Posts Tagged ‘Bar 107’

When Did Downtown LA Get So Lively?

March 30, 2009

It isn’t necessarily how many hours I have been staring into the computer or television screen or book that motivates me out of the house, but how restless I am feeling. I strap on my iPod, put on some walking shoes, go wandering, and have a soundtrack to the surreal that unfolds before my eyes.

There were a couple of events going on that I actually wanted to attend, but with my parking spot perfectly fine with me for the next few days, I felt no inclination to move the car in search of parking. So I walked. Headed downtown. I didn’t even look at the map that closely, half the fun being finding these places when you have never been to them before. I at least memorized the address. 1110 Seward. The second, fall back event, I knew where that was. Pehrspace on Glendale Blvd. The third alternative was my favorite dive bar, Bar 107.

First off, there were at least three separate things being filmed in downtown at 11 pm that I saw, with the big Star Waggons taking up space on streets and parking lots, with security guards standing by. That added to more people, more lights. A block away from a filming buzz of activity, my favorite bar looked far more crowded than I wanted to deal with, so I kept on walking. I wanted to be out among people, but in a quiet place, like that bar is usually on most other nights of the week. Everywhere I went in downtown, there were people walking, dressed more nicely than myself (though really, black on black always works everywhere) in heels or large, loud shoes and looking purposeful. Heading towards alleys with velvet ropes indicating some secret entrance, or bouncers staring down the riff-raff blatantly on the sidewalks. Me, I had on my iPod, and walked quietly in black. Stopped to take a few photos, like of the line of 40+ people in a parking lot, queued for a food truck. 10:45 at night in all of downtown, like there weren’t any restaurants open, starving nightclub going people waiting patiently for food. It might be the taco truck I read about, that is run by a chef and tweets where it will be on any given day, so its fans can always find it. No rent, no parking issues, and up with the latest technology to advertise its whereabouts. That ain’t your mama’s taco truck.

I could not find the place I was looking for. I asked the valet at the Disney Concert Hall,

Disney After Dark

Disney After Dark

and he couldn’t think where it was in downtown. I thought I was looking for someplace north of 2nd and Hill, or maybe east, but nearby. I saw 2nd and Hill on the map I glanced at. I know I did, because I was looking for street names I recognized, and Grand and Hill were there. I followed a few people walking their dogs, thinking that was a sure sign they lived downtown, perhaps they would know. I finally asked this one woman, lurking at a grassy area of a parking garage with her two tiny dogs, and she started when I asked my question.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No….”

“That is so weird. My boyfriend’s band has a month long residency there. But Seward? It’s  in Hollywood, not downtown.”

“Well, I guess I’ll give up looking for it here then. What’s the name of the band your boyfriend’s in?” Did I not mention in a previous post how small the LA music scene was?

That’s why she had been startled, not me asking. It was the randomness of what I was asking and her intimacy with the subject being asked. Talk about synchronicity and serendipity.

Knowing that was now a dead and very flogged horse, I headed back towards home. But, maybe, that place I went to once with a visiting friend from Seattle, maybe that place would be quiet. I had to find it first. Library Bar. I remembered that the address given was completely not on the street the entrance actually was. That’s what I mean about the fun of trying to find places you’ve never been to before in LA. It’s a test to perseverance to find half these places. Wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to find them!

Nope, I did find it, and it was awful crowded too. Kept on walking. I remember the drinks being spendy anyway.

I didn’t cross east of Main Street, and I didn’t walk down much of Broadway, but I was surprised at how few homeless or obviously mentally unbalanced people I was seeing. Where were they all? That has usually been what kept me from downtown late at night by myself. Instead, the one ranter I heard, made everyone else turn and watch with amusement as he railed against the world, and none of us followed his path, giving him safe distance for unpredicatableness. Perhaps I have just never been in downtown late enough to feel the safeness of it. I usually leave at 8ish, when the clubs are barely getting started, so perhaps the sheer mass of incoming people is what makes it feel safer. And I usually leave before that influx.

