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Accordians, Tattoos, and Tubas – plus a couple Random Musings

Hello Enthusiasts –

“Sometimes you choose greatness. Other times, you just stumble into it.” – The Amateur Enthusiast

An unplanned night out in Downtown is sometimes the best kind. Here’s why:

I was supposed to meet a friend for drinks who got unexpectedly deterred. I wasn’t sure if he could make it or not so, while waiting, I popped into Bottega Louie for a drink. Jameson, the head bartender, was working, so I knew it would be a good night.

(Side note: upon sitting down, I was recognized by someone I didn’t know by the picture on my blog – one of you enthusiasts had forwarded it to him. Keep up the good work!)

So Jameson & I start concocting drinks, deciding that we need a little more honey water here, a little more bourbon there – it’s always good for us amateurs to get to play mixologist for a bit. (yet another reason to get to know your bartenders.) He also made a great drink in case you’re looking to order something for that chick from Logistics that you’re trying to impress: The Cobbler. It’s muddled pineapple, orange, and lemon, with some honey, shaken and poured into a glass with crushed ice, and finished off with port wine. It’s like a delicious, different sangria. But I digress.

So it turns out friend number one can’t make it, but friend number two is Downtown, has some free time, and wants to meet up. I have finally worn out my barstool at Bottega, so I pop into Seven Grand while waiting – which is packed, on a Wednesday. But my friend calls and wants to hit Crocker Club since he hasn’t been, so I’m in Seven Grand for all of 30 seconds.

Crocker is D-E-A-D. I’m all for a low key bar where you can talk to the bartender, get your drinks quickly, etc. – but there’s a fine line between “low key” and a little creepy. Crocker is going to need to do some promotion for the non-weekend nights, because the juxtaposition between 7G, Crocker, and the Edison was dramatic.

Anyway, my friend remembers that Wednesday night is Lucent Dossier night at the Edison – the Cirque du Soleil-ish performance art troupe that hangs from the rafters and generally creates all kinds of fun chaos. He’s never seen them, so we make our way over.

But, guess what? Good places continually reinvent themselves, and the Edison has smartly decided that they have to offer something new. So what do we stumble into? A tremendous performance by Vaud and the Villains.

Who are Vaud and the Villains? It’s New Orleans/zydeco/gospel/’30s-influenced music that will reinvigorate your soul. Imagine 15 people (or more) crowded onto a stage. Some songs have 5 singers, some have one. Some songs bring out a burlesque dancer. There’s an accordian player. There’s a horn section, including a big ole’ tuba. There’s a crazy drummer who clearly uses Animal from the Muppets as an inspiration (and who allegedly works in the Energy Efficiency Division of LADWP by day). It’s all awesome. And I happened to be there on their very first Wednesday night at the Edison.

So we got some absinthe drinks off of a cart (from Gwendolyn the Green Fairy, except she probably spells it “Fairie”), had a great time getting down with Vaud and the gang, and once again, appreciated what Downtown is becoming and has become.

So get exploring!


Some random musings:

— Tomorrow night is Casino Night, benefiting LA’s BEST Friends, which supports LA’s best after school program. I mention it because it will be at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral on Main St. and looks like lots of fun. I also mention it because a friend is working hard on it. for tickets and more info.

— I’ve knocked down two more lunch spots: The Sultan, on 6th between Hill and Broadway, and Tiara Cafe, on 9th near Los Angeles Street. The Sultan is basic Mediterranean food near Pershing Square. Worth it if you want cheap and good (certainly better than it has to be), and are in the area, but that’s about it. Most of you probably already know Tiara Cafe, but if you don’t, you should go. It’s owned by Fred Eric who also runs Fred 62 in Los Feliz (and some other establishments). It’s got a great, airy feel; good, unique, fresh food (including great “fresh ‘wiches” for those who want sandwiches without all the crap you normally get on them); and it’s frequented by fashionistas which always makes for fun people watching.

— The Farmer’s Market that’s usually by the Central Library on Wednesdays seems to have moved to Pershing Square – or, at least, there’s a new Farmer’s Market on Pershing Square on Wednesdays that has many of the same vendors. Lots of good food stalls, and it’s nice to see something actually drawing people into Pershing Square. I hope it helps reclaim that ill-sotted, ill-conceived piece of “urban redevelopment”, which never worked because it was created before people figured out that in order to revitalize an urban area, you need people on the street, not removed from it.

That’s it for now – sorry for the long post. Keep your enthusiasm up, and happy travels.