There’s a Bootleg Jurassic Park-Themed Restaurant in Los Angeles
Weirdness is getting harder to find these days.
Between marketers, sitcom characters, and whacky dickheads in shirts that say things about ninjas and bacon, genuinly odd stuff is difficult to come by. So I was extremely excited to hear about Jurassic Restaurant, a (presumably) unofficial Jurassic Park-themed Taiwanese restaurant in Industry, California.
Weird shit used to be everywhere. If Tod Browning’s Freaks is to be believed, it used to be that you could barely open your door without tripping over some undiscovered weirdo.
But then lunacy got gentrified and oddness became mainstream—co-opted by Phoebe from Friends and printed on trucker caps to be sold at Hot Topic (over 600 locations nationwide).
American entertainment became about gawking at weirdos. TV shows about women who eat couches or get plastic surgery to look like celebrities became the norm. The guy with a 300-pound scrotum (RIP) got an agent.
Marketers and advertisers got their claws in, too. Weirdness used to be a pursuit for outsiders, but now it’s thought up by teams of market researchers, to be regurgitated by the Old Spice Guy or the Geico Gecko.
What You Can Learn from the LA’s Abandoned Street Couches
Archaeologists have long known you can learn heaps about a culture from its trash, and the Los Angeles street couch is no exception. These artifacts say more about us than just laziness. They tell stories of butts and passion and bad television, maybe even birth and death.
Pay enough attention, and you’ll start to realize these couches fit into certain categories, even though they won’t fit into your compact car. Pay enough attention, and a taxonomy appears.
The Cushionless Couch
This is the most common species of Los Angeles street couch, and all sofas without attached cushions meet this fate within a few hours. Those cushions might as well be currency for the homeless, and once they’re stripped, the couch is guaranteed a long life on the curb without any takers.
The Whole Living Room on the Curb
Nothing quite says “forceful eviction” like an entire living room chucked onto the sidewalk. Unlike your regular street-couch sightings, which tend to happen toward the end of the month, the whole living room on the curb can be seen almost any time.
The Young Punks of Disneyland
I’m standing in front of Space Mountain worrrying I won’t be able to find the Neverlanders Social Club. It’s an ordinary Sunday in Disneyland in November—sunny and beautiful in that Californian way and packed to the gills with tourists—and I’m concerned I’ll miss them in all the hubbub. They told me they’d be decked out in their Disney gear, but a lot of people here are wearing park-themed merchandise. Then I see them coming and realize there was no way I could have missed them.
There are more than 30 Neverlanders moving toward me as a pack, cutting a path through the crowd. They’re wearing handmade mouse ears and hats, and many of them are covered in tattoos—they look like one of the minor gangs from The Warriors, or some cult in a postapocalyptic wasteland where Mickey Mouse is worshiped as a deity. Each member has a patch of a character that represents his or her personality—the 30-something couple who founded the club, Angel and Cindy Mendoza, are Donald and Daisy Duck.
Everyone is staring as I walk with them to It’s a Small World, a boat ride at the tip of Fantasyland. As we round the Matterhorn Bobsleds, “regular” park-goers snap photos of the Neverlanders as if they’re celebrities. People point; parents tell their children to take note; jaws drop. Angel says with a shrug that they’re used to this commotion by now. When you’re the biggest Disneyland fans in the world and wear that love on your sleeve—literally—you’re bound to get some odd looks.
Last time we went to one of Corey Feldman’s parties he freaked out and called us a pervert and accused us of photoshopping images to make him look bad. He also banned VICE (and cameras) from future parties. So when his Valentine’s Day party came along, we snuck in and brought illustrator Johnny Ryan with us.
Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us.
We Went to Another One of Corey Feldman’s Parties
By now, the tale of woe that is Corey’s Angels is the stuff of legend. We went to his birthday party last year, took a bunch of photos he claimed were doctored to make the party look bad, and then our writer was accused of being a pervert. The irony of Corey Feldman accusing someone of sexual deviancy at a party where he charged men $250 to hang around women in lingerie was clearly lost on him.
After a few weeks of Corey furiously tweeting his displeasure over the article, shit died down. Corey went back to retweeting any and all compliments he could find, and all seemed normal… until we saw an ad for a Corey’s Angels Valentine’s Day party. Which was, naturally, scheduled forFebruary 22nd.
It’d be fair to assume we would have learned our lesson and stayed away this time, but like the producers of Lost Boys 2, we went greedily went back for seconds despite having every reason in the world not to. Through cunning, guile, and perseverance (and a $300 entrance fee), we made it back to the Feldmansion.
Obviously, under no circumstances, would Corey allow someone from VICE back to one of his “parties,” so I came up with a pseudonym and invented the backstory that my guest was from out of town and looking to get crazy. The party had a dress code where all men had to wear suits, so I sucked in my gut and squeezed into my Sunday best. Cameras were banned this time around, so I took the illustrator Johnny Ryan with me to draw what happened.