Whatever. However, I did find plenty of the sleeping homeless as I wended north out of the city, above Third. Usually in groups, and frequently with one on watch. Now it all made sense. They were asleep, that’s why I usually saw more at 8 than now at midnight. Asleep like plenty of other decent folk, looking to stay out of trouble. Next destination was my fall back other event at Pehrspace. I walked along Temple to get to Glendale Boulevard, admiring the run down and other timely buildings of the neighborhood, on the border of Angelino Heights. These houses and storefronts had seen many years, endured much, and seemed waiting, expectant for a new re-surgence. Perhaps. Or maybe it would remain a quiet pocket just outside of downtown, ignored because it backed up against a freeway, most streets dead-ending and few even knew it existed. It reminded me of New Orleans, sleepy-quiet, patiently waiting, beloved by some, and reviled as disintegrating by others. I was here at night time, and I could imagine the buildings slumbering uneasily, aware, but in no way able to control their futures. Would they be torn down, made into giant apartment buildings, or would they continue to be allowed to slumber, awaiting for some new glory days?

I walked by Pehrspace, heard no music and saw a small crowd drinking bottled beers out front. Perhaps all the bands were done. It was almost 1 am. Again, I passed. It made me happy to know others were out and about, having enjoyed live music.

I now faced the gauntlet. The quickest, most direct way home was via Alvarado. But at this time of night, the trawlers for prostitutes were out (or is that trollers?), and being on a major street was a situation ripe for misinterpretation for a single woman walking by herself. Where did Glendale Boulevard lead to heading south? I would find out.

It turned into Lucas. Hopefully it ran all the way south to a street I needed.

LAUSD has an annoying habit of building schools that interfere with normal traffic flow, causing streets to dead end or turn away from their school grounds. So it was again. But along the quiet streets, there were empty lots of overgrowth, and intriguing staircases leading to former glory. The city of LA could do a lot with a concerted in-fill project, filling those empty lots with new houses, breathing new life to some neighborhoods with skyline views and proximity to downtown. But in the meantime, the temperature difference of a grass and tree filled lot, with the smell of fresh, moist dirt exposed was pleasant. (Exposed dirt? Who was digging in these frequently fenced lots?)

The Unknown Wilds of Abandoned LA Properties

The Unknown Wilds of Abandoned LA Properties

Almost home, I was walking along Union. The closer I got to the Staples Center, home to Lakers and Kings games, the more traffic, the more people, the more prostitutes.  A club I had walked by earlier on my walk was now disgorging bands loading their gear into waiting vehicles. Everyone out on the sidewalk was wearing black. The iconic Misfits image was plainly visible, as were other skulls too. I had no idea this club did live music. A club near me with live music? I had seen the velvet rope numerous times before, but with its closed doors and no sound leakage, could not determine what sort of club it was. I only ever saw men walk in, so I had not held out the best of hopes. Upscale in its presentation, but until I saw a woman walking in there I was doubtful I would be walking in by myself. Tonight was the night. A couple ran up, black and skulls adorning them, but cheerily talking. The sound coming out, was metal. I’ll have to keep an eye on this place, see what else they play. And so close. Really want to support them, but unfortunately, not on metal night.

Well, I was home. The lobby clock told me it was nearly 2. Of the three possible activities I had thought of doing, I had done none. I also hadn’t spent any money. I was, however, exhausted from the walking. There are numerous hills in the vicinity and I had definitely gotten my exercise in the four hours of wandering about I had done. I selected a new book to read, and crawled into bed, not even managing to get through chapter 3, and the chapters in this book are very short.

But I had learned more about my community, and seen LA is coming closer to the thriving, busy, downtown nightlife I have hoped for for years and was happy to see that. As much as I have wanted it, I just didn’t want to participate and encourage it with my dollar support, sad to say, “in this current economy.” Just not that night. However, the very fact I bought in the downtown vicinity is pretty loud and clear economic support for the community, when you come down to it. Can’t get much louder than that.

A Perfect Day

March 6, 2009

Or, In Which I Celebrate a Birthday.

Well, I had postponed my Monday birthday to Thursday, since I had several things on my plate that had to get done that day, and could not be postponed. The beauty of celebrating one’s birthday by oneself is of course it can get postponed, so postponed it got. The other beautiful thing I learned a long time ago, was the fact that if I myself could not give myself the perfect day and birthday presents, who on earth do I expect will? Or to do better?

Today was filled with treats and the end of coveting (of at least a few things). I have about a two year covet list. I see something, covet it, drop hints about it if anyone is listening, and if it does not happen in the meantime, it gets placed on the I will fulfill for myself list.

