I can’t believe I am subjecting myself to a second dose of this crazy place, but I will admit that it’s awfully fun here. California has the geography, but a bit too much of it, which means that, except during shows, everyone is off doing their own thing in Thousand Oaks or San Diego or up north near San Fran. Here in Welly World, it’s incredibly condensed. Last night Jenn and I went to Kontiki for some Vegetable Tempura, and as we were seated at the table I realized we were right next to Diederik Wigmans and his lovely better half, Janneke. Shortly after that, Chris Pack came in with a rather handsome and famous companion (since I don’t know him I don’t think it’s right to take liberties with his identity, other than to say he’s a famous Soap Opera star whose name at birth was Shlomo Goldberg), and as they made their way to the bar they stopped to say hello. A little later on, horse shipper Tim Dutta dropped by our table to say hi, and suggested that he was with someone it would be good for me to meet, since I would be writing about her in my World Dressage Masters press releases. So I went and shook hands with Danish rider Anne Van Olst, who was charming and oh so much taller than I had been expecting. And that was just the people who passed under my nose. I bet there wasn’t more than one degree of separation among 90% of the dinner crowd.

Last night was an early turn-in for me, partly because I finally got what I deserve for sitting on airplanes breathing in the recycled germs of other cold-ridden passengers, but mainly because I was still recovering from Sunday (yes, TWO nights earlier). After flying all the live-long day from Vancouver to West Palm, I arrived at 11 pm and drove straight to Players for my friend Jenn’s birthday party, which was of course in very full swing by then. The place was packed to safety-standard-violation capacity, I suppose because it had been Nation’s Cup weekend. The demographics were young and drunk. I turned to another Jen and said I felt 20. She said, ‘really? I feel 80.’ I revised my statement to ‘I feel like an 80 year old trying to act 20.’ The crowd upstairs were too young to have subjected themselves to plastic surgery, which is a good thing. So instead of exposing their insecurities by modifying what God saw fit to give them, they instead exposed their lower bodies with the shortest Mofo skirts these eyes have ever laid eyes on. One attractive African American was wearing a knit thing so short that, without staring and risking being mistaken for someone who was interested in what she had on display, I was pretty sure didn’t quite cover her naughty bits. I asked my 80 year old Jen friend if she had seen the skirt. Her reply was ‘yes, it’s like we’re all her gynecologist’. 

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 Jenn and me – she not looking a day over 30 and me not looking a day younger than 80.

If you want to be a cool imbiber at Player’s you drink either Veuve Clicquot, or Grey Goose – or both. Maybe there should be a cocktail at Player’s that combines the two. It could be called a Widow Maker. Anyhoo, there was plenty of that going down the hatches and the dancing got sexy enough that I am pretty sure there might have been a few little pastel coloured pills getting washed down with the drinks. The highlight of my night was when I called a fall. There were a couple of stripper imitators dancing up on a box that might have been a woofer – but the place was so loud I couldn’t really tell where the sound was coming from – and when they were ready for some more drinks and got down, one of their more porcine friends decided she would have a go. I turned to the person beside me on the sofa (I think it might have been Chris Pack – he’s everywhere) and said ‘that girl is going to fall’. It wasn’t 10 seconds before she was no longer on the box, but picking herself up off the floor beside it. Good times. Well good times for people like me who prefer sitting on a sofa and watching, as opposed to finding new ways to develop bruises and regrets. The good thing is I was too tired to overindulge so the memories of Sunday night are crisp and bright, instead of hazy and full of large holes. 

 

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 Fallen dreams and falling bodies at Players

 

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 How they serve the bottles at Players

Today the World Dressage Masters got started, so I spent my day thinking of a good headline and chasing riders around for quotes about the improved footing and cool Southern France decorations. And sniffing and whining about my sore throat, but I still couldn’t resist accepting an invitation to be a celebrity judge at Dressage Under the Stars tonight at Player’s. I should be in bed trying to shake the cold, but I like to support anything that promotes dressage to the public, and that series does more than that – it gives riders a chance to work out a few performance anxieties in a nonthreatening situation, since it’s just for fun. Okay, I’ll admit it. It’s kind of flattering to be asked to be a celebrity judge. I’m apparently going to be in the ‘Paula Abdul’ seat, though someone suggested I would make a better Simon Cowell.

In other worlds, I noticed that Isabell Werth competed at the Bremen CDI last week in the under 25 Grand Prix. I really should email my pal Trond about this because I’m pretty sure that is an FEI rule violation. She didn’t even compete hors concours, but took her second placed ribbon as if she weren’t a day over 24. I don’t know if there were others in the class who exceed the age limit, but you can’t call it an under 25 class unless everyone is under 25. And no, the age does not refer to the horse.

I am getting a bit fatiguĂ© of all the indignant, persistently anonymous and decidedly not well researched commentary on my HCBC posts, but I would be remiss in not pointing out a couple of salient facts that apparently have to be spelled out for the separatist party of BC. Yes, the $5 EC fee from 2010 generated over 100 grand in revenue. But something in the neighbourhood of 27 thousand not only went back into BC recreation programs (yes, RECREATION programs), it never even left. HCBC was allowed to simply hold those funds back from EC and apply them to the mutually approved programs that I would have thought would at least shut up a few of the noncompetitive naysayers. I saw this attitude with the other six provinces last year, and I’m very sorry to see it again. I think there are too many people who just want to fight, even if it means ignoring the facts and pretending to disagree even when they probably would agree if it weren’t their own anger they would have to let go of. And as for the new service agreement cancelling out the initial affiliation agreement, here is the fact. The 2010 service agreement between HCBC and EC said NOTHING about the 2011 fee. It did contain a clause that said ‘this agreement is the only agreement’ or something to that effect, which technically renders the initial affiliation agreement inert. But remember what I said about there being what is legal and what is right? This is exactly what I was talking about. Think of it as good faith gone bad. 

Okay, gotta run now and get dressed up for my celebrity judging gig.