Emily remarked on how much she loved Los Angeles as we floated our way across Beverly. There are just so many neighborhoods. You can’t believe at Virgil that you were just at Larchmont. The audacity of Hancock Park. This city is a miracle. Approaching Silver Lake in the foot of my father’s office, it never fails to amaze me how I always end up back here.
Upon receiving a clean bill of health, I celebrated my twenty-first birthday at the Red Lion. I berated the cab driver on our ride back downtown, accusing him of driving 75 when my fellow passengers assured me he was barely cracking 30. I broke a shot glass against the side of Gingergrass one time when what I vaguely recall being an ex-girlfriend told me I was full of shit. Still not sure if I was upset or celebrating it as a compliment. I also met my fiancee officially at the Red Lion. Back years ago I used to enjoy sneaking into Silverlake the back way via Los Feliz and drinking at Tiki Ti and contemplating if I’d ever get my name on the wall. I guess I have never felt at home in Silver Lake even if I have spent so many hours there. That is not to say I couldn’t imagine it being home. I’d have to commit to it. Life’s about commitment. Best to know that now and accept it.
We park near our friends’ place. It’s sunny. One of those hidden and winding streets in the hills. It’s a transportation. There is a sign on a telephone pole asking good Samaritans to find “Sheba”, a lost cat with no teeth. Sounded like coyote food.
Their apartment was spectacular, a quiet and guarded blue freestanding unit with the kind of porch usually reserved for somewhere southern. Out one direction, there were the ballistic hills that you can only view from off the main drag with a little elevation. Out the other side of the apartment was the case study view of downtown. I was envious of that view. I never feel lonely when I can see the ghostly skyline. It’s just a thing I have. Out the back, there were other buildings that we couldn’t figure out. I mean, I know this city, but it made no geographic sense. It was almost a window to Las Vegas. You’d have to see it to understand and wouldn’t you know, I didn’t have a camera.
Spent some time on that porch drinking Balblair and beer and having a heavy conversation about things changing, the end of an era, the beginning of an era, the impact of a decade of wild eyes and big dreams. The net result was a somewhat heightened sense of things that clearly hadn’t shaken off as we walked down the hill, purchased a three dollar cigar which I promptly left on the counter of the convenience store. It was one of those times where words chipped off an alternate reality to your day. I was walking, talking and interacting, but the narrator in my head was reading a much different script. The afternoon light had that fine line going, it could be construed as honeydew yellow warmth, but it could also easily be viewed as the glow from a night of bombing, the air red with earth dust.
Suddenly, we were in an outdoor furniture showroom eating a fish taco from a local street vendor. A brief conversation about California, and how this was the essence of it. Drunk in the daytime in warm weather eating a street taco in a strange setting. We decided to catch a drink at Tiki Ti, which was hopping at 4pm. We got two Ray’s Mistakes. In the end, you are so often encouraged to try more of the elaborate drink menu, but the reality is a Ray’s Mistake is like ribeye steak medium rare. It’s not something you need to fuck with just to fuck with it. It reminds you to relax.
The afternoon fade begins to wear off and I am knee deep in a good Dodger game. I am trying to focus on their improvement, but there’s a lot on my mind. Not anything bad necessarily, just a lot. More than I even thought, more than I even felt like saying out loud. I have always found it so draining to watch the sun fade into dusk. It’s pretty, but it’s draining. Luckily, we were with good friends and I turned to the Balblair to restart the engine. By the time we left, downtown had flickered on and I felt good. Like a moth in the porchlight.
We went down the hill to Cliff’s Edge. Felt like I was in Hawaii in the best way. Everything was warm and fuzzy. It was how life should be. Taking in only the best parts of consciousness, perched under a big, knotted tree with candlelight everywhere. A relieved to be alive moment. Even managed to eat a plate of short ribs before realizing I hadn’t picked up my knife. Usually a good sign.
We went down to Thirsty Crow to see what all the fuss was about. I had learned at the Balblair release party just two nights prior at the Edison that this bar would carry the vintage scotch, one of only five initial bars to do so. I had concerns though with the amount of food blog coverage that we wouldn’t get in and I’d have to say something stupid about being a blogger or something. I loathe that kind of thing, but not quite as much as waiting in line, especially when I’ll just end up singing the bar’s praises. I mean, pour the whiskey in a glass and give me something to look at. Let me bring my friends.
Once inside, we got Old Fashioneds and somehow found a booth and waited for Brett to saunter in. The king of Silver Lake would definitely make an appearance for a cocktail and some conversation. Eight hours of hanging out and drinking and we were all pretty much brothers and sisters hydroplaning across topics and fighting down laughter. I knew I had been thinking about something all day, but I couldn’t remember. I didn’t even want to for the moment.
Brett lands and we’re all going back and forth. He buys a round of their signature drink “The Thirsty Crow” made with some potent ginger beer and bourbon. I decide to wear the mint leaf in my hair. I am acting like a couple of assholes. I can’t stop staring at a mirror on the wall. Written on it is the following toast: “May you always have an eagle in your pocket, a turkey on your table, and old crow in your pocket”.
I can get behind that.
We’re climbing endless stairs to get ourselves off of Sunset and back onto their quiet perch in the shallow atmosphere. My knee is hurting, but frankly not that bad. A commitment to not think anymore this evening. I am taking in the streetlamps and the way the street noise vanishes with each step. Quiet, just for a while. Just until morning.