Karl: What’s the name of this place?
Mark: The Golden State.
Karl: Okay, it’s June 10th, 2010. I’m here with Mark. I’ll just go down the list.
Mark: It looks amazing.
Karl: What’s your occupation?
Mark: I am a bureaucrat. *smile* So, I’m a big paper-pusher. I think my actual title is Administrative Analyst *thinks* 2? Maybe it’s Administrative Analyst 3. I’m not sure.
Karl: Your relationship status?
Mark: Oh, very single.
Karl: Approximate age? 25 to 30? 30 to 35?
Mark: I guess 30 to 35, unfortunately. But I’m the lower end! I’m being honest with you too, I usually just lie. It depends who you ask.
Karl: When did you move to West Hollywood?
Karl: And what brought you here?
*Waitress brings food*
Mark: I grew up in Oregon, where it’s very rainy, and there’s a lot of nature. So I decided to leave so I could get some sunshine and concrete. I wanted to stay on the west coast, and I wanted a larger city that wasn’t San Francisco. So I came to Los Angeles.
Karl: Did you have friends here?
Mark: I did have friends here.
Karl: So it wasn’t work that brought you here.
Mark: No, but I got a job before I came. I sought that out, because I wanted to live here.
Karl: Tell me a little about yourself, what you do in your free-time, outside of work.
Mark: What don’t I do in my free-time outside of work?
Karl: Do you have hobbies in West Hollywood, or outside the city?
Mark: Well. *leans forward* I watch a lot of television. I drink a lot of alcohol.
Karl: That is a hobby by the way.
Mark: It is!
Karl: It’s a time commitment.
Mark: I commit!
Karl: It’s a financial investment.
Mark: Not so much. *says in Woody Allen impression* There’s some bartenders I know that are pretty, uh… generous with the hook up from time to time. It’s not so bad.
So let’s see… TV and drinking… *thinks* Um… those do take up a lot of time. I don’t know, I like to explore the city, go out to nice restaurants. I’ll go on little hikey-hikes here and there.
Karl: Where do you hike?
Mark: Well, I’ll hike Runyon Canyon, because its close. That’s not really a hike though, it’s more like walking. Over in the Santa Monica Mountains there’s a lot of little, good hikes.
Karl: You ever go down to Palos Verdes? That area?
Mark: No, I do not. It’s not like I’ll drive down there.
Karl: Right. You don’t want to drive so you can walk.
Mark: I don’t know, I just kick it with people. I socialize, I’m very social with people. I go out quite a little bit.
Karl: Well, tell me about that. Tell me about some of the places you go.
Mark: I don’t know, it depends. I do a lot of things in Westwood, just ’cause of the proximity to work. I’ll stay there. But I’ll go out in Hollywood or West Hollywood.
Karl: Where do you go out in Westwood?
Mark: Westwood? Um, I’m always looking for a new, little place that’s good. Oh, what is there? There’s a little college bar. *thinks*
Karl: Well, you’re in with the bar tenders, where are those places?
Mark: Well, those are like… There’s a Palomino there which is alright, it’s kinda cheeseball but that’s pretty good. There’s that… what is that? It’s called Maloney’s, but it’s not called that anymore. It’s called something else?
Karl: Is that the sports joint?
Mark: It’s like a chain, but it’s not called that anymore. O’Hara’s? I think it’s called “O’Hara’s!” *Says in big exaggerated announcer voice* There’s that. There’s this new place that just opened up called the Glendon Kitchen and Bar. That’s alright, I ran into the owner of that today. I don’t know. I do a lot of drinking.
Karl: What about around here? We’re currently on Fairfax across from Canters. What’s the cross-street here?
Mark: We’re between Rosewood and Oakwood, number 426. You know, I go here, occasionally for a beer. I’ll do a little, sometimes Father’s Office. There’s the 3rd Stop over on Third Street on the other side of Cedars. That’s a good beer place. Another one that I tried recently over in West Hollywood is the goat’s… The Surley Goat?
