My Weekend: Rich folks, foot candy and do not piss off TJ

The rich are different. They get to do stuff.

I, who am not rich—a fact made clear as I finished doing my taxes this weekend; my initial relief at getting to skip multiple steps soon tempered by the realization that all of those steps were related to the making or having or saving or investing of money—was invited to one of those things that rich people love to do: throw parties before, during and after sporting events for the purposes of community/fun/ongoing business relationships.

This one was thrown by powerhouse law firm Keesal, Young & Logan, which represents the Long Beach Post, and took place at its 14th-floor offices in the Union Bank building, offering spectacular views of the city; from the engineering wonder of the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement, to the grounded suck of the Queen Mary, to the bustle of Downtown on Sunday, the day of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Why, if you looked real hard at just the right time, you might even be able to make out just a glimmer of entitled angst emanating from East Long Beach.

For many, this is the Grand Prix party, having become so ingrained an event on race day that it has two brunch sittings. I opted for the latter, the 11:30 a.m. sitting, figuring this would take care of both breakfast and lunch for me because, as I said, I’m not rich. And it wasn’t too hard to tell the difference between the rich, those who desperately wanted to be rich and those whose lives or jobs—food servers, journalists—many times put them in or near the company of the rich; we, the rich-adjacent, the kind who get all wide-eyed, when we get free earplugs and or find out the open bar is pouring Tito’s. Spotting the rich has nothing to do with what someone wears, it’s more an attitude. Which is not to say the rich have an attitude, in fact, they are usually very affable, as they were at this party. They are nice and they are relaxed because they know one immutable truth: they’re rich.

And so does everyone else.

For instance, when one of KYL’s name partners, Steve Young, made his way around the party, he frequently invoked a little joke that he was, in fact, not the famous left-handed, Hall of Fame quarterback of the same name. It’s a cute line, one deserving of a short, light “Ha!” the laugh-equivalent of a golf clap. But, as he was one of the people throwing the party, the line was greeted with way-too-enthusiastic guffaws. When I told Post Managing Editor Melissa Evans about the interaction, she didn’t seem the least bit surprised. “The rich man is the one telling the bad joke; the person who isn’t rich is the one laughing too hard while stuffing shrimp into their pockets.”

There was no shrimp at this party, they served salmon. Delicious salmon. When Young made his way to our table and told his quarterback joke, I laughed so hard I almost launched my third helping across the room, all the while pretending to throw a football left handed.

The rich are different. They don’t want to be us.

Can’t take credit for this. Some guy at another table grabbed some bacon off his plate and stuck it in his Bloody Mary. I followed suit. Oh, if only my pockets were waterproof.

Though the Grand Prix was the biggest event of the weekend, it was not the best sporting event of the weekend. That was no doubt the Friday-Saturday matches between the men’s volleyball teams of the University of Hawaii and Long Beach State. Hawaii came into the matches undefeated and top-ranked, while Long Beach had lost just once and was ranked second.

The Friday match went the full five games with Long Beach winning in the fifth. I attended the Saturday match and was part of the largest crowd to watch men’s volleyball at the Pyramid, nearly 5,000 people. The match was worthy of a national championship final, which these two could very well meet in. The crowd was loud and seemingly evenly divided between Long Beach and Hawaii fans with, I think I’d have to say, Hawaii fans being a bit louder.

The match went back and forth, Long Beach winning the first game, Hawaii roaring back in games three and four in such a manner to make the match appear over and then Long Beach somehow managing to right itself and take the last two games and the match.

When I say somehow, I mean that Long Beach had TJ DeFalco. I’ve covered lots of sports for lots of years and there are athletes that, as cliché as it sounds, refuse to lose. That was DeFalco, Saturday. Once his team was down 2-1, he became a madman. And I don’t just mean he played out of his mind, you could see his teammates were borderline frightened of him and stepped up their game not necessarily for their alma mater, but because they were afraid of pissing off TJ.

Certain players have this power. I covered the Showtime Lakers of the ‘80s, and as much as people think of Magic Johnson as smiling and sweet, the fact is that team ran a good deal on the fear teammates had of incurring one of his withering stares.

I saw that on Saturday. In fact, I’d argue Long Beach won the match during their Game 3 loss when, at one point, DeFalco went up for a hit on a bad set, had to adjust in-air, his body extended in multiple directions, eventually reaching the ball behind his head and managing somehow, totally off-balance, to put it down crosscourt. That one act of defiance was as much directed at his teammates as Hawaii and, after that, Long Beach steadied itself and Hawaii eventually imploded in the fifth game.

DeFalco is a senior and you really should go see him. The team has the Big West tournament coming up and then, in all likelihood, the national championships which will take place at the Pyramid.

I had every intention of attending the Friday match but got sidetracked in Belmont Shore at George’s Greek Cafe. I do the happy hour there at the bar and get really weird around their lamb chops which come two to a plate and are like meat popsicles, in that I find my heart leaping like a kid when the ice cream truck rolled around. I usually start by delicately nibbling them, only to end up too soon at the bone which I then go at in full gnaw mode, making some pretty primal sounds, ignoring everything and everyone around me. How much do I love them? If I’d found out a rich person was serving George’s lamb chops at their party, I would wear my pants with the biggest, roomiest pockets. The green ones.

I ended up at George’s because my original dinner destination, the recently reopened Dogz, was absolutely packed, people figuratively tumbling out of the place. This was early evening, so I’m fairly certain the figurative became much more literal as the night wore on. After George’s, I ended up at one of those Belmont Shore house parties you find yourself at on a warm, weekend night. The one I was at featured some wine, some nice people and one funny young fellow who was obsessed with Euro novelty dance tunes and picking at his bare feet. Like all the time. Like he was grooming at a Berlin after-hours club.

Weird? Kinda. Gross? Yeah. But I managed to distract myself by eating fistfuls from a sizeable jar of Peanut M&Ms. That is until someone told me that the guy picking his feet had also been digging knuckles deep into the M&M jar before I had arrived.

I nodded at the news, excused myself, went to the bathroom, and emptied all the M&Ms from my pockets into the trash.


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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.