California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Audrey – Polar Opposite

I went out for a going away party for a friend at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. There, I met some chick Audrey that a bunch of my friends know. We got pretty trashed, and had fun. Did shots. Danced. Did shots. Sang karaoke. Did jagerbombs. Chatted while smoking cigarettes on the patio. Did shots. Smoked a bowl on the patio. Drank beers. Did more shots. Really liked each other.

So we exchanged numbers before leaving, and said we’d go out next week. Now, 20 minutes after leaving I literally passed out and landed on my face, because I was fucking trashed. So I was in prime condition this night. This girl knew I liked to party. (As only young people can, and horrifies me now- how did I survive?!)

So, next week comes, and we line up a date. Since we don’t know each other super well, we’ll go to that same bar, where a bunch of mutual friends will be. We sit with them on the patio, and we chat. She’s cute. But, that’s all she has going for her. I find out we are absolute polar opposites. Her dad’s a preacher, and she loves Jesus, and she doesn’t like art, and she’s waiting for marriage, and she doesn’t like fishing, and hunting is cruelty, and the outdoors are icky, and I’m getting one word answers saying she doesn’t like anything I talk about, while she doesn’t even try to make conversation. It’s so awkward that our mutual friends are bailing, shifting further and further away from us, until there are only three of us left in our section and everyone else is on the other side of the patio.

After about 45 minutes, I decide I’m going to need like 8 more drinks to make it through this. I ask if she needs another drink, and go inside to the bar. While I’m waiting, I say, “nope, fuck it.” And I leave. I bail right out the back door. I don’t even care, I don’t say goodbye, I just leave. I stagger to a friend’s house, explain that I was on the shittiest date ever, and proceed to get blackout drunk.

Three days later, a mutual friend Kevin says, “Man, that date was pretty brutal, but it wasn’t right how she treated you.” “I know man, right?” “Yeah. I can’t believe you went to get her another drink, and she left before you got back. That was really shitty.”

That’s right. This date went so poorly we both bailed without telling the other person, and neither of us ever tried to contact the other one again!

I love it!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Instagram: @phicklephilly                       Facebook: phicklephilly

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Merlin McFly’s

In June 1979, a bar “with a magical theme” opened in Santa Monica. It was called Merlin McFly’s and was notable for its décor: nine stained glass windows depicting Merlin, Aladdin, Houdini, a fire-eater (below) and other notable names from the history of magic and sorcery. It was part of a chain of bar/grills across California, the other “family members” – Maxwell, Maestro, Maggie, Sly and Sky – also offering imaginative décor (heavy on the stained glass windows of course) and definitely looking to entertain their customers.

I worked there in 1983, first as a food cashier for the kitchen. I’d take the food orders, ring up the sale and pass the ticket to the cooks. I later was trained as a cook, and for the first time in my life started cooking meals. Before I came to Cali, I lived with my parents so all of my meals were cooked by my parents or I ate out somewhere. Usually fast food.

But this is really where I learned to cook. I still consider myself the “king of the fire pit grill.”

I remember there were two managers. I think their names were John and Renee. I don’t know if either of them had spouses but I know for a fact they were doing plenty of coke up in the office and were totally banging each other.

Oh, there was this other guy that managed for a short time. He was a fat clown. I remember he went on a game show, called Dream House. You could win a house if you crushed all of the questions. he’s bragging to the whole staff about when he’s going on the show and tells us all to watch him win. We’re all like, whatever.

So the day comes and we all crowd around the TV set in the office. He’s on there looking all goofy and cocky and they ask him this question: “If you fed a cow cocoa beans she would give chocolate milk.”

Him: “I agree.”

And like that he was off the show. In and out. We ripped him apart when he returned to work.

There were roaming magicians in the restaurant and would come to your table while you ate or drank and would do close up magic for you and your guests. It was such  cool place to work.

The wait staff were all hot women, that were dressed all in black. Tight lycra low cut body suits. Stockings, either fishnets or nude. They all wore a black skirt that revealed one of their legs. (Of course it was my mission to work there) They all looked like magician’s assistants.

