At the Great American Food & Beverage Co., Wilshire at Sixth (1979)
Joe’s behind the keys
Doug, Lisa and I singing backup until
others join the fray, Carolyn on cabasa
This restaurant is like nothing ever
Smells mingle and linger
Rib sauce, beer, whipped cream
Sweat and hot chocolate
Sounds bounce and dervish
Music: Tambourines, guitars,
ivories, voices of every color and timbre
It’s late, so Jamie takes to the piano
“Heartbreak City” in the key of frenetic
Climbing on tables, raising