Our Penguins pals, Adam and Mike, went to Palm Springs for some fun in the sun. While out west, they took in a game at the Staples center last Saturday as the Kings hosted their boys. While this trip report may lack many of the hallucinogenic rantings we’ve seen from other contributors (Ohai Andrew!), Adam brings us the goods: Hermès, Grindr, jersey fouls, coked-up celebutantes and Dustin Brown in his birthday suit. Yeah.
“I’d never been to Southern California, but something about Palm Springs always…spoke to me, let’s say. Listen, I know what you’re thinking: a homo who wants to go to Palm Springs is about as surprising as Ovechkin streaking down the left side and cutting to the slot when he gets to the circle.
For me, though, it was always much more about the insane temperatures and the lovely combo of desert and mountain that I’ve come to appreciate so much. I put Palm Springs and Palm Desert in my list of cities for the weather app on my iPhone the day I got it. I mean, seriously, 113 degrees for weeks on end without the humidity that makes my hair as unruly as a room full of coked-up celebutantes? Um, yes, I’ll have one of those, please.
Fortune smiled upon us and Mike, due to his work travels, snagged free hotel stays and we wound up at The Parker (Hermès soap!). But we chose this past week because our Pittsburgh Penguins were on a road trip and were in Los Angeles on Saturday. While the Aging Gays of the West were going to Palm Springs for Pride on Saturday, we actually packed up and hit the long, debris-filled (seriously, there were buckets, animals, and Ivy and Wilde furniture on I-10 the whole way) freeway back to LA to make it to the game.
What’s even better? We had no clue it was Pride, and the blank stares we got from people when we said we only came to the area for a hockey game in LA were, in short, priceless.
Mike and I have this thing where we see the Penguins in other cities, and the game always, and I mean always, goes to a shootout. The unfortunate reality is that we lose most of those games, so we went into this one expecting the worst. Long Island, Madison Square Garden, Chicago…all shootouts, and only a handful of wins. But we sauntered into the impressive Staples Center with an absurdly high number of other Penguins fans undaunted, just glad to be catching our boys in a place with palm trees outside.
After warm-ups were conducted while Kelis blared throughout the stadium (side note: Flesh Tone was my jam last summer, and “22nd Century” is the perfect example of why that bitch needs to stay in the dance world), I was relieved to see that Jordan Staal and Paul Martin, both game-time decisions, were in the lineup. Since these are the Penguins, though, there were new additions to the injured list, this time in the form of Matt Niskanen. And while he frankly played like garbage last year, he’s been doing solid work this time around, so his absence didn’t amount to an eye-roll on Saturday. Two defensemen called up from the minors, one of whom didn’t even play in training camp, in the lineup? No biggie. Hell, when we saw the Penguins in Chicago last February, I think we had two full lines of Baby Pens, so this felt like a bizarre treat.
In the early going, the Penguins played a solid road game, but nothing was clicking quite right. And then the Kings got into some serious penalty trouble. After extended time on a 5-on-3, Steve Sullivan finally put home his first goal as a Pittsburgh Penguin, a feat so rare to this point that I felt like I saw Haley’s comet. What made it even better was the fact that so many people were cheering, you almost forgot you were in Los Angeles. Or that you were at a hockey game, because with all of the people waving Terrible Towels, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were witnessing a very special edition of Steelers on Ice.
As the game wore on, and as the beer took more effect, I got louder and more chatty (or verbally abusive toward the Los Angeles Kings and their fans, if you ask Mike). As fate would have it, we sat next to a lesbian couple that were rabid Kings fans. Now, I didn’t ask if they were lesbians at first, but let’s be real: that electrocuted porcupine hair and eau de patchouli told me everything I needed to know.
On the other side of us, though, were two guys who waxed poetic on what a “faggot” the Kings MC was every time he appeared on the Jumbotron. And although they were Penguins fans who high-fived us when the Penguins scored, our allies were clearly on the Subaru-driving side (and as the owner of a Forester, I can say that proudly).
The action in the game picked up, and there was so much happening back-and-forth that it was truly just entertaining hockey. Anze Kopitar, the poor man’s Evgeni Malkin, scored an absurdly beautiful goal to tie things up, and later, Mike Richards got tripped on a breakaway to set up a penalty shot. There are few players that I dislike more than Mike Richards, and I prayed to the Lord on High that Fleury would make the save. God delivered more than I expected when Richards flat-out missed the net, and I think my laughter was audible above the groans of the Kings/ faithful.
The Kings did, however, score another one to put them up by 1 late in the game.
Mike and I were giving each other the “of fucking course” look, but Chris Kunitz’s effort with just over 2 minutes remaining tied things up and there was much, much rejoicing.
And like clockwork, we found ourselves in yet another shootout. This time, however, the Penguins capped the victory on another Kunitz goal, and we were able to leave Staples Center without being catty bitches.
And with that, some thoughts and observations regarding our SoCal hockey experience:
1.) Grindr at the Staples Center was a bigger bust than Dustin Penner. In Pittsburgh, there was a serious homo population at the game, and many of them turned out to be season ticket holders. In LA, it was radio silence, which, though unsurprising, was still a little disappointing. But there were nearby guys from USC who were all “masc and chill,” so there’s at least that.
2.) The lesbians next to us were amazing and are going to South Africa to marry this year. One of them grew up in Zambia, and I honestly am kicking myself for not exchanging numbers or some other contact information.
3.) Speaking of Dustin Penner, LA fans were ruthless in their criticism of him. Pretty much everyone around us was making jokes or throwing shade whenever he was on the ice or touching the puck. I almost felt bad for the guy.
4.) Whenever Dustin Brown touched the puck, I touched myself thinking about the naked pictures that are now circulating on the internet.
5.) Some asshat in a Mike Richards jersey decided to engage me in a heckle war after the game. After him telling me I didn’t live in Pittsburgh and that I was probably some “Crosby-loving douche,” I actually ran up to him, showed him my Pennsylvania driver’s license and turned around to display Michalek on my back, and capped it off with a, “Handle that.” Mike was horrified and embarrassed.
6.) Bitches were wearing black mohair boots. Prepare to be mortified.
7.) We still have Sidney Crosby to add into this lineup. And, yeah, all of the other 739 injured players, but…Jesus.
8.) Hot, hot guys at the game. So hot.
And now we’re flying home. Despite the ridiculous traffic, the palpable smog, and the laughable amount of phoniness, I think I’ve come to love SoCal and LA. Truth be told, the hockey there ain’t half bad, either. Now I just have to remove the bit of cactus that lodged itself in my thumb after I mistakenly made a drunken grab at it the other night.”
You will follow Adam @adamkno on the twitters and you will like it.