I arrived at LAX on Friday as scheduled, at midday. My rental chariot (Chrysler 300) was in its appointed stall, which was however unequaled in distance from where we were left off the bus. I love airports where rental cars are on property--the extra bus rides on both ends are a pain. The ride to Westlake from LAX was typical Southern CA Friday afternoon...crowded, but moving. My plane was full of folks who inhabit the same national security know-it-all bubble as I, some friends of long standing.
Having nothing on my agenda until 1900, I got to the Hyatt and fiddlefaddled for a bit, including a two hour nap. Upon waking, I saw that some colleagues were meeting for drinks by the firepit, and I happened upon them as I headed down to the gym to create some caloric room for dinner that evening. I rejoined them after the workout and had a delightful chat as the chill of the evening began to manifest itself. Having to get myself together for dinner, I begged off and began my toilette.
|Bond, James Bond|
The dinner was interesting, and there was a sense of both hope and frustration in the room. Hope that we (GOP) would have a good chance next November, frustration with the Congress and the Administration for having gotten defense into the pickle that it is currently in.
After dinner, I headed back for the night, but not before joining a good friend at the bar for a nightcap (club soda, lime). Together, we schemed about how we would change the world for a good twenty minutes, and then it was time for bed.
In the morning, I skipped the workout (bad boy) and met a couple of friends bright and early to drive them to the Reagan Library for the National Defense Forum. One was going to stay for a VIP dinner there afterward, and the other was going to join me and a few others for dinner elsewhere. As it turns out, all of these plans pretty much crashed at the end of the long day, but good intentions were on display at its dawn.
I won't bore you with details of the day, but suffice it to say it was 1) interesting 2) well attended and 3) a maximal networking event. I had a lot of good conversations, met some new interesting people, and rubbed elbows with the great, the near great, and the once great. I breakfasted with Reagan Speechwriter Peggy Noonan and former California Governor Pete Wilson, both happily in the latter category. There were more folks from the Democrat national security scene than in the past, and I think the folks organizing it are actively trying to make it non-partisan. But when you hold it at the Reagan Library, you're likely to get a heavily right wing crowd.
The plan for after the forum was a group of six or so would head out to get steaks, and then we'd retire to the home of one of the group who had rented a place in the hills from AirBnB. As the day went on, news arose of a couple of VIP's from the event who had indicated that they were going to join us at the house in the hills for drinks, and so the guys who were renting the place begged out of dinner to go home, buy beer, and clean up. Two other folks got roped into the VIP dinner afterward, so I and one other went out for a steak.
We ate at a place called the Prime Steakhouse, which was sort of a neighborhood joint. There was a single large dining room with a bar on one wall, and the place was pretty crowded. In one corner was a straightup lounge singer, a la Bill Murray on Saturday night live. He had a little music machine feeding a small speaker that he essentially Karaoke'd to--and I was of course, delighted by this little slice of Americana. If you haven't been to California, you might not have a sense that while it is a huge, diverse, place, it is littered with little towns/suburbs each of which has its own character, and each of which could easily be found in Tennessee or Wisconsin.
After a bit, we received news that the VIP's had begged out of the house party that was planned, but we decided to soldier on, and so headed back to the hotel to get into some more comfortable clothes--I into my Addidas track pants and UVA pullover, which was my transit rig to California and which is my transit rig as I write.
The home where the two colleagues were ensconced was pretty cool, and they had prepared well for a big crowd--although I and my co-conspirator were ultimately the only ones to show up. The highlight of the evening for me was after having complemented one of the guys on how cute his kids are, I was regaled with a story of how he personally delivered the third one in the vestibule of his front door. Nearing ten, I motioned to my friend and we alighted to our escape vehicle.
|Hannah, Pluto. Champions|
And so I find myself now jetting across flyover country enroute home, eta 2200 hrs (land at 1900, two hours transit, stop for dinner). Busy week ends Sunday with another trip across country back to San Diego.