With this post, Squid Ink introduces Deborah Stoll's Glass Half Full, one woman's adventures in the bars of Los Angeles and points in between.
BY DEBORAH STOLL
Special to Squid Ink
“Deborah! You sit here!” The great thing about Kim Sun Young Beauty Salon, “Where Hair Fashion Start,” is that it's fast, cheap and good. I move chairs and look in the mirror. Having had a shit day, I've decided to get a new look. Because this is what girls do.
“Deborah! You okay?”
They ask me this a lot when I'm here. I'm not sure if they ask everyone because I don't understand Korean, but they certainly seem concerned about me, which makes me feel good.
“You pay now!”
With Kim Sun Young having worked its restorative magic, my hair and I meet Courtney in the parking lot of Poor Dog Group's warehouse performance space at the end of a dead-end street called Hunter, somewhere between central downtown and the art-loft district. It's the kind of street in the kind of neighborhood on the kind of night that brings me unmitigated joy knowing that it's there. I mean, the area is desolate. The street is dark. The homeless man banging around inside the Dumpster sings along to “Yesterday” on his iPod. He smiles at us theatergoers and waves. He's missing an astonishing number of teeth, and I wonder if he isn't part of the show.
We grab a Tecate and head for our seats, where we are regaled for the next hour by men showing their balls, pulling tampons out of their asses, singing Sting's “Fields of Gold” and doing some impressive Russian dancing punctuated by recordings of NASA's flight records.
We need sustenance.
Finding Wurstküche is part of the fun. Being there is another part. And following Courtney on my Vespa is also a component — her sense of bad direction rivals even mine. When we take off on surfing trips together, it's anyone's guess when we'll get there, if we get there at all. That whole Dawn Patrol thing? Were we to wake up in the middle of the night and drive, say, to County Line, you can be sure we'd veer off course somehow and miss the waves. And that, too, is part of the fun.
Matty's behind the bar and proffers us two deliciously cold German beers from the tap — a Köstritzer Schwarzbier for Courtney, and a Reissdorf Kölsch for me. We don't attempt to pronounce them. Libations in hand, we wait on the endless sausage line snaking out the door and down the cobblestone street. But who cares? Who cares that the line moves with the pace of an inchworm? We have beer! We have friends! And we're making new ones as we stand together in the kind of proximity typically reserved for a New York subway.
We place our order: one from the “Exotic” menu, consisting of rabbit, veal and pork; and two from the “Gourmet” menu — a smoked chicken and turkey with sun-dried tomatoes and mozz, and a Louisiana hotlink consisting of beef, pork, onions and hot spices. We take our plastic number back into the cavernous main room and I feel thankful that co-owner Tyler Wilson didn't end up turning the space into a dance club, as was his original intention. A DJ spins records. (Huzzah! Real records!) Anyway, my point is that the DJ is the only holdover from the Wurstküche-as-dance-club idea.
Four beers and one and a half sausages down has assuaged any leftover funk. It's also helpful that Courtney reminded me that lately, I've been acting unreasonably ridiculous. At first I feel slightly offended and challenge her: “What do you mean, I've been acting unreasonably ridiculous?”
“Deborah, yesterday you asked me how to order a beef sandwich. And I said, 'It's called a beef sandwich.' And you said, 'A beef sandwich?' And I said, 'Yes.' ”
The weird guy next to me is filling out insurance forms and keeps drunkenly interrupting us, and Matty never lets our beers dip below half-mast. All of this converges to give new meaning to “glass half full,” and I feel great.
Back home, I'm taking off my helmet and walking up to my building, feeling 100 percent sated and ready for bed, when Jo sees me and something in her look makes me understand … my night is far from over.
G-strings, bales of rope, a cat fight, whiskey and a box of cigarettes later, the sun is rising and I think that Los Angeles is like a lover you can never quite get enough of: beautiful, surprising, sweaty and endlessly entertaining.
Deborah Stoll is a New York transplant who loves L.A. With employers numbering in the hundreds, she writes screenplays, short stories, editorials, commercials, and gives cocktails to people all sometimes for money, and sometimes, not. She currently has a feature film in development with Partos Company with Matt Smukler attached to direct, and a script in development with producer Carrie Beck. Having spent the past twelve years working and drinking in bars, Deborah is well versed in the vernacular of the night. Read other writing by Deborah Stoll on her Bubbe Maisse website.
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