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“a woman walks into a bar…” at Chateau Marmont’s Bar Marmont

on 04/05/11 at 5:28 pm

a woman walks into a bar..., BoozeBlog

Bar Marmont on the Sunset Strip. Hollywood. The famous or infamous bar – your choice – of the famous or infamous Chateau Marmont Hotel & Bungalows where all kinds of merde happens. The bar is actually in a separate building from the hotel – convenient for spreading out the hijinks, I guess. Ready to witness some bad behavior or, at the very least, questionable behavior, I pull into the not-very-obvious driveway with the $12 parking and coolly drop my keys into the valets sticky fingers. Where the hell are the paparazzi? I want to be a Getty image! Okay, so I’m not famous but at least give me the courtesy of a sneer. No one’s even lurking in the bushes, no one even has an Instamatic. Oh, they don’t make those anymore?

I gather myself after the stinging blow of being utterly ignored by the non-existent paparazzi and step into the nether world of the Bar Marmont. It’s a beautiful, dimly lit bunker, perfect for assignations – if you don’t mind being on the front page of TMZ. Hundreds of butterflies dot the ceiling. Are they real dead ones? Can’t tell but the effect is disarming. There’s a peacock hanging in a corner. I stand at the top of the landing, where I’m sure thousands have made dramatic entrances, and survey the landscape. Pretty much all the tables are empty and there’s only a smattering of people at the bar. I take my place in the middle and cause not so much as a ripple in the star-system. My happy face on, I repress my fight-or-flight signals.

Huzzah, who’s this? Adorable bartender, “I’m not a mixologist. I don’t even have Facebook.” Damon, leans on the bar with his impressive forearms crossed just-so, so I can read his awesomely amazing tatoo (I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of this) that reads in bold blue fancy cursive:    Don’t Pick It Up   Don’t Lay It Down

But before I can ask him about it, he starts whipping up a drink and…He: So, you happy tonight? Me: Yeah, you happy? He: Yeah, I’m happy if I have enough sex. Me: Right. You have enough? He: Yeah, I gotta a cool girl, dj’s here Fridays, Harvard grad. Me: I nod and rethink how much happier I can be. Two guys walk in, “Gentlemen, do you need a cocktail?”

Okay, Damon, what’s the story about the tatoo? Well, Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou spent a day together at her home in Winston-Salem, saw it on ICONOCLASTS and this is what she said to him, “Don’t Pick It Up. Don’t Lay It Down”. Damon says Maya Angelou didn’t even know who Dave Chappelle was before she interviewed him. Can it be?! I miss Dave Chappelle.

So, what’re you drinking? I’ll have my usual test drink, a classic Manhattan. We chat some more while he makes my cocktail with Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon and a twist of orange instead of a cherry, about his life, his step-dad, how he got his charm from his Mom, sells t-shirts by day. People are starting to meander in. A sharp laugh jolts, but otherwise the scene feels like a movie without sound. I drink. I look around. I feel a bit like a lone buoy adrift in a Hollywood sea. Will, the other bartender, sells me on another drink. Why not. He makes me a Vesper – Ketel One vodka, gin, Lillet, citrus peel and shakeshakeshake which he does with vigor, “I like to bruise it.” It was just ok and for $14 a shot it should have been better.

I’m getting restless. The couple next to me are deep into each other, the two guys to my left are in from Vegas – they’re regulars when they’re in town – and spend most of their time reading emails. Damon’s selling the hell out of the menu to them, “The mac ‘n cheese is awesome.” He goes through the menu extolling the virtues of each item. They look up occasionally and finally order. The guy at the end of the bar is on his iPhone, the light from his laptop casting an eerie white shadow. Girls come in and instantly flirt with Damon, hipsters arrive, overheard “It’s early, where’s the party?” (not here) “There’s a Red Bull party at the Roosevelt.” Yawn.

Not a celeb in sight. No fights, no drugs, no one even swore, not even a wardrobe malfunction. There isn’t anyone remotely interesting. I guess I caught an off night. Or is it?

Sometimes, ladies and gents, when you go to a bar, there’s no story or certainly not much of one. Even in Hollywood.

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