Karl: Where’s that?
Mark: It’s where some place called Eye Candy used to be? It’s been 100 things I think. Its good. It’s dead, no one’s ever there, and they have a really good beer selection.
Karl: Do you go there to meet people? Do you go there with people?
Mark: I usually go with people. Usually when I go out drinking, it’s kind of to hang out with people, connect with people that I already know, sort of like…
Karl: Catch up.
Mark: Exactly. A lot of that revolves around drinking though, fortunately or unfortunately.
Karl: Do you find that the singles scene happens much in bars now, or is all online?
Mark: I have my theories on this. I think that a lot of people probably… specifically the gay community… well, I think… Okay, yes for both, like, right? But I think that a lot of people are on eHarmony, or some bull shit, or like, more heterosexual. But I think there’s a lot more hooking up via internet for people that would normally hang out and troll around a gay bar, specifically to hook up.
Karl: They have apps for that too. *points to iPhone*
Mark: Yeah, so I think the people that normally would go there, not because they really want to hang out for the lovely ambiance, who are pretty much there just to hook up, are probably finding other venues for it. I’ve seen a lot of bars go out of business. Not necessarily in West Hollywood, but elsewhere in this city, where there were lots of pockets when I first moved here, of little, strange, odd bars that had been around for a long time, that had an older clientele or whatever. But they went away, years ago. Probably because, I think a lot of the people that would frequent them on the chance to, like…
Karl: They’ve gone online?
Karl: Are you referring to places like the Gold Coast?
Mark: Well, no, that one’s probably still doing very well. There were a lot in the Valley and like Studio City, there used to be a lot. And then they all turned into straight clubs. On Ventura Boulevard, there was a series of them, and the surrounding area. When I first met a friend who lived in Studio City, I would sometimes go over and see him. And there would just be, sort of like, seven or eight options to offer a drink there. They were disgusting, horrible, and dead, but they were in business… and open. And over time, they don’t exist anymore. Now they’re bizarre clubs.
Karl: And everybody hates those. Why those are such money makers? *smirks*
Mark: I don’t know. I think that someone must like those. I don’t know. Who’s really clubbin’ it up in Studio City on Ventura Boulevard?
*pause to sip drinks*
Karl: You’ve been here since 2001, how has this area changed?
Mark: Well, I think that in some senses there’s been more of a corporate influence. Whereas when I first moved here, it was sort of deprived of that. It seemed like there were a lot more local, smaller businesses. It does seem like there’s been more of an emphasis, as I’ve noticed since I’ve moved here…
Karl: Like, Pottery Barn type businesses?
Mark: Well, The Grove went in for one. I know that’s not technically West Hollywood, but I think it has a huge influence. That didn’t exist when I first moved here. There was no Target. I think there’s just more of a corporate feel rather than less. I just see that emerging.
Karl: Yeah, I think the most flourishing business on this side of Santa Monica Blvd., was Formosa Cafe…
Mark: Which, I love! *eyes light up* I go there lots of times for drinks.
Karl: Exactly. But then Target went in with all those chain businesses. And yeah, you’re right, its pretty much been commercialized over the last ten years.
Mark: I think, a little bit, probably more.
Karl: Do you think that’s a good thing, or a bad thing for West Hollywood? Do you like it, personally?
Mark: There’s a convenience factor to it, but it’s not something that I particularly enjoy. Coming from a family where both of my parents were small business owners, I tend to not like that. And I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a lot of corporate culture, because it was too small of a market, which was actually a blessing, later I discovered. So not having access to a lot of homogenized type… But I think that’s the same thing in general, it’s sort of mirrored the culture in the last 10-years anyway, that’s one thing that I’ve seen that’s changed. Well, even like The Abbey, which is more specified to nightlife, even that became more corporate. It’s aligned with SBE.
Karl: How about the nightlife specifically?
Mark: Well, that has basically been turned into a large corporation of nightclubs essentially. But I think I’ve evolved too, because I’ve matured slightly, so I don’t want to go out dancing. I can’t pull that off as much. I’m not twenty.
