Thursday, August 7, 2008


Home is where the heart is, and I guess that means my heart resides in Burbank, CA. Burbank's an interesting place. When you're a kid, you love it. The flag-football rivalries between schools, the country fairs, carnivals, and farmer's markets. Downtown Burbank with its expansive illustrious mall, 3 movie theaters within a 3 block radius, and of course, In-N-Out. Burbank's got it all.

But there's a certain point where you start thinking about how lame Burbank really is. I don't know if I passed that threshold when I moved to college or when I turned 21, but I've reached my limit. When you turn 21, all you want to do is go to bars (says the alcoholic in me). And this is where Burbank lacks promise.

Living in downtown and going to downtown bars for the past three years, I've gotten used to the glitz and glam and culture and sophistication of it. Places like The Golden Gopher, Seven Grand, Veranda Bar, The Edison--these places require a certain stylized wear and attract roughly the same crowds--the hipster eclectic of Los Angeles . . . and really hot girls. Burbank, not so much.

I've hit up The Blue Room about three more times since that first magical encounter with Mel from Flight of the Conchords. Each time has honored the same tradition--drinking and scoping. Scoping is key when going out. You know you've done it: you give the room a quick wide scan to locate the most attractive guy or girl in the place and size up your confidence for a possible interaction later in the evening. What I've noticed about The Blue Room is that when I "scope" out the place, all the bar patrons are way older than me. Observe this quick interaction between Gladly and a female two weeks ago:

Female: Hey, how old are you boys?
Gladly: Around 22. Why do you ask?
Female: Just wondering (goes to girlfriends, tells them, they all start laughing and looking back at us)

Judging by her looks, this woman had to be at least a million years old (or 29 unsarcastically). That same night, two weeks ago, we hit up the Fantasia Billiards Hall and Bar. The place was packed with townies at least 4 years ahead of me. By this time, I was a little too influenced by Cuervo to really take notice of these townies. It wasn't until I went this past Friday for a quick drink before Step Brothers that I became well-aware of the Burbank social elite.

Sitting outside with beers and cigarettes, Gladly and I discussed the differences between downtown bar culture and Burbank bar culture:

1. People wear Crocs at Burbank bars. 'Nuff said.
2. Burbank is becoming dominated by the Armenian and Mexican cultures. There were a lot of guys with hairy chests, goatees, and cheap gold jewelry.
3. I did not see any single girls. If there was a girl, she was already with a guy. I feel that this says a lot about meeting people at bars in Burbank.
4. The martinis suck.

However, the most "Burbank" experience I have had does not involve the use of alcohol at all. In fact, it was a conversation that took place outside the 7-Eleven on Glenoaks and Cypress:

Gladly (smoking cigarette and looking inside): Hey, I think I went to school with those kids.
Kage: The ones buying donuts?
Gladly: Yeah. Dude, they look really stoned.
Kage: Yeah, man. Even the Asian kid looks super stoned because you can't see his eyes.

Then, a super tiny little blonde kid with black ball piercings and his taller, fatter black friend make their way into 7-Eleven next to the two stoner kids. The two small kids could not have been any older than eleven years old. They exit 7-Eleven and start suspiciously loitering near us. I quickly make sure my wallet's in my back pocket and get ready in case shit goes down. You gotta always be prepared, no matter the size of your foe.

Black kid: Yo, man. You smoke?
Gladly and Kage: Yeah, man. We're smoking now.
Black kid: Shit, man. How long you been smoking?
Gladly: I'd say since around 16 or 17.
Kage: 'Round senior year of high school.
Gladly: But seriously, man, you shouldn't start on it. It's not worth it, trust me. We're lost causes, but you still have a chance.

The white kid hides behind the trash can, jumps out, and hits a car with a spit wad from his spit straw.

White kid: Score!
Black kid: You drink?
Gladly and Kage: Yeah, man.
Black kid: How old are you?
Gladly and Kage: 21.
Black kid: What the hell are you doing here then?
Gladly: Oh you know shooting the shit. But we're about to paint the town red, hit the bar for a drink, go see Step Brothers, and then hit up a party in Eagle Rock by some Bell-Jeff kids. Wild night (sarcastically)
Black kid: Cool, man. You drive?

At this point, I'm thinking two things: a) I know exactly where this conversation is heading, and b) Get to it already so I can say no.

Finally we decide to bounce. We say bye to the kids and give them sound words of advice (Don't start drinking until at least college). Then, my forecast is proven true as the black kid yells, "Yo, man, can I get a cigarette?!"

Gladly and Kage: Were you not listening?! NO.

I don't know what happened to my Burbank. It used to be such a nice little suburb and now it's just shadesters left and right. It's like Hot Topic exploded all over the city. It's cool when you're young, hanging out at Fuddruckers and playing Time Crisis. It's okay when you're way older and are raising a family because of the good schools and lack of gangs (so I assume).

But that in-between period is a real bitch.

No comments: