Another downtown landmark goes the way of the gentrification Dodo tomorrow: Craby Joe’s, that diveyest of dives, the holiest of holes-in-the-wall, closes its doors for the last time on Christmas Eve. I always felt that a marker of a good bar was (a) it was named after its original owner or (b) it was named after an unpleasant animal. Quite possibly covering both (a) and (b) in one fell swoop (although I don’t know the original proprietor’s name, alas), Craby Joes was a bastion of crustiness in a rapidly sterilizing downtown.
The historians & cultural/literary archivists behind 1947project.com will be lifting their final pints at Craby Joes in a celebratory wake tomorrow. I suggest y’all swing by on your way to or from your respective holiday celebrations, or, should you lack one, let this be your wassailing headquarters for the night.
Click through for the full invite from 1947project.com.
I wonder what will come to replace Craby Joes…let’s see, maybe another Katsuya? Pinkberry? Golden Gopher 2? Upscale dog-clothing boutique? Le sigh. Kim Cooper says “Craby Joe’s has served as a watering hole to John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and many other great souls who drew from this well of characters and atmosphere from the wrong side of the tracks…This fragile coral reef of artists, galleries (the hub of Art Walk is two blocks away at 5th and Main at Bert Green’s), SRO hotels and their long time residents will suffer a severe blow with the close of Craby Joe’s…” Photo from the venerable www.latimemachines.com.
I don’t mind downtown’s gentrification as much as, say, one of the artists who lived in the Tomahawk building or the “Dancing Girls” building across the street from it–just some of the folks who lost their homes to the “artist’s lofts no artist could ever afford” wave. I like being able to walk around downtown feeling safe[r]. I just wish we didn’t pave over our history quite as much.
WHAT: A wake for Skid Row’s last bar, Craby Joe’s
WHERE: Craby Joe’s, 656 South Main Street, Los Angeles
WHEN: December 24, 10pm till last call
“As Musso & Frank is a living testament to Hollywood’s golden age, so Craby Joe’s is to downtown Los Angeles’ Main Street tenderloin. Both are family-owned, and both have contributed greatly to the social culture of their neighborhoods. At the corner of 7th and Main since 1933, Craby Joe’s will close it doors for good on Christmas Eve, 2007. A group of local historians and preservationists, including representatives from Esotouric and 1947project, will gather at 10pm on December 24 to share what Hemingway wrote of the custom in his beloved Spain, “La Penultima–the next to last drink,” for the last one is too bitter a thought.
Craby Joe’s has served as a watering hole to John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and many other great souls who drew from this well of characters and atmosphere from the wrong side of the tracks. Its now-dead neon sign blinked gaily in the opening credits for “Barfly,” and its pickled eggs were the day’s only protein for too many.
Gentrification has come to Skid Row, and now Craby Joe’s, the final holdout among the dozens of bars that once lined Main Street, is being shoved into history’s dustbin. Its neighbor the Cecil Hotel, already on the skids when Raymond Chandler described it in early short stories, is now a self-described boutique hotel, a destination for the discerning European traveler. This fragile coral reef of artists, galleries (the hub of Art Walk is two blocks away at 5th and Main at Bert Green’s), SRO hotels and their long time residents will suffer a severe blow with the close of Craby Joe’s, and its fans and friends will miss the unpretentious neighborhood bar and its gruff-but-lovable co-owner Jenny.”