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December 18, 2011

Friends and former coworkers Sarah Walker and Noah Garfinkel get drunk and high respectively, attend a cultural event and then review it. Here, they each go to two different zoos at the same time. Sarah to the Los Angeles Zoo, Noah to the Central Park Zoo in New York City.

This is the eighth edition of Drunk Girl/High Guy Cultural Reviews wherein Sarah gets really drunk, Noah gets really high and then they go to an event and write about their vastly different experiences. You can read more of Sarah's writing on her blog and more of Noah's writing on his blog. Here, they go to two different zoos on two different coasts at the same time. Sarah to the Los Angeles Zoo, Noah to the Central Park Zoo in New York City

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How We Decided To Go:

Sarah: Lest we forget, or learn for the first time, because no one read the last DG/HG we wrote about the Republican Debate, as we posted it over Thanksgiving (smart), Noah and I are bi-coastal now, which requires far more coordination than I believed us to be capable of. We somehow pulled off watching the debate because all we had to do was sit down and watch TV, but THIS. A Zoo outing! This required rides and chaperons and complicated math, like adding three and subtracting three from times. I’d like to say in advance, (Spoiler alert) that I’m really proud of us for making it work. We’re like Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in that movie about long distance dating that I didn’t see, but I assume it’s about them living in LA and NYC and beating the odds to coordinate times to go to the zoo concurrently while drunk and high.

Cameron Crowe’s upcoming feature film, We Bought A Zoo, starring Matthew Damon and Scarlett Johnhanssssens was the inspiration for this adventure, in that the word “zoo” is in the title. I saw an ad for it and something clicked because I realized that there are zoos in most major metropolitan cities. (Did you know that my deductive skills were the inspiration for Sir Conan Doyle’s character of Sherlock Holmes?) So I Gchatted Noah, “Zoo!” and he concurred with “Zoo!” Zoo indeed. I have to say, there’s something about the title, We Bought A Zoo, that I think is really funny because it’s so straight forward, but it also makes me inordinately angry. It’s just the way I imagine it being said, like I’m at a party where I don’t know anyone, and I’m introduced to a couple and they’re really awkward and quiet and the girl’s looking at me weird but I can’t leave without being rude so finally I ask, “What did you do today?” and the guy replies in a really flat voice, “We bought a zoo.”


I wait for them to explain themselves but they don’t say anything else and the girl’s still looking at me weird. At that point I like to think that I’d say, “Well, we bought a ZUNE.” (The Royal We.) Then I’d force them to high five me with one hand while simultaneously dashing my drink in their faces. Then I’d do a victory lap around the party. I can only hope that this scenario happens while the movie and the Zune are still relevant. I think the odds are in my favor with all the holiday shindigs going on.

Noah: Whelp. This is the first time I’m learning about the We Bought A Zoo thing. I am just as surprised as you are about that being the reason Sarah wanted us to do a zoo DG/HG. So that’s fun! Anyway, Sarah wanted us to go to zoos on our respective coasts while on our respective substances and text/call each other. I was like, “Okay,” because I am a very agreeable person.

I decided to go to the Central Park Zoo because it is not as far away as the Bronx Zoo. Also the Bronx Zoo has had like 4 trillion animals escape from it in the past year, and I prefer to support zoos that run a tighter ship. I’m big into tight zoo ships.

How Sarah Got There And Got Drunk

Uuuuuuugh Los Angeles. Driving. And it’s not even the driving that’s so frustrating, it’s when you park your car on the street to go to lunch and a few hours later walk back to it and think, “Hmm, what a terrible parking job I did” and then realize the car is askew because someone HIT IT. The worst was the policeman business card placed on my windshield that read, “Someone hit your car.” NO SHIT.

Anyway, the morning of the zoo outing I was driving my car to the body shop (for cars, not the one that sells bath salts at the mall) when I got a panicked text from Noah saying that his weed people wouldn’t call him back. After a bit of ill advised texting whilst driving (Sorry, Oprah!), I gave him a call while I was waiting for the delightful surfer/snowboarder Enterprise employee named A.J. to show up with my rental. (Sidenote: All three employees I met at Enterprise introduced themselves as “A.J.” They were also all really attractive and dressed in suits. Is Enterprise the Dystopian future, but the Gattaca portion of it? Answer: No.)

