(This post comes with an apology to any professional photographer who may be taking a peek. As a complete amateur photographer - just a snapper, really - I'm having a hard time trying to get used to my newly pimped-up camera. I'm working on it!)
To say that I get homesick sometimes would certainly be an understatement. I'm very much settled now at my second home on the upper west side here in New York. However, I miss my wife and family desperately sometimes. So when a friend recognizes that you need a break from big-city life and a little down home comfort, I really, really do appreciate it.
It's only a few weeks since my buddy Kevin Ryan invited me to come stay over with his folks upstate New York on our big road trip from New York to Toronto. In between, I flew to the other side of the planet for ad:tech, Singapore. And this weekend, being the long 4th July holiday weekend, I wasn't much looking forward to another weekend doing exciting stuff like my laundry and tidying up my apartment.
So I was totally blown away, when my buddy, the ever charming, ever debonair Matt McGowan, invited me to join him with his folks on Long Island for the weekend.
Many people who tune into this blog from time-to-time will surely know Matt. He's the big marketing brain behind the Search Engine Strategies shows. And this is not the first time my dear friend has helped me out.
Earlier this year during SES, London I lost my wallet. I was due on stage for an Orion panel and I was completely stressed. Matt, being the pro that he is, knew that I'd be a lot better on stage if the wallet problem was solved. So duly, he took me back to the hotel and retraced my steps from the night before, eventually finding my wallet... In my jacket pocket. Well that's the last place you look... Right?
So Matt invited me, along with a group of Aussies (more later) to stay over the weekend at his parent's beach house on Long Beach. It was just fantastic! Such a wonderful place, wonderful parents and wonderful Aussie company. I mean nice, nice, nice people.
A real highlight for me was getting to know Matt's pop, Vince. This is a truly stand-up guy. A Vietnam vet with the most amazing background. He wields wisdom and wit with the style and grace of a Ninja swordsman.
So what's the first thing you do when you get to a beach house on Long Beach? You head to the sea with a crate of beer, of course!
In the pic above we have Matt, along with (from the left) Aussies Chris (mega-brain strategist with Grey Group), Lauren (senior account manager with Leo Burnett and my new life saving wine doctor), Bianca (new superstar at Beyond Interaction and wildly interesting partner of one Matt McGowan) and world-class award winning chef Adam (most recently in the kitchen of Per Se but more often in Lauren's kitchen, no doubt :-)
I stretched my imagination as far as it could go to figure out why Long Beach was called Long Beach... And then it came to me in a blinding flash... It's long
Yes, they don't call me the man with a mind like a steel trap for nothing, y'know!
And so, I regaled the group with my exciting and hilarious stories about search engine algorithms, to the point they all seemed to pass out with thrilling information overload. Well, that's how I saw it, anyway.
Meanwhile, Chris and Matt decided that the rain on the beach just wasn't doing it for them and totally drenched is what they needed. None of this "I think my shirt is a little damp" stuff. But the real get-nekkid and jump in the Atlantic stuff!
And what do handsome boys, beautiful girls and little, fat, old Englishmen need after a hard day's work on the beach?
And heading up the table... No, not Vince, I'm talking about the real boss, Matt's totally gorgeous Mom, Brenda. When one is serving up a meal to guests which include a world-class chef some may have a little trepidation. But not Brenda, she fearlessly served up a dinner that was in a class of its own (OK, Vince took charge of barbecuing the meat - joint effort!)
Dinner over and with more wine and invigorating conversation - what next? More booze, beach and bonfire, of course. And then get a world-class chef to... toast marshmallows! (Look out French Laundry, you have no idea what's new on the menu next week!)
As my newly monstrous camera has taken on a life of its own and I'm still trying to tame the beast, the flash on the pic above had people in Brooklyn blinking! But without, it looked more like this. I was there, I know.
Next morning, Brenda tries to convince me to ride a bicycle with her and Vince down the boardwalk. I have no interest until she tells me there's a bar at the end of the boardwalk (and fish and chip bar, no less). Guess who got there first :-)
Could we squeeze anything else in on this wonderfully chilled and relaxed weekend? Over to you Matt.
"Why don't we do Jordan's Lobster Bar for lunch" he says. They have both Lobster AND beer, Mike.
Okay, where's my bike!
And so, we all pile into the car and head to Jordan's.
Brenda just happens to mention that female lobster is the best. But how does one know which is female and which is not asks the so inquisitive Bianca? Wait and see which rest room they use?
Oh no, just flip them on their back and take a look. Hardly gentlemanly (although some women may disagree) but it works. As I was standing at the back I surely have no idea what part of the lobster anatomy they were scrutinizing (and don't care to think about it much either)
The perfect end to a perfect weekend!
Matt, Vince, Brenda, Bianca, Lauren, Adam, Chris thank you all sooooo much for such a wonderful time.