NOTE TO READERS: I make no claims as to the veracity of any of the facts contained within this blog post. If we were to graph my inebriation during the evening, and then overlay that with a graph of important/blog-worthy moments, the lines would follow the same upward path. Except that at about 2:30 a.m., the important events would tail off and my inebriation would hit a steady plateau for the next few hours. In summation, reader beware.
Los Feliz Pub Crawl Winter 2008 began badly, which is to say exactly as it should. When Matt Fleischer, my former L.A. Weekly colleague and eternal pub crawl co-conspirator, and I showed up at the Tiki-Ti at 4 p.m. and saw that it wouldn’t open till 6, we knew everything was going to be all right. But first we needed a bar, and fast. We were shut out at Akbar, so we turned back up Sunset to El Chavo, which looked even less promising than the Tiki: Portions of its exterior was ripped away because of ongoing renovation, and all three doors to the building seemed either locked or strictly ornamental. But then I did what any pub crawl organizer desperate for a launch bar would do: I knocked on a door. After a tense moment, a smiling, mustachioed waiter opened the door, and LFPC II was officially under way.
I ordered a Jameson’s on the rocks, duh, and Matt ordered a margarita and the ceremonial beef tongue. He noted that during LFPC I he ordered it with the mole; this time he went with the Spanish sauce. Fleischer persuaded me to take a taste, and I instantly remembered my bite from last time. This was the second time in my life I had chewed on something with taste buds. Just as I was complimenting Matt on his African T-shirt, replete with an antelope and pockets, Katie Byrne walked in with half a dozen Michiganders. I refuse to even attempt to remember any of their names, but will venture to say they were all welcome additions to the crawl. They also win special recognition for being the first kids to the party, a distinction won last year by Kat Berger and Andrea Bricco (who were prevented, sadly, from imbibing this time by Milwaukee and the flu, respectively).
After a second whiskey and some conversational catchup with Katie, Matt the crawlmeister announced it was time for the first crawl. Since our route was thrown off from the get-go by our Tiki-Ti miscalculation, we boldly decided to head up to the Dresden Room. While going to the Dresden at 5:30 might seem odd, we figured it was the only time on a Saturday when a large group could get into Los Feliz’s most crowded bar. After I assured one of my new Michigan friends that it wouldn't be feminine to order a Stella, I started work on the Tom Collins that Matt recommended to me. It was fizzy and ginny, and most assuredly feminine. I loved it.
The party started to warm up at the Dresden with the additions of Ryan Colditz, two of his friends, and Matt’s friend Margaret, who is from Maine and has an accent that suggests she was born stateside but has lived abroad extensively. Then, just as I was getting comfortable, Matt called for a crawl: We were heading for Ye Rustic Inn. (A note about Ye Rustic: During my first months in Los Angeles, the Rustic served as my personal mental-health clinic. My damaged psyche was rehabilitated by hundreds of dollars of Miller Lite, sultry bar maidens, Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing,” Myrtle Burgers, the Hudsons, and Irish car bombs. It is an old friend, and I love it dearly.)
The previous pub crawl kicked into high gear at the Rustic, and the same was true on Saturday. Matt and I downed Irish car bombs and then listened to one of the Rustic-ettes passionately explain what Steelers football means to Pittsburgh (this wasn’t the first football conversation I’ve had with the YR staff). Long story short, the logo is really important. If you want to find her and ask the girl yourself, just stick your head in the door and yell “Go Browns!” The raven-haired woman who decks you will tell you the rest of the details.
After getting our NFL history for the evening, Matt and I, insufficiently bombed, downed two quick Jaeger bombs with some of the other pub crawlers. Or did we have one of the Jaeger bombs earlier? Ah, my friends. Here we go: This is the point in the story where things get much more fuzzy and exciting. After all the bombing, there was conversation at various tables and then, under the cover of night, we slipped out of the Rustic and across the street to the Drawing Room, the finest neighborhood bar in Los Feliz.
I believe this is where I had my last Jameson’s for the evening. This is also where Chris Sapardanis, neighbors Abby and Andy, and I think new friend Diliana showed up. Diliana deserves special recognition: She found the Facebook page I threw together for the crawl, RSVP’ed, and showed up. All on her own. And instantly became part of the group and a total trooper. Look! Social networking is a success! Huzzah! Other Drawing Room add-ons included Weekly intern Erika and a friend of hers. (Not to mention that one of the Michigan guys chatted up Sarah Silverman’s sister and Mr. Show’s Jay Johnston. It also needs to be put on the record that, while I wouldn’t be able to remember this guy’s name if you were shoving bamboo shoots under my nails, I do remember that he studies fire science at Lake Superior State University, located in one of the coldest, snowiest cities in these United States. Fire and ice indeed.)
Just as I was settling in to a red-vinyl seat at the DR, that bastard Fleischer announced it was time to crawl again. So we broke camp and formed a drunken, drunken caravan down Hillhurst Avenue, careening to a happy halt at the beautifully named (and similarly red-vinyl-and-Chinese-dragon-themed) Good Luck Bar. Now at this point, honestly, do any of you expect me to have any sharp memories? I’m pretty sure I ordered a Miller Lite — or was it a Red Stripe? — and that I babbled for quite a while to Abby and Andy about God knows what.
Drink, sit, talk, crawl! Back out into the L.A. evening we went, farther south down Hillhurst and then a speculative turn east onto Sunset. But our frontal assault on the now-open Tiki-Ti was rebuffed immediately: The Tiki, just barely bigger than my studio apartment, was predictably packed to the palm fronds. Which called for bold measures, calculated risk, manly leaps into the dark unknown: We headed for Cheetah’s. This would be my third time in an adult-themed establishment, and it was by far the most fun. Cheetah’s is way less scuzzy than I anticipated. The staff was friendly, and the air was pleasantly free of desperation and sadness. Then again, my image of the joint might be colored by the fact that this is where my boon pal Alice Johnson and her Chilean dude Sebastian showed up (and I shouldn’t forget to mention Abby and Andy’s two friends, although I will proudly forget their names). So here we sat for a while, drinking beers, puzzling over the presence of a Phil Collins song, applauding one lady’s yogic headstand.
Like a confident football team holding up four fingers at the start of the last quarter, the Los Feliz Pub Crawl crew daringly tore down Hollywood Boulevard toward our last stop of the evening: The Stone, whose Web site declares it neither gay nor straight but fun, and I’d have to agree. Our glorious night ended soaked in Thai beer, narrated by Sebastian’s distinctions between Argentines and Chileans, and celebrated with manic dancing to a stomping country duo. Alice, Sebastian and I shared a cab ride back to the neighborhood, where we downed one last drink and a bowlful of almonds and pistachios at the Gaines pad. (And the evening went from perfect to golden when I got a cross-continental call from Karis, who had just taken a jog and laughed her head off at my sloppy diction.)
So that, fellow sinners, is how you do a pub crawl: 2.19 miles of movable, drinkable revelry. I don’t mind saying that Matt and I are two for two so far on these suckers, and we’re now emboldened even more to continue these events on a roughly seasonal basis. I’ve already fielded a suggestion for another crawl in July, and I’m wide open that month. Here’s to friends and Los Feliz!
(Photos to follow soon. If anyone else took pix, please lemme know.)