Noah answered the phone and was all, “The Jasons won’t call me back!” (Jasons is what Noah calls his weed people). So I said, “Call the Jaydens!” (Which is what I call his other weed people). Then he said, “It’s raining in New York.” And I said, “Well that’s your bad for not moving to Los Angeles with me. So either move here NOW or get the weed and go to the goddamn zoo!” And then I SLAMMED my phone to the ground, also an ill advised move.

I’m normally not such a stickler for DG/HG outing schedules (lies), but there was sort of a time crunch because the Central Park Zoo closes at 4:30 so we had to get a move on, Noah-wise, EST being in the future-wise. I had also asked my friend Mike to change his schedule so he could meet me at the zoo and then drive me home because it’s not just a drunken subway ride away. The zoo is in the middle of Griffith Park, which is actually the fucking wilderness because LA is secretly half wilderness, like, for realzies wilderness, that contains snakes and coyotes, in addition to zoo animals.

But anyway. Noah figured out his weed sitch and I got there. My brother dropped me off. When I asked him if he wanted to come with he said, “I can’t, I have to not do drunk zoo reviews.” Weird.
I clearly needed a chaperon, which, actually, isn’t so clear because it’s not like Noah is much of a chaperon when we go to things. But I knew I couldn’t go get drunk at the zoo alone, reasons being a) that’s no fun and b) it’s super creepy. There are CHILDREN there. So I asked my friend Mike Still, who is hilarious (check him out at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in LA), to accompany me. I knew Mike would be the perfect companion because he wouldn’t be judge-y and he’d also keep me out of Zoo Jail if things got too WILD. And when he showed up wearing this hat, I knew he wasn’t fucking around.

The day was sunny and warm, and the zoo was not crowded. (That last sentence was an excerpt from Hemingway’s lost manuscript, Animals At The Zoo.) We walked into the Zoo and immediately on our left were seals AND a bistro. They were selling tap beers and wine for $6.50, (the bistro, not the seals), which is super reasonably priced, given that at these types of things (you know, these types of things: zoos, sporting events, other zoos) I expect a thimble of alcohol to cost twelve dollars. I asked for a wine and the nice lady asked, “To stay or to go?” I was all, “Wha-to go?” And she said, “Yeah, we just put it in a plastic cup and you walk around.” I could have wept. This was the most glorious development ever. I felt like I was being treated like a real live human, there at the zoo. Or at the very least like I was in Europe where you can do shit like that and it’s no big deal to walk ‘n drink ‘n go animal lookin’. We got our drinks and took off! But first I had to demonstrate North American dominance:

Sorry, Asia :(

How Noah Got There / Got High

Trying to get high was a whole ordeal. I had to call the pot people to ask them to come to my apartment, but they weren’t answering. I called back about 4 times before I realized that their voicemail message that I have been ignoring for 3 years says, “Call us between 2 and 9.” It was 11:30 at the time, so I was way off. I then had to wait for an hour and a half, which already put me behind schedule because the zoo closes at 4:30. I called the pot people back at back at 2:00, and the guy didn’t get to my place until 3:00 which left me only with an hour and a half to get from Brooklyn to Central Park, get high, and look at a whole zoo.

The trains managed to run efficiently, and by about 3:35, I had arrived I arrived at Central Park where it was cold and raining and awful.

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I then had to go find a place to get high. Hey, here's a thing that it turns out is hard to do: Smoking pot out of a fake metal cigarette while wearing mittens, holding and umbrella, and looking out for strangers and police in the middle of a park. Fortunately, because of the rain, there weren’t many people around. You know, because of how awful it was to be outside. Anyway, I managed to get very, very high very, very quickly despite almost lighting my mittens on fire.