I remember this especially hot one. Heather was a tall blonde that everybody loved. She looked like my ex girlfriend Michelle but 24 years old and long blonde hair.  It was my birthday and Heather walked up to me and French kissed me sensuously on the lips. I was shocked and stunned and turned on all in the same moment. Everybody loved it and laughed as I limped back into the kitchen. Nothing ever happened but it’s just something Heather could get away with anytime she wanted. Like a tigress that couldn’t be caged ad lived by her own rules.

One night I was emptying the dirty fat from the fryer. This was done but attaching a nozzle to an opening on the lower part of the fryer. Then I would get a big metal pot. Huge. Two feet tall. Like a huge metal bucket with metal handles on the side. I’d stick the metal pot under the nozzle and then turn on the spigot. This was done a few nights a week. The oil would get dirty and you have to change it so your fried foods don’t come out all brown and gross. Those fries need to be crisp and golden!

So I’m letting all of this hot empty out of the fryer and into the big pot. It’s the end of the night and the kitchen is closing. So it’s after midnight. The fryer has been off for a bit so the 350 degree oil has cooled down a bit. Plus it’s dirty so it will cool faster because it’s not as pure as fresh fat.

As you know, metal is a great conductor. So when the oil enters the pot it heats up the metal. You have to put towels around the two handles on the side to carry the pot. When it’s full, you have to pick it up, and carry it through the slippery floored kitchen and therough the dishwashing section and out the back door to outside. This thing is very heavey, awkward to carry and is filled with hot oil. I hate this part of the job more than any other part.

I get the pot outside and I have to pour the hot contents into a big metal upright barrel. Usually that goes with out a hitch.

But not tonight. I leaned the big pot against it and started to pour it in the barrel when the barrel tipped towards me and the contents of the barrel splashed back into my face!

I’m freaking out. It’s burned my face and gone in my eyes and I call for help.

The good news is. It had rained earlier so there was a load of cool water down in the bottom of that barrel. So that cooled the oil down from whatever nightmarish temperature it was was when I carried it out here. So I was okay, but I couldn’t see because the oil had gotten in my eyes. One of the Mexican dishwashers came out to help me get inside.

The manager and one of the waitresses, Holly came over and sat with me. They cleaned me up and asked if I was okay. I could see just fine but my face was a bit red but I’d live. They asked if they could get me anything. (Thinking about it now I think they were afraid I’d sue or something) I told them I wanted a 151 and coke. Done. I was all better.

We had this huge doorman named Ivan. When the employee meal went out I always gave him and extra load of whatever was on it. Extra chick, steak or whatever. I would call his name to come pick up his meal and he would always smile and drop a couple of joints next to the plate on the rack as he picked it up. It was like one fluid moment. Hand off plate, joints dropped, snatched, and slipped into my pocket. Thanks to Ivan there was never a shortage of weed.

I would do the same for a few of the girls that worked there and they would bring rum and cokes to me and the other chef. So even back then I knew how to get the hookup. Learned from the best…my Dad!

I’ll write in other posts about my celebrity meeting at this fun establishment.

The great thing about doing a bunch of different jobs in your life is, it gives you a different perspective on life and you really do learn a lot of skills in a variety of environments.

A Merlin McFly’s advertisement promised it was a place of “madness, magic and friendly spirits” and that their menu offered the delights of their “mystic burgers” and “wizard ribs”. “Fun is the password” said another in 1984, which had a hand-drawn picture of “P. Eye McFly” and report of the “The Great Restaurant Mystery”, an “investigation” into the McFly’s family tree and their restaurants.

By that time though, Merlin McFly’s was having some trouble. (I was gone by then so I missed all of the trouble.) There were local problems with drug dealing, the city of Santa Monica had an ancient licensing rule about “Dance Halls” that meant McFly’s theoretically had to impose a cover charge, and then there was the issue that hit many singles bars very hard: the rising awareness and fear of HIV and AIDS.

When the bar closed, there were dozens of calls when it was announced that the windows would be on sale – at a price of $325,000. Steve Spill at the nearby Magicopolis magic theater bought the windows a year or two later and then sold them to a collector who put them in a stained glass museum in Washington, DC.

