January 20, 2008

Before : Read Me First

My countdown to shopping at the Los Angeles record store called Amoeba was a poorly lit one.

My coworkers had organized something I believe they considered to be a bonding time with me. Me being a comrade who works from home on the other side of the country and in a rare visit was working from their office for the week.

We crammed into cars some time after 6 and off we red light-green lighted down Ventura Boulevard towards a restaurant whose name I have already forgotten but has something to do with George Clooney. More importantly a generous friend was picking me up at the end of my meal and driving me with God speed to record store heaven. In a desperate attempt to grasp just how much shopping time I would be limited to with an 11 o'clock closing in addition to a guestimated hour and a half meal I noted the drive to the store was a mere 20 minutes away. If I skipped dessert I would have a maximum amount of 2 hours and 10 minutes to scavenge through their bins.


Even in the worst of worst record stores that isn't enough time. Yes, crap indeed. To be honest I have learned after multiple visits to Amoeba that a short amount of time is almost equal to no visit at all and if anything it is a cruel tiny taste of what should be a satisfying shopping experience.

Back to the bonding...

First of all it amazes me that most people valet park at L.A. eateries. I can't remember the last time I did something so decadent with my car but up to the door we drove and out we hopped with the car keys still in the ignition.

The second surprise of the evening was the large letter "A" grade posted by the door. Apparently instead of the normal listing menus and 4 star reviews in the window it is the law for all Los Angeles restaurants to post their health inspection grade. I have been told by the locals to never eat at a place that has anything below a "B" and with a "C" grade you are risking your life. I can only imagine what the various hot dog, gyro, and peanut carts I have eaten at during my stints in NYC would be grades as and more recently I have become paranoid and suspicious that Virginia does not offer restaurant goers the same courtesy.

We were seated immediately and never before have I been to a "posh" place with plastic rented wedding tent style walls. I imagine the dining room is usually open air during any other time excluding the Winter season and the permanent rippled metal roof (think crinkle cut potato) is in place to protect the pretty people (who don't really eat food) from the ever so occasional passing rain shower.

The 7 of us were seated around a table intended for a group closer to 5 in number. Knees touched under the table and instantly I lost track of whose glass belonged to who. Curiously the light was so dim we were forced to read our menus by cell phone light (I guess Mr. Cloonely prefers mood lighting set on moonless night). The food was excellent and delivered in a timely manner but it was honestly no more extravagant than any other fine food establishment I have been to in secondary cities. In comparison our "A" eateries have walls, bigger tables, and heat that doesn't exude from imposing heat lamps. Our fellow diners may not be "A", "B", or even "C" listers but on my side of the country we also have lighting that affords us the opportunity to see our menus and the gourmet priced like gold food on our plates.

The company I was among was easily the best part of this dining experience (even with their obsessive blackberry glances) , well that and my pour of Jameson on the rocks that matched the size of my clenched fist. I don't mean to sound like I am complaining but this hot spot felt more luke warm to me and poignantly too many miles from my final destination of the night.

Luckily and gratefully my ride appeared on time and off we sped to Hollywood. Yay!

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