THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Married an Angel: 8 Years of Heaven (and counting)

Cal-Neva, North Tahoe, May 31, 2001

This past May 31 was my 8th wedding anniversary. My beautiful wife and best friend Monica Tiki Goddess and I tied the knot at the Cal-Neva Resort in North Tahoe (once owned by Frank Sinatra in the early '60s.) The theme was Rat Pack Mariachi - we were wed by our friend Robert Ensler, a professional Dean Martin impersonator; we hired professional mariachis to perform Elvis and Sinatra songs (along with traditional Mexican tunes); and we offered an open martini bar with various recipes, all named after our favorite performers, as was each of the guest tables. Icons like Marilyn Monroe and Louis Prima and Keely Smith once performed in the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Showroom where the reception was held. I spent my last night as a bachelor in Cabin #5 - Frank's old room. We even took a tour of the underground tunnel where Frank would smuggle in his gangster pals across the California-Nevada border - which runs right through the hotel. It was the grandest day of my life, matched only by the subsequent honeymoon in Hawaii. Oh, and the eight years of marriage since. In this economy we weren't sure how to mark the occasion. I had recently been laid off by Speakeasy Theaters after twelve years of service when the company suddenly went under. I am lucky enough to have some freelance PR gigs but my unemployment checks are still pending and like everyone else these days, we're worried. We already had reservations at a place in Walnut Creek we've always wanted to try out: Vic Stewart's, a steakhouse built out of an old train depot with an authentic train car attached. We were booked for one of the private dining rooms in the train car. And despite what Suze Ormon would recommend, we kept the reservation and charged it. The economy eventually turns but we'll only have one 8th wedding anniversary. It was worth it.

We strolled around the shops in Walnut Creek first, stopping at the places where we had registered - Crate 'n' Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn - and noticed that none are as retro as they were back in 2001, when they offered all kinds of midcentury-modern style appliances and such, with CDs to match. Now it was much more contemporary and boring, just like most department stores. We picked the right time to register.

Before going to Vic's we stopped at our favorite place in Walnut Creek, Bing Crosby's. It's a newer place but done up old school style in tribute to the famous crooner. Drinks and food are top notch. Our old pal Bob Dalpe sang there for a while, and they still offer live jazz singing most nights. The same corporation owns Joe DiMaggio's over in North Beach in SF, also highly recommended for running up that credit card!

Vic's itself is a marvel. It's extremely cozy and the drinks and food are excellent, not quite as outstanding as Bing's but close enough. The atmosphere is what makes it - reminded me of the old Robert Conrad series Wild, Wild West. I loved it when the waiter actually closed the door to our little compartment for privacy, as if it were a real train. There was even a bunk over our table. The whole place is classy but if you go, request the train car. That's what makes it truly unique.

Two more years till our 10th, when we plan our first trip abroad, to Paris. Let's hope the economy turns around by then....cheers.