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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Control4: THE Event (Cali Adventure pt 2)

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Coming from the East Coast, I *might* actually qualify as a morning person for the first few days of my California visits. Come 7 AM, I am springing out of bed and totally ready to get at the day. Seriously, I could see myself making power smoothies and reading the Journal and doing all that morning person crap that I previously thought was just urban legend bravado or a sign of some kind of mental illness. It’s really terrific. Conversely, at 7 AM at home I am sleeping and angry to be bothered. Isn’t the West Coast amazing?


So, the cover story for my reason for coming to California is to attend the two-day, Control4 THE Tour dealer event. And Day 1’s itinerary calls for a full day session of a class called “Growing Your Business” and, really, who isn’t into that? The agenda I’ve received from the Control4 PR mothership is an 8AM breakfast meeting followed by class from 9 to 4. So I scurry my bright eye and bushy tail down to the lobby area and start looking around for something that resembles breakfastness, The hotel desk girl confirms that, yes, there is no breakfast. So I head back to my room and fire up some in-room coffee and get an e-mail on Lady Phone from Shanan, my C4 PR-minder for this event.

Shanan has never met me, either from do-your-homework wisdown or just asking-for-it-oh-so-foolishness, she has been reading my blog, so she knows that anything she says IS likely to be heavily exaggerated and then put out into the public forum. With this knkowledge, she admits to being a bit nervous about meeting me as I seem to have such a tight relationship with other PR-types and she’s worried how she’ll measure up. (A healthy fear of the unpredictability of the Sciacca blog is probably a safe tactic.) (And, spoiler, she measured up just fine, thank you very much.) So she says that I should be able to recognize her because she’ll be the one wearing leopard print shoes. In actuality what she *could* have said was, “You’ll be able to recognize me because I’ll the the woman.” I think at the entire event of like 100 people, there were like three women, so picking out Shanan, who was also the TiVo diva for like 11 years, was not really like guessing the winning lottery numbers.

So I return to the lobby and there is Shanan, indeed wearing leopard print shoes that almost perfectly camo into the hotel’s busy carpeting and she assures me that she is going to get to the bottom of this no breakfast fiasco. I tell her that as long as I get my morning order of Eggs Benedict I'll be happy, screw the other people, focus on pleasing the Sciacca! Let's not lose sight of me, here! So I get my seat in the class, and then walk out into the hallway to see the hotel team delivering THE muffin. (Well, there might have been like a dozen. For the near 100 people. But by the time I got to the cart-serving-thing, there was literally one sad-sad muffin remaining.) Suffice to say, Control4 will not be giving Lutron and its amazing fridge of eternal greatness a run for its money.

Learned some good stuff in the class, and I think the hotel was really trying to rebound from the breakfast SNAFU by bringing out a really great fajita bar lunch. (That that, Lutron! You and your beer and Arizona Iced Tea and Gatorade packed fridge!) So, class ends at 4:00 and it is followed by hosted cocktail hour which is always a sure way to win friends and influence Sciaccas so I grab a Johnnie Black and talk to the folks at Fusion Research, one of the vendors in attendance and manufacturers of a Kaleidescape-esque hard disk movie server. Their company headquarters is located in Danville, just scant miles from where I grew up and where I used to drive to visit Laiser Faire, an AWESOME Laser Disc rental store. Oh, Laser Faire, you were part of a kinder, gentler age. May your memory pass softly into the night, old, dear friend!

So, Shanan says she’s planned dinner for us to meet in the lobby at 8 so we can have a chance to have a little down time in the room. Sounds great. So I finish my Johnnie double and head up to my room and put on some iPod and start computering and at like 6:15 my phone rings. “Hi, John. This is Shanan. So...would you be up for going to dinner a little early?”

“Sure. 8 o’clock is like 11 PM for me anyhow, so that would be great. How little early were you thinking?”

“How about we meet in the lobby at 6:20?"

