Fantastic Voyage

Photography by 

John Mireles
Styled by Ali Darotis (Exclusive Artists Management)
Hair and makeup: Ivy Sims
Production director: Tulsi B. Productions
Photographer's Assistants: Zach Bollinger + Don Sheffler

Taking 80 days to get around the world may seem sluggish by modern standards, but when the journey is the destination, time stands still... and life gets moving.

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
"This is the American Dream in action. We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way to the end."
- Johnny Depp (as Raoul Duke), in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

In Hunter S. Thompson's book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Strange Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, drug-fueled journalist Raoul Duke reports on a motorcycle race in the desert. The goal was getting the story; the thrill was the chase. The psychedelic haze of the '60s and '70s has cleared by now, but the dream rolls on.
Destination: Torrey Pines

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UNSINKABLE
"I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night, I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world, having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes to you... to make each day count."
- Leonardo DiCaprio (as Jack Dawson) in Titanic (1997)

In Titanic, Jack Dawson gives his life for love. His message: setting sail doesn't mean keeping an even keel, it means getting out there... and doing whatever floats your boat.
Destination: Mission Bay

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AUTO MOTIVES
"I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don't tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth."
- Vivien Leigh (as Blanch DuBois) in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois falls from wealth and grace. Her fantasy life as a rich Southern Belle is reborn only after she suffers a nervous breakdown. "I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers," she says to the doctor leading her off to a mental hospital, certain her millionaire ex-boyfriend will return at any minute. When life's a dream, dream big.
Destination: Mission Valley Library

About the Dream Car
Year: 1937
Make: Bugatti (France)
Model: Type 57 Aravis
Number Produced: 14
Restoration: 12,000 man-hours, $1.5 million
Owner: The dashing Paul Emple

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NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Dorothy: "Come back! Come back! Don't go without me! Please come back!" Wizard of Oz: "I can't come back, I don't know how it works. Goodbye, folks."
- The Wizard of Oz 
(1939)

To escape Emerald City, Dorothy tries to catch a ride in a hot air balloon, but hopes are dashed when Toto runs away and the Wizard can't return to Earth. In the end, the ruby slippers get her home, but perhaps now, having had time for introspection, Dorothy would click her heels together only twice... taking one more colorful journey before heading back to the land of black-and-white.
Destination: Downtown San Diego

 

Brandi Williams
by Tony Lovitt

"Brandy," the 1972 hit by Looking Glass, greets visitors to the official website of 32-year-old Brandi Williams (brandiw.com), an anchor for KUSI's Good Morning San Diego, which airs 5-10 a.m., weekdays.

"That was my mom's favorite song," says Williams. "That's what I was named after."

Like her musical namesake, Williams is indeed a "fine girl." But, unlike Looking Glass, she's not a one-hit wonder.

Her eclectic career includes stints as a model, actress, dancer, NFL cheerleader (Arizona Cardinals), infomercial spokesperson, national TV show host and, of course, as an entertainment reporter and news anchor. Prior to joining KUSI about three years ago, Williams worked as an anchor for The Daily Buzz, a nationally syndicated news show based in Orlando, Florida.

Not bad for a girl from what she describes as the "hick town" of Perryopolis, Pennsylvania (about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh), and a former biology major at Arizona State University who had no ambitions whatsoever regarding the entertainment industry or mass communications. "

Not dismissing those (experiences) by any means, but never would I put, 'I'm a model, I'm an actress' on my résumé," she says. "I just see those as wonderful opportunities that I was able to be a part of. First and foremost, I think 'TV host and entertainment reporter' is what describes me."

Williams got her first big break in Las Vegas in 2003, when a TV producer approached her at the Venetian Hotel and presented his business card.

"I had a really tough childhood, and my grandfather was my saving grace," Williams says. "For as long as I can remember, he was always saying that he wanted to live long enough to see me graduate high school and he always wanted to see me on TV. I'm thinkin', 'Hmm... I wonder if Pap is my guardian angel and making this happen?"

Soon, Williams was working for the producer, doing an "all about Vegas" entertainment segment that was packaged and distributed to news stations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Hawaii. About a month later, she rangin 2004 by co-hosting "New Year's Eve Live with Ryan Seacrest " on Fox, her first live (and first national) TV gig. "

I'm hosting this big show with all of these huge celebrities and Ryan Seacrest," she says, "and I wore a tank top and a jean skirt."

Her choice of attire and lack of pretentiousness still reflect her humble beginnings and core values.

"My life was a country music song," she says.

Wiliams loves country music; Brad Paisley is her favorite artist. She loves shopping at Wal- Mart and can make an $8 dress from Kohl's look like an $800 dress from Neiman Marcus. NASCAR ranks among her top passions. "I joke all the time that if I wasn't doing what I'm doing now, I really think that I would be a NASCAR driver. I'd be giving Danica Patrick a run for her money," she says with a laugh.

Tony Lovitt is a freelance writer based in La Jolla.

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