Saturday: A visit to a Mexican Vampire’s nightclub

Turns out Hollywood weirdness has a good side...

It’s Saturday and we’re on our way to lunch, standing on a corner waiting for a light to change when two guys behind us get in a fight. A “motherfucker” is followed by one of the combatants throwing his lunch at the other one and a Styrofoam container of food skids across Hollywood Boulevard.

Nobody in the crowd – including me and my sons Paul and Matt – turn around to see what’s happening. We’ve learned to be indifferent.

There’s too much crazy in Hollywood to deal with; it’s like standing on the beach, seeing a tidal wave come in and knowing you can’t outrun it – all you can do is hunker down and hope you’re still there after the tidal wave passes.

Later that day I’m walking down the street when I come across a guy who has totally blocked the sidewalk by maneuvering other people’s recycling bins into a Fortress of Solitude for the Homeless; he’s taking a nap surrounded by other people’s trash.

Someone else has locked up their dumpsters behind bars, trying to prevent a family of four moving in an establishing squatter’s rights.

A guy in Starbucks is writing furiously in a notebook using different colored pencils while having a conversation with himself that seems to include three people who aren’t getting along. A look at the notebook reveals complete gibberish, assuming the guy hasn’t made up his own personal hieroglyphics, which now that I think about it seems not only possible, but probable.

Bottom line: since arriving in Hollywood I’ve been knee deep in crazy, but despite that I still wasn’t prepared for the Velvet Margarita.

But first, the Frolic Room

Paul and I take Matt to the bus stop and Matt heads out for LAX and home.

We’re half a block away from the Frolic Room so I suggest Paul and I head there to drown our sorrows or at least give them a whiskey sour waterboarding.

The Frolic Room is a bar right next to the Pantages Theater and the Pantages Theater is where they used to hold the Academy Awards. So when Frank Sinatra or Judy Garland needed a pick-me-up or a calm-me-down, they’d head next door.

The two best things about the Frolic Room are the neon sign outside – it’s appeared in movies like L.A. Confidential and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood – and the whiskey sours costing $5, which in Hollywood is pretty much giving booze away for free.

The Frolic Room does not have much room to frolic; it’s basically a hallway with a bathroom at the far end, but still well worth the trip.

Paul heads back to his place to watch a Miami Heat game and I go back to my hotel to watch the Eagles play the Cowboys even though I’m pretty sure it’s a replay and the real game took place two days earlier.

A rant about sports reporting

The Eagles and Cowboys finish up their game…the Eagles won again…and I head up the hill to Paul’s apartment to watch the second half of the Heat-76ers game.

Paul has the same passion for the NBA that I do for big league baseball which makes watching a game with him interesting because he actually understands what he’s seeing and can explain it to you.

Something a lot of well-paid sports reporters fail to do.

A lot of sports reporting sucks because the reporter takes the results and finds an emotional reason to explain them: Team A won because they wanted it more, Team B lost because they wilted under pressure. Bobby Joe Buttjack really wanted to win this one for his ailing mother.

This kind of reporting is bullshit.

Paul explains that the Heat are known for their conditioning and they need to make the 76ers run their asses off. If the Heat come down the court, get impatient and go straight to the hoop that favors the 76ers because then they won’t have to run as much.

If the Heat take their time, move the ball side-to-side, force the Philadelphia players to run with them, wait for someone who isn’t as well-conditioned fail to keep up and then go to the hoop, they’ll get better shots and that favors Miami.

A couple trips down the court reveals Paul is right and the Heat win in overtime.

It doesn’t take much to irritate me and watching some reporter who’s probably making six figures a year ask a player “what it means” or “take me through that” or “what does it say about this team” type questions is pretty much guaranteed to piss me off.

Cliché questions result in cliché answers: “We’re just trying to get better every day” or “that’s a good team over there” or “we never give up” doesn’t tell you jack shit, which is actually the point.

Cliché answers might be boring, but nobody ever got in trouble for providing one.

Dinner with werewolves on the side

Paul asks what I want to do for dinner and I choose the Velvet Margarita because my son Michael once went there and said it looked like a Mexican restaurant conceived by David Lynch and I want to see that.

Michael was partially right.

La Velvet Margarita Cantina looks like David Lynch and a Mexican vampire decided to open a restaurant and used Tim Burton as the interior decorator. (Michael came up with David Lynch, I threw in Tim Burton and Paul hit the nail on the head with the Mexican vampire; it took three of us to describe this place.)

Take a look.

After walking in the door my first reaction is laughter.

There are dozens of Mexican sombreros nailed upside down to the ceiling. A giant skull overlooks the bar. What first appears to be a chandelier turns out to be a golden piñata. There are open beams across the room and Paul speculates that’s where the wait staff hangs upside down during the day, waiting for that night’s shift to begin.

The place doesn’t upon until the sun goes down and is locked up tight as a drum during the day. I think Paul is on to something.

Here’s me having a “Velvet Margarita” in a black velour booth that appears to have been designed by Elvis or Satan; possibly both.

But interior decorating is only part of the package.

On a couple screens above the bar a movie is playing and it features luchadores (Mexican wrestlers in masks), a gang of werewolves and a vampire. At one point the luchadores — who are wearing cardigan sweaters and slacks — kick the shit out of the werewolves with wrestling moves. Forget silver bullets, apparently werewolves are susceptible to flying drop kicks and hammerlocks.

Who knew?

The evening reaches its high point when we get to hear a mariachi version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The analytics on this website tell me only about two percent of you click on the links I provide, but I’m telling you not to miss out on this musical experience…it’s fucking awesome:

The day started out with some bad Hollywood craziness, but ended with some fabulous Hollywood craziness.

La Velvet Margarita Cantina is a highlight of my trip and if I have to step over a few urine-soaked bums to get there, I’ll drink to that.

And did.