Hippies ruin everything, Exhibit 8,346,788:
My wife and I are currently in Los Angeles on our annual sabbatical from Chicago's subarctic wintertime cruelties. After a pleasant President's Day afternoon at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, we returned to LA where we decided to have our evening victuals at The Dresden in Hollywood.
For those who are unfamiliar, The Dresden is a timewarp of a supper club that has withstood six decades worth of cultural ravages and remains, unbowed, the kind of place where the two-fisted guys of the Greatest Generation took their best gals for a fat steak and martinis after a hard day building America into the undisputed heavyweight champion of Planet Earth. You can view some of its awe-inspiring decor in the movie 'Swingers.'
It's the kind of atmosphere that keeps you on your best gentlemanly (if wolfish) behavior, as I was when I escorted my best gal into the sumptuous white Naugahyde of a Dresden booth. Drinks? Gin and Tonic for the lady and brandy Old Fashioned for me; thanks Sergio. (Sergio, our elegantly mustachioed 60-something waiter, nattily attired in bow tie). She'll have Linguini and clams, and a steak medium rare for myself, por favor. The wafting strains of Nat King Cole and Sinatra and the McGuire Sisters. 1954 Postwar Heaven.
Then we repaired to the adjacent piano bar, where martini glasses hang above the bar like icicles, anticipating some high class lounge entertainment. The bartender, a dead ringer for Mr. Whipple, complete with pencil mustache. Our cocktail waitress, a spry and lovely wisecracking lady whose age it would be ungentlemanly to estimate, other than to say my mom and her would become fast friends. When does the music start, we asked her as she brought another round of cocktails. "Oh, I'm sorry, Marty and Elayne [the Dresden's famous piano lounge duo] aren't playing tonight, but we have a band."
Our heads turned in horror to two worse-for-wear, stringy-haired early-middle-aged obese men clad in black concert t-shirts removing acoustic guitars from cases. "checkcheck testtest." twunngtwangtwingtwingtwingg twingtwing tweeeeng. "checkcheck test. One two." twingtwong twingtwong.
"Hello, we are the Rage."
So we winced our way through our drinks as the duo mewled and howled its way through a depressing off-key set list of 3 downbeat 60's-70's folkyrocky turdnuggets (ELO's "Telephone Line"? really?) before we could take no more, and left.
Now, I understand that time marches on, and it can't be the Fifties everywhere forever. But can't it be the Fifties forever somewhere, without the Seventies walking in and dropping a turd in the punchbowl? For crissakes, Baby Boomer culture, do you have to destroy every last thing in your path? Leave. The. Dresden. Alone.
Don Draper wept.