Night of the Noxious

Late Saturday Night /Early Sunday Morning, September 22nd /23rd:

Work ends. We like it when work ends. The shift is over, off to elsewhere. Tonight’s an early night, especially for a Saturday. I clock out just after 1AM and walk down the hill with my co-workers.

The rain has cleaned the streets. The crisp air opens up the city, clear and beautiful before me.

I don’t want to go home just yet. I don’t necessarily want to go tear things up, either, but I don’t want to go home. I want to go sit, sip a warm beverage in the night air in one of the world’s great cities, perhaps put pen to paper and let spill the wreckage and detritus that has welled up within my cranium.

That doesn’t seem like a lot to [email protected] ask, does it?


(After the jump I get frustrated and ranty and use the F-Word a lot. C’mon along for some unedited fun…)

My notebook’s at the house. Not a problem, my new place is just down the hill. Insomniac Cafe’s open ’til 2, right? House is on the way. Jump in car and go. Just so. Grab the Moleskines, got the space pen, (feed the cat) should I grab the laptop? What the hell. In, out, done: go.

I pull up next to the Insomniac Cafe at 1:35 AM. Outside, a man and a woman talk to each other in the open door of her red SUV. They can’t take their eyes off of each other; they’re standing separated by a wall of timid doubt one foot two inches thick. I hope they make it.

I hurry to the door and look in. Empty. Done. A barista wipes down tables with get-me-the-fuck-out-of-here purpose. I make a cutting motion across my throat and mouth the question, “Closed?” She copies the motion back with finality, “Closed.”

It’s time to clean the tables outside, she unlocks the door as I stand there. “One thirty?” I say, “That’s a mild case of ‘Insomnia’ at best.”

“No business late at night.” She’s not in the mood for late night smart asses, and I can’t blame her.

“Do you know of any place that is open?”

“No. Not here. Diners, that’s it.”

“Thanks.” Fuck.

Club kids and bar hoppers are about to make the wait in any nearby diner worse than Sunday Brunch on Mother’s Day. Even IHOP will probably have a twenty minute wait. Worse, they’ll be filled with club kids and bar hoppers. I’m not in the mood.

Wait, is the Bourgeois Pig open later on Friday and Saturday nights? 4AM…maybe? Worth a shot. Key, door; key, ignition. The Clash are Working for the Clampdown. I’m swinging across Hollywood toward The Feliz, avoiding as best I can those impaired by their Saturday night and/or the recent rain. I see Cop lights flash a u-turn at the exact corner where my old apartment building sits. At least they’re not for me. A zig and a zag and I’m in front of The Pig.

Birds still has knots of partiers discussing the next leg of their evening and I pull onto the side street. There’s no parking. Of course there’s no parking. There’s never any parking. I circle the block like a raging vulture waiting for a DUI to give me up a spot. I have no way of knowing if my destination will even be open.

I finally find a spot two blocks away; reasonable, for the neighborhood, but I’m turning a livid purple. I want to gnaw finishing nails like toothpicks, tossing away their splinted bodies with mechanical, maniacal precision.

I somehow manage to make it to the front door of the Bourgeois Pig without assaulting a drunken hipster… just as they’re closing. Brilliant. And now, it occurs to me I’m hungry. Damn it! The thought of a diner returns. Not only do I hate to fulfill the Insomniac Barista’s prophesy, but I still don’t want to listen to a bunch of drunken club kids try and order eggs. People may die.

I make my way back to the car, passing a mural of a white dog gazing at the Eiffel Tower. I bet if I were in Paris I could find a Cafe to write in. Or maybe not. I have no idea. I’ve never been to Paris.

I’m really hungry now. The thought of sitting in the IHOP lobby listening to a bunch of club kids while I wait for a table sets my teeth on edge. Swingers? That’ll be an hour wait. 101? Packed full of idiots. Canters? All of the above, and I don’t think I can take a Reuben right now. Pipers? Wait…Pipers. Western’s only a few blocks and I’ll have to drive down to Beverly eventually anyway. Car starts, swings around and the Clash inform me that Julie’s been working for the Drug Squad. Dashboard clock reads 2AM.

If there’s any wait or an abundance of shiny, happy club kids, I’m going fucking home.

Maybe I should have just listened to the Barista in the first place. Piper’s is far enough off of the club path that it’s mercifully empty. I take a shot in the dark and ask if they have internet access. I’m met with a blank look. Well, you can’t everything. Out comes the Moleskine and out come these words, fueled by a couple of eggs and much decaf coffee.

So, this being a community blog and not “RobNoxious story hour,” I suppose I should have some point here. Something that promotes some sort of discussion or thought. Well, how about this: How can such an artistically vibrant city like Los Angeles not have the socio-economic demographic to support a late night coffee shop? West Hollywood to Hollywood to Los Feliz to K-Town to “Beverly Hills Adjacent,” nothing. Nada. Discuss.

Or can we at least get WiFi in the damn Diners? There you have yer, whaddyacallit, Alternative Topic.

take a writer away from his typewriter
and all you have left
the sickness
which started him
in the

-Charles Bukowski,
about the PEN conference

6 thoughts on “Night of the Noxious”

  1. Amen, brother. I’m normally an early to bed/early to rise type, but every once in a while I’m up late for some reason and have the same “where can we just go and hang out for another hour before going home without it being a scene? (or a bar?)” I only know Insomnia, having lived on the westside for so long now. I don’t even know where on my side of town to go. Hmmm, maybe I havne’t been out that late in a long time…

    I’m on your side, even just for the potential of being out late and wanting a mellow time!

  2. when i need a late night coffee fix i go to either fred 62 on vermont and franklin, or the pantry (across from the staples center) downtown. both are open 24hrs.

  3. It might be out of your traveling range or lacking in the fundamentals you seek but Astro on Fletcher/Glendale in Silver Lake is open 24 hours and has a patio. No wifi though, I don’t think.

  4. Fred 62 at 2AM on a Saturday night is generally a clusterfuck, same scene as Swingers, really. Worthy spot for a late night snack, otherwise. I ate there Friday night, actually. I wasn’t aware of an Astro in Glendale. Is it Astro Diner, that is associated with Jan’s Diner on Beverly or Astro Burger, like the one’s on Santa Monica and Melrose? I know the Astro Burger on Santa Monica (at Gardner, I think) is a freaking ZOO when the clubs let out. Great burgers, tho’. Sometimes I’ll put up with the after bar beasts just for an Ortega Burger.

  5. Yeah Rob, it’s the Astro diner owned by the same people who own Jan’s on Beverly. It’s not in Glendale, just on Glendale Boulevard at Fletcher in Silver Lake. Might be worthy checking out although I’d guess there’s a risk of getting some residual clubsters from Spaceland and The Echo. Then again, it’s also regularly haunted by the LAPD so maybe not. Either way it’s spacious enough so you can probably get seated far enough away from any frustrations.

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