Photo by Jessica CalkinsConsidering that my previous excursions to the Block at Orange included food poisoning from the now-fallen Falafel King and an eerie encounter with some much-too-smiley cult recruiters, it was with justifiable trepidation that I approached last Friday's grand opening of the Block's Lucky Strike Lanes.
Only I couldn't find it.
After first parking in the boonies behind AMC 4000, I'd made a right at Hilo Hattie and a left at Tu Tu Tango, mistaking the neon-lit outlines of people atop Athlete's Foot for something indicative of a bowling alley before finally winding up outside the Virgin Megastore. But after a quick trip to the information booth, I arrived at the lanes, decked out in the finest bowling attire: rolled-up jeans, red New Balances and, of course, an essential sky-blue cardigan.
Once inside, my photog pal Jessica and I headed for the smoking patio to score what we hoped would be free beer, only to discover that the beer was not only gratis, but the Budweisers were also shaped like bowling pins.
Back indoors and weaving through the masses, we watched as older couples played pool on burgundy-felted tables, investment bankers ordered lemon-drop martinis for the hot imported bunnies by their side, and giddy twentysomethings bowled Day-Glo balls down meticulously waxed lanes that were lit by rotating images of Warhol and Basquiat's finest works projected on giant screens above the pins.
If you've missed it, I'm still describing a bowling alley.
Later on, while chasing a waiter carrying a tray of greasy French fries and onion rings, we stumbled into the VIP bowling section—featuring six private lanes; a plush sit-down section; and a girl in a pink, see-through, seven-inch lace skirt—where some presumably important folks were sipping champagne and munching fried macaroni-and-cheese balls. Noticing the empty bowling-pin beer bottles scattered around the room and the ample amounts of bowling balls ripe for the taking, I briefly entertained the notion of creating my own VIP bowling lane but was distracted by a pack of gracious PR ladies who had been tipped off that I was, as they say, "press."
So I sat and listened, marveling at their tales of flat plasma score screens and early-morning, family-style bowling sessions replete with a kid-friendly breakfast menu. A kiss-kiss, dahling and hug goodbye later—these PR gals are also responsible for LA's original Lucky Strike, so they're, like, trs Hollywood—the women departed, and I began eavesdropping on the ruminations of the bitter old fart standing to my right.
"This is indicative of nothing!" he proclaimed, noticing the gigantic smiles and drunken wa-hoos! emanating from—oh, I don't know—just about everyone who was collectively feeling that they were in—oh, I don't know—cosmic bowling utopia. "It's nothing more than a wannabe Dave & Buster's," he continued to no one in particular, although he might have noticed me writing down his every word.
Well, Grouchy McGrouchstein, I'm no connoisseur of adults-only kiddy activities, but if the likes of the drunken woman in her fabulous hot-pink dress with a drink in one hand, two shots in the other, and a beer under her arm who was still managing to make out with a clearly aroused and way-below-her-league boy were to frequent Dave & Buster's, then it'd be even better business for them, I'm sure. In the meantime, they should think about stealing the recipe for the mac-and-cheese balls—Lucky Strike has made going to the Block something I'll look forward to, and there won't be any of those dreaded league nights.
Two weeks ago, I invited you to invite me out, and you did! While I wasn't able to make it out to Ophny's show at Hogue Barmichael's, I did attend Kato and Shauna's fabulous Gilligan's Island-themed Halloween party on Saturday night. The press release for the party—they didn't just send an invitation, it was a goddamned press release—promised tons of imported sand, outdoor sets that had been in the works for weeks, Jason Blakemore on the tables, and 200 of Kato and Shauna's closest friends. Deciding to bump that number up to 203, I invited my pals Ryan and Marie along for the ride. We were short on any significant island attire—and Harlem Globetrotterscostumes were just too much effort—but Ryan came through, providing Marie and me with the necessary coconut-and-seashell bras, saving the just-shy-of-annoying furry dancing monkey for himself. After a few awkward minutes spent asking complete strangers for some clean plastic cups for the keg, we headed inside to meet this Kato character. And what a Members Only-jacket-sporting, two-hat-wearing, storytelling delight he was! Soon after Marie spotted Steve, our very favorite bartender at Detroit, I ran into Weekly graphic-design fiends Thomas and Ivan, and the night spiraled into a blur of grass skirts, secret beer stashes, Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go for That," and a few people calling out, "Hey, honey—nice shells!" It was the best. Kegger. EVER.
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Remember a few weeks ago, when I took my vegan best gal, Janine, to a party thrown by KCRW and she happened to munch on some duck? Well, I felt almost as terrible as she did that she'd been duped, so when Bob Linden e-mailed me with an invitation to his Vegan Boogie Ball Benefit at the Boogie in Anaheim last Sunday, I speed-dialed J and told her to clear her schedule. But there was a problem, see: I'm not vegan. And I love food. So before we hit the Boogie, we drove up to the Bon Apptit Wine and Spirits Focuson the New York backlots inside Universal Studios, where I sampled my fair share of wine—evidently, you are supposed to take a sip and dump the rest of your wine out; is it so horrible that I made it a policy to finish the other three sips in my glass?—as well as a succulent prime-rib sandwich from Morton's, creamy mashed sweet potatoes from Josie Restaurant, Chambord French martinis, prickly pear margaritas, and lastly, an iced Cask & Cream coffee.
Rosy-cheeked and minutes from a food coma, we hit the road to the Boogie. Once there, I picked up a pamphlet from PETA and felt like going to culinary confession for all of my gluttonous, meat-eating, inorganic decadence. But Janine was happy as a—erm, tofu ball—munching away on faux chicken—I must admit, it actually tasted just like chicken—vegetarian chili and something vaguely tabouleh-ish. I stuck to the hummus, read about IAMS' alleged mistreatment of animals, and gazed at the woman who had dressed as the time change, with a spring attached to her chest and leaves stuck to her back. As for the vegans, when they weren't busy grooving to the reggae stylings of Kyng Arthur, they could be found smiling, laughing and eating vegan chocolate cake, just like we carnivores do. Except for the dude in the skeleton shirt—he was drinking entirely too much wine to really be vegan. The bash's host, Bob, was busy phoning in to his radio show, Go Vegan Radio(www.goveganradio.com) while we were there, but from my 30-second encounter with him, it seemed he was pleased with the benefit's success. But I think he could smell the Morton's on my breath because as we exited the Boogie's organic bliss and entered the smoky downpour of ash in the parking lot, he cautioned Janine to keep an eye on me. If this weekend was any indication, she'll have her hands full.
There's no reason that Halloween should be limited to just one night, so don't miss Detroit Bar's Gin and Juice Halloween Special, featuring DJ Daniel, on Thursday, Oct. 30, followed by a costume party at the Madison in Long Beach on Friday. North County? Try the block party in Fullerton outside the Continental Room. South? The Carnival de Bazaarat Old World Village in Huntington Beach. Dress like your favorite rock star on Saturday at the Program's postpunk/new wave night, Mongoloids, at the Bamboo Terrace, or head over to Club Addiction at the Hully Gully in Downey. If by Sunday you haven't yet joined the undead, catch the Voo Dudes at the Studio Cafon the Balboa Peninsula. Take it easy on Monday before heading down to the Ocean Ave. Brewery in Laguna on Tuesday for their '80s night, and then finish strong on Wednesday during the Kitsch Bar's soul showcase. Happy haunting!
I'll be dressed as Ziggy Stardust on Halloween. Invite me out! firstname.lastname@example.org