1st downtown beer and bike crawl

It all started at Theosophy Hall, but if you want to hear about that you’ll have to ask me, I was planning a hilarious expose but though I shan’t convert I did like the folks there too much to mock…or maybe I’m just too hungover to remember much…or maybe it will end up in my great novel for the ages…can’t tell.

So, we started it all at the infamous Golden Gopher. I remember in my baby days in LA accidentally walking down 8th street between Olive and Broadway in the early evening, a never repeated error as it consisted of the sketchiest bars imaginable complete with hostess dancing and hotels above renting rooms by the hour…I was propositioned twice in the space of one block and found the experience a bit traumatic. However it has changed a bit, the Bristol Hotel was actually a residential hotel and the current asshole owner when he bought it emptied it of all 120 tenants within 24 hours, some at gunpoint. I’m not saying all of the tenants were lovely, but they did deserve to have their rights respected and some time to remove their belongings and themselves to somewhere other than the streets of skid row. The owner has since mostly paid for his criminal activity, though certainly not enough, and his bar the Golden Gopher is open for business, and amazingly full of slightly obnoxious hipsters. Happily Club El Gaucho complete with hostess dancing is still open next door…funnily enough we didn’t consider going in, though the steps down into it were lit up purple and inviting…

It’s not too bad, the coolest thing about it is the exterior, though if you get there early enough you can actually drink your beer while listening to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, though that sadly transitioned into some techno pop as we finished our beer and ran out the door.

Next stop the Broadway Bar, very cool interior and almost empty…

they had the most entertaining bartenders, we ended up drinking two beers there instead of the one as planned, as we were bribed to stay with happy hour prices long after happy hour was done and three dollars for the jukebox. The only bar with a jukebox btw, and it was indie-rific, they actually had the Kaiser Chiefs and the White Stripes and the Smiths and a bunch of other good stuff. So two quick stories, one of the bartenders was an aspiring actor (surprised us, that did), and had gone to an audition for an infomercial with the scientologists…they weren’t give any of the lines before they showed up, and when they did arrive were given pamphlets that looked remarkably like propaganda for the scientologist cause, when our friend (drunkeness has erased his name, everyone’s name in fact, I apologize) went into the room he began reading, and the woman stopped him and asked him if he understood what he was reading. He was surprised, but actually there were a lot of words that he knew but were used in a completely different context than he was used to, so she began explaining things to him in a preachy sort of way…starting with the idea of becoming clean…she stopped after a short while and asked him to come with her into an adjoining room where she showed him these two metal rods hooked up to a machine that you were supposed to take into each hand, and they ran an electric current and you sat there while you were asked very emotional questions about abuse and such, supposed to measure the amount of emotion you registered upon hearing each question, the more emotion you felt the less “clean” you were. She suggested he should join up and then he could really do justice to the part…he said he’d think about it and then ran. Scientology really is the most ridiculous thing, much worse than theosophy I must say. Second story is much shorter…the other bartender used to work for R.J. Reynolds, the big tobacco company as a rep selling cigarrettes to bars, and he said that for a while he had to try and push these “smokeless” cigarrettes, which essentially were designed to smoke inside without bothering those around you. Needless to say they were total crap and never made the big time, though I should have dearly liked to try one.

So, now 3 beers later we got back on our bikes and headed to the Redwood recommended by our new friends, but on the way we passed La Cita and made the split second decision to stop…and damn, I am so glad we did! Undoubtedly the best in terms of ambience and general coolness, here it is from the outside:

Not much to look at, a bit divey in fact though I’d never hold that against a place, but inside…

It was fantastic, it’s been there for decades, it had red velvet, all the lights were red, the pillars holding up the ceiling were covered with small mirror tiles, you know I’m going to go back on the weekend for some serious ranchera action…on this wednesday evening however, it was all but empty, one or two hipster folks, Hendrix and Black Sabbath playing. Some pasty faced guy wandered in wearing a suit and told the bartenders that his uncle was the owner and then he wandered out again…ridiculous git. Anyways, me and Jose downed another beer, a smooth Bohemia for me this time, I was pretty happy by then, probably because I’d gotten to play with a tequila bottle shaped like a gun though mercifully I was sober enough not to sample its contents…

He was playing it cool as befitted his surroundings of course…and we were off.

The Redwood…we had high hopes, had heard good things…

Sadly, we walked in, and first thing that strikes you is the ridiculous fake pirate decor…and it was ridiculous. A big plastic skull and crossbones over the bar, fake ropes everywhere, a non-functioning canon…second strike was that Jaws 3 was playing on the flat screens…i personally do not care to watch people getting chomped by sharks while drinking my beer. third strike was that the place didn’t even smell like a bar. And fourth strike was the clientele, the two guys sitting near us atthe bar were rating the women in the movie on a numerical scale – “now she’s a hot seven, what do you think?” “Oh, she’s a four, definitely a four.” And then one of them told a story about how he was in a bar and some girl slapped him in the face, fucking idiot, i felt like slapping him in the face myself, I would of done it too if it wouldn’t have revealed my horrible habit of evesdropping in public places…so we downed our beers and took off.

We had been planning to end up at the Gold Room, Echo Park’s safer kind of dive bar, we had talked about El Chubasco, but weren’t drunk enough to dare given the quantity of blood and teeth mopped up outside every morning. But no dinner and five beers and 1 am and work in the morning and the bike…I had to call it a night because I’m a bit of a lightweight and five beers is a lot, even when stretched out over a period of happy hours and vigorous excercise. We went in search of the taco truck at the end of my street and the bastard wasn’t there…the only disappointment of the evening. A fantastic night all around, and the echo park bike and beer crawl will be scheduled for January…or finishing up the bars downtown, but all that are left are the really super shi shi ones, so perhaps we’ll give it a miss.

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