Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Well, that’s over.

But before the ball drops, I still have a few stories to share.

Susie and I went to L’Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills recently.

Is it a nice hotel? Let’s put it this way. There were five people who smiled and offered services to us between the car and the check-in counter. The valets were better dressed than most wedding guests are. The rooms came with a 40” television, fax machine, 5 phones, a DVD player, and you walk through the closet to get to the bathroom.

Our two-night stay was a reward from Variety given to me for being the “dot- com before the storm” guy, whatever that means. I’m not complaining—I’ll be the “dot-com and get it” guy, the “dot-com bat ready” guy, the “tidings of dot-com fort and joy” guy for another night in this wondrous sensory privation chamber.

I still don’t know how much the rooms cost. I don’t want to know. I don’t want anyone else to know, either. This hotel has something in common with the cave where Aladdin found the lamp—if you know the price of occupancy, you’d probably sleep very poorly that night.

I think maybe the people at the hotel suspected we didn’t belong. For one thing, I made far too much or too little eye contact when necessary. I obviously noticed the valets and bell hops, and was visibly intimidated by the concierge.

Also, the dollar bills I tipped with were all crinkly and torn, not crisp and freshly minted.

We were all edgy the first night and went to Marie Callendar’s for dinner for some comfort food. But by Saturday, we’d gotten used to the door- holding and “sir” and “ma’am.”

On that evening, we met up with friends Jae and Karin, who came up from their quiet house in Huntington Beach. We showed off the technical marvels of our room, such as the master light switch beside the bed that turned off the lights in the whole suite. We partook of the hotel room bar fridge—all the non-alcoholic drinks were free, including, get this, Orangina!)

Aside—the third sign of French influence was that we could hear a dog barking in the hotel and read that they offer free dog walking services. The French love their canine companions!

We decided to eat in the hotel’s restaurant, and thank goodness we didn’t look at the menu prices before we sat down. It was a fixed menu, with either the seafood courses or a mixture of plates. By the end of the meal, we’d eaten eight, no kidding, eight courses.

The highlight of the meal came early, after canapes. Our second course was artichoke soup with slivers of black truffle on top, compliments of the chef. Truffles have two distinguishing characteristics. One, is that they cost upwards of $400 / pound—estimates vary—and two, they truffles taste better when eaten in significant amounts. My first two bites were very dainty, and the truffle shavings gave it a faintly musty, moist cobweb- type taste.

But my third mouthful, when I discovered that I was not going to die instantly, was a trufflelicious mouthful, and the complex flavors that mixed and lingered were exquisite. All I could think was, I see why people pay a lot for these. A piece of truffle is slightly resilient, holding together better than a raw mushroom, but with more compressibility than, say, a raw potato. It mixes a number of different flavors: a nutty almond, an earthy—ok, dirt—taste, an aftertaste with a hint of sweet burnt marshmallow skin. They reminded me of the “meal in a stick of gum” from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, ever morphing into another flavor just when you thought you had it figured out.

You must eat truffles in large bites instead of multiple tiny morsels, for the same reason that it’s better to watch a great big fire works rocket than a bunch of tiny roman candles—the boom and the echo are that much better.

Underlying it all was the knowledge that I may not ever eat another truffle. After the soup, the caviar that showed up on the next plate was almost a letdown.

The rest of the meal was tiny and delicious, and we ate outside on the patio kept warm by two heat lamps they wheeled over for us—December in L.A. is lovely, I remind my Canadian friends. Dessert was a mango sorbet in a tippy bowl and a very small tart.

The next morning, I tossed the shampoo, conditioner, body cleanser, hand lotion and sun tan oil bottle in my bag and we walked out past the doorman back to our Pasadena hovel.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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