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R.I.P. Power House, Hollywood's Last Dive Bar

The writer and his cousin raging hard at Powerhouse
The writer and his cousin raging hard at Powerhouse
Courtesy of Nicholas Pell

"Reach in my pocket."

"Huh?"

"I'm not a pervert, dude. Just reach in my pocket."

I'm talking with a self-described "cripple" named Wheels, who's sitting in a motorized wheelchair. He can't get his own weed, so I extract it for him, along with a pipe.

Wheels is the king of Power House's back area, a place where the beautiful dregs and working-class slobs of Hollywood Boulevard congregate. Mini Mr. T is another denizen, and if you don't know, he's pretty much exactly what he sounds like.

But it's all about to end. Power House closes for a renovation Monday. But when it comes back it won't be the same. See.... 

Power House's iconic neon sign.
Power House's iconic neon sign.
Laura Pell

Power House is probably the last true dive bar left in Hollywood. Frolic Room has too much Old Hollywood luster about it. Burgundy? Give me a break. If that's a dive bar, I'm a five-legged elephant.

Power House, on the other hand, is a watering hole for riggers and other unglamorous employees of The Industry who've been living in the neighborhood since the days when walking down Yucca at 1 a.m. could get you knifed. 

But the renovation is sure to change its character. The ownership will remain the same, but its dive bar status likely will not. 

That's a shame, because, for the first few years I lived in Hollywood, Power House was my local watering hole.

It reeks of piss and has my kind of lovable losers.

It has paintings of Waylon Jennings, and Murder City Devils posters on the walls, as well as strong drinks and a place to smoke cigarettes. And, of course, Wheels pretty much always had weed, as well as stimulating, politically incorrect company.

In any case, on this night, 20 minutes after getting Wheels' weed, I'm ripping high, pretty drunk and feeding the jukebox.

"Gordon Lightfoot?" says a woman next to me, about my age but a little older, with tattoos on her everything.

The writer's beloved Gordon Lightfoot on the juke.
The writer's beloved Gordon Lightfoot on the juke.
Nicholas Pell

"Gordon Lightfoot is why I love music. It expresses how I feel more than I can."

"I don't wanna know about your fuckin' feelings." 

"I don't want to share them."

We spend the next 20 minutes excitedly talking about Cleveland hardcore legends Integrity.

Power House sometimes had memorial services
Power House sometimes had memorial services
Nicholas Pell

With the passing of Power House, Hollywood takes another step in its inevitable, slow living death.

Bukowski, eternal poet laureate, would hardly recognize the place.

If Power House becomes a "speakeasy" (whatever that means after the repeal of the Volstead Act) or something along those lines, that would be awful, though I'll be glad if the owners can cash in, for their sake. 

But not for mine, or Hollywood's. As we run relentlessly toward a plastic-wrapped version of urban living, the very reasons people wanted to live here in the first place evaporate. Come for the edgy excitement, stay for the bougie drinks.

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