Tag Archives: Echo Park

The Road to a Carne Asada Quesadilla

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m in the back of a hired car with a greasy carne asada quesadilla in my lap. I’m firing questions at my driver like I’m Charlie fucking Rose. The subject, of course, is the Egyptian American experience. My driver looks back at me through his rear view and questions my credentials. “Are you kidding me, man?” I say. “I’m legit. Look at these eyebrows! Look at this beard!”

“My sister pays to make her eyebrows look like yours, and yours look better.”

Because I can take a compliment I say, “Shukran.”

“I can say ‘thank you’ in Chinese – does that make me Chinese?”

“Maybe. But I thought you said you were Egyptian.”


“Never mind the Chinese — what about this beard?! I mean, I grow beards the way other people grow…” But I’ve lost my train of thought. I can’t think of anything that grows quickly except for weeds and people don’t intentionally grow weeds. Also, my goal is hyperbole and I’m not sure weeds grow that much faster than my beard. I should spend more time at Home Depot and learn about plants. And horticulture. And other stuff.

“We’re here,” he says.

Yes, but how did I get here?

I’m at the Tacos Arizas truck and I’m speaking Spanish, because, well, I can still taste it on my lips now – I’ve been drinking tequila. And the speed at which I’m speaking leads me to believe I’ve had quite a lot. Like enough to put a teenager in the hospital. Even though I’m speaking Spanish, the tequila is doing all the work. Of course my time in Spain, my degree in the language, and the years wasted translating sentences from a text book so I can learn how to say: “In the summer, I like to go jetskiing with my family on the lake” – those things might be helping.

In the end, the only thing I really say is, “I’ll have a steak quesadilla. For here please.” Here being a side street next to a Walgreens in Echo Park. Behind me are two brothers. Yes, they’re clearly brothers. You can tell just by looking at them. But one speaks with a thick Boston accent while the other has no detectable accent at all. Which might be confusing if I didn’t know these guys, but I do, so I’m not confused. Yes, we arrived here together. Now it’s coming back.

Before the taco truck: We bust into the Gold Room sometime after 1:30. I ask about the drink specials, but I already know the drink specials. Three tequilas. Three beers. Six, seven years ago, this place used to be scary. It was thick with cholos who had been pushed out of their homes, but still came back to drink in this bar where you can throw peanuts on the floor. People got murdered within a police baton’s throw of this place, but now they have Firestone 805 beers in the fridge. Adios, Tecate, Bohemia, Victoria, Corona. There’s a new lager in town and it’s crafted on California’s lovely Central Coast.

Fuck me. Of course I order a Firestone. Where is my moral compass? Why do I pine for the days when shit-faced cholos would give me and my friends menacing looks while we slurped our bargain-priced drinks before last call? Now this place is as mundane as the lines at Costco. Everybody just minds their own business.

But before that, there was the Thirsty Crow, the Black Cat, Bar Stella which actually didn’t happen, and then Jay’s Bar which did.

At Jay’s, Frank Sinatra is on the TV and Dinesh from Silicon Valley is next to us at the bar. I’m drinking mescal. The same mescal that I drank a week earlier on Balboa Island where one can buy frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and watch very blonde women go on uncomfortable first dates with very leathery men who promise jaunts on the yacht to Cabo and Cannes. I did not have a chocolate banana then or now. But sometimes I think I could drink mescal forever. Then I remember what happens to the Consul in Under the Volcano.

“How, unless you drink as I do, could you hope to understand the beauty of an old Indian woman playing dominoes with a chicken?” 

Goddamn, that is an exquisite sentence. But it’s just bleeding with insanity. The nectar of the Oaxacan gods is not to be overindulged.

Before all that, I’m on my couch with my feet up reading a review about a biography of Saul Bellow even though I don’t like Saul Bellow. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve even read anything by him. I often confuse him the guys who wrote The Swimmer or Rabbit, Run. Maybe that was Bellow. I don’t know. All I know is I’m quietly having a couple of tequilas. A tequila nightcap because it’s the day after Cinco de Mayo and the stuff was lying around. And, as of Sunday, I’ve quit whiskey again, so I might as well drink this stuff. I have one tequila knowing full well I’m going to have a second, and by the time my phone buzzes with an invite to a bar down the street, I’m on my third. I’ll go for one drink. Maybe two. I’ll be back before midnight.

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Spending Time With Dear Friends

I was with some dear friends. Dear friends. That’s how we describe our friends these days. Not good or close or even BFF, but dear. Yes, I was with some dear friends. Oh, and a dear friend’s girlfriend. And dear friend’s roommate. I don’t know how deep the antediluvian river of dear runs, and I don’t want to be presumptuous. I wouldn’t take a bullet for any of them, but I would cry at their funerals. I would bring flowers.

