Monday, January 18, 2010

#26 Piano Bar

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen

#26 Piano Bar

Piano Bar, like so many gems, was a place that Katy and I stumbled upon. Last year on my birthday, after a lovely viewing of Woodie Allen's Vicki Christina Barcelona, we went out in search of her friend's DJ set at a local nightclub. After finding nothing but an unwelcome line and an unreasonable cover charge, we set out in search of a drink. We rounded a corner that I'd never rounded before and found a small, dark, and quiet bar called "Piano Bar." We went in and had a drink.

Piano Bar is just a bar. Nothing fancy, special, or particularly interesting. I order rum and cokes, or Jack on the rocks; just like everywhere else. That's not what's special. Piano Bar is literally footsteps from the boom-boom club scene on Cahuenga Corridor. This section of town is incredibly close to my apartment, yet can be so offensive and repugnant, it has turned me off from even traveling this street at the wrong time. However, Piano Bar seemed to be miles away. A long, crowded bar with an unbelievable outside smoker's patio, and great music such as the Black Keys or Wilco playing on the speakers when there wasn't a band playing. When there is a band playing, it can be garage-rock, low-key singer, or Friday night jazz ensemble. The people, the music, the drinks, the bartenders, even the volume makes this place the ideal bar for my tastes. In fact, now that I start to think about it, I am moving downtown to find more Piano Bars and less Velvet Margaritas.

This brings me to one of the keys about why I love Hollywood. When people from back home think of Hollywood, they think of Beverly Hills. They think of stupid MTV "reality" shows that don't really show anything authentic about what Hollywood is. When soulless phony white liberal intellectuals on the west side of LA think of Hollywood, they immediately begin thinking of crime, the boom-boom club scene, and parking woes. But the true Hollywood, the Hollywood I live in, is nothing like that. It is the most diverse scene I have ever been a part of. The music, the people, the food, and the drinks are so different from one corner to the next that you can be whoever you want to be. You can make Hollywood whatever Hollywood you want. Hollywood is a mythical place romanticized for years and this is why. If you want, it can be loud, gaudy, and the heart of the limo world. If you want it could be low key, high-end, and four-star. Or, for me, I want it to be darker, smokier, and exist among a world of exposed brick, low ceilings, and every different kind of person creating their own scene. The east-side scene is most certainly that: a scene. Same with the west side. But Hollywood ISN'T. Hollywood is itself, paradoxically authentic in its own inauthenticity. And that is what Piano Bar means to me. There is nothing "scene" about Piano Bar. Nothing "authentically" LA, and to me, that makes it authentically Hollywood.

Luckily, downtown, more Piano Bars wait for me, and I could make myself who I want to be there to. But I will miss the people, I will miss the music, and I will miss the little location, on Selma, in the middle of everything, yet hidden away.

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