After the Getty that first evening, we took the dollar-a-ride Blue Bus the two miles down to Santa Monica beachfront from our high-priced basic motel room (with its rooftop terrace, complete with astro turf, bogus ferns and a couple of Greek statues). We were rewarded with dancing and singing street acts along Third Street Promenade, as well as the boardwalk in front of the pier. The loin-clothed guy below got the prize for the sheer novelty of his act. As you can see he’s on a ladder, his black skin gleaming with sweat from the effort it took to balance while gripping two writhing snakes.
Okay, the snakes were fake, but there was a certain irony in his expression, along with a couple of comments he made that allowed him to pull it off. A short walk away, was Border Grill, the place I’d been dying to try where we had reservations; it was a bust for the most part. Except for the fact that it was a hole in the wall–which to me, is essential for a Mexican restaurant–with a wild bold fiesta décor, a long saloon-type bar, and the mango margaritas and the Jicama Orange Salad were fabulous. And then there was that little extra, a tip from the bartender that just across the street lay Harvelle’s, a quintessential blues, jazz, and soul club, in operation since 1931.
Later that night, we squeezed into Harvelle’s dark narrow barroom and found a seat up front against the wall, just in time to see the performers take the stage—the Blues Brothers incarnate, plus Roach, the female singer. They started playing and it took everything not to get up and dance, but then we would’ve lost our seats. The highlight of the night for us was this one smokin’ number from Roach. I think I managed to capture her acting it out in this iPhone shot: “If you ever see me at three o’clock in the morning on Montana Boulevard, you know, a black woman with blond hair, pull over and help me or get the hell out of my way.” Note: Montana Boulevard is in a rich white neighborhood.
It was hard leaving the show but we had a bus to catch before they stopped running and tomorrow was another day of fun, fun, fun. And an almost disaster.