Dive bar, that’s a term that gets tossed around a lot these days, like serious actress, or non-contagious, am I right? Oh, the hipsters find some place that still serves beer in the can or–get this!–has an actual jukebox full of 45’s.
The kids furiously wave their hands over glowing Ipads, like Priests trying to rub the semen off of bibles, sending out tweets and updates on the delicious irony of this joint.
And a before ya know it, they’ve chased out the honest neighborhood drunks, installed kitschy black velvet paintings of Cantinflas above the bar, and the internet jukebox starts blaring Johnny Cash at 110 decibels. You look down the bar and it’s all fedoras and pork chop sideburns, hovering over tallboys of PBR and squawking smartphones.
Take a ride around Hollywood, and a few of the old places survive:
Sadly, most of the good ones are gone…
There was a time when your Friday night was already planned for you, bub! No searching the internet for where to go or what to do, nah. You parked your car –free!– off of Argyle and you were set for the night: The true Hollywood Walk of Fame, that between the Cathay De Grande and the Firefly!
Ah, Cathay, home of a thousand hangovers and bad decisions!
It must’ve been quite something in the day, but by the time the punks and lowlifes inherited the space, its velvety smooth makeup had worn and cracked, and she now looked like the weary middle aged whore of the Boulevard: Discounted by half, but still game for a good night, goddamnit! We must’ve played there a dozen times at least, usually a 3am set on a Thursday night (or was that Friday morning?) The crowd would be done for the night, nursing that precious final Bud ordered at last call, loafing around til they got a ride to the Zero One.
We’d spend the night pestering Dobbs for free beer or pawing at one of the Pandoras in a darkened booth.
And when told that yet another band has shown up and pushed our set back another hour, no problem! That was our cue to saunter out into the warm Summer night and make our way over to Vine off Hollywood, and settle into the Firefly…..
Firefly , where the drink wells would regularly be set aflame, where the special was 2 bucks for a shot of hideous gin or whisky and a Budweiser.
Oh, stop drooling, mate…it was only a 7 oz bottle of Bud we’re talking about…..but still! 2 bucks?!
Clever, clever boys that we were, we would set up camp just in front of the stacked Budweiser cases next to the bathroom and clandestinely exchange empties for full warm beers all night long.
Drinking shot after shot of bathtub gin, holding wee beer bottles that made us look like twinkle-eyed giants, we passed the night singing along to the jukebox and hitting up any chums who may wander in to buy a round. Perhaps Keith Morris or Bob Forrest, back in their tottering days, when they would come rolling in after being kicked out of The Roxy or The Palace.
And now a round of Flaming Blue Jesus’, a shot of 151 and Ouzo lit aflame, we’d hold them aloft a moment before extinguishing and choking down the molten licorice: The wan blue flames flickered like the hopeful torches of an approaching search party.
Someone thankfully has the bright notion to glance at a watch, and we are corralled back up the street, back into the Cathay.
But by now the bridge is guarded by a new troll, malodorous as a goat, witty as a Catskills headliner: ElDuce!
Drummer of the The Mentors, victim of Courtney Love, ElDuce was the soul of that little stretch of Hollywood. Oh, he might stop you at the door and threaten to pull out your lower lip with the pliers in his back pocket, or wave his precious pecker at the ladies in your group.
But by the end of the night, you could usually find him curled up inside the front door, naked as an innocent baby and snoring through the sweet dreams of the blessed!
So you played your sloppy set and dreaded the thought of hauling the gear back up those stairs, but really— where else would ya rather be?
And if you were lucky, the doors would already be locked, and you were invited to stay for an after hours session, only to emerge blinking and reeling into the bright sunlight of another Hollywood morning.
And then you’d put on the sunglasses that you knew you might very well need when you grabbed them the night before:
On your way out for a night in Hollywood, our Hollywood.