on 22/06/11 at 8:07 ama woman walks into a bar..., BoozeBlog
Ah, traveling the roads on a Sunday afternoon in LA is a traffic-less gift. It makes you almost feel like just driving around cause you can get anywhere in no time flat. What a rarity, what a feeling flying down the freeway to the beach and beer. Lots of beer. 88 taps worth. And 13 HD tv’s. Destination: Naja’s
Screaming sirens and police whistles, a crazy commotion in the harbor greets me at Naja’s, dive brew bar extraordinaire. People spill out of the bars to see what’s going on. The SECURITY guy – I knows he’s security because it’s written in big white letters on his big black t-shirt which covers his gigantic back which is the size of the broad-side of a barn – looks serious but, aw, it’s nothin’. Just skateboarders and kids with bikes on the boardwalk where it’s verboten to ride. Egads, the harbor police went after them with a fury. Humph. Ok, get a beer – delicious Bear Republic Apex – and grab a seat. Gotta get out of this room…earsplitting live band rattling my brain. I move into the side bar area, where, ack, all the stools are taken so I take one facing out toward the boardwalk to watch the action. But the action is really at the bar and up there on the tv where wunderkind golfer, Rory McIlroy, is finishing off his brilliant win.
Waaaa, I feel isolated here on the window side, no one to talk to, everyone here seems to be a regular, trading affectionate back slaps, head taps, shoulder rubs but they stick to their cliques. It’s like totally a beach crowd – sun bleached unkempt laid back tanned tatooed. Hey, a stool at the bar opens up. Whisking my stuff over there, I sit and within 2 seconds, the guy next to me converses. YES, it’s the Flyin’ Hawaiin, Chuck, of Chuck and Regina, plus a full pitcher of beer just for him. Regina doesn’t drink beer, only champagne. Chuck is a mechanic for United, Regina’s retired, works for Starbucks and gets up at 3 in the AM. Chuck tells he noticed that I was alone and a bit out of place, wondered what I’m doing here. We talk beer – what else? – and he points to a sign that advertises Unibroue beers, testing my credentials. Had those? Oh, yes, love those beers. They’re made in the Eastern townships of Quebec, close to where I’m from – Montreal – Unibroue’s now owned by Sapporo. Double-take by Chuck; he didn’t know that. You know your beer! I pass the test…I’m ALRIGHT! We chat some more and he introduces me to all the regulars.
By golly, you know that ole cliché, you can’t tell a book by its cover? Well, crappy beach wear, flip flops, unkempt-ness…hey, it’s a Sunday, we’re at a friggin’ beach beer bar…you can never tell who yer talkin’ to. Simon is a software engineer, his Scottish brogue still lilting even after being here 30 years, wears a kilt (MacLeod tartan), on occasion, though he says it’s itchy, Marilyn, his wife, sh*t, I forget what she does but it’s something cool, and then there’re a couple of pilots – Hey, don’t drink too much! my head is screaming – but, everyone is someone. It’s relaxing time. Pilots boozing, software engineers chillin’. I order another beer, one of my favs, La Chouffe Blond Ale 8% ale that has a gnome as its rep. Everyone loves the gnome. We finish our beers and decide to move on to another bar down the boardwalk, Gambrinus, they call the ‘Russian place’. Gambrinus is no Russian name? Yeah, I think they bought it from some Italians and kept the name.
OMG, this a storied place, maybe a front for the Russian mafia. Am I going to get ‘offed’ for saying that?!!! But, the stories my new pals tell me about this place require a return engagement. Just stuff about questionable guys in ill-fitting suits literally throwing the food from their table announcing loudly that it’s shit. Apparently, everyone sat up a lot straighter after that. No one would talk on the record but reverted to speculation and “could be’s”. There were a few dodgy looking individuals sitting around the room but I was distracted by the delicious pirogies, or whatever they were, and the feel-good mood of the group. Chuck had told me about Sir Laffs A Lot, a genial regular, who was there, laughing a lot and being funny. Or was it the beer?! No, he was cool. More beer, more relaxation. Work tomorrow so everyone decamped and it was off to the couch to sleep off the pints.
Let me tell you something. Go out. Go out alone. Meet people. I can’t tell you what a stupid cynic I am. I have said forever that I hate people. But meet people one to one, on their turf, over a drink. They’re awesome. Everyone has a story. Everyone, well almost everyone, ok, becomes interesting after a drink or two; but, seriously, it’s fascinating and not just in a distant, observational way. Go out and ‘touch someone’. Oh, btw, I still hate people in general but it’s the individuals that are worthy. Do I sound like an effete? Aaarg, I don’t mean to. I love people. I hate people.
Hey, Gambrinus, the Russian restaurant with the Italian name, I’m comin’ back. Can’t wait.
154 Internatl Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277-3611