By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“I’ve lived in Silver Lake for a really long time, and I like to stick to the neighborhood,” the 28-year-old brunette — and former member of local indie-pop band Rizzo — explains. “I’ve always liked lingerie and nice underwear, but I’d have to go to the Westside, or go to the mall, to get it. So, for a long time I’ve thought a lingerie store was something we needed here. I was just like, either this is a really stupid idea and that’s why no one’s done it, or I’m gonna be the first person to do something that we really need here.”
That morning, as Abercrombie raced the four blocks from her home to Panty Raid (located on Glendale Boulevard, just down the street from the famous Red Lion Tavern), the store flashed before her eyes: the mannequins in various states of undress, the racks of Cosabella lingerie, the “Hot Rod Girl” screen-printed panties, the “Panties cannot be refunded” sign, the stripper pole rising from the display table in the middle of the store. It’s the kind of place where women get to feel girly, while men feel slightly lecherous.
“I’m just a small business — I don’t have an elaborate security system with cameras. So I’m driving over here, picturing the place ransacked: My computer gone, the cash register gone, the PlayStation gone, everything gone. The mind reels when you think about it. And, I get here and the only thing that was stolen was . . . underwear.
“They’d broken the glass from the door, went in and just indiscriminately grabbed everything off the table in the middle of the store! High-end Italian lace bras from Cosabella that cost $79, pairs of plain silk bikini underwear panties that retail for $8, Mary Green silk things. And screen-printed stuff, like the tank top with matching panties that says ‘Start your engine’ and has a picture of a hot rod on it. I don’t think it was about the type of underwear, it was just where it was in the store — on the table in the middle, where we keep the more popular, basic everyday things that we keep in stock. They didn’t take the specialty things. They just took the same thing in three sizes, and in three colors.”
A tripped burglar alarm let investigators know that the burglary happened at 2:30 a.m. the previous night. With no security-cam footage and no fingerprints, the police have been unable to make progress in solving the crime. Fortunately, the store was insured for theft, and the landlord has since installed a security gate. Panty Raid will survive to sell “On Your Mark Get Set”–sloganed panties another day. Still, the nature of the theft — $7,000 of ladies’ underwear — leaves one wondering as to what exactly happened. Who, after all, would steal ladies’ lingerie and leave the cash?
“I can’t understand it, I really can’t,” laughs Abercrombie. “We called some local used-clothing stores like Wasteland and Squaresville, but for the most part they don’t sell underwear. Someone suggested you could sell it at a swap meet . . .”
She chuckles, then starts reeling off some more theories: Something about stolen panties lends itself to a bit of whimsical fantasizing.
“A panty gang? Maybe it was laundry day — but they could’ve just taken one clean pair, if they were that desperate! I don’t know, I can’t get inside their criminal minds. They were probably interrupted, because this is a well-lit, busy street. It just doesn’t seem very well-planned. Maybe it was an impulse thing.”
Her eyes light up. The dream is still alive.
“Maybe,” she says, “the panties were just irresistible.”
In downtown Ojai, at the turnoff just past the palmistry center, on land that backs up to the Six Million Dollar Man’s horse ranch, the good people at the Deer Lodge, a refurbished ex-biker hangout now turned steakhouse, are hosting a gathering to celebrate their second barrel of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey. Around 240 bottles come out of every barrel, give or take the angel’s share (the 20 percent that evaporates). Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jimmy Bedford has flown out from Lynchburg, Tennessee, to join the Deer Lodge in its good fortune. At this soiree, $65 gets you a hunk of prime rib or seafood medley cooked with genuine 80 proof Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, plus your own $40 bottle of Single Barrel to take home with you.
But I’m here because tonight threatens to become a gathering of the Tennessee Squires, the secret fraternal order of Jack Daniel’s drinkers, whose numbers are legion, if unrecorded, and whose lifetime membership is united not only in its brand fealty, but as an actual landed gentry, since everyone who joins is granted “one square inch of property on the distillery ground.” New members can only be recommended by existing Squires — kind of like the Masons or the Magic Castle (no solicitations, please) — and their identities are zealously guarded. Famous Squires who have gone public include Frank Sinatra (tapped by Bogie and Bacall, and buried with a bottle of Black Label), Lyndon Johnson, Boris Yeltsin and Harrison Ford.
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