I then walked to the zoo ticketing center at around 3:50. “Uh... can I just get a ticket to walk around for the last 40 minutes?” I asked soaking wet with bloodshot eyes. They gave me a ticket, and I walked into the zoo. I’m pretty sure everybody knew what was up. And what was up was me being a stoned weirdo going to a zoo alone in the rain.

The Zoo

Sarah: I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Los Angeles Zoo is the best place on earth. It’s better than the best place you’ve been multiplied by a place even better than that < Los Angeles Zoo.

As I was drunkenly mocking a lone pelican “No one cares, Pelican!” I got a text from Noah. He was alone and stoned and rained upon and cold in the Central Park Zoo. It read, “Here you’re allowed the whole zoo to yourself when you’re high provided it’s miserable to be outside!”
I felt bad, but then I drank my delicious wine and gazed upon a flock of flamingos, whom I did not mock because they are magnificent and pink.

We went to the churro stand to ask where we could procure some more booze but I got shy so Mike asked them if they sold beer and the kindly churro lady said, “No, sweetheart. You can get more by the giraffes.” For the second time I could have wept. THEY ARE SO NICE AT THE ZOO.  We got more wine and beer by the giraffes and I called Noah because I had gotten this sad text:

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Actually, the saddest part about this text is that Noah's last name is spelled wrong in my phone, which Noah pointed out to me when we were compiling this. Talk about insult to injury. So, Noah, in the words of Bryan Adams: please forgive me.
When Noah picked up the phone he seemed oddly at peace with his lot in life. I was proud of him. He talked about how snow leopards are invisible for a while and also how he got high in Central Park, and I pictured him doing that as a rich New York high school kid, a la Igby Goes Down, which isn’t so far off because he frequently wears a blazer and tie.  I hung up with Noah and had a brief pang of remorse that he wasn’t with me, but then I remembered that I was also feeling fantastic, like they had spiked my wine with ecstasy, or more wine. So we continued our zoo ramble.

Look at this asshole:

We took a gander over to the elephants who live in a wide open space. This photo demonstrates the space and my happiness, not so much the elephants.

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While surveying the majesty of the elephants, we overheard a guy say to his companion, “I heard the Russians and the Japanese are workin’ on clonin’ a wooly mammoth.” And his companion said, “Yeah, I heard that too.” Where did you hear that? I heard it at the zoo, but where did YOU hear that? So let me get this straight: The Russians and Japanese are working together? TO CLONE A WOOLY MAMMOTH?? Like, a drone wooly mammoth that shoots lasers from its tusks? Russia and Japan, famously working together to clone extinct animals since Dubya Dubya II. Wait, I just Googled it and it looks like it’s true. My bad. The future is NOW and it resembles a really lame James Bond plot (pre Casino Royale, obvs). 

We kept describing animals as we saw them, like, “long neck” (flamingo), “sharp hands” (meerkat) and "weird nose duck" (a duck with a weird nose). We were glad that we weren’t the ones who discovered animals and named them.

At the ape portion I gleefully exclaimed, “I feel like Jane Campion!” You know, Jane Campion, who famously made gorillas play piano on a wind swept beach while Harvey Keitel looked lustily on.

We saw a mouse scurry across our path and we excitedly screamed and pointed at it and a lioness was all, “Hello!! I’m fucking lioness!” But a mouse at the zoo is like the Spanish Inquisition: No one expects it.

I think that “hooves” is the cutest word in the English language, so this sign delighted me:

The only weird part of the LA Zoo is the gift shop where you can buy Juicy Couture Zoo merch and stuff your own animal at a stuffing station, which is not a euphemism. Look:

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As the sun set I mournfully conceded that our day at the zoo was over. But I texted every single friend and made them promise to go drinking with me at the zoo at some point.
Noah: I entered into the central courtyard of the zoo to find that the place was entirely empty because nobody who isn't an idiot goes to the zoo while it's raining. There was absolutely no one else there except the seal lions, one of whom was like, “What’s up, bro!?”
It, like... kind of seemed like maybe he was a narc? But then he dove back in the water and I was like, “Na, narcs don’t dive back into the water.”