But that’s not even the point! The point is, I was with some people in Echo Park. I was trying to see a band, which is extremely popular today, but I’m sure in two years, I’ll be like, “What was the name of that band that we were way into? We went to their show at the Echo but it was sold out and some how we got in anyway.” That won’t ring any bells.

Yes, we were at the Echo and the show was sold out. And the weirdest thing happened. Well, not yet. First, we were all standing there—my dear friends who I would not take a bullet for, and me. We were drinking whiskey out of Coke cans or at least they were. I was pretty sure I was just drinking soda—some friends, right? Now you understand my hesitation about taking a bullet for one of these guys. It’s also possible that it’s my palette. It’s used to whiskey–perhaps it’s been over exposed. But soda is a foreign and toxic agent, which I don’t allow to enter my system. I made an exception. I regret it. Oh, how I regret it.

There we were standing, drinking, if you want to get technical, we were loitering. And there was this man. He was a bouncer. Lithe, like a ballerina with a black baseball cap and knuckle tats. He looked like the grown up version of those kids that were pro skaters when they were like nine, but then get dropped by all their sponsors before high school. Then they smoke a bunch of meth, start a band, get knuckle tats and comment on YouTube vids defending the cutting edge skateboarding they once practiced, but now no longer do because there’s no adult future in skateboarding. It’s like gymnastics only there’s absolute no dough in gymnastics—just communists and anorexics and handstand splits.

I had to ask him a question. I needed some information. My dear friends had bought the booze, they had driven. It was my obligation to solicit facts like, “Dude, when are we gonna get in, man?”

Naturally, I was dreading this interaction. Everyone knows that talking to a bouncer is pretty much the worst thing ever. They’re hostile. They work in customer service but they have absolutely no interest in being hospitable. There’s an air about bouncers that says: I hate you. You’re not getting in unless you show me your tits or forfeit your Roth IRA. (I don’t have either, which means I’m totally fucked.)

I worked up the nerve to talk to that nihilistic, miscreant, checker-of-identication dude… And he answered my question! He was bubbly, and articulate. His answer was thorough and offered a glimmer of hope. He smiled. I wanted to give him a hug. He was a diplomat with knuckle tats. He wasn’t a goon, he was Kenneth from 30 Rock’s long lost brother. I didn’t know what to do. I came ready for a fight. I would defend my honor and demand entrance. And then, although it was in waves, he let us in. Not begrudgingly but with a generous smile.

Of course, once we were inside I discovered for the 1,000th time that The Echo has the worst acoustics, sound engineer, sound system and whatever else involved which makes every band that you love—suck. I was once with one of these dear friends to see Tame Impala play and the low drone and lack of vocals put him to sleep. Personally, I think it was his body shutting down to protect itself from the horrific assault that the Echo was thrusting into our eardrums.

At the end of the night, I swore to never go back. Then I saw the bouncer. He didn’t lift a velvet rope but he might as well have. And I knew I’d have to break that promise to myself. If I didn’t keep coming to this terrible venue I’d put that generous man, who at this point I considered a dear friend, out of a job. And that’s just cruel. It’s unnecessary. I can survive the abysmal sound quality, but I don’t think that bouncer would last a minute on the streets of L.A. He looked like the kind of guy who carries around hand sanitizer.

As a night cap, my dear friends and I stole a small pizza, which we’re too old to do. But then again, Y.O.L.O. or something, right? See a shitty show, drink soda, steal a pizza—yeah—YOLO.


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Eavesdrop It Like It’s Hot!

“Did you ever feel like there was sapphic tension between Lucy and Ethel?” Au Pont Wine Bar, Playa Vista

“Do you guys have any drugs?” W Hotel, Hollywood

“Fashion students? They’re like Chihuahuas. They’re disagreeable even when they aren’t yapping.” Fred Segal Comfort Café, Santa Monica

“It seems I’ve lost the mayor’s tongue.” L.A. Library, Edendale Branch

“I just can’t figure out how to tell him—although he’s spiritual Echo’s father, biologically there’s a possibility that he’s more of an, um, uncle.” N.A. Meeting (cigarette break) Ojai

-The Neapolitan Mastiff

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Eavesdrop It Like It’s Hot


“He buys tofurkey and thinks Tilda Swinton’s a babe. He’s into dudes, bro.” Brew Co., Brentwood

“I don’t mind looking like a Scientologist every once and a while.” Home Restaurant, Los Feliz

“Man, all these blogs are ripping the shit out of the new Belle & Sebastian album!” Book Soup, West Hollywood

“In moderation, cocaine is no worse for you than a salami sandwich.” Brite Spot, Echo Park

“Bitches come back to me like rental cars!” Vice, Hollywood


-The Neapolitan Mastiff


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Eavesdrop It Like It’s Hot

“I’m making my child birthing playlist, and it’s really good so far.” YAS Fitness Center, Venice

“I shaved my moustache off for that girl, man! Now that she left me, I’ve got a clean lip and a hole in my heart.” Short Stop, Echo Park

“I can’t do anything before I read my horoscope. I won’t leave my condo.” APA Reception Desk, West Hollywood

“Anyone know what stop to get off for the county jail?” Pershing Square Metro Stop, Downtown L.A.