John rechecks watch. The old Sub, she likes to run fast. "6:20? Like in five minutes?"

"Yeah. Is that too early?"

Nope. I'm easy like Sunday morning. Well, Sunday morning on the west coast after flying in just a couple of days prior. So, synchronize watches, spruce-spruce, and I Johnny-hustle down to the lobby and meet the rest of the C4 team and we jump into Shanan’s boss’s BMW X5 truck and head out to San Jose. From previous e-mails, Shanan has inadvertently revealed a jacket fetish, and she is wearing this black trenchcoat/duster thing that looks very Trinity/Matrix-ey , though without any of the vinyl. Also, she gave no indication that she was sporting a secret pistol-grip, sawed off, pump action in a quick draw shoulder sling under the coat, but you can always hope...

We end up going to this awesome, lux, outdoor shopping area called Santana Row. And oye como va! This place is cool! It’s like Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive and 5th Avenue kind of compressed down into one easily walkable area. And the cars! Lambos and Bentleys and Ferraris, oh my! And this place has a Tesla design center, where you can pop in and customize your new Tesla. Here’s a shot of the entrance:

And the interior:

And the design bar where you can find the perfect color combo for your new Tesla. Might I suggest staying away from the minty-fresh green?

Since there are two cars just sitting there, I ask if I can sit in one and, well, this is what I will look like sitting in my new Tesla. Don't I just look so happy and eco-friendly sportscar-y?

The car is pretty dang cool looking, very Lotus Elise looking and was incredibly roomy once I was inside. Though with the really low slung seat and the way you have to climb out up and over the door frame, I don’t believe there is any graceful way to get in or out of a Tesla. And I am going to go on record predicting that the Tesla will be THE car of choice for any paparazzi looking to capture celebrity upskirt photos. Ladies, I strongly suggest wearing pants when Tesla-ing unless you are looking for a Lindsay Lohan kind of image bump! And the car only has three buttons: drive, reverse and park. But the car goes 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, and they say it has like a 300 miles range on a charge. Though plan your travel accordingly, because a FULL charge takes 3.5 hours. Kind of a bummer of a long time to hang out at the charging station if you find yourself stranded in Fresno or something. And it was “only” $107,000 so get your orders in now!

So we go to a couple of chic looking restaurants but they are deemed “too loud” by the C4 big boss, so we finally settle on this place called the California Bistro. And, I’ll tell you, one of the things that I miss most about California cuisine is the bread. Seriously. The bread out here is just delicious, especially the sourdough. I don’t know why they can’t replicate it around the country, but they can’t. New York, you can keep your bagels, just give me a steady supply of my Cali bread! Dr. Atkins and gluten free be damned! During dinner we start talking movies and TV and it is clear that Shanan and I are simpatico. Both love the Mad Men, the 30 Rock, the SNL, have a secret 16 and Pregnant shame habit, and enjoy a healthy dose of documentary filmmaking.

After dinner we’re walking back to the X5 which is parked on the 5th floor and as we’re going up the stairs – it’s California remember. I think taking the elevator is a finable offense – we pass this Asian girl that is just *retching* into this garbage can on the fourth floor. I mean, this girl looks like she just drank a bottle of poison and now is trying to get rid of *everything* all at once. Her boyfriend is standing off to the side trying to look supportive in that "Really, there is just nothing that I can do here. And, please try not to get any on my shoes" way. He did do the chivalrous thing of tying off the trashcan liner. It was disturbing in the way that only a live-and-in-person actual hardcore, pipe hittin’ vomit episode can be.

So, back to hotel, again pushing a 2AM bedtime and up for the next day of class on advanced programming. Somehow the Marriott managed to make the Salon V training room a communications-free zone as I didn’t get ANY WiFi’s and my cell phone worked only when the antenna was pointing in what seemed to be a randomized singular position, probably as some satellite occasionally streaked by overhead. I would lay Lady Phone on my table and then s-l-o-w-l-y rotate it in 360 degrees waiting for the “Searching...” message to be replaced briefly, fleetingly by “T-Mobile.” Then, like a nuclear sub that occasionally surfaces under the polar ice caps to grab some quick flash-burst messages, I would *maybe* pick up an e-mail and even more maybe be able to actually download and read it.