Today, Sly McFly’s in Monterey is the only one left, and their website’s amusing “story” of aspiring race car driver Sly mentions how he finished second at the Trophy Race in Ulster – a connection to Finn McCool’s Irish Bar, which is owned by Belfast-born Geraldine Gilliland and is now at that spot on Main Street.

Geraldine wears funky glasses and has long, red hair, and originally started out working at a restaurant in her native Northern Ireland. She grew up during the early days of “The Troubles” – “I used to fall to the kitchen floor when the bombs started going off” – and like many others she moved away, eventually finding herself in Los Angeles:

“I found LA very exotic – they spoke a different language, even though it was English! It was very scary actually – I didn’t know anyone at all, (but) I fell in love with Santa Monica after I drove from New York. When I saw the beach I cashed in my Greyhound bus ticket and my return ticket to Ireland too.”

As soon as she arrived, she started working over the grill and has continued ever since. Gilliland’s Cafe opened its doors in 1984, and she began her own catering company soon after. It was an immediate success, providing Christmas puddings to Bloomingdales, Dean & Deluca and Balducci’s in New York, but it was her mix of California and Irish cuisines that really established Gerri’s reputation on a national scale.

The cantina-style Lula Cocina was next in 1991, and 1994 saw Jake and Annie’s American-Irish Café, which eventually become Finn McCool’s and officially opened under this name a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2002.

As for any ghosts or strange stories, Spill hadn’t ever heard anything about Merlin McFly’s, but Gilliland – who has now been here for nearly 20 years – had:

“There were ghosts in the bathrooms. It was said that every time you washed your hands and looked in the mirror, an apparition appeared.”

The bathrooms at Finn McCool’s are in the same place as they were when Merlin was weaving his spells, but after emailing John Forbes at Bonny Doon Art Glass I found out exactly where the ghosts came from:

“The bathrooms had special effects in them; the mirrors were one-way and when the lights in the bathroom dimmed, the light behind the mirror came on illuminating the figure of the “ghost”. It made for startling looks on people’s faces as they saw the ghost figure appearing in the mirror!”

There was no further archival evidence of any strange events or stories here, so it seems that since this ghostly story has an earthly explanation, you’re safe in the smallest room. Still, it’s kind of a shame that the “ghost” special effect isn’t there anymore.

Forbes also recalled the Merlin stained glass image:

“The back bar had a stained glass image of Merlin and at midnight lasers would turn on, shooting red beams across the room – it looked pretty cool as it pierced through the drifting smoke. Wow, that took me back! Merlin’s was a really fun project, a lot of creative energy.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish Monday through Friday at 8am EST.

Instagram: @phicklephilly Facebook: phicklephilly

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Work it Grandma!

One of our guitar players lives just a couple of blocks from a micro-sized bar and I must emphasize micro. This was fall of 1982. Our band was only a few months old and this was our first time there.

They literally move a pool table for the band and that’s about how much room you have to set up. But it’s a fun little place with a loyal local crowd that loves to party and packs it in.

About half-way through our gig a crowd of older women come in obviously already enjoying themselves. I’d guess early 50’s to some blue hairs. Turned out they were celebrating one of the ladies 80th birthday.

Despite our hard rock repertoire they were loving us and dancing to every song.
At the end of a song the birthday girl politely asked me if she could say something over the mic. I was like “sure it’s your birthday have fun.” Now mind you this lady is 80 years old tonight and looks like a typical great-grandma. Well she grabs the mic and screams at the top of her lungs: “I AM FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED UP!” Our jaws hit the floor. That was the last thing we were expecting from her mouth. But everyone was cheering and laughing and after we got over the shock we were laughing too. Man I wish we had that on camera.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Instagram: @phicklephilly       Facebook: phicklephilly   twitter: @phicklephilly

 

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – That’s Not a Guitar. Put it Down

I was with my bandmates passing through Santa Barbara CA. headed to Orange County where we had a gig the next day. While walking around browsing stores and enjoying the nice day we found ourselves in this huge store that had a little bit of everything including a lot of used items. I ran across an odd sized guitar case that was leaning up against the wall so I opened it to see what it contained. Turned out to be one of those latin style instruments with the courses of 3 strings together, can’t think of the name at the moment, but I had never seen one in person and was kinda thrilled and excited to mess with it.