“One of my girlfriends had her baby shower on 9/11, just to put some positive energy out there on that day. I love, love, love that!” Lido Dry Cleaners, Hollywood

The Neapolitan Mastiff

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Cowboy Boots, Dresses and the Female Biological Clock: The Neapolitan Mastiff Weighs In

Nothing says I’m looking to copulate like a pair of cowboy boots and a summer dress. Try an A.S.U. red light/green light party sporting green, wear a dress the size of a face cloth in Hollywood on a Friday night, stumble naked through Isla Vista on Halloween and you still won’t elicit half as many suitors. It’s a look that transcends races[1] and regions while remaining very North American[2].

During the summer in Santa Monica, there’s a 28ish blonde shopping in cowboy boots and a dress in every aisle of Whole Foods. On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Echo Park Lake, right next to the carne asada, you’ll find pallid women struggling to look like pin-ups, showing more tattoo than skin in their own version of the boot and dress combo. Droves of them fill up the continent. Many women, who wouldn’t be caught dead in the look, find themselves subconsciously purchasing it. While some might claim its on trend[3], others stumble upon it. It seems to be inextricably tied to a woman’s biological clock. Something happens between the age of 27 and 35, where for whatever reason, women don this salacious armor and hit beaches, parks, barbeques and farmer’s markets, all in hopes of a little protected or unprotected procreation.

The odd thing is, it doesn’t look good. In fact, it’s an awful look.  Logistically, the boots cover up the slenderest part of the leg and the dress exposes from around the mid-thigh down. What’s essentially left is the largest part of the calf and a couple bulbous knees. You might have legs like Coco Rocha, but they look like Rosie O’Donnell’s when you’re strutting your stuff in that attire.

And yet those cowboy boots and summer dresses demand the interest of all those who are biologically predisposed to women. It’s comparable to flint and steel. Bang them together and you get a hot spark. When a woman puts on a dress and then cowboy boots, pheromones literally spew out of her. No straight man or lesbian[4] is immune. The androgynous hipster, who is in a band with his MacBook Pro, looks up from his mid-afternoon coffee. The junior agent, who is sweating through his off-the-rack suit, quits eating his Cliff Bar breakfast as she breezes by on Avenue Of The Stars. It’s like a peacock fawning its feathers. It’s nature at work. An E.D. riddled man reading yesterday’s paper on a park bench perks up. A six-year-old boy holding his mother’s hand as they walk the promenade lets go when a woman 25 years his senior swaggers by. It’s an inexplicable, unannounced, seismic, sexual awakening.

Just so there isn’t any confusion, this ensemble has nothing to do with the ranchera/vaquera, Mexicana cowgirl thing. It also has nothing to do with those large boned, ‘I grew up on a farm and did 4H in high school’ girls. Those people wear cowboy boots every day and dresses on occasion. This is more an assessment of what drives a woman who doesn’t usually wear cowboy boots to buy a pair and wear it with a dress. The succinct answer: her biological clock. Katy Perry is probably the poster child of this fountain of libido movement. Although dealing strictly with the facts, I can’t say I have ever witnessed her wearing the aforementioned combination. But lets get real for a second, what do you think she’s stomping around Russell Brand’s honey wagon in right now?

I’ll leave you with a bit of advice: If your significant other tries to leave the house wearing the abovementioned, STOP HER… on two counts.

  1. It looks heinous. Strangely seductive, but heinous.
  2. Mark my words sir, if she leaves in that outfit you will be cuckolded[5].

[1] It may or may not transcend race. This article is based largely off of encounters with white girls. Not that Vera Wang, Vida Guerra and Serena Williams don’t dabble, I just haven’t seen it.

[2] Based off a study in 2009, Calgary had more women per capita in summer dresses and cowboy boots than anywhere else on the planet.

[3] It’s not.

[4] This fact hasn’t been confirmed by an actually lesbian, but the Exchanging Pleasantries Office (a gentlemen’s club of sorts, gentlemen in the traditional sense, not in the Spearmint Rhino sense) is still pretty sure it qualifies as a fact.

[5] If your significant other is simply in drag, you’re on your own. We didn’t research that.


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