The Not So Mysterious Burgundy Room Cell Phone Theft

The Street Hustle

My pal Jimmy Swan recommended I meet him at the Power House, a wonderfully shitty dive in Hollywood a few nights back.  Jimmy, along with Marz Richards, Chris Millar, David Mayes, Curt Bonnem, Bryan Krasner, Matt Valle and several other folks associated with Sacred Fools Theatre (where The Magic Bullet Theory, co-written by your occasionally intrepid blogger, premiers on March 23) have gone out of their way to help me adapt to the Los Angeles life.  Everyone of this gang of many had recommended a jaunt to the Power House to see the fading yet somehow still vibrant if only in memory, crumbly Hollywood.

After several Happy Hour pints served by a surprisingly wide-eyed middle-aged day barman, I was ready to move on to greener drinking pastures.  Jimmy asked if I had any place I’d like see.  Without hesitation I immediately recommended the Burgundy Room on Cahuenga.  I was breaking my own rule of trying to sample as much of drinking/nightlife Hollywood as I can by going to a new joint each time out. However, each place has to be a joint/boozer/dive bar.  If the spot has a line outside with wanna-be pretty people and Yunnies, I’ll take a pass and move on to new business.  I had been to the Burgundy Room several times before and felt a degree of barfly safety in it’s deep back interior.

Marz turned me onto the Burgundy Room with a simple sentence: Charles Bukowski used to drink there; thus making it a must drink at for the literary drunk tour of Los Angeles.  If they ever found a way to light the place, you might be able to see some of the same furnishings or at least carpet that Bukowski walked/fell on 50 years earlier – the joint is pitch black from opening until closing 24/7.  All that’s missing from this antithesis of a clean well-lighted place is the various characters, drunks, wanna-be’s, never were’s and the stench of 50 year old beer.  Like the rest of America, this part of Hollywood is now home to a horde of rampaging Yunnies who leave Starbuck’s, banks, Bed Bath and Beyond’s and luxury condos in their wake.  Thus the owners of this classic dive bar were forced to do the same.

I’m sure Jimmy, a 25 year Hollywood native, had other spots in mind but he graciously acquiesced. We settled up and Swan answered a text from his Minneapolis pal Chris as to our next destination on his $50 flip phone.  Off we marched into the Hollywood night to meet our destiny: more booze amongst the great lumpen mass of stargazers and corporate hacks.

Half an hour later the three of us were sitting among a crowd of just off work non-descript professionals.  Vanessa, one of the few bartenders in this burg who remembers not only your name, what you drink but what you do as well, seemed out of place dressed in her skimpy pseudo-Goth fishnets serving this crowd of cheaply suited men and women with bad shoes.  Then again three early middle aged men discussing Husker Du and Minneapolis punk must have seemed like aliens to these Yunnies as they demanded the latest in frothy cocktails from a bar that served Jim Beam as a high end bourbon.

When Jimmy went out to smoke, a 20 something African American kid dressed in gray with a black hat jostled me as he tried to sit in Swan’s seat.  After the requisite ‘someone’s sitting there’ and ceremonial drunk eye-fuck, Black Hat went on his way down the bar trying to chat up every woman in the place.  Chris and I went back to our musical discussion.  Jimmy came back five minutes later.  “Guys,” he asked. “Where’s my phone?”

I looked around and found my iPhone2 sitting in the same spot it had been next to Jimmy’s phone and smokes.  A thorough search of the floor, the bar, behind the bar and the garbage turned up nothing.  Vanessa went to get the manager and I started to look around for Mr. Black Hat.  Noticing the commotion, he was working his way toward the exit along the back wall.  I walked over to the manager, a rather annoyed Brit in a torn shirt and pointed out Black Hat and explained what had happened.  “He took the phone,” I told him.  He answered with a grunt and looked for the phone on the ground with a flashlight.

I watched from the opposite end of the bar as Black Hat slipped out.

Jimmy was upset not so much at the loss of his cheap flip phone but at having to replace all the information contained therein.  He walked outside to have a cigarette and calm down.  Chris and I took care of the bill while I bitched at the managerial response. “I told the guy what happened and he still did nothing,”

The manger walked over to me and wagged his finger in my face.  “I don’t’ know that guy there has the phone.  Even if I did what am I supposed to do about it?”  The kid he pointed to was a portly African American guy in a beige blazer who walked in with a group of co-workers three minutes earlier.

This left me wondering about this bar manger.  Ok, so he’s British but is he color blind?  Does everyone wear black and gray in his world?  Or is he still upset over the outcome of the War of 1812.

As for Mr. Black Hat, allow me to recommend a new profession.  If you can’t tell the difference between a year old smart phone and a flip phone circa 2005 the only thing I see in your future is being on the business end of a blowjob in the County Lock Up.

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