If $300 seems like a lot for two grown men to go to a party, you’ll be horrified to learn that it almost cost more, as Corey’s assistant called me up and tried to claim that the advertised “Early Bird Special” on their website should have been discontinued before we bought our tickets and that we’d need to give Corey an extra $200. We simply refused to pay more and went on our way.
Jerry O’Connell Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
Shia LeBeouf’s performance art piece in Los Angeles has changed the way our society looks at celebrity. It’s a groundbreaking work, the likes of which have never been seen before. Obviously, copycats were bound to start springing up, eager to siphon off some creative juice from such an original piece of art. Fortunately, the first one out of the gate to get a taste of the action was My Secret Identity star, Jerry O’Connell, who opened a performance art installation right next door to Shia.
A massive crowd formed, eager to get a glimpse at what their hero had in store for them. Literally, the line was almost all the way to the next storefront. I counted at least fifteen people. It hit twenty at its peak. It was overwhelming, much like Jerry O’Connell’s performance in Kangaroo Jack.
The line for Shia LeBeouf obviously took a massive hit because of Jerry’s presence next door. The only remaining visitors to Shia’s installation were nobodies, tourists, normal people, fatties, and Time magazine writer Joel Stein. I couldn’t be bothered.
There was a real excitement in the air. Everyone was getting into the spirit of things. Especially this guy, who thought to do his own art project on the sidewalk. Thanks to his ingenuity and me being complicit with his attention-seeking, he is now famous. What a paradox. Really makes you think, eh?
As I made my way through the door, a palpable sense of dread overtook me. What could be in store? Surely, I would be learning something about myself, and connecting with a human being in a very real way. I’d definitely cry. He’d definitely cry.
Los Angeles Is Miserable: An Introduction
The second decade of the 21st century might be remembered as a golden age for the city of Los Angeles. In the past five years, America’s second largest metropolis has seenrecord-low crime rates, a slow-and-steady expansion of mass transit options, a rapidly gentrifying urban center that some are calling the “next great American city,” and two NBA championships for our beloved Lakers. Yet a large portion of the city is still totally depressed like it’s 1992 all over again. All those pretty winter landscapes you see on Instagram are actually a sign that 2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history, and that we’ll all be brushing our teeth with toilet water if it doesn’t rain soon. Sure, crime is down and downtown has a bunch of fancy new hotels, but a few blocks from those hotels is the biggest homeless encampment in the nation—Skid Row.
A private, independent commission endorsed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calledLA2020 recently released a controversial report claiming that almost 40 percent of citizens in Los Angeles currently live in “misery.” What qualifies as misery? The report says that poverty and lack of access to necessary services does the trick. It takes only a cursory glance around in any direction, on any street in this city to see the truth of that statistic. Forty percent is a major chunk of a city that boasts a population of over 4 million people—plus neverending suburban sprawl—but the number of people who live in misery in LA is probably even greater than that.
Charles Bukowski Wouldn’t Have Gotten Drunk at a Bukowski-Themed Bar
Charles Bukowski was a drunk. Not just a drunk, but the drunk. Nearly two decades after his death, he remains the patron saint of drunks. That being the case, naming a bar after him makes sense. It’s been done, many times, before: New York City, Glasgow, Boston and Amsterdam all possess watering hole homages to the alpha male author. Santa Monica’s week-old Barkowski can now be added to that list.
The deification of Bukowski, and other tortured, inebriated artists of his ilk, is a task best undertaken by those who have not experienced actual suffering. There is no better place to find said demographic than Santa Monica, California, a bourgeoisie beachside burg more well-known for its outdoor shopping mall than its self-destructive poet population. According to Barkowski’s website, its namesake’s “writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.” Santa Monica is not Los Angeles. Los Angeles, or at least Bukowski’s Los Angeles, is where you go when you want to drink $3 draft beers surrounded by human detritus. Santa Monica, however, is where you go when you want to pay $9 for a poorly poured, half-filled glass of Chimay. Barkowski sells poorly poured, half-filled $9 glasses of Chimay.
Barkowski’s interior is essentially the same as that of its predecessor, the Air Conditioned Lounge; nothing has been done to alter its nondescriptly modern black and red color scheme and padded leather walls. Enormous glamour shots of Buk’ drinking and gazing into the distance, alongside framed printouts of trite quotes about women and incarceration, are the only things that differentiate the new bar from the old. In one photo, he’s shown cradling a Schlitz tall boy; in the interest of synergy, Schlitz tall boys are available at the bar. For $7. If Schlitzes were $7 in Bukowski’s day, he wouldn’t have been able to afford a drinking problem, and Barkowski would have a decidedly different theme (“Papa y Beer Hemingway’s,” perhaps?). When it came to preserving the authenticity of the Bukowski theme, $7 Schlitzes and the “A” health rating sign hanging above the bar were but two of a myriad inaccuracies.