Penultimate Sunday at Cafe NELA

So for I don’t know how many hours all these very creative types—some musicians, a writer, a couple artists, maybe some others—had settled in around a beat up table in an assortment of abandoned chairs at the very bottom of the Cafe NELA patio. Either gravity or our careers had left us there because you couldn’t get any lower than that table. We sat there drinking and smoking and laughing way too loud, the jokes were terrible and the insults mean and the stories were always old and sometimes true. Far nicer people than us gave us a wide circle, like plump fishes warily eyeing a circle of sharks. Sometimes one would foolishly come too close and be devoured, chomp, in a swirl of cackles and humiliation. It was all rather merciless and totally enjoyable and we sat there for hours laughing and basking in our asshole exceptionalism. We knew we were it. We knew it did not get any lower than us. More dumb jokes, each more offensive than the last, some bass players having no pride at all. Eventually three grown men were doing Jackie Mason impressions at the same time, though not quite in harmony. I’d never heard three bad Jackie Mason impressions at the same time. Probably never will again. Pipes went round. Holy vodka in a water bottle, Batman. Even friends were abandoning us by now. The Jackie Mason was getting weird, the sculptress was getting dangerously out there. We were starting to peak on our own delicious high. This is what I’m gonna miss, my painter buddy said, this. You can see music anywhere, he said, but this…. He gestured it in water colors, I saw it in words. This, he said, this is the life.

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One of those parties that will flash before your eyes

(2013)

I wrote this long beautiful piece on an endless party at the Cafe NELA last nite. It was gorgeous, that piece. Then Facebook froze and the words dissolved into electrons so fuck it. Good party though. Great even. One of those parties that will flash before your eyes.

It was kinda like Al’s Bar was but without the out of control berzerkness, puking and sexual tension. You know, old people. Fun old people, though. The guy next to me even fell off his barstool, right on his back. Wham! Thought he was knocked out. But he was just drunk. You could tell he was drunk because he said he wasn’t drunk. Not even ouch. Just I’m not drunk. That was Al’s Bar to me. Also, instead of the patio they had a whole glaucoma-free back yard with lawn chairs and booths that used to be where the stage is now. No photo booth, though, and even if they did I doubt anyone would fuck in it. Unlike Al’s.
But like Al’s, this had none of Raji’s heroin chic. But like Raji’s, this place was comfortable. And like the Anti-Club, it has a big open space out back. And like Mr T’s, it had Duley. Though he wasn’t bouncing anybody here. Just playing drums. It happens.
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Duley Toledo kicking out the jams.

Duley Toledo kicking out the jams.

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Bulgarian women

Last nite at Cafe NELA, out back. The guy said do you know what it’s like walking on an ice-covered street holding a Bulgarian woman’s purse? I said no, I didn’t. Well, he said, it ain’t easy. Then he went to get another beer.  He was a big guy, strong, stoned, intense, funny. Went all the way from to Sofia for some chick. That’s a long way from Highland Park. She showed him all the crazy places, the crazy people.  Listened to the crazy music. Wound up holding her purse so she could cross the street in spiked heels without toppling. He slipped and slid behind her. Never dropped the purse. You don’t do that for just any woman, I said. No, he said, you do that for the experience.

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