After that, I looked around for a second. You know what I saw? The whole zoo. It was in that moment that I realized my concerns about seeing a whole zoo in 40 minutes were unwarranted. This was a tiny, tiny zoo. Here’s a map of it.
That’s it! I’m pretty sure that’s to scale, too. That’s how big the zoo is in relation to that sea lion in the middle.
When I started walking around, the first animals I saw were ducks and geese which I had just fucking seen OUTSIDE of the zoo when I was getting high. Come ON, zoo. I decided to head over to the polar bear exhibit. But you know who didn’t head over to the polar bear exhibit? The polar bear. He was nowhere to be seen. So then, I was just standing there alone thinking, “Where’s the polar bear?” when I realized that’s EXACTLY the thought you would have just before getting attacked by an escaped polar bear in an empty zoo. I briskly walked walked away and headed to the snow leopard section.

The zoo seemed very proud of their snow leopard exhibit. It was the largest part of the zoo, and there were plaques everywhere with all kinds of information about how awesome it was that they had snow leopards. I actually got a little swept up in it. I was really excited to see some snow leopards! I stared through the glass for 10 minutes. I saw no snow leopards. Then I realized they had this whole sign talking about how well snow leopards are camouflaged. It had a picture of a snow leopard that asked “Can you find the snow leopard in the picture?”

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Click HERE To See The Snow Leopard In A Yellow Circle
What the FUCK, zoo?! Why do you have your biggest exhibit dedicated to an animal that is impossible to see even when you’re staring at a photograph of it? For all I know, you could be screwing with everyone. Seriously, zoo, just level with me. Are you screwing with us about having snow leopards? Do you actually not have any? If you don’t have any, it’s cool. Just be like “Sorry, we don’t actually have any snow leopards.” And then I’ll say, “Oh, no worries, zoo, it’s okay. I’ll just go look at polar bear.” JUST KIDDING, I WOULDN’T SAY THAT BECAUSE I ALSO COULDN’T SEE THE GODDAMN POLAR BEAR!

I was getting pretty upset at the zoo at that point. I decided to head over to the reptile area, because I knew they keep those guys in small little 2 cubic foot cages where you can’t miss anything. But, it turns out, this is the one exhibit where I would have really liked to miss something, cause this this guy did this.

What is that weird white thing!? That can’t be healthy. And the lizard did that while he was looking right at me, by the way. Then he marched off as if to say, “You worry about the weird white thing. It’s in your hands now.” Was I supposed to tell a zoo keeper?! I didn’t know the rules! I decided it would be best to keep it to myself. The worst case scenario would be that the lizard would die a slow and painful death. At the time that was much more palatable to me than the idea of talking to a stranger. I quickly exited the Hall of Reptiles.

As I walked back into the rain in a post white-thing-in-a-lizard’s-shit daze, a zoo staff member caught my eye and informed me they were closing. I was relieved. Sarah called me as I was leaving. Her friendly, drunken, slurred voice helped bring me back down to earth. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
Sarah: You're welcome.


Sarah: I have never felt sadder to not have been with Noah on an adventure because I was having so much fun while he was so miserable. This frequently happens when we are in the same place, but I really feel like he would have enjoyed a stoned experience at the LA Zoo. Because there is no way not to enjoy the LA Zoo. Also, my brother told me that Slash is a board member of the LA Zoo?? Did the LA Zoo just get badass-ier?? I THINK IT DID. GUYS. Let’s all go there. Right now.

Noah: Going to a place like a zoo high by myself is really not fun. In fact, it's mostly scary and anxiety inducing. It really helps to have somebody with you to say things like "Probably you are not going to get attacked by an escaped polar bear." Or even "Hey, man, relax about the lizard shit." I think I am going to have to demand that we wait until Sarah is back in New York before we do another one of these things. Cuz yikes. Yikes, cuz.
Sarah On Twitter: @swalks
Noah On Twitter: @noahgarfinkel