Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Downfall of The Little Joy

I feel like a friend has died and I missed the opportunity to say goodbye. I have avoided going to The Little Joy for a week. I forgot that Danny and I were supposed to DJ there last Thursday. We never showed up and I felt terrible about it. Finally, I decided to apologize to Drew, the manager, and to start off the weekend at my favorite bar.

I approached the door and saw my friend Pete was working, checking IDs. Pete had been in Alaska, salmon fishing and otherwise taking a cold road to better money. He was back. As we caught up, something struck me as odd: "is that The Black Crowes playing 'hard to handle'" that I'm hearing"? "Oh, you haven't heard?" Pete responded, "just wait, it gets worse".

I walked in and the song changed from "Hard to Handle" to "Jungle Boogie". Some dude (and I use that word explicitly) threw his fist in the air and grinded up on his lady's leg. I saw Drew and told him that I owed him a huge apology. "For what" he asked. I didn't bother explaining. It seemed that he had forgotten that we were supposed to DJ as well, just like the month before when he double booked us with another DJ. Don't get me wrong, I have known Drew for a long time and have always and will always like him, but the DJ calendar has fallen to the wayside of late. Not that it matters, I flaked on my own night, so who am I to complain?

I gave Heather, the bartender, a hug. She had a look of total contempt for the crowd and the DJ on her face. Aerosmith was playing "Walk This Way".

I screamed and worked my way out of the room. I found Pete still at the door. "What did I tell you"? He explained that after Joe (the old manager) was fired, the owner made the woman who had cleaned the place for 14 years a partner. Now, I'm all for rewarding that kind of loyalty and I think that the move was very generous, but I have a few complaints:

1) The woman who cleans the place? I didn't know that the place got cleaned. If you have ever been inside you know; part of the charm of the Little Joy is that it looks as if there may or may not have been a recent fire.

2) Why couldn't she remain a silent partner? I'm cool with good suggestions coming from anyone and anywhere, but these changes are atrocities! She bought "furniture" but apparently has the decorative eye of a burned out janitor. I was told, as P-Funk's Flashlight came on, that the DJ was a friend of her son.

The crowd had changed too. It had the slight feel of the East Side's answer to Saddle Ranch. I said to Pete that it seemed like all of the people inside were people that Joe would have kicked out for no reason at all other than that he didn't like the cut of their jib. It was exactly this attitude that led a lot of people to hate the little joy and to hate Joe. He was always a friend to me, though. He was the first person to ever let me DJ and for that at the very least I will always owe him. He was always good to my friends and I, and I know many others also felt that way. Say what you will, but Joe ran the bar like it was his living room. If he didn't like you he didn't want you in his home and he let you know it. Certainly, claims of exclusivity or snobbery are valid here, but his bouncing policy was not nearly as "discerning" as any Hollywood velvet rope and didn't really have its root in elitism. The policy (as far as I could tell) was that if there was a hint of douchiness you were out. Joe was the sole barometer...at his best he was a benevolent dictator and, admittedly, at his worst he needlessly excluded some good people. Not two minutes after I had mentioned this to Pete (I swear this is true) someone walked into the bar and says to his friend, "Bro! I haven't been to this bar since I got kicked out that time".

This scene flooded my mind:



I know I am inviting calls of snobbery, but we all choose who we let in our living rooms. We all try to expel certain vibrations from the place we feel most comfortable. That is why, if you loved The Little Joy it felt like home like no other bar could.

As I was leaving the bar with the sounds of The Strokes' "Last Night" playing over the speakers it made me laugh. Strokes drummer, Fab Moretti named his new band (at the behest of his bandmate and girlfriend, Binki) Little Joy after the bar (Whose album I have been listening to as I write this). In one interview it was said, "What I always thought was beautiful about the bar, is that it’s just a door in the corner all full of stickers and you see a very mixed crowd hanging out there-hipster kids, old Chinese men from the restaurant across the street-all kinds of people. There’s pool and they play good music". The stickers are gone, the music is awful and the crowd has changed. I do get a kick out of the thought that someone, someday might visit the Little Joy to see what this band found so great, walk in and say, "what the fuck were they talking about"?


5 comments:

Jon said...

Wait -- it was possible to get turned away from the door at Little Joy? I thought the location, existing clientele, and decor was what kept the douchebag proportion down, not some active weeding-out process. I mean, it's not like the Little Joy had bottle service or anything.

Young Curmudgeon said...

You would think! I really believe that not having the worst DJ of all time is the key. Somehow, no matter how far east you move in LA, if Aerosmith is playing the douchebags will find it.

Heather said...

Amen! Good post. Many good times were had there. We thought it was bad with the beige renovation...little did we know it was going to get worse. Been missing your dj nights too. You're welcome to come play my living room dance parties anytime. :) RIP LJ!

Young Curmudgeon said...

That actually sounds really fun! I'm down!

Heather said...

Awesome! We would be honored!