A Downtown Night

Last night was a bar crawl, where I managed to hit three out of four places I had never been before in downtown Los Angeles.

Fun, to be with some other fans of downtown, and visit their fave places. We started early, the beginning of the long, holiday weekend. It was mid-afternoon when we started.

First was Big Wangs, at 8th on Grand, where the service was slow and the place happily unbusy. But the music was extremely loud for a place so lacking in people. We sat in a corner next to the windows, the sun streaming in unhindered by curtains. I ordered a cider, and found that it was easily two glasses full. I was there with a former co-worker and her new husband. After we caught up talking about work related items and their wedding, and the differences between their families and views on religion, we moved physically on to La Cita, down on Hill across from Angels Flight. They told me they rode on it a week before it was shut down again, and my friend told me it totally freaked her out, how it chugged and lurched up the hill. Now that it is open again, she doesn’t think she will ever ride it again. She thinks perhaps it should just stay close. I have yet to ride it. I suppose I should hurry up and get to it soon, for fear of it being shut down for another decade or two.

At La Cita, with my friend and I the only white girls present in the establishment, and our sitting at a corner table with her husband, we joked about whether anyone would think that we were two prostitutes with our pimp. He got us our drinks while we laughed about it. He told me that when the bar tender asked if he wanted it blended or on the rocks, and he responded blended, the bar tender just shook her head and explained they had no blender, it had to be on the rocks. Why ask then?

The place was very warm. Again, the music was far louder than warranted for the number of patrons present. I saw that there was a patio out back, and went to go look at it, but it was in full sunshine for the late afternoon sun, so we stayed inside, past the long bar. We started talking about our elderly relatives and what is familial obligation, what needs to be done and what signs we look for. My friend has a 98 year old grandmother who still lives by herself, but just recently stopped driving her car in the last year. When we first met at work, my friend told me she used to live with her granny while attending college, that was how her family kept an eye on her. No one lives with her now, but she is so active in her community, she interacts with someone at least once every day. I can’t say the same for my own parents and their involvement with their community.

La Cita was not the place I thought it would be. It was dark and red inside, with a long bar most of the patrons sat at, leaving a dance floor and area before a large screen TV wide open and chairless. It was showing the World Cup action. There were some patrons on the back patio. The place began filling up as we got ready to leave. My friend’s husband said it looked exactly like he thought it would, never having been in there before either, but having seen it in a music video of a favorite band. Just in reverse, was all. My friend and her hubbie told me that the daytime crowd at La Cita were the old school, original patrons, while once the sun set, it became a downtown hipster haven. It had definitely not switched yet.

We walked past the bar to leave, and I noticed the bar patrons watching us. I looked back to make sure my friends were right behind me, and noticed the male patrons were unabashedly eyeing us as we walked by. I was shocked at how bright and fully daylight it still was. Gotta love long, summer days.

We walked down 4th to Bar 107, a bar my friends had never been to. They had seen the outside of it numerous times, but since it says something like Ollie’s Bait and Tackle on the Old Style sign, it’s one of those ya gotta know things. They hadn’t been sure it was a bar, especially at night time with its door most times closed. I don’t think I ever realized there was a bait shop sign before, since I usually arrive after the sun has set.

The bar was pretty empty, so we took a large corner booth. Something about corners with this couple…. They faced the door, I had my back to it. We spoke of Jackalopes in New Mexico, and there was a taxidermied Jackalope hanging on the wall right above us. Along with a moose head. We talked about writing, as the husband is a true crime writer, with numerous short stories on the internet, now in published magazines and anthologies. I expressed some of my diress at having stories come out of me that I have no idea where they came from, and are not how I think I think. And yet, there they are, coming out of me. So they must be part of how I think, right? The husband, he looked at me, and said, I write stuff, I don’t know where it comes from either, but if it’s good, I let it flow. Or words to that effect. It was very reassuring. He was very clear that what he writes is not how he thinks. I have read some of his stories, and I would certainly like to think that he is not capable of the cold-blooded murders and vindictive back-stabbing and betrayals he writes about. Certainly for the sake of my friend, his wife!

We were hungry. Since Bar 107 serves no food, we moved on to Cole’s, the claimed originator of the French Dip. (Phillipe’s also claims to be the inventor of the French Dip, a famed rivalry that has gone on for decades. I don’t think it will ever be resolved, now so many years later…. I suspect all involved who would know the truth are probably all long gone.) I ordered a mac ‘n’ cheese for $4.10. Ranch dressing sides could be had for .27 cents. Odd prices. We shared some sweet potato fries, and they were awesome. Spicy. Thin. Delicious. Hubby ordered spicy pickles and I had a bite. Still don’t like pickles. But I tried.

And that was the end of our night. The couple needed to get back to look after their cat, while I knew I needed to get a good night’s sleep before an 8 am morning meeting. My friend asked what else I would do for the night, like hitting four bars was just the beginning of a good night’s time, and I just laughed as they walked away, down to the subway. I walked home, and probably made it to my place about the same time they made it to their place in Los Feliz. I love living near downtown. My friends mentioned yet another bar to visit, on our next tour of downtown, sometime in the near future. Something to look forward to.

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