After I got fired from the crepe place and walked out of the Rainbow, the first place I waited tables in LA for more than a day was a place called Café Pelican in Santa Monica. It was a nice little casual beach-type of restaurant with a lot of snotty Westside customers. If you’re not familiar with LA, the Westside is one of the areas of LA where a lot of wealthy people live because it’s closer to the ocean. For the most part, it’s a lot of uppity white people.
I waited on Bruce Springsteen and I’m surprised I didn’t open my big mouth and say something stupid to him like “I love the “Born To Run” album and used to get drunk in the back of a van and listen to it with my friends,” which is true. He probably would have responded with something like “Who didn’t get drunk in the back of a van and listen to that album?” Bruce was very popular in my neighborhood when I was growing up, being from Jersey and the “voice of the blue collar” and all that. I guess people relate to his depressing lyrics. I always respected him and love a handful of songs, but not a lot of them. But it was still cool to wait on “the Boss.” Unfortunately, he was nice but didn’t do anything juicy enough for a story. I was sorry to hear that Clarence Clemons died recently. Remember “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”? Somebody give a shout out!
I also waited on “Epstein” from Welcome Back Kotter. Remember that show in the 70’s? It was John Travolta’s big break out role as Vinnie Barbarino and all the girls loved him….except me. I loved Juan Epstein, the short Puerto Rican Jew. Even back then, I think I felt a gay vibe from Travolta. I’m not saying he’s gay, I’m just saying his vibe was, and if he was or is gay, I wouldn’t care anyway. I love gay men. They don’t call me Celeste “fag hag” Donohue for nothing (my gay friend Larry gave me that name). Anyway, I told Epstein that I was in love with him when I was little, and he smiled. He never got that split in his teeth fixed.
I had the theme from “Welcome Back Kotter” on a ‘45’ record. I had an amazing ‘45’ collection, including such songs as “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band (I didn’t know they were talking about having sex during the middle of the day, why weren’t they at work? ), “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tenille ( my very first ‘45’), and the theme from “Rocky” of course.
By the way, not only is “Rocky” in my top 5, possibly top 3 movies of all time, most people, if not all people from Philly, love that movie. I think I can speak for my homies when I say that it’s just cool to have such an amazing movie filmed in your hometown, and it really captured a certain vibe of the city. There are also so many great quotable lines from that movie like “You’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder.” Does it get any better? I had a poster of Rocky on my bedroom wall when I was ten. I was in love with him after that movie because sometimes big, dumb guys are sexy.
I saw Sylvester Stallone in LA at a club about 10 years ago. He’s kinda short and a little steroid-y looking. He looked pretty hammered and by this point I was over him. I think I fell out of love with him after “Rocky 5”, or was it “Rocky 4”, when he fought the Russian? What a cheesy movie! But don’t get me wrong, if I’m flipping around the channels and it’s on, I’ll watch it. But Rocky 5 was a disaster. Thankfully, he redeemed himself with ”Rocky Balboa.” Did you see it? Did you like it? I was sad that Adrian wasn’t in it, but thankfully Paulie was still there. What a great character! I just got the urge to run up the steps of the Art Museum in Philly. Okay, not really. I think I’d pass out halfway up. But I do have the urge for a drink…it’s 5:00 in Kuwait! That’s good enough for me.
More waitress stories to come…