So from the first thing and throughout the day I am dropping constant little guilt hints on Shanan like, “Really be great if you’d drive me to my brother’s after this…” and “That’ sure nice of you to not make me take BART...” and "Sure is great to have a dedicated PR person here to drive me to my next thing" and the like. Fortunately, Shanan is super cool about the driving thing and I've clearly managed not to totally alienate her from the night before, so when the class ends, we jump in Shanan’s Jetta and head to what I at first think is Walnut Creek which is like 25 minutes closer than Concord where my brother actually lives. Fortunately, Shanan was a great sport and kept any muttering of “I can’t believe he’s making me drive him all the way out to Concord at the start of a holiday weekend when I need to just turn right around and drive right back into San Francisco! And did I mention that it is a holiday weekend? I did? Good,” well under the volume level of the music.

Also remember the way you used to play a portable CD player in your car? With that tape cassette thingy that attached to your player? Remember? Yeah. Shanan's still rockin' that with her iPod. She bought like the last Jetta model year that is sporting both a tape deck AND in-dash CD. Turns out that she and I also have an amazingly similar taste in music. I’m not sure that she is ready to follow the Giant’s around just yet, but broody, depressing, breathy, airy female vocals a la Fiona Apple, Leona Naess, Meiko, Ingrid Michaelson? Oh, yeah. She's down and all over that. So she is asking if I’ve heard of any of these bands that she knows from her club DJ friends that all have names like some kind of random club described by that guy, Stefan, on SNL’s Weekend Update.

"You know that thing that's a human suitcase? It's a thing of when a midget on rollerstakes wears all of your clothes and then you pull them through an airport." She's naming bands like Coop and Pink Martini and others I couldn’t possibly recall. She had an album of a girl that just covered Bee Gee’s songs that – OK, look, I use a pink phone, so I’m man enough to admit it – actually sounded pretty cool. There. I’ll just stand in the corner waiting for the “I knew John was gay!” comments from Darryl to start rolling in.

So we finally make it to my brother’s and I figure the least I can do is to invite her in for an afternoon, pre-drive in what's sure to be horrible holiday traffic back into San Francisco, bleu-cheese olive stuffed martini. (Turns out Shanan hates olives, but, unrelated...) My brother and I have been trading bottles back and forth of this Black Label Smirnoff vodka that, despite what Darryl Wilkinson would have you believe -- “Smirnoff in any color is a faux pas” and “Lenin never drank Smirnoff. Stalin personally strangled Mr. Smirnoff himself” and “I took Russian in college. (Seriously, I did.) Smirnoff is a derogatory work that means f--- the west, we will bury you, and communism is the only way to go” and “Smirnoff in Russian means warmed over yak piss” I believe were his exact turns of phrase – is quite excellent but sadly not available for sale in the US. Feel free to pick us both up a bottle the next time you find yourself in Europe of the Virgin Islands. I also felt that it was my duty as a member of the journalism community to help caution Shanan about the potential hazards and dangers and often hostile environment of working with one Darryl Wilkinson, so I share several rather inappropriate Wilkinson text messages – or, what are often more succinctly just called “I got a text from Darryl” – and we chat it up with Shanan for a bit before she finally relents and heads out to brave the holiday weekend traffic on her pilgrimage back into the city. And, like the paper boat at the beginning of "It," that is where Shanan sails out of our story...

With  the worky-work, it puts the lotion on, John sings/writes for his supper portion of this trip over, I am now free and ready to start having some fun! Bring, it California! Bring...IT!

Categories: May 2011, Electronics

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1 Comment

Reply DW
3:22 AM on June 1, 2011 
I knew John was gay.