So first was my mocha fix at the expensive but delicious Intelligentsia cafe in Silver Lake. Next was off to Studio City to fix my pierced nose ring (at the Ye Olde Tattoo Shoppe with the pirate theme where I originally had it done, as it comes highly recommended and is just so fun to look at), for the ball had fallen out and so the ring has just been sitting in my nose but wouldn’t move, so I had suspected I needed my nose re-pierced. I was correct. Then right next door to get my hair washed, trimmed, and what the heck, let’s throw in some color too to hide those increasing grays. (Vanity, vanity, thy name is vanity.) Back to Silver Lake to actually buy my birthday present to myself, because the store had not been open when I left at 10 am. Ah, the store was open! I bought myself a nifty composter, designed especially for apartments, and able to compost dairy and meat, so it claims. Don’t really care about the meat part, and can’t say that I ever have any scrap dairy lying around, so completely useless to me, but hey! I could if I needed to.

Like I said, I had been coveting this item for a couple of years when I first saw it at the store Kelly Green. It comes with a special formulated thing kinda like kitty litter that you layer between your food that makes it non-smelly and super effective. So now I can get my window sill garden boxes going, now that I have a renewable compost source. Yay!

Then it was off to a birthday meal, at a restaurant — again, I had heard about it for more than a couple years, dropped hints that I wanted to go there when asked where I would like to eat, — and had yet to make it out there, to beautiful Eagle Rock. The name of the place is Auntie Em’s Kitchen, and finally I made it there. Part of the problem was I couldn’t remember how to get to Eagle Rock, I only ever end up there by accident. And I also didn’t have their address, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that be a problem. (I never have in the past.) Let’s try Eagle Rock Boulevard, the main drag, and see if it can be spotted somewhere along the way. Sure enough, I found it.

I had an egg salad sandwich, lentil vegetable soup and a fizzy drink. They are quite known for their desserts (and breakfasts, but it was too late in the day), and I ordered the grapefruit cream butter cake, picture below, and it was perfect. I really don’t like that much sweet, and so the grapefruit that I was hesitant about, was the perfect complement to sweet frosting and creamy butter. Yummm. I think I will have to find a recipe for that, since I can see that being a birthday cake option in the future. Really, I never have had a major sweet tooth, and birthday cakes for me growing up were frequently strawberry shortcake, angel food cake or cheesecake. Not usually white or chocolate cakes. Don’t know why.

Grapefruit Cream Butter Cake at Auntie Em's Kitchen

Grapefruit Cream Butter Cake at Auntie Em's Kitchen

Anyway, cake, present, new hair, it was time to take care of some business matters. Made a few phone calls, took care of some bidness, and off I decided to explore a little, see where Eagle Rock Boulevard could get me. I had the choice between Pasadena to the right or Glendale to the left once it intersected Colorado Boulevard. I chose Glendale, once I noticed it was the beginning of rush hour time. And followed this road and that, and here I was, in Atwater Village, and thus back to Silver Lake again, and drove myself home to park.

Because, I thought tonight was the big artwalk in downtown LA, and I wanted to know where I should head to partake. But in looking online, I discovered it is next Thursday. Oops! Well, I still have one other place I have been meaning to check out, and that is the Golden Gopher. It is the oldest bar in Los Angeles, or the oldest bar with a take out liquor license, (or the only bar in LA with a take out liquor license?) and is supposed to be quite the experience. And look, happy hour is good for another hour today, I shall see if I can catch it to truly end my birthday with a shot of good cheer!

Golden Gopher finally spotted

Golden Gopher finally spotted

So I got to soak in the atmosphere, but with it being just myself, the bartender and the security guard and this during happy hour, I just was not feeling the party vibe. There’s just only so much party I can generate by myself, alone. I stayed as long as I did nursing my drink because there was a movie on without sound I vaguely recognized. It turned out to be Singing in the Rain. By the time I left, others were finally arriving, but I wasn’t in the mood anymore. Yes, there was a dress code, and others were coveting my spot. I did not feel welcome. So it was off to my stand-by bar, since I was already downtown, off to Bar 107. It is a neighborhood dive bar, there are regulars, people go there to drink and laugh and watch sports, sometimes bring their dogs, and there is all sorts of kitschy stuff cluttering up the space. You can sit and brood at the bar, or read a book in a booth, and no one bothers you. I know this because I have done both. I am by no means a regular, but I feel welcome there, and it doesn’t matter what I wear, either. And the drinks are cheap, always a plus. I knew there was a reason I liked it there.
One drink there, leaving when the Blazers vs. Nuggets were finishing up their first quarter, (yay, Blazers fans!) and then I began wandering home, taking a different route to see what was new in downtown. There’s always something new. I took many photos, but having to hold a camera very still with no bracing for a while to get the exposure right does not lead to wonderful photos. Still, I was home by 10, and it had been a full and delicious day.