The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza #12: Vromans Versus Dancing with the Stars, Riding a Donasaur, & a Minnie Mouse Who Needs $

One of the great things about going on tour is having a day off.  Which for us was Sunday. We planned to sleep in, hang out, sunbathe, luxuriate, get a massage, and generally do a total LA chillax. Sadly, Olive did not have the same idea. Olive is 3.  Since basically every day is Olive’s day off, she got up at 5:30am ready to PAR-TAY! Arielle did the 5:30am-8:00am shift. David did the 8:00am-10:30am shift. He took Olive swimming. She got them 43 glasses of lemonade (from the free lemonade cooler by the pool) which she insisted David drink. Then we headed to one of our favorite LA eateries, Campanile. It was shockingly empty for a Sunday brunch , and we thought: maybe they now suck. But there was no suckage, only excellence. Sourdough pancakes with crème fraiche. Pochaed eggs over proscuitto and arugula with scallion oil. Dee-lish! As an added bonus, the gorgeous hostess gave Olive some fish food to feed the fishies in the pool up front. Olive loves feeding fishies. A bleachy blonde with blood red lips sat next to us. Olive told her she liked her sparkly sweater.  Blondy was clearly trying for a Gwen Stefani look, but only got as far as 2nd rate Courtney Love

Next door to Campanile is the famed La Brea Bakery. Arielle continued her search for the greatest soft pretzel in America, David got a boo-yeah macaroon that was an otherworldly blend of crunch and goo. And Olive had her first gingerbread lady. Then out to the ocean and Santa Monica pier. Olive was dancing and squeeling with glee as soon as she spotted the ocean. She went on a cool old-school carousel with real wooden horses. Drove a cab. Rode a dinosaur. Steered a rocket ship. Then the coup de grace, Elmo, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. In the flesh. We don’t know how Olive has become so infatuated with Mr. and Mrs. Mouse. We have no Disney characters in our home. In fact, David wrote a screenplay for Disney and it was such a horrifying experience, he basically breaks out in hives whenever he’s around anything Disney. Has it been hammered into the DNA of American children with generations of relentless Mouseketeer marketing?

So Olive went sprinting over to Minnie and tries to give her a big hug. The human inside the very authentic Minnie outfit held a dollar between thumb and forefinger (International sign for: Give me cash). Minnie needs money to hug child. When David refused on principle, Minnie turned her back on Olive and marched away in a giant rodent huff. It was Disney–and Hollywood– and America–in a perfect symbolic nutshell. Beloved childhood icons, fully branded, working as mercenaries extorting money from children. Then there was the Jedi Knight, a homicidal maniac waving his $3 plastic light saber while wandering around muttering to himself, “So, you’d like to get rescued by a Jedi? I bet you would. Oh yeah, lady, the Force will be all over you.”

But there was a magical Argentinian singer/guitarist filling the night with the most exquisite rhythmic music as the sun set soft and pink over the Pacific and Olive enchanted the crowd with some wild improvisational dance. The Argentinian we were happy to pay. Then we were off to Monte Alban, on Santa Monica Blvd. They promised authentic Oaxacan cuisine. And they delivered. Holy mole, it was good! Fresh, flavorful, familiar yet utterly unique. Arielle had life-changing chicken soup with raw tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and avocado chopped in right before serving. David a burrito luxuriating in a mole blanket. Sated, sun-drenched and exhausted, we collapsed back at the hotel, in love with life and each other.

The next day, after more swimming with Olive, as we drove to our Pasadena Pitchapalooza, we had a bad feeling. Sure enough, when we got to Vroman’s, one of the employees told us, “I hope you don’t expect a crowd—it’s Dancing with the Stars night.” You know you’re in trouble when the writers won’t come out because they have to watch Dancing with the Stars. “Why don’t they digitally record it?” we asked. “Oh no,” the employee looked at us like we were crazy, “they have to watch it live so they can vote.”

But the events coordinator, Connie, could not have been lovelier. She participated in the event (and we are always grateful and happy when booksellers give their two cents). We talked a lot about befriending your local bookseller. Finding the expert in your category and gently, respectfully pick their brain about your book idea and similar books you should know about. Connie told us about the interview questionnaire at Vroman’s. How you must demonstrate your passion for and knowledge of books. If you’ve never been to Vroman’s, it is one of the largest and coolest independent bookstores around. Not only do they have a huge selection of books, but really cool merchandise. On this visit, Arielle discovered T-shirts with the covers of out-of-print editions of famous books.

We actually ended up with a nice gaggle of writers. And Tony, a fan of David’s, showed up after dental surgery and bought 3 books! The winner pitched an everything guide to Disneyland. Because LittleMissMatched (the company Arielle is the co-founder of) has a store in Disneyland, we know just how rabid these Disney fans are.

We were sad to bid farewell to Hotel California, but happy to take a little of Hollywood with us in the form of incredible edibles from Joan’s.  So happily, Southern California lived on in our hearts, and our bellies.