Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two Nights in Venice

Have I ever told you about the first night I spent in L.A. when I arrived here last summer? No?! Well. It was me, Brian, one of Brian's friends from college who lives in the area and his girlfriend. It started innocently enough with dinner at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, but then we decided to go out in Venice.  So we were driving, in what is probably the only white pick up truck (or any pick up truck) registered in L.A. county, and who should we come by but Tree Man.  Yes, the Tree Man of Venice folkloric fame.  So of course, we stopped the car in the middle of the road, jumped out, and ran after him; and of course, we invited him to get in the back of our truck.  And of course he did.  So off we drove with Tree Man's 10-foot stilts happily dangling over the edge of the truck bed.  We chilled with Tree Man for a while (his real name is Lantis), scaring people and having some drinks (he doesn't drink, though, so it was just us), and ended up back in Santa Monica at the bar in the lobby of the Shangri-la, a fancy establishment where we were supposedly waiting for our chance to go up to the rooftop bar (but let's face it, they were never gonna let us up there with a twing-covered giant in tow).  So.  Drinking with Tree Man at the Shangri-la, and then who should we come upon but another giant -- Brian Zoubek.  Yes, Brian Zoubek of Cameron Indoor fame.  Three of us in attendance being Duke graduates, you can imagine the starstruck excitement that ensued.  I think I told him I loved him...I think he waived back.  Probably the strangest night of my life.

{Tree Man via L.A. Magazine}

Last night I went back to Venice, but this time was a little more normal, yet no less exceptional.  While there were no giants involved, there was wine, and maybe a bacon-wrapped-bleu-cheese-stuffed date or two, at Venice Beach Wines.  We had driven past this place a few times, but it's unmarked (which only makes you want to go more, right?!) and we had no idea if it was a restaurant, bar, gallery, whorehouse?  So of course we wanted to go.  When we walked over there last night (yes, you can walk places in LA), we were surprised to find a gem of a wine shop/bar.  The lighting was trendily dim, it had warm and cozy screened-in outdoor seating, a lively atmosphere (it was packed!), and there was a table made out of a tree stump.  If you know me, you know how much I love tree stump tables.  So we played it cool of course - "did I say dinner?  I meant wine" - and ordered some drinks (I had a really good glass of gruner) and small plates (I wasn't joking about the bacon-wrapped-bleu-cheese-stuffed dates).  Delish.  So, basically, it was my perfect hang out spot and I'm going to go there always until I get sick of it.

After that, things got a little weird, in true Venice fashion.  We were hungry and the Mexican place on Rose that looked just sketchy enough was closed (it was only 9:30! Geez.), so we somehow ended up at The Firehouse.  This is a sushi/burger joint in an old firehouse.  For reals.  It was ok, but mostly I was just confused and wished I had some more bacon-wrapped goodies.  So then we decided to head home but not before a detour at the World Cafe for a predictably overly-sweet mojito and a predictably drunker-than-us crowd.  The perfect amount of comfortable familiarity to balance out the Venice.

My point: Venice never ceases to surprise me.  Which means I'm kind of addicted to it.

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