I was plinkin’ away and about that time this kinda dumpy old Hispanic man came up and tried to take it from me. He couldn’t speak English and though not getting especially angry or too physical he was obviously trying to get it from me. I’m like “Hey gramps, I saw it first”. But he wouldn’t let up. I finally gave him a pantomime of “Dude, back off”. With that he walked away and I look at my buddies like what was that all about? A few minutes later the guy comes back with a younger man that could speak English. Turned out the old man was a street musician and that was his personal guitar. He was friends with the store owner and he would set it in that particular spot whenever he took a break.

I was so embarrassed. I told the young guy to explain what happened and that I was very sorry. He was actually pretty cool about it smiled and shook my hand.
But I got ribbed about that the whole weekend. My band mates were all “You big bully stealing an old man’s guitar”.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Instagram: @phicklephilly     Facebook: phicklephilly      Twitter: phicklephilly

Tales of Rock – The Rainbow Bar & Grill

I’ve got some interesting tales coming up in this series that occur here at the Rainbow, so I thought I’d supply you all with some background.

The Rainbow Bar and Grill is a bar and restaurant on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CaliforniaUnited States, adjacent to the border of Beverly Hills, California. Its address is 9015 Sunset Boulevard.

The bottom level of the building is the restaurant, The Rainbow Bar and Grill. Upstairs is an exclusive club called “Over the Rainbow”, which consists of a full bar, a dance floor, and a DJ booth. The restaurant is next to The Roxy Theatre and The Key Club.

The restaurant was founded in early 1972 by Elmer ValentineLou AdlerMario Maglieri and others,[1][2] opening on April 16, 1972, with a party for Elton John.[3] At the time, the word “rainbow” signified peace and freedom. It quickly became known as a hangout for celebrities of all types.[4] John Belushi ate his last meal[5](lentil soup) at table No. 16[citation needed]. For many years, the owner was Mario Maglieri.[4]

Before becoming the Rainbow, the restaurant was the Villa Nova restaurant, which was originally owned by film director Vincente Minnelli, at the time married to Judy GarlandJoe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe met at the restaurant on a blind date in 1952.[6]

The Rainbow became known as a hangout for rock musicians and their groupies. Notable regulars at the Rainbow in this period include Keith MoonAlice CooperMicky DolenzHarry NilssonJohn LennonRingo Starr, and Neil Diamond.[5] Elvis Presley was known to have occasionally visited the Rainbow[citation needed]. The group of musicians calling themselves the Hollywood Vampires made the Rainbow their home away from home in the mid-1970s. In the last two decades of his life, Motörhead frontman Lemmy was a daily fixture at the Rainbow whenever the band was not on tour, and often played a video poker machine at the end of the bar table.[7]

Los Angeles songwriter Warren Zevon referenced the scene at the Rainbow in the last verse of his 1976 song “Poor Poor Pitiful Me“.

The musical group Rainbow was named after this club.[8]

The track “Rainbow Bar & Grill” from the Cheech & Chong album Let’s Make a New Dope Deal takes place in the bar and restaurant.

Producer Kim Fowley used to hang out at the Rainbow, especially in 1975, when he formed the all-girl group The Runaways. Actress and musician Cheryl Smithwas given her pseudonym Rainbeaux Smith early in her career as a result of her frequenting the Rainbow; she briefly replaced Sandy West as drummer of The Runaways at the end of that band’s existence.[citation needed]

As musical trends on the Strip changed towards heavy metal in the 1980s, the Rainbow followed suit. Members of Mötley Crüe,[9] Poison, and Guns N’ Roses frequented the bar.[10] It was mentioned in a number of songs, such as “Sunset and Babylon” by W.A.S.P., “Vampire” by L.A. Guns and “Peach Kelli Pop” by Redd Kross, and featured in the videos of “November Rain“, “Estranged” and “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses and also, although briefly, “Rock Out” by Motörhead.

Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers noted in his book Scar Tissue that he often sat with his father, Blackie Dammett, at the club along with various members of bands such as Led Zeppelin. Often the waitresses and bartenders were groupies as well as those who frequented the establishment. In Pamela Des Barres‘ book Let’s Spend the Night Together, the author commented that as a barfly in the early 1980s she met a number of celebrities including Billy Idol.[11]

In June of 2016, the Rainbow started having live music every Wednesday night from 10pm until closing. Various musicians would host the live jam every week. Local acts, as well as different well known musicians would show up to perform random classic rock cover songs every week. During this time, there were many jam band gatherings being established on Sunset Boulevard around the area. Viper Roomand The Whisky a Go Go also joined the Rainbow by allowing musicians to host jams on various week nights as well.

On January 18, 2017 the Rainbow was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History (created by Pat Gesualdo and Joe Dell) for introducing the world to new Heavy Metal acts. [12]

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Frank – Lost Breakfast

Not me in this one but my roommate/band mate, Frank. He struck gold while suitably plastered up in West Hollywood.

He woke up the next day, in a strange apartment. Pleased with himself that he was not alone. Lying next to him was a beautiful babe from the night before. Frank, still suitably enamored, offered to cook her breakfast, tackling the short walk to the store for bacon and eggs by himself.

Alas, all was not well and after 2 hours of knocking on doors he realized he had totally forgotten where she lived.

He called me from a payphone on Sunset while he was walking to the store and told me that he couldn’t remember whether her name was either, ‘Emma’ or ‘Anna’. Then called me again in a panic some time later while looking for her house asking what two names he’d told me she might be called having forgotten both of those as well.

He returned home to me and our stinking apartment where he prepared breakfast for us both with a heavy heart and the bluest of balls.

It was delicious, but he never saw her again.

 

I love this story!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Instagram: @phicklephilly Facebook: phicklephilly

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Chapter 13 – Los Angeles – Pacific Sands Motel

We get to L.A. and I’m starting to feel like this is how California should look like. All the tall skinny palm trees, beaches, surfers, and beautiful people.

We pull into the Pacific Sands Motel at 1515 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. We decide to rent a room for a week and look for jobs and an apartment. Because it was the off season, (March) the rental for the week was really cheap. But it felt like summer to us. Everyday in southern California it’s sunny and 70. That’s why the film industry originally came out here. The weather is consistently nice and that gives them more days to shoot.

So day one we head out to explore. I’m walking by the Santa Monica Bay Club and I see Lee Majors shooting a scene for his series The Fall Guy. I’m instantly blown away because I loved him in The Six Million Dollar Man back in the 70’s when I was a kid. I knew he and his lovely wife Farrah Fawcett had split up and I absolutely worshipped her since seeing her on Charlie’s Angels. Should I drive up to Bel Air and see if I can find her? (No you shouldn’t. That would be stalking!)

We stop in a few places and apply for jobs. Within two days, I got a job as a busboy in a restaurant called Café Casino and Frank got a job as a cashier in bar/restaurant called Merlin McFly’s. So we were set! We didn’t start our new jobs until next week so we started looking in the local newspaper for an apartment and also do a little exploring.

There was a place close by called, Tom’s Number 5. I’m assuming there were a few others  around town since they were numbered. Every time I ordered from that place they always ended up putting chili on whatever I ordered. I’m from a super White suburban neighborhood in Philly. I’ve never eaten chili and don’t know anyone who has. But the L.A. obvious has a huge Latino community so there’s Mexican food all over town. Anyway, I didn’t like exotic foods back then. I was used to a very bland diet. So chili was alien to me and would probably give me stomach disorders. So every time I ordered I’d say hold the chili. I’d get the food back to the house, and boom slathered in chili. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken all blasted with chili. Just culture shock for a Caucasian kid from the burbs.

The motel was right near the beach. It’s different than beaches on the east coast. East coast beaches are really flat and so is the land mass leading up to it. We had to walk out, and there is like a huge embankment covered in grass with a bunch of beautiful palm trees everywhere. You have to walk down these wooden steps to get down to the beach in Santa Monica.

Venice is more flat. That’s a fun area. All along the beach there are shops bars and stores. Kind of like the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. There’s all kinds of street musicians and performers down there on any given day. It’s a cool hip place to hang out.

Now to find an apartment!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish Monday through Friday at 8am EST.

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly