Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#7 Barney's Beanery

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen
#26 Piano Bar
#25 Shmutzville
# 24 Loteria
# 23 The Griddle
# 22 Proximity
# 21 Hollywood Freeway
#20 Kitchen 24
# 19 The People
# 18 Sushi Eyaki
#17 Raymond Chandler
# 16 Jumbo's Clown Room
#15 Skooby's
#14 The Arclight
# 13 The Well
#12 Runyon Canyon
# 11 Canter's
#10 Hotel Café
#9 Body Factory
#8 The Troubadour

#7 Barney's Beanery (The Real One)

Before this one gets going let me set something straight. When I say Barney's Beanery, I don't mean all of the Barney's Beaneries. I have no problem with the one in Pasadena, I've never been to the one in Burbank, and despite my patronization of the one on the Third Street Promenade almost every Tuesday during the 2009-2010 Cavaliers season, I despise and loathe that location. I wish nothing but the worst for the staff, the clientele (except me), and the structure itself. As long as it can wait until a Tuesday Cavs game is over, I wish for bad things there. This entry is about the real Barney's Beanery: the legendary, mythical, historical Barney's Beanery on Holloway and La Cienega. (because I don't have footnote capability on blogger, let me explain why I even set foot in the last one: I work until roughly 3:00-3:30 PM on Tuesdays in Santa Monica, and then again from 6:00-1:00 AM. So from 3:30-6 I am free, and there are often Cavs games on at that time and Barney's on the promenade offers a cheap, REALITVELY unobtrusive viewing experience, as long as I can survive the meathead/retard beer conversations that go on at the bar, and the countless assaults on the last three-hundred years of social advancements that seem to occur during every encounter between the half-breeds that hang out on the Promenade. And I implore to you, that Barney's is the best of the worst.)

Anyways, (why do I feel like every entry starts with a paragraph of disclaimers that end in rambling digressions before the second paragraph, without fail, brings us back to focus) the real Beanery is a fucking special place. The food is juuuuust above average. The service is just below average. The clientele is as diverse as Hollywood can offer which can be both a blessing and a curse depending on who's sitting next to you, and who the Lakers are playing. The beer selection is a few steps above standard bars and a few large steps below new gastropubs. (my MS Word doesn't recognize the word "gastropub," probably because when I bought this computer in 2006, the latest version of Office available for Mac was MS Office 1964) On paper, Barney's doesn't really have a lot going for it, but it's the intangibles. It's like Barney's is the Tom Glavine of bars; 89 MPH fastball, four or five quality pitches but no "out pitch," nothing flashy or special, just comes to work every five days, hits its spots and gets people out. That's what Barney's does.

By saying Barney's excels at intangibles (a sports allegory with no clear-cut explanation) what I mean is that it's kind of hard to describe exactly what makes this place awesome. I'll try, but I think that my abilities as a writer are too limited to fully appreciate Barney's. It's historical, meaning it used to be a stop on the old Route 66. It's more recent history includes stars like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin drinking there. They got an air hockey table, a pop-a-shot machine, and to quote Garth Algar, they got a pool table, too. The music is always played at a reasonable volume, the ceilings are adorned with license (single hardest word to spell without spell check, narrowly edging out "judgment" and "consciousness") plates from the past, there are TVs in every corner, and the bar is broken up into several rooms. The patio has two TVs and a plethora of people smoking cigarettes (cigarettes at a bar? My word!!) and watching the Hollywood traffic roll down Santa Monica and Holloway. Like I alluded to before, the crowd is pretty diverse, but the atmosphere, casualness of place, and accessibility lends itself to a pretty laid back group. People tend to get along there, not get in each other's way, and exist together unlike most places in Hollywood.

There's another element that makes Barney's special to me, and that's sports, and in particular NFL football. Anyone that knows me (or at least is facebook friends with me and hasn't already pressed ignore on me) knows the only thing I hate more than the NFL, is NFL fans. This is true for every corner of the world except for beneath the roof of Barney's Beanery. Here's what I love:

As alluded to earlier, Barney's is divided into separate rooms. Furthermore, the ceilings are abnormally low, creating an even cozier feeling to each corner of the pretty-large bar. No matter where you're sitting in the approximately 3500-4000 square-foot bar, you feel like you're in a small room. And because there are TVs in the strange, yet incredibly viewable places, you can watch your game from several different places. So on Sundays, small packs of five to fifteen fans of each team congregate somewhere inside the bar and watch their game. The result is a cacophony of cheers and groans immediately following every big play. A first down will be greeted by a shriek of cheers coming from one corner, while a chorus of groans will come from another. And because each part of the bar is so intimate, you can't really see all of these people, there's just an anonymous approval or disapproval of every major event in every major game from all corners of the bar. It's as if each fan's entire fan-base is spread sporadically through one bar, and those cheers represent the fortunes of an entire city. It's incredibly special, and something that only gets better as the playoffs begin. I don't generally like to watch sports at a bar but Barney's is my favorite place in LA to watch sports, hands down.

I'm going to miss this place. I'm going to miss mornings there, and lunches. I'm going to miss eating there, and drinking whiskey there. I'm going to miss one of the best crowds in Hollywood (or WeHo depending on if you work for Rand-McNally or not) and the most comfortable atmosphere at any bar I've been to since I left the Winking Lizard on Miles. I'll miss the drunkards hanging out on the patio on weekday afternoons, and the anonymous cheers after football team A does something they approve of. You can probably tell, this is a tough one for me; I really love this place. Via con Dios Barney.

1 comment:

Laura said...

i know exactly what you mean about the words license judgment and consciousness. also reading these makes me realize i don't do enough stuff but i always feel busy.