Sole survivor

Instead of heading straight for LA after leaving NY last week, I stopped over in San Francisco for Mark's wedding. The slower transition from my old home to my new one was much welcome.

For one thing, my friend Cindy's apartment, where I stayed for the weekend, was so large that it helped to ease my sadness over leaving Manhattan. You could fit my entire NY kitchen inside her shower, and her apartment could house two entire families if a tornado picked it up and dropped it in Manhattan. These are things you learn to live with after an adjustment period in NYC, but being able to lie down in a shower to do snow angels helps to ease the pain of leaving NYC the way the patch helps a smoker trying to kick the habit.

California is also a state that makes a strong first impression. She's a looker. As soon as you step out of the airport, she greets you with sunshine and blue skies. The day before the wedding, I went for a jog in the afternoon from the Bay Bridge to Fisherman's Wharf, and though the headwind beat me up, the views of the ocean, sky, and bridges couldn't have been more gorgeous.

The point of this post, though, is to plug my old college classmate Yul who will be one of the contestants on this season's Survivor: Cook Islands. I've never really watched the show, but finally, I am one degree of separation from a reality show contestant. This season's show has already courted lots of controversy by dividing the contestants into four teams by race: Asian American, Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic. Various sponsors have dropped out and community leaders have protested. In other words, this transparent tactic for boosting ratings appears to be working as planned, though the test will come Thursday when the season premier airs.

Yul, though he couldn't share details of what had transpired on the show, invited us to a viewing party for a TV Guide Channel preview of the upcoming season. He was the last contestant profiled and was introduced thus: "...with a Yale doctorate, a compassionate nature, and a whole batch of imposing muscle." The voiceover was paired with an image of Yul sans t-shirt, looking like a video game Bruce Lee. Oddly, Yul never appeared with a shirt on in any of the clips, and you can imagine the ribbing we all gave him.

I won't be rooting for any particular team but for Yul. Early odds have him as one of 6 contestants with 8 to 1 odds, the favorite at this point being Adam Gregory at 7 to 1. If you're watching but have no rooting interest, I offer my endorsement of Yul as a really decent guy, a far cry from the cutthroat reality contestants you love to hate.