Last Call

Lindas Doll Hut, 1989-2001

Steve Soto, who sometimes runs the door and used to handle Linda's band bookings, chimes in, "They wanna fax us a stage plot. We don't have a stage."

"A few bands pull up and go, 'Uh, we're gonna go get some food,'" she says. "They never come back."

When Bad Religion played—Soto guilted them into it after they recorded a song very similar to one by his band, the Adolescents—the band's management was expecting to roll in at 3 p.m. to take care of equipment and sound checks and all that. Um, there's really no need, guys. Just come back at 9 p.m., plug in and play.

In the old days, the place was a lunatic asylum. Regulars sat around in their underwear, watching porn and smoking cigars on Sundays, when the bar was closed.

Remember the time that girl punched Linda in the face? She had Linda down on the ground and was punching her and punching her until somebody Maced her.

Remember the time that guy pushed Linda? "Did he die?" someone asks.

Remember when CC was standing on the bar, hanging his ass out at everyone? Some guy stuck his finger right up there, like an experienced urologist performing CC's first prostate exam. CC's eyes lit up like a slot machine. He rounded on the poker, and the poker prepared for a fight but broke his ankle just standing up from his barstool. The two sat back down and kept drinking.

Remember the time the Cadillac Tramps' Gabby kicked that Marine's ass? The cops came, and Gabby sat down on the curb and started crying. "'I'm just a punker trying to go to the show, and he's fucking with me,'" Soto quotes Gabby as whining. Gabby peeked up, and one of the cops was Mexican-American. "'He called me a beaner,'" Soto recalls Gabby saying. The Marine went to jail.

But in 12 years, Linda says, that incident is one of just three times the cops had to be called. "We took care of it all in-house," she says.

Michael Eckerson, a graphic artist, insists no laws were ever broken. "There was never any nudity, ever. Jimmy never shot flares off the roof. And we never went over capacity." For anyone who's been wondering, the Hut's capacity is 49. Stop laughing!

In the fall of '98, the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reamed Linda's for a video game that had full-frontal nudity. The fine was $3,000, and they had to cancel a TSOL show because of it. The Hut was under surveillance for the next four months.

"They were the worst undercovers ever," Soto says. "They'd say things like, 'I bet you could get a lot of cocaine around here!' Or 'So, do you ever get these girls real drunk and take 'em out to the car . . . ?'" But Linda had her own Drug Enforcement Agency policy: meth guys—actually, any drug guys—were beaten and banished. Speed freaks are no fun.

The group remembers Pittner and Joe, the terrible alcoholics who worked at the machine shop across the street. Linda's Doll Hut had been open a while before she met the pair; they'd had a bet going to see who could stay on the wagon the longest. Finally, they both came over and declared the game ended.

Once, the two machinists were in the men's room for a long time before someone went looking for them. Pittner was peeing, and Joe was charging him with the vacuum cleaner. They were peeing on the walls and laughing and laughing.

The pair turned out to be object lessons for Doll Hut regulars. Eckerson says, "I used to work nearby, and I'd go to Linda's for a liquid lunch. It was a treat to go hang with those guys at the bar in the afternoons. But, man, you didn't want to grow up to be like them."

The group bickers over the wording of an actual quotation from Pittner. The closest they come is, "I'm not eating corn on the cob anymore 'cause when I shit myself in the shower, I gotta push the kernels down the drain with my toes."

Once, Linda was picking glass out of his head when he reached around and grabbed her ass. He always bragged about it afterward. When Pittner died after pretty much going on a mission to drink himself to death, his dog Bo curled up under a truck and died the same night.

The place isn't an asylum anymore—maybe because the punk rockers have become old punk rockers. And maybe that has something to do with declining bar revenue. Linda and her friends are 36 and wiser not 24 and stupid. They're marrying and having little punk rock babies. Mikey Hobbick recalls that he stalked Cher at the Hut for a year. "I said, 'Linda, you gotta get me a date with her!' She had a boyfriend, but he was in rehab."

Cher breaks in: "Mikey and Jimmy's number was actually on the wall in the ladies' room. 'For a good time call . . . .'"

(Dave "The Chairman" Mau says his number, too, was on the womens' room wall. It read, "Dave will eat you all night long." For about three months, he kept getting giggling, drunken, 2:30 a.m. phone calls.)

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