont Street Experience...

Fremont Street Experience!

Fremont Street Experience!

And there you have it. Just another boring day in Las Vegas, Nevada.

   
UPDATE: I had a long email conversation with somebody who basically asked "who are you to define what is or isn't a Hard Rock?" Which I thought was odd, because they're pretty much self-defining (as the photos I posted above will attest). But even setting that aside, just look at a description of the HRC Hurghada from the Hard Rock Cafe's own web site...

The cafe, while reflecting the charm and flavor of the local architecture, is still a Hard Rock through and through offering an extensive collection of incredible rock memorabilia...

So, even at the Hard Rock Cafe corporate offices, the abundance of memorabilia is looked upon as a defining trait of a good cafe. If I'm seen as "defining" a cafe, I'm only doing so from the definition provided by the organization themselves.

   

Diary

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Dave!Ooh! It's a day in the life of Dave2!

Last night I arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport around 11:30pm. I was exhausted from traveling for over 12 hours, and was in no mood to mess with a car rental, but since I had to drive out at 6:00am I didn't have much choice. After getting my stall number from the Hertz #1 Club Gold board, I made my way to the car, tossed my crap in the back, sat down, grabbed the keys, went to start the ignition... and noticed my "keys" were not keys at all. They were some kind of magical transmitter that communicated with the car. Turns out I had been given a Nissan Altima Hybrid, and all I needed to do was have the "keys" inside the car and press the "start" button...

Nissan Altima Hybrid Key
Photo taken from a nice review at About.com.

From there it was only a short drive to the Aloft Hotel at Arundel Mills.

SIDE NOTE: I love, love, love Aloft Hotels. I'm usually a Hilton Whore, but any time I find an Aloft where I'm staying, it is my absolute first choice. Very nice rooms at very nice prices, and service that is second to none. This is the fifth Aloft city I've stayed at, and I have nothing but raves for the chain. If I were to build my dream hotel, it would be an Aloft. Highest possible recommendation.

This morning after waking up, getting showered & dressed, and heading to my car... I noticed it was pitch black and raining... hard. Not the best conditions for a two hour drive into Pennsylvania, but I've had worse. Until it started raining even harder and I could barely see the road. Accidents were everywhere, and the extra hour and fifteen minutes I had added "just in case" was gone before I knew it. I barely arrived to my meeting on time.

Fortunately, the return drive to BWI was much easier. I got back around 1:30, worked for two hours at the hotel, then drove back to the airport so I could drop off the Nissan Altima Hybrid (which I ended up liking a lot!). From there... I decided to hop a train down to Washington, D.C. for dinner in the rain. All my photos are from the crummy camera in my iPhone, so you've been warned...

White House
The White House. I thought for sure President Obama would have come out to say hello, but he didn't. Maybe he wasn't home?

Washington Monument with Construction Vehicles in Front
The Washington Monument. I love this photo, and titled it "Monumental Construction" when I uploaded it to Flickr.

It's the FBI...
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building. Conveniently located across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe.

The Hard Rock WA DC
The Hard Rock Cafe Washington, D.C. Kind of boring on the outside, but vintage Hard Rock on the inside!

Hard Rock Cafe Washington, D.C.
The Embassy of Rock. A very nice dual-level Hard Rock property with plenty of nifty memorabilia.

   
After dinner, I hopped a train back to the airport. But along the way I somehow decided that I should continue on into Baltimore since it was only 8:00. Fortunately, the conductor was able to upgrade my ticket onboard, and away I went...
   

Carnival Cruiselines
Tired of Pants? This is the first thing I see when I arrive at Baltimore's Penn Station. My kind of city!

Male/Female Statue at Penn Station
Klaatu Barada Nikto? The first thing you see when exiting Penn Station is a freaky giant aluminum statue called "Male/Female."

Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore
Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore. My iPhone obviously does not do well in the dark.

Hard Rock Cafe Baltimore Interiror
Inside the HRC Baltimore. Yet another classic, beautiful, memorabilia-packed Hard Rock property.

Waterfront in Baltimore
Guardrails?!? Every time I'm in Baltimore, I'm shocked as hell that there are NO GUARDRAILS at the waterfront! What keeps drunks from falling in? Or kids from goofing off and being pushed in? It's just mind-boggling that nobody has been sued over this yet.

   
I had thought I was in Baltimore just a couple years ago, but I can't find any record of it on my blog. Maybe I wasn't able to blog about the trip? I dunno. The last time I can verify that I was here was six years ago on a layover to Reykjavik, Iceland. I know I wasn't here in May of this year, because the Baltimore Sun News Building is still standing.

Anyway... I was too tired to track down a light-rail train back to BWI and arrange for a shuttle, so I just bit the bullet and paid the $35 to take a taxi back to my hotel. I still had a couple hours work to get done, so any time saved would be worth the cost.

And that was pretty much my day today. Now it's time to get some sleep.

   

Closure

Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Dave!As I am likely to do most evenings, I have the television turned on as background noise so I can focus on my work. Tonight my ears pricked up when I heard "Gran Canaria" mentioned, because it's a location very high on my list of places to visit. Partly because it's a part of Spain and I've loved all my previous visits to the country. Partly because it is supposed to be a very beautiful island. But mostly because it's a Hard Rock Cafe location that I haven't been to yet.

At least it was.

Out of habit when I hear the name of a Hard Rock location I'm lacking, I check to see if the property there is still open. It turns out that Gran Canaria isn't. It was closed back in October.

Well, shit.

I guess I should have gone to Gran Canaria instead of Mallorca back in January. Of course, had I done that, then it would have been Mallorca that closed (because I am just that lucky). To add insult to injury, I found out that the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe in Montreal (along with the nifty Skydome location in Toronto) had closed back in September. Oh well, at least I had visited those locations.

Sure I can still visit Gran Canaria one of these days, but it's not the same without having a cafe to check off my list. People can laugh at me all they want, but it's thanks to my Hard Rock Cafe addiction that I've visited several places around the world which I never would have seen otherwise. Fantastic cities like Warsaw, Poland... Fukuoka, Japan... Reykjavik, Iceland... Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia... or even Gatlinburg, Tennessee... and many, many more. It was checking cafes off a list that made me want to go there. The fact that I always find loads of amazing stuff to see and do in addition to a cafe visit is just icing on the cake.

Bah.

Will somebody please give me a million dollars and unlimited airline miles so I can visit all the Hard Rocks before any more of them close down? That would be great, thanks!

   

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