Last Week, the DJ Saved My Life

Kitsch Bars John and Avalons Garron drive me crazy in a good way

Photo by Jessica CalkinsLast Tuesday, after a harrowing evening spent preparing a scrumptious Trader Joe's frozen pad Thai feast—the 'rents were out of town, and I am not, how you say, one who successfully "cooks"—I headed over to the Kitsch Bar to unwind with some whiskey drinks and a set by John, one of my new most favoritest DJs; John, who had previously been best known for single-handedly salvaging my otherwise-sucky Halloween weekend with an impressively eclectic gig at the Bamboo Terrace; John, whose record collection I will one day steal; John, who wears these awesome cab-driver hats I adore; John, whose regular Tuesday-night stints at Kitsch I will make a point to attend. Forever.

Three sips into my whiskey and Coke, I was enjoying a Bowie tune that was floating through the air when I spotted a guy sitting at the bar who looked remarkably like Pat, Avalon's superfriendly, fabulously smiling bartender. However, being a closet introvert—"Bah!" you say, but it's the personality-tested truth!—I had to wait on a confirmation until nearly an hour later, when John spun a little ditty by . . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, and I accompanied my Weekly co-worker friends Thomas and Ivan to the bar for another round. Standing just to the right of the Pat-alike, I caught his eye and smiled as he turned and asked, "Ellen, right?"

After first shaming me for not dropping by his bar more frequently—it'd only been three weeks, man! I'm a busy gal!—he proceeded to sell me on Garron, Avalon's newest DJ and, according to Pat, the county's best-kept spinning secret. Regaling me with the tale of a couple who simply could not leave Avalon while Garron was at the helm—going so far as to call in the rest of their friends to the bar, despite the fact that they'd previously arranged to meet elsewhere—and a promise that every track he spun would be my absolute most favoritest, Pat convinced me—truth: never a hard thing to do when berry martinis are involved—it was my duty to Clubbed readers everywhere to check out this alleged spinning swami.

And so on Thursday—after my pal Ryan fixed me pasta lathered in Emeril's Vodka tomato sauce, the saint!—we hit up Avalon and met our friends Janine and Marie. Garron, smoking outside the bar and sporting a white, urban-cowboy-meets-late-era-Elvis shirt, appeared too campy to be that good. At first. But minutes later, when he returned to the tables and played The Replacements' "Alex Chilton," he took on the aura of a sonic prophet.

"Oh, my God! I totally love this song!" I shrieked, as Pat nodded an I-told-you-so and handed me a mojitini. "Just you wait," he winked. Later on, Janine and I were in the midst of catching up when I heard what sounded like the opening riffs to Danzig's "Mother." Hold on: "Mother"? Could it be? For real? The very song that Janine and I belt out together when we're drunk and no one is listening? "No way!" I screamed—I mean, really fucking bellowed; I was nearly finished with martini numero tres—before grabbing Janine and launching into the first verse. Breezing by the two of us, Pat muttered a smug "mmm-hmm."

Still, it wasn't until a half-hour later, as my friends and I were huddled on the corner couch reveling in Ryan's discovery of Avalon's even-better-than-their-martinis raspberry beer, that I heard one of my 10 most favoritest songs ever and became suspicious that this Garron character was really a clairvoyant DJ sent from beyond. Initially recognizing the song's familiar drum-machine beats, followed by its ridiculously high bass notes, new wave keyboards and pinging cowbell, I was floored: Garron had done the unthinkable—or the all-knowing—and busted out New Order's "Perfect Kiss." But it simply couldn't be! I mean, really: the one song I play every time I get ready to go out? My I'ma-gonna-getta-crazy-tonight anthem? Unbelievable!

In under three hours, Garron had succeeded in spinning me into an arms-akimbo dancing, drink-splashing tornadoof shrieks and laughter. Pat, now perched on the couch and sitting next to Mike, the bar's owner, just smiled, confident that I'll be checking into Avalon very frequently—did I mention Garron's there Tuesdays, Thursdays andSundays? —from now on.

And now, a few notes from Clubbed's Reasons to Stay Away From LAdepartment: namely, a critique of the AFI Film Festival's closing night soiree last Sunday. Oh, sure, it was a stroke of genius to hold the after-party at the Henry Fonda Theatre, what with its incredibly romantic Christmas-light-lit smoking patio and the extra-special addition of an American Spirit smoking lounge (smoking additive-free cigarettes? Indoors? For free? Hollywood never looked so happy!). And of course, the free booze courtesy of Absolut—key-lime-pie martinis? More like Key Lime Die after I'd had four!—was a bonus. Hell, I'll even go out on a limb and say that their complimentary gift bags alone—a Mavi Jeans tote bag? A copy of the novel Mystic River? Raisinettes, hair gel, truffles, liquid eyeliner, ginseng tea, Fiji water and a bottle of Rockstar? Rad!—justified being asked eleventy trillion times if I was "in the industry."

However, all the free drinks, food and Norm-from-the-first-Real-World-season sightings in the world couldn't change the fact that the after-party was held directly following the world-premiere screening of Charlize Theron's upcoming film Monster. Not—let me stress: not; in fact, an Oscar nomination for Theron? You heard it here first!—that the film itself was bad because it was quite impressive, in an it'll-make-you-want-to-kill-yourself type of way (read: Boys Don't Cry). But holding a party after screening a tragic film about a rape survivor/hooker-turned-serial killer? Please, yo, next time consult me first! That's even worse than the fact they overbooked the theater for the screening—really: who does that?!—it's totally a Hollywood-party how-not-to-do!

If the fact that our neighbors to the north are severely lacking in their party-planning skills isn't enough to keep you around here this week, then perhaps the Quails show—presenting gender-bending Sleater-Kinney-esque rock at its finest—on Thursday at Koo's will be. If that doesn't do it for you, then check out Detroit on Friday as it presents a special Bristol Sessions two-year anniversary event, featuring Doc Martin and house music courtesy of DJs Danny Love and Lil' Brandon. On Saturday, the for-charity (tagline: "Helping Some Dudes Under a Bridge") Pedro Sideways exhibit at the Walled City gallery in San Pedro closes, so if you haven't yet taken a ride over the Vincent Thomas, this is your last chance. Then on Sunday, if hip-hop is your thing, don't miss DJ Eric Cubiche's birthday bash set during the House of Blues' Detour. The karaoke night at the V-Room in Long Beach is where I'll be on Monday, and you should join me, unless you're resting up for the Liquid Den's post-punk/no-wave sets on Tuesday. Lastly, be there at Quan's in Orange on Wednesday as it transitions into a Rockin' Sushi joint with a new '80s/glam night, Club Thriller. I'll buy you one of their two-buck shooters, but only if you request some New Order for me!

I'm curious: what do YOU do on Mondays? Invite me out! egriley@ocweekly.com.

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