Homer’s Odyssey? Bite me.

Made it to dad’s house.

No major problems today, although I did take a wrong turn onto north 101 at San Rafael, but that lead me to a Toyota dealership and that lead me to getting not one but two new keys for Red Car.

I had to have the registration and they took the VIN # and the guy in parts got a key code for that and he used that to mill me two good keys, which I am now using with the old key retired to Second Redundancy.

Remind me to YELP the parts desk at San Rafael Toyota, because the guy was good.

So I made it and the board didn’t fly off the roof and I have my phone and my wallet and pretty much everything I left with or picked up along the way, so I am calling it a success.

And I did pick up the bagel – such a good son.

I just sent an email to Y_____ M_____ at MGM/Mirage asking about the hotel policy for discounting or comping rooms for writers.

I want to write it for L______ W_________ or M________ M_________ or someone.

All well and good except I have some history with Y______ M_____.

We had a minor email tussle when I asked for MGM’s help in fact-checking the captions for Vegas at Night. This was her response, way back on May 5, 2009:

From: Mo____, Y______
Date: Tue, May 5, 2009 at 7:50 PM
To: Benjamin Marcus Benjamin, I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I needed to check with our staff’s trademark/infringement attorneys and other executives to ensure that we remain within our Company protocol.

Unfortunately, as much as we would like to help, our staff is not available to use our Company time or resources to assist outside for-profit ventures such as this.

Additionally, and it’s not good news, sorry: We cannot give permission for you to use photographs of our branded properties and images for a for-profit venture. You run the risk of an infringement issue on the brands and images, and it is entirely your decision whether you wish to assume that risk.

If there is anything that is ultimately published in the book that is interpreted by our legal staff to be a misrepresentation of our trademarked brands or images, this could potentially spark the pursuit of an action beginning with a “cease and desist” request – but I cannot predict in advance what might or might not happen. Publications by outside parties are reviewed on a case-by-case basis following their publication.

I am sorry that I cannot provide a more definitive answer, and the only suggestion I can make is that you may wish to preempt any concerns by consulting your attorney. If you do not already have a legal advisor on board, the book’s publisher usually has legal resources on retainer for these matters, and you’ll likely want to cover all the bases to protect your investment.

Please understand that I am not a paralegal or an attorney. I work in a quasi-Public Relations function as an informational liaison to outside parties. My primary function is to try to assist and inform you about our Company’s business practices, capabilities, resources and policies. As you can well imagine, each and every request that we receive along these lines is very unique.

In an initial review of your document, I think I can help just a little bit:

“the MGM Grand was the second Strip hotel to have that name” – standing alone, this statement is confusing and somewhat misleading.

“MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park for the whole family” – there has been no theme park since the mid-1990s, but there is no indication in the text that this no longer exists. So this is also confusing.

“What was and what is there no longer. The MGM Grand entrance originally was a Vegasized version of MGM mascot Leo the Lion: mouth open and roaring to allow guests into the casino and hotel. A good idea, until MGM management wondered why all the Chinese guests were using another entrance – or not coming in at all. Turns out that in Feng Shui, walking into the mouth of a lion is considered bad luck, a variation on the English: “Like lambs to lions.” Chinese gamblers saw the open mouth of the lion and its fangs as an invitation to step aside and get eaten alive – financially – and they avoided the MGM Grand after it opened in 1993.” – we respectfully request that this photo and caption not be included in the book, as it represents a non-successful business effort. Though I completely understand that this entrance is a real part of Vegas history, this depiction and reminder of the old entrance is somewhat an affront to the reputation and ultimate success of our world-famous resort.

“Strangely, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were not included in the original design” – there is nothing “strange” about this. The resort designer did not pursue the inclusion of the World Trade Center in the design.

“Recent events have inspired some guests to refer to The Roller Coaster as “Wall Street,” or “The Dow Jones.”- this information will be sorely outdated upon the book’s publication and it is perhaps another affront to our Company and possibly an infringement on the branded coaster.

“Tropicana also forms the Great Divide between the Excalibur and New York, New York” – Excalibur and New York-New York are not “divided”. Excalibur and NY-Ny are joined together by both convenient elevated and ground-level walkways; and the two properties conduct cross-marketing efforts and share staff resources,

Thank you for checking in with us.

Y________ M_________
MGM MIRAGE Public Affairs
3260 Industrial Road, Las Vegas NV 89109
Office (702) 650-6942
Cell (702) 491-6426

So that sounded a little sketchy but maybe she was just being careful.

Today I pitched the idea to M_______ T_______ and M______ M_____ and L___ W_____.

