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Goodbye To J Sloans
May 1, 2002 - 12:01:00 PM
WEST HOLLYWOOD—I live on a playground. West Hollywood is a playground for adults, and those of us who reside here never really got past the age of 10, chronologically. It's like permanent recess, with alcohol. Disneyland, as administered by Ozzie Osbourne. It's too cool for all but us, and we know it and show it. It's also too expensive for all but us.
I begin my stay with Canyon Gossip by saying "Goodbye". Goodbye to a venerable institution of West Hollywood nightlife; a really fun place, with no cover charge, cheap drinks, crazy "Special" nights, few poseurs, cute under-age girls, crab races, a great sound system, and a "party hardy" commitment from customers and staff alike. The music was sonic and hip, everyone was horny, and you knew it wouldn't end until a bouncer finally shouted "OK people you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!"
I'm referring, of course, to J. Sloans on Melrose, that citadel of sophomoric silliness, which gave "last call" for the last time earlier this month. Through the years, Sloans was an important stop on the playground, and its demise is the drinkers' equivalent of Buddhists watching the destruction of their ancient statues by the Taliban. Cultural genocide, no less. Its passing leaves an empty space in the power watering holes of the city, and memories of my younger years spent within its crowded, noisy confines leave me somewhat wistful.
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In its own Bohemian way, Sloans had the cultural poignancy of the Rainbow or the original Cat & Fiddle on Laurel Canyon. It rocked. There was almost no place in the whole joint that wasn't a cool place to sit or stand: whether it was that raised seating section against the front window with its own bar, or the booths along the east windows, leaning over the second floor railings watching the action below, or a prized stool at the main bar, it was all good. They used to cover the whole floor with sand and have beach parties. There were penny-a-beer nights. It was always something. There was more stuff on the walls and ceiling than in a museum, including a hanging pitchfork, which always left me a bit uneasy. And finally, in the end, inevitably, the crab races pushed the whole roiling spectacle over the top and into the virtual realm of the cartoon that Sloans was destined to be, as mandated by the laws of nature. Suddenly, everything made sense. Life was a celebration. J. Sloans was a part of that for me, and for that, I'm eternally grateful.
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