Karl: Is that community still here? That community of twenty-year-olds who just go out and go dancing every night?
Mark: I don’t know. Well, you know when I first moved here, I didn’t see a lot of things for like, twenty-year-olds, ’cause unless you’re going to be drinking. There probably are people who, yeah, go out and go to clubs.
Karl: Well, I ask because, when we came here, it was a much different time economically too. So… I don’t go out anymore either, so I wonder if that part of the community has changed much. I don’t know, I mean, I guess The Abbey is still packed at night.
Mark: That’s still packed, but I think it draws a very different crowd, because it’s expanded, it’s twice as big as it was. It’s a lot of people that aren’t from the area. People come from the beach communities, people come from out of town. You couldn’t pay me to go there on a weekend. Like, an afternoon cocktail I’ll do, on a weekday, because it’s a good space.
Karl: Well, we like it because its next-door to the most popular playground in West Hollywood.
Mark: Perfect. Drop the kids off and go get a drink. And then make sure that there’s no child molesters hanging out.
Karl: I actually really like that place. I have a lot of fun there.
Mark: Well, it’s really a strange place, because I don’t understand anyone who will wait in line, why you’d wait in line for an over-priced drink. Well, it’s probably because they want to get laid. And then I don’t understand, I don’t know if it’s on certain nights, or I don’t know what the thing is, but there is like a weird hetero contingent there that’s very bizarre. It’s like… “Why are you there, with your girlfriend? What? Really?” It’s alright, it’s just really interesting. One time I was there and I was talking to several different people, and I was chit-chatting. I’m very outgoing and will strike up a conversation with most people, but I think I managed to talk to every heterosexual man in the establishment. I just thought, “Oh, this is interesting.”
Karl: So everywhere you turned, there was a straight guy? How does that make you feel?
Mark: Um, I don’t know. I mean, it’s interesting that… I find it fascinating that people would want to go there? Most of the time its fine, but when people get defensive, because if I’m just talking to them, they tend to get a little bit odd because they’ll think I’m hitting on them. And if I were hitting on them they get very like, weird about it. I think a lot of people, straight or gay, will misinterpret a lot of my…
Mark: Friendliness, yes, eye contact, a lot of people have very poor social skills. They don’t know how to react when people actually talk to them in a certain capacity, particularly strangers. I mean, I’m someone who will just say hello to people on the street. You know, make new friends. So I think that sometimes that can be off-putting for people, and they don’t deal with it. So I don’t feel that I like it when people are defensive about that. Sort of like, “Well, why are you here? You’re here to have a good time, presumably, why are you being an asshole?”
Karl: Well, I wonder if you could look at West Hollywood the same way? The Abbey is fun, hip, it’s an exciting bar, and that’s pretty much what the gay community has done for West Hollywood. Its fun, hip, and is a nice place to live, a nice place to raise kids, so like The Abbey attracts straight people with attitudes, West Hollywood might have the same draw.
Mark: Well, I think it attracts a lot of gay people with attitudes too. Well, you had asked me how it makes me feel, and for the most part its fine. I’m pretty… “Yay!” The majority of my friends are heterosexual males, so I’m very comfortable in that element. But I think, sometimes, other people are uncomfortable where they are, even though they chose to be there, so it’s just very off-putting.
Karl: Maybe they got dragged there by a girlfriend… Like they did to Twilight. *laughs*
Mark: Exactly. I just don’t know the phenomenon. I don’t know why, necessarily, all those people are there. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be there, or shouldn’t be happy there… It’s interesting.
Karl: They’re there to be seen.
Mark: Yes. I tend to get off topic by the way. I tend to ramble.
Karl: It’s okay I like it. Tell me about the community here. Has it changed at all?
