Hollywood, Cocaine, & Fugitive Drinking Straws: A True, Brief, & Very Boring Saga

A story so unexciting, it HAS to be true!

Joe Garza
Joe Garza
Mar 17, 2020 · 5 min read
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Image by Peter Thomas from Pixabay

In the year of our Lord 2018, I went on a solo pilgrimage to Hollywood to get some quality sinnin’ done.

Heh, actually my vacation down there wasn’t all that libertine or scandalous, but let’s keep that to ourselves.

See, I’m a musician and aspiring filmmaker, and this trip was primarily for a one-day screenwriting class I’d signed up for in the area.

But also, Hollywood is a sort of sleazy heaven for me, so of course it was also an excuse to hit up some trashy and legendary bars and clubs on Sunset Boulevard for a booze-fueled local history lesson.

One particular joint that was on my itinerary was the Rainbow Bar and Grill, a fabled venue that opened in 1972 with a party for Elton John. After launching, it quickly became a popular hangout for famous rock and pop stars, including Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Neil Diamond, with countless others performing there over the decades. It was even featured in several music videos.

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SLIGHTLY more organized than my bedroom wall.

But more importantly, Motörhead frontman and bassist Lemmy (a god I worship daily) was a regular there during the last two decades of his life. He’s so closely associated with the place that they’ve got all kinds of cool stuff dedicated to the guy, treating him with the reverence usually reserved for Popes and Kardashians.

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I hope I become important enough to become immortalized in a bronze statue in a dive.

The actual restaurant has a deliciously trashy charm to it: low hanging red tinted lights that make you feel like eating a greasy cheeseburger is a criminal act; booths and chairs better suited for kindling than comfort, and have probably had more sex acts performed on them than Wilt Chamberlain’s bed; autographed guitars, photographs, and other memorabilia clumsily attached to the walls as if they were put there by a teenaged metalhead in 1987. This dive is like the Hard Rock Cafe if it grew up in a trailer park and became a stripper for loose change at the age of 15.

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The walls are adorned with lore that only cool people can appreciate.

Upstairs is a cramped bar area and stage that’s so grungy I think I got syphilis just breathing the air, and above the stage was a cubbyhole seating area that used to be home to The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club formed by Alice Cooper in the 1970s with Joe Walsh, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and others. In order to join the club “applicants” had to outdrink all the members.

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If it weren’t for the Halloween lighting, you’d think this was a pirate ship.

I was there on a slow night; just happening enough to keep it interesting but not so packed that I couldn’t wander around and soak in the raunchy ambience.

It also meant that I got to amble on up into The Hollywood Vampire haunt just above where a shitty band was playing, and got to bogart the place for a bit and let my imagination conjure up all of the casual and heavy debauchery that took place just under my ass.

Jack & Coke in hand, a terrible punk outfit tearing it up on a stage that was built before asbestos regulations were enacted, and surrounded by the depraved dregs of rock ’n’ roll antiquity that mean more to me than they should to any normal human. I was in the Promised Land.

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My knee included for scale.

But I know what part of the story you’re really hankering for: the cocaine.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS GRAPHIC, LENGTHY DESCRIPTIONS OF HARDCORE LAW-BREAKING. NOT INTENDED FOR CONSUMPTION BY THE CIVIC MINDED.

So after I’d been dawdling in that saucy hangout for a bit, an old burnout hippie couple scampered in, obviously under the influence of some really fun stuff.

They parked themselves in the booth across from me and sent some clumsy yet cordial greetings my way, and I responded in kind. Being a bashful brooder, it’s my custom to avoid contact with strangers as much as possible, but I was too euphoric from my rockin’ reverie and biohazard brew to give in to my shy nature. Drunk Joe is basically the same as Happy Joe, just louder, and he was the one taking my personality for a spin that night.

After some giggling, flirting, and naughty petting between the couple, the guy took out a small container and poured some white powder right onto the table. He didn’t even bother to spritz the surface down with Windex or anything, not that it would’ve helped; I’m sure their noses have been home to so many weird things over the decades, that they’ve built up an immunity to bacteria, crumbs, and unmentionable sex particles.

Before they snorted up the goods, they turned to me and asked me if I wanted some. I told them no, that my keto diet wouldn’t allow for the stuff, but thanks anyway. They shrugged and sniffed some nirvana into their snouts.

Now, by this time, I was several drinks into the evening, and was a little slow to realize that what they were doing was most illegal: DIDN’T THEY KNOW THAT PLASTIC STRAWS WERE BANNED IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA?!

However, I wanted to blend into the native population and prevent any possibility of the locals sniffing out my outsiderness, so I decided to play it cool and stifle my baser, narc-y instincts, and let them have their dusty lark.

This was Hollywood, after all; people should be allowed to indulge in single-use products now and then.

Just like Caligula surely did when he hung out in Sodom and/or Gomorrah.

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Joe Garza

Written by

Joe Garza

I cover art, culture, film, comedy, creativity, books, and more at https://medium.com/the-reckless-muse

The Reckless Muse

The Reckless Muse is a hangout for dangerous artists, rebellious makers, and disorderly creators.

Joe Garza

Written by

Joe Garza

I cover art, culture, film, comedy, creativity, books, and more at https://medium.com/the-reckless-muse

The Reckless Muse

The Reckless Muse is a hangout for dangerous artists, rebellious makers, and disorderly creators.

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