I got a pretty quick “Pass” from Malibu Times, which was a little ironic because at that time I was pulled over in El Dorado Springs at a Fed Ex/Kinkos in some strip/shopping mall, taking time out from my busy day to email my Malibu Creek steelhead story to O_____ D______ who was writing a piece on chlorine discharges from the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility.

So there I was spending time and money to help them and I got barred from coming up with a reason to finagle free rooms at the Aria.

Oh well, they couldn’t have known that.

But I would like to go back, stay in the hotel and write it up for someone.

New Years would be nice, because it was New Years last year when I saw City Center being built.

The size of it was astonshing under construction and as you walk through it now, the words of Gladiator still ring true:

“I did not know men could build such things.”

So I hope they flow me some suites for New Years and I can bring Team First Point and we can tear the roof off the suckah.

This morning around 11:00 I left Placerville and stopped at Del Taco to fill my new travel mug with coffee then drove west, uneventfully.

Passing through Davis I did notice that people there were very tall and smiled a lot and were very patient with younger people, so I wondered what that was all about.

It was raining and then a litte foggy and gloomy so I listened to the radio and The Police and got kind of bummed out on California.

I guess I am a traitor to my class, because I really do not like the American middle class and all the suburban blight and strip malls and housing developments and seeing pastoral foothills being carved up for what I call “Gack.”

America is getting uglier and uglier as it all becomes one big strip mall.

I noticed this before when I was coming back from Montana a few years ago. As soon as you come over the hills from Nevada or Oregon and hit California the population density skyrockets and so do all the housing developments and chain stores and fast food stores and ugliness.

It’s a mistake. I think I should have been born when my parents were, and lived in California in the 1950s.

Whaaa whaaa whaaaa. Moan moan moan, always complaining.

So I drove past Benicia and ValleyHo and all the old familiar places where I spent time when I was a lost and lonely wanderer at the beginning of this decade/century.

My phobia about going over bridges is doubled by the Racknophobia from having that SUP on the roof of the car, so instead of taking the Bay Brige I took the Richmond/San Rafel bridge, after stopping at an Arco station to gas up and make sure I had toll money.

“Where’s gas? Where’s tolls?” That’s from Death Knocks by Woody Allen.

Read it, it’s funny:

I made it to the Marin side of the bridge and took a wrong turn going north up 101.

But I saw that Toyota dealership and decided to detour a bit and do the right thing and see about getting the key copied.

God had warned me when he let me catch that key with my toe, and who am I to disregard a supernatural caveat?

I delayed about half an hour to take care of the key, but it only cost $20 and now I have one as good as new and two backups.

Remind me to write a positive YELP review for the parts desk at San Rafael Toyota.

Driving toward the Golden Gate Bridge I was tempted to detour through Tiburon, which is a place I like very much.

Kind of the Nor Cal version of Malibu: quiet, dignified, low population, great weather.

But no surf. too bad because there is some geography in there that would be good with a bit of swell running through.

There was a very bright rainbow arcing down on Tiburon as I passed and maybe that was the Gods saying “Welcome Home!” because I was born in San Francisco.

I want to go back to Tiburon and cruise the SUP along Mar East Street where I used to live.

I can think of a million places I want to cruise that board.

Wish I had known about it all 10 years ago. The last 10 years would have been happier and healthier.

Made it across the Godlen Gate bridge and stopped at House of Bagels on Geary.

Everyone had San Francisco Giants shirts on, and that was nice.

I got a half dozen and drove down to Ocean Beach.

Weather was stormy and there was some surf.

I organized the Red Car and threw out all the SoBe bottles and beef jerky wrappers and pieces of floss, and pistachio shells and plastic wrappers and used coffee cups and other flotsam, and then drove south.

There was a guy SUPping at Linda Mar and that made me want to go SUP Linda Mar, but not today.

Made it over Devil’s Slide and was listening to Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song when I pulled up at Pop’s house.

I knocked on the door and held one of the CostCo posters in front of me and then held out the bagel.

I gave pops one of the Clark Little books and bitched and moaned about it as he flipped through it.

And now I am doing this.

I think I shall sleep well tonight.

I might go into San Francisco tomorrow to see M Washaw and G Nikitin and maybe B McGee, but if they aren’t around I will head for Santa Cnd see that crew. I want to go thank Randy French for giving me deals on the Laird Boards.

I wonder if he”ll be pissed at me for the G______ deal at T________

We shall see. It’s competition, in a way.

If anyone has read this to the end, please send me one ping and one ping only.

How is the surf down there?

I need to get a wetsuit.


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