Mark: Well… *thinks* I think that it’s gotten a little older, in a sense, particularly as real-estate has increased over the last ten years. In 2001 there was a huge economic crisis, which was basically the pre-cursor to the, what was it, 2008 crisis? I don’t think a lot of things were covered as far as people getting good jobs, and great jobs. So I think that as real-estate was getting increasingly expensive, a lot of people that were mellow, laid-back, younger people might of left, and gone east to Echo Park or Silverlake. I mean not that that’s affordable real-estate there either, but it’s different. So I think that was a contingent that did exist, that no longer exists. Um… What was the question?
Karl: The community.
Mark: So, yeah. Its changed a little bit. A lot of the people that stayed are maybe a little bit older, maybe a little bit more stable. There’s not like a young Melrose Place contingent that might of existed in the late 90s. So it is a lot of families. It is a lot of people that need a dwelling in that sense.
Karl: Has the attitude changed? Can you describe the attitude here?
Mark: I think its pretty chill. I think that it has an identity, an inclusiveness. It strives to be an equal city itself. It strives to be progressive on some things, whether it’s marijuana, or to embrace the nightclub scene, whether it’s up on Sunset or down on Santa Monica. It’s also a very young city, it’s only twenty-five years old, and for being such a new city, it’s one of the most densely populated. It’s a very interesting community. It’s an emerging place.
Karl: Which businesses do you frequent the most?
Mark: I do brunch, a lot of brunches. *exaggerated enthusiasm*
Karl: Brunch is very big here.
Mark: Well, I don’t have to drive, or park. I can walk to Whole Foods, another lovely corporate entity, I have one up on Fairfax, or one down the street too. I usually go to that one. *points to 3rd Street*
Karl: Do you go to The Grove? It’s so close.
Mark: I will for things. I won’t go on the weekend. But I’ll go there. It’s very convenient, it’s very easy. I go to movies. I go to a lot of things on that stretch of Melrose. *points to Melrose Ave.*
Karl: You get that flea market too. You ever walk through that?
Mark: Once, many years ago. A girlfriend made me go. Some people were in from out of town.
Karl: You buy anything? It seems that everybody goes, but no one ever purchases anything.
Mark: I do know people that have purchased things, they also purchase things are these second-hand stores up and down this street. I’ve bought records, because I have an LP player, so I’ve purchased records from those stores.
Karl: There’s a big skater contingent that developed around here over the last few years.
Mark: There is! It’s very cool. I used to have a bunch of friends who used to work at all the stores over on La Brea. The Stüssy and… well, all those stores. There’s some sort of connection with some of the ones on this street too. So I know some of the people who are… into that. I like that.
Karl: Yeah, it makes this a really cool neighborhood.
Mark: It does make it a cool neighborhood, I was just thinking that yesterday when I was walking and I saw some skateboarders. I was like, “Yay!” I like it.
Karl: I saw a half-pipe in one of them over here.
Mark: Its cool.
Karl: I’ve never been in the store but I always walk by and look in. I’m tempted to go break a bone in there.
Mark: I like that you have high-end/low-end shit.
Karl: What would you like to see more of?
Mark: That’s a good question. *long pause* I want to see more outside drinking. That’s what I want to see more of. Okay, I want to see no more liquor license… like, weird alcohol only. No Soju cocktails! Because that’s bullshit! A Soju cocktail? That’s terrible!
Karl: Describe a Soju cocktail.
Mark: It’s like sake, but then they like claim, they’re like, “Oh, we have margaritas!” And they try to make it into drinks. So the whole liquor license thing, I love to go to places with bars, but I love outside drinking. So I want a nice place where I can go out on the patio and have a drink. There aren’t a lot of those.
Karl: That’s the best suggestion I’ve heard yet. Yeah, that would be really nice.
Mark: There are a lot of up-scale, really nice places, there are good brunch places, I could name 20-million… But I want an afternoon cocktail, and unless you go up to like… Skybar or someplace, there really isn’t a very good venue. So that’s what I would love, if there was a proliferation of patios. I think those are very hard to get liquor licenses for. Well, just in general it’s hard to get a liquor license. But that’s what I would love to see, a place where it’s just like… Oh my God, if it could just happen in my neighborhood, where I can just go have an afternoon cocktail.
