The flat-out bitchen Red Pearl, despite being in Huntington Beach, is not at all soul-curdling: the food is outstanding, the vibe New York elegante, and they're importing DJ Danny Love Thursday nights. (Note to the jackass who wrote the "Hey, You!" in issue 34: there's no cover, but there is a dress code; don't come looking like a frat boy, mook or grommet and then whine when you can't get in.)
Most important about Red Pearl, though: you might run into The Orange County Register's venerable nightlife columnist, Barry Koltnow! He jovially said (many times) that he doesn't mind when I call him "eleventy" or make fun of his weight. Also he threw out many fine compliments, which I have no doubt were spoke sincerely. And then he gave me a piece of advice, really sounding quite pained on my behalf. "You have to stop saying you go places where your drinks are free," he instructed. I'm guessing it reflects badly on me, or perhaps on all of us intrepid nightlife journalists. "But Barry," I explained, "I have to tell people if I'm getting free drinks. Otherwise, I would be taking free drinks and then telling people to go to these places without disclosing the thoughtful gesture/attempted bribe. And that would be wrong!"
He repeated himself, ignoring the finer points of the ethical discussion on full disclosure. "Barry, have you ever accepted a free drink?" I asked mildly.
"You know, there are times when you can't avoid it," he said reasonably. Indeed there are. For instance, when I don't want to.
•The outstanding Caroline Movement Saturday at the Azteca. They're raw; they're rootsy—hell, they're kinda Neil Young. When we stumbled across them, mouths were hitting the floor, abetted by the fact that they were mysterious, like a good Nancy Drew. Nobody knew who the hell they were, but everyone wanted to know more. Don't you want to see them? Yes, you do. And it's free, just like my drinks and the occasional plate of fresh guacamole. Okay, and maybe a quesadilla, which I never asked for and hereby fully disclose! Thanks, JJ, my love.