About The Car

A few weeks ago I wrote about our desire for a new car. We have it now, a brand new Toyota 4Runner.

A few readers were kind enough to offer advice, including Jim McGuire who wrote about FightingChance.com. It’s a service, providing ‘real’ prices and a buying strategy.

The strategy didn’t work exactly as anticipated. We faxed over 20 dealers and heard back from five or six.

That being said, we had enough info to get what we consider a pretty good deal at thousands off the sticker price and 0% financing. Plus, we got exactly the car we wanted.

I was going to write about it sooner, but I wanted the car to be a surprise when we visited Stef earlier today. School will be over in a few weeks and we drove to her dorm to pick up a few things including the back seats from her smaller SUV.

We headed out at 10:45 AM hitting little traffic through Connecticut and into New York. As we pulled onto campus, I called Stef so she would meet as at her car.

And then it happened.

About twenty seconds from our destination… a few hundred yards away at best… a large bird with a bad stomach decided to let loose. Oh the humanity! A white bomb exploded across the hood, splattering onto the window.

The car only had about 350 miles on the odometer. I am now personally committed to putting him on the endangered species list. How could this fowl be so foul?

Steffie and a friend showed up, ready for seat removal and lunch. Lunch would have to wait. We were heading to the car wash. It was a little dusty anyway.

Speaking of lunch – we headed to the Cheesecake Factory. I am currently doing “Atkins,’ so food is always a challenge. I had a shrimp and crab salad which was as good as it was oversized.

I wans’t going to have dessert until I saw “6 Carb Cheesecake.” Is that even possible? And, if it was, what would the cheesecake taste like?

I was amazed when a real sized piece of cheesecake came to the table. Sweetened with Splenda and not sugar, it was sweet and tasty with real cheesecake texture and taste. I liked it enough to buy a full cake to bring home!

And, the car is clean.

L.A. In The Sunshine Is Very Enticing

I had a ‘date’ for lunch, so I drove Stef and Helaine to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. There was a time when I had to explain Rodeo Drive to people who had never been to L.A., but it has become larger than life and universally known.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know much of what went on (and since it was primarily shopping, I don’t want to know). There is one story the girls shared with me.

As they walked down the street they passed a trash can with smoke pouring from it. A man walked out of a store, poured a bottle of water in&#185 and left. But the smoke continue to waft out.

Within a few minutes, the sound of sirens. Then a Beverly Hills fire truck, police cars and traffic agents showed up. The street was blocked off and firefighters, direct from central casting, put out the smoldering trash receptacle.

Meanwhile, back in Century City, I was pulling onto the 20th Century Fox lot for lunch. Originally I drove in from the main entrance on Pico. The security guard there re-directed me to the parking garage off Galaxy.

Though I was farther from my destination, that was a good thing. I got a chance to walk through the Fox lot.

Make no mistake about it, this is a movie factory – which is very cool. Everywhere you walk are signs you’re in “Hollywood.” Though I saw no production in progress, it was obvious there was a lot going on.

There is no strange thing I saw at Fox. There were at least two vending boxes selling the NY Post. Granted, it is owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox, but it’s just a strange place to see the Post on sale.

Lunch was with someone I first met in 2nd grade! He is now a highly placed executive at Fox Television… and that’s why I’ll preserve his anonymity.

He’s a very nice guy, was very bright back then, and hasn’t changed. He is in a business where each and every decision has dollars attached to it. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of accountability and I think he enjoys it.

We talked about people we knew from school and our families. In some ways our lives have run parallel. We both started families, having children, later in life.

It was really a great lunch and fun talking with someone who has insight into a part of my business that I normally have little contact with. As we said goodbye, the Robert Blake verdict came in.

Wow. No one more surprised than me. Well, maybe Robert.

I left Fox and headed to Beverly Hills to pick up Helaine and Stef. There had been a whole lot of looking and a little bit of buying.

We headed back to the hotel so I could pick up my camera. When we got there I noticed the satellite trucks and microwave vans lining up on Avenue of the Stars, in front of the hotel. “Arnold” was coming to speak at the Century Plaza tonight and protesters were expected! Coverage was assured.

After a quick break we headed back to the Valley. We wanted to take a look at a house. It was 4:30 and traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard was awful. The 405 was worse!

In the car, the subject turned to driving on California freeways. The 405, for instance, is 5 lanes in each direction. If you’re used to driving on 2 or 3 lane Interstates, 5 lanes can be unnerving.

Steffie’s theory is the right line on a 5 lane highway isn’t the breakdown lane, it’s the crying lane! People who are flustered, or otherwise unable to handle the highway pull to the side and cry. She might be right.

We cruised through Encino and Sherman Oaks, stopping at “Belle Gray,” a boutique owned by Lisa Rinna. Though Stef bought a shirt, she said the folks in the store weren’t particularly friendly or helpful.

After stopping at Ralph’s to pick up bottled water and fruit for the room, we headed to the Sherman Oaks Galleria and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

The Galleria was the mall setting for the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Of course nearly every place in the Los Angeles area has been the setting for something. A few years ago, after falling on hard times, the mall was closed, gutted and rebuilt. What is there now is smaller and open air.

In fact for dinner, we sat under a propane heater on an open air patio. The night was beautiful. The portions immense. We ate an left.

So, here it is 9:39 PM, as I type. Helaine and Stef are in bed and asleep. I won’t be far behind.

Tomorrow we’re planning on heading to the Pacific Coast Highway and driving through Malibu. Later, we’ve got dinner reservations with some friends. More tomorrow.

&#185 – This being Beverly Hills, I assume it was Evian.