Karl: So that whole Santa Monica strip doesn’t cut it for you?
Karl: Too annoying?
Mark: Yeah. Well, it’s too down-trotted, and it’s not outsidey enough, and it’s too much. Like, I want it a little more loungier, I want it more relaxed. *pause* Every time it’s a sunny Sunday, at like 3:00, I’m like, “Dude, I want a drink. Let’s go grab a cocktail. Oh wait, we can’t really.” Because the only places that I can think of have beer and wine only. So I can have a glass of prosecco. No, I want something a little harder than that.
Karl: Anything you want to get rid of, or the city should do something about? Less of?
Mark: I don’t like the helicopters flying above me. There’s a lot of helicopters. I don’t know what they’re doing, but there’s a lot of them, and they’re flying around, they cannot be, I don’t know. They’re not like, patrolling. I want the city to get rid of the damn helicopters. No, I don’t know. I can’t think of anything civic, that the city could do… *thinks*
Karl: Anything? Less old men? *refers to wandering weird old man on sidewalk*
Mark: *laughs* Oh, I like old people though. I love old people. They’re great! I sometimes assist teaching this stretching and kvetching class at this old-folks home in Beverly Hills.
Karl: That’s fantastic, good for you.
Mark: It’s great. Good for the old ladies!
Karl: Exactly. Do you have a good turn out?
Mark: Sure! Yeah! *exaggerated enthusiasm* A lot of them show up. But its fun. Its good.
Karl: I think we have a lot of senior communities here.
Karl: There’s one right up the street. There’s one on my street actually, like a huge compound one.
Mark: That’s awesome.
Karl: So… you’re hard to read. Are you happy? Are you happy here right now?
Mark: Well, I think “happy” is a very fleeting emotion, so I guess, “content.” I definitely like Los Angeles, and I like the area of Los Angeles in which I live. So, I suppose, yes. This is probably the best neighborhood that I’ve lived in, in Los Angeles. Not that I minded the other ones, but they were more of a residential feel. Whereas this has a little but more pulse.
Karl: It’s more urban.
Mark: And I can walk and it has a neighborhood feel, whereas everywhere else I had to sort of drive to get to anything you wanted to do.
Karl: Do you think you’re permanent.
Mark: I think “permanent” is too long term…
Mark: I think that in the near future, I don’t see myself living anywhere else.
Karl: Well, where would go?
Mark: Exactly, where would I go?
Karl: You are permanent then. *smirks*
Mark: Well, unless there were some reason…
Karl: A job offer?
Mark: Well, sure, unless there was some sort of amazing, reason, or opportunity or whatever. But do I think I’m going to like, grow old and die here? I don’t know, that’s quite a conjecture.
Karl: Sure. Although, apparently if we do get old here, there are lots of places to go. *laughs*
Mark: Yes, there’s one right up the street from you, we could be neighbors.
Karl: Describe the area in another ten to twenty years. What do you see in the future of West Hollywood?
Mark: *long pause for thought* Well, I’m somewhat pessimistic. I don’t see a ton of great things happening on the near horizon. It could be, kind of a, not so much of a hot spot for a lot of things.
Karl: It might get dull?
Mark: Exactly, exactly. A lot of more innovative places may choose to sprout up elsewhere.
Karl: Where do you see that happening?
Mark: Well, I think a lot of stuff is happening east.
Karl: Silverlake? Koreatown?
Mark: Sure, exactly. But I would hate to see what happened to Hollywood, happen to West Hollywood. I don’t think it would be that dilapidated or run-down, but as far as having it basically be horrible, and just night clubs. So, great, from like midnight to two in the morning, it’s phenomenal because there’s lots of nightclubs to go to. But any other time its pretty… less cultured. Because there isn’t a lot of innovative stuff happening there. I mean, I don’t think it’s going to go that dead, I don’t see that happening to that extent. But hopefully it continues to flourish.