Flaskaland
Saturday, May 27, 2006
 
LA Times unbelievably looks back fondly at dreck '70s film "Cisco Pike" and gets a bit nostalgic. (Although admittedly so do I sometimes. I mean get afflicted with that nostalgia manque. I had seen that utterly forgettable movie, too. So I was glad to be reminded of Olivia's, and reminded that Olivia's had made it to the big screen courtesy of the locations co-ordinator. That was a nice place, Olivia's was, to go to eat once in awhile back in the day. In specific reference to the flick, maybe I had arrived too soon, but rather like the Great American Disaster in swinging London a scant half decade later, I never saw a single solitary rock star in there at the time nor any famous musician that I knew of.

When I was there, Olivia's had tablecloths cut from oil cloth. And I remember the mustard greens fondly. It was hot in there in the day time, any time of year. But in the summer, the door would be propped open and the woman who rang the tickets and waited tables would bring in a small fan and set it in operation near the register. And the old Muscle Beach was just a place of barbells turned slightly red from the salt air, but the spot was unique in its day before the more familiar decades of the home Nautilus systems rolled in, and though in the vicinity, that was a rather long walk down the beach. The area in general then was not anywhere near the colorful freak show it is now.

In that small geography were all the types mentioned in the LA times article -- pensioners who played checkers, chess, chinese checkers, dominos, mah jong, or other board games I never learned the names of, or they sometimes worked on a picture puzzle. A jazz musician was still to be found here and there, likewise guitar players good and bad, derelicts, rail-riders, crazy people whose only skill was to write a sentence backwards with both hands simultaneously, half cracked people, those who bought military berets at army surplus stores to make themselves look like poets rather than drifters, and people described as actors some of whom had made their one obligatory predictably lousy Hollywood movie, acquiring enough in the way of dramatic credentials so they could bring it up in conversation just to laugh it off about their "career" in Hollywood films.

There was a rundown coffee house called the Venice West Cafe that served coffee in chipped cups. The smell of Picayune cigarettes was in the air, though sometimes that was replaced by the sweet stink of Faros. Cheap folding checker boards defaced with a large printed number in black crayon or a cribbage board with the price tag from the Salvation Army store were strewn about on the tables. And there were books with well worn spines on the shelves, and the books had their small prices penciled in on the front page (also from the Salvation Army store). Ten cents for "The Razor's Edge." Imagine that. The coffee house was steadily habituated by all of the neighborhood types mentioned above (except the pensioners and the lady who had a regular job at Olivia's), and the cafe was located near if not exactly nextdoor to a bookstore that smelled of old newsprint and must.

Near there in a "commune" (more of a boarding house, really, with a single really long and really creepy hallway) was the location that the Peace and Freedom Party was finding form; their landlord became their candidate for governor when they made it to the ballot later in 1968. Having achieved that feat, they stood a slightly better chance than the flying saucer candidate I told you about who may never have considered actually having his name on the ballot. And given some of the other names printed on the polling ticket that particular year, you can pretty much be certain every tenant at least once seriously considered voting for their respective landlord. And for me, from Venice to Venusians was a small leap, really, all things considered.)

When I was there near the canals was long ago, the year of the first big AFTRA strike. And while nobody was too rich or famous then, there were a few people I'd encountered thereabouts who went on to become the fabled rock star types, or musicians of other notable achievement, and some became actors who've made movies or even television series you might have seen. This might be interesting to you, then again, it might not. It all kind of depends on what we might be talking about, doesn't it?

So if I were searching out old movies I might have missed the first time around, I think maybe I'd rather see "Rize", the flick Cheek recommends.

(This is an update: Another sad synchronicity or coincidence, as I just today at this moment, on Memorial Day May 29, learned that John Haag died.
 




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Compiling the best online articles about music so there will be more of both in the future. In periods of drought, the reader will be innundated by my own blogs on the matters.

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