A long time ago, I lived downtown Los Angeles in what is now the downtown arts district, but before it got gentrified, it was just one of the many shitty parts of downtown at the ass end of skid row. The only thing that separated me from the bums was that I paid rent for the inside of walls, while they got the outside of them for free.
Around the corner from my house (which wasn’t really a house at all, but part of an old factory) was a dive bar called Al’s. Picture the diviest dive bar you’ve ever been in and make it even sleazier. Add graffiti on all the walls inside and out, cigarette butts everywhere and the smell. Ugh. The smell of cheap piss, a by-product of cheap beer, because it was safer to pee outside in the alley than to risk your life using the bathrooms.
Al’s was positively glorious and my favorite bar in the world. There is so much music history contained within those walls that the day Al’s Bar closed, it might as well have been the day the music died.
Anyway, while Al’s was still Al’s and not some tame, bullshit place where suburban people feel safe and “like a part of something, you know?” a band named Green Jello played there. Green Jello is now called Green Jellÿ (still pronounced “green jello”). Kraft Foods sued them because they’re greedy corporate assholes with no sense of humor. Green Jellÿ will always be O to me. Anyway, Green Jello is a ridiculous band with puppets and a very strange stage show. They are hella fun.
After the show, they invited us to a party at their place in Hollywood. We decided to go, because why not and beer.
It was at a big building on Sunset, three or four stories high and a block long, which in Los Angeles is damn long. There was a huge party at one end. My friends and I explored the building to look for Green Jello and wandered into a private performance by Cypress Hill. Well, alright then. In a room with a few dozen people is still the only time I’ve ever seen Cypress Hill perform. And I still don’t really like this song:
We milled around and talked to some people. I met a boy. We ended up talking all night. Still, we couldn’t find Green Jello.
Eventually, as things always do, the boy and I got around to talking about music. He was in a band that had the same manager or promoter or something as Cypress Hill. How do you know Cypress Hill? I don’t know Cypress Hill other than I just wandered into a room where they were performing, and apparently, I’m drinking their beer. Oh.
We were at the wrong party. It turns out that Green Jello was on the other end of the building completely, which seemed about half a mile away.
We walked down there and found a much mellower party at the coolest studio space I’ve ever seen. It had a huge papier mâché tree in the middle with a tire swing hanging from it and more colors than the rainbow everywhere. When the sun came up, we had pancakes at IHOP with assorted people from both parties. And that’s how Cypress Hill met Green Jello.
The Hollywood rehearsal studio was torn down not long after. The giant block was chopped up into bite-sized pieces. The part that was Green Jello’s is one of those designer shoe warehouse things now. There is no papier mâché tree or tire swing. There’s hardly any color at all.
Legendary Al’s Bar, where countless bands got their start, is now a yoga studio, because suburbanites are assholes who think there isn’t enough yoga in Los Angeles like there’s not enough coffee in Seattle. I moved away from downtown LA, partly because I couldn’t stand all the yoga-touting, latte-drinking, rich suburbanite assholes milling about my smelly neighborhood bragging about how they were there before it got cool. Their presence caused my rent to skyrocket.
Now, I live in another arts district that’s slowly undergoing the same miserable latte transformation. There’s a place around the corner that charges $9 for a piece of dry ass pie. Fuck you and your dry pie. Get off my lawn.
The boy and I dated for a while, which proved to be yet another example of why I shouldn’t date musicians. During which time, he was awfully fond of telling people the story of how we met at the wrong party. He thought it was kismet that brought me to Cypress Hill’s place that night. Maybe it was, but I’m more inclined to believe it just turned out to be the wrong party and a good story.