|Terrace of Manzanita Restaurant with Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe main lodge in background|
My time of want for a mountaintop sanctuary came a few weeks back, when a ribald, lollapalooza of a street orgy invaded my clean, quiet city. I should have known it was coming—Comic-Con comes to San Diego every summer.
On a lark, thinking I might learn something about several generations of media consumers who’ve made LEGO Batman a top performer at the box office and Harry Potter a billion-dollar book franchise, I set out for a walk among these enthusiastic convention goers.
|Denizen of San Diego’s Comic-Con complete |
with armor plated bustier.
To put it in perspective: San Diego Unified Port District, landlord and crowned head of San Diego’s waterfront, is actively pursuing proposals to expand its convention center, for the express purpose of accommodating the ever-growing Comic-Con crowds. Meanwhile, in the Port District’s own Seaport Village, San Diego’s last downtown bookseller, Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffeehouse, recently shuttered its doors.
Feeling extremely sorry for myself—out of fashion as a writer, hopelessly out of step in my chosen literary genre—and in order to silence the howling in my ears, I dashed into a corner liquor store for a fifth of Johnny Walker Black, flagged down a private ambulance, and directed the EMT at the wheel to deliver me to the nearest thing I knew to a modern sanatorium: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
In summer, the views from the giant picture windows are of green meadows, sheer, bare ski runs, and fog-shrouded forests in the valleys below. At twilight, as you stand in the tastefully decorated great room of this exalted hotel, a martini in hand, a roaring fire at your back, and as you contemplate the dramatic, snow-capped mountain peak just beyond the expansive outdoor deck, you half expect to spot Captain Georg von Trapp and his bratty brood of seven meandering up a trail to the summit ahead, fleeing not Georg’s commission in the Third Reich’s navy but a series of unpaid Reno bar tabs.
|Sophisticated interior of Manzanita Restaurant with exhibition kitchen, right.|
Breakfast always tastes better in the mountains. Tame your hangover with a classic eggs Benedict or a fulfilling huevos rancheros. And upon your return from Truckee, where you’ve spent the morning in a lawn chair, watching a long line of freight trains descending from Donner Pass, I suggest a late lunch of chicken pappardelle, a Manzanita burger, or a salmon BLT (Applewood bacon and heirloom tomato with Bibb lettuce on a brioche bun).
|Manzanita Restaurant’s Niman Ranch pork tomahawk chop.|
The plot for my new science fiction novel is this: Aliens invade Earth. Studying California, the head-anthropology-alien concludes that Caltrans workers, in their fluorescent orange vests and hardhats, are the high priests of society, and that the endless lines of cars that snake past them on the state’s crumbling freeways are in fact parades in reverse—human beings who come from miles around to pay homage to their exalted leaders. (This alien anthropologist has a high-functioning insect brain and doesn’t always get everything 100% right.)
Assuming human form and dressed in Caltrans garb, the aliens invade Sacramento, where they demand concessions from a legion of smarmy politicians. The governor misconstrues the aliens for a bargaining unit of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Caltrans’s largest union, and quickly accedes to their demands. He hands over the keys to planet Earth, and mankind is soon annihilated.
My manuscript has some rough spots, I’ll grant you, but I’m in the process of smoothing these out.