Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And after all that, the burger was just ok

WARNING!  Use caution (and telepathy) when driving through Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico. 

A few nights ago I was bringing up the rear of a three-vehicle procession on Old Route 66 from the Guadalupe Vineyards near San Fidel, NM.  The vintner, Tony, had his face fixed for dinner at his favorite burger joint in the village of Bibo which he alleged was a fifteen minute drive away.  The Sledgehammer of Reason (having liberally sampled the goods at the vineyard) let me drive the picturesque rural road; my only turn at the wheel on a 1,000 mile, 3-1/2 day journey.   Tony was driving the lead vehicle, followed by his cousin, famed artist Pablo Milan with his lovely significant other, Len.   

Having only a glimmer of an idea where we were and knowing the "smart" phone got progressively dumber the closer we got to the mountains, I kept pace with the rest of the pack.  Tony was clearly starving after a hard day of grape-crushing and was not wasting any time.  As we drove over a hill one of New Mexico's finest (and youngest) pulled out from the side of the road with his lights flashing.

I pulled over to the shoulder to let him pass, as did Tony and Pablo.   To my surprise, he pulled up behind me ... and to his surprise he then discovered his Super Powers had inadvertently kicked in, and had managed to bag three vehicles with one stop.   Appearing a bit confused, the officer asked if we were all together to which I responded affirmatively, adding that we were all on our way to dinner in Bibo.  Had I ever been to Bibo, I would have realized how suspicious this sounded - it actually takes longer to say, “Bibo” than it does to drive through it and I gather Zagat doesn't have any impending plans to check it out. 

I hadn’t been going that fast (and certainly not faster than Tony) so I wasn’t sure why I was being pulled over.  Inebriated co-pilot?  Seemed unlikely.  Missing hubcap?  Ugly, but as far as I knew, not a crime.  It turns out that going over that last hill, the speed limit dropped briefly from 55 to 35 and I had been clocked at 47.  There supposedly was signage, somewhere, that indicated the change in speed limit - just not anywhere visible from the road. 

Officer Confused demanded my license and registration which he then took back to his vehicle for a mini-investigation.   Meanwhile, the Sledgehammer managed to get a call through to Pablo to tell him what was going on.   Of course, most of a bottle of one stellar Grey Riesling (among others) made the message sound a lot like, “ah tink we’re butted for weeding” which I suppose is why Pablo and Len suddenly lurched around to get their eyes on the situation.

Whatever info the cop was able to ascertain about me was apparently disappointing – he reluctantly clipped his handcuffs back on his belt and returned to our car.     Vintner Tony (administrator of the local parochial school and well known in the community) started to get out of his truck but was ordered back in by the cop.  I was then handed a pink slip and informed in a out-of-the-vast-generosity-of-my-Super-Powered-heart tone that I was only receiving a warning which held no repercussions license or insurance-wise. 

My fellow intrepid travellers' collective opinion was that there were too many witnesses to issue a BS speed trap fine.  It should be noted that of our three vehicles, mine carried the only out-of-state plate.   Not implying anything - I'm just sayin' ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Further Musings on Occasionally Convenient Coincidences

The slightly interesting news: There are 28,477 people in the U.S. with the last name Stern. Statistically the 1,311th most popular last name.

The good news: There are only 337 people in the U.S. named David Stern. I am David F. Stern. (#237). F as in Friedman, my mother’s maiden name, not F as in the F-word people in Phoenix still apply emphatically to the NBA commissioner (who is #266).

In 1959 I went with a group of Wharton Business School students I had just met to a bar adjacent to the campus. A man introduced himself as the establishment’s owner and apologized for having to ask for our ID. I was first to produce mine.

“Are you related to David Stern, the publisher of the Philadelphia Record?” he asked. Sensing an opportunity, I replied, "He's my father." He called the waiter over to our table and said to him “drinks on the house for these fellows.”

Four years later I was invited to dinner in New York City by a friend who wanted me to meet a guy named Johnny Stern who was producing the TV show Victory at Sea. After introductions I asked Johnny Stern how he got such a job in TV at his relatively young age. “My father is publisher of the Philadelphia Record,” he said.