That was the 70s.
December 15, 2003
nothing we come up with is out of the blue. i think things just swirl around as you are assessing your experiences and POOF an idea comes about. i think all things happen that way. of course, i am only guessing. but a song i had written contained a description of a place. now, i had only made this place up. but, a few weeks ago i visited a bar and realized that i had written about this place. but i hadnt been to it in its present nature. but i HAD been there before. when i was 11 years old.
but now its a restaurant and bar. but it looked exactly as i imagined it in the song AND I HADNT EVEN SEEN IT. i didnt know the bar i was in when i was a child was now a restaurant. but i wrote the song before i saw the inside of the restaurant/bar. ok, even i am confused. but the visual and the feel of the place never left me. my step dad, Smitty, used to bring my younger brother, AJ, and i to this place when it had a different name. and they had video games. pacman. asteroids. dig dug. galaga.
he would tell my mom he was taking us out for a while, usually when my mom was making something spectacular in the kitchen on a Saturday and wanted everyone out of the house. so off we would go, to this bar. and we would have a few dollars worth of quarters and Smitty would sit at the bar and order Johnny Walker over ice, a double. this was way before people got pulled over for drunk driving. this was the 70s. and the bar had a jukebox and everyone was very interested in disco. i liked disco. and i tell that to punk rockers and they hate that.
i liked those white suits and i like to dance when ive had a few. Smitty liked to wear vests, unbuttoned, and sported a mustache. to this day i will never grow a mustache. now, to play video games, not get nagged by mom and to hear great Bee Gee songs was simply a slice of heaven. my mom never knew about all this until i told her a few years ago. nor did she know that Smitty would take us to the back entrance of Hollywood Park and we would hop the back gate to bet on horses. win place or show. i bet $3.50 and won $22 once. this was back when kids could bet and no one would say anything. this was the 70s.
and even at the racetrack the Bee Gees music would be playing. and i thought to myself those guys are very talented. it must take a genius to make music. and after the next week Smitty said we all had to go to Mexico City for a month while he did some business deals. i liked to travel so i was more than thrilled. Smitty imported south american exotic birds and then resold them to businesses. the birds had to be quarantined for a while and he paid AJ and i to help clean the cages. this was disgusting but good money. i was 11 years old and went out and bought Queens greatest hits and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. even on the radio at the quarantine post the Bee Gees were on the radio.
So we spent 3 weeks in Mexico City in September of 1977, staying at the EL PRESIDENTE HOTEL. i remember a mexican holiday or celebration or something and it also rained everyday. we went to a restaurant and i was dying for a hotdog. they brought me out a hotdog with a slice of avocado on it. that disappointed me. and on the sound system were teh Bee Gees. again. in 1977 there was no escaping the Bee Gees. right before we had left LA my mom took me to see Saturday Night Fever. she walked out in disgust but was nice enough to allow me to watch the rest of the movie, which i loved (and still love). afterwords she told me she would never take me to another movie. that was 1977. true to her word, she has never taken me to another movie since.
The very week Smitty surprised us all by taking us to cancun. at the time, there were only a few hotels, as it was only recently made into a resort. it was nothing like it is now. at the time it was very serene. these two 18 year old women from san francisco were vacationing at the same hotel as us, HOTEL CAMINO REAL. i remember that they had brought their own water with them. that was wise. however, i had already overcome the usual stomach problems that accompany a trip to mexico. they chatted me up by the pool, they also thought AJ was cute, him being 7 years old. i liked both women but i was only 11 years old. it turned out they both liked the Bee Gees and had seen them live. i said NO WAY. and they said WAY. i thought that was pretty cool.
well, when we got back to LA i had to start middle school. less than a year later my mom divorced Smitty and, until a few weeks ago, i hadnt step foot in that bar. it had been over 25 years. it didnt look the same. there was a jazz band playing live. they served fish and Louisiana style food. i ordered a Heineken. the only thing that was the same was that the bar was still in a big square. all this time. still in a square. and then it hit me; i had imagined this place but had never been here! or was i just losing my marbles? i didnt know anymore. the jazz band played ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE and the sax player sang and for once, someone didnt try to mimic Satchmo; he did it his own way. i took a tug at the Heiny as i looked around. i never would have thought this place would have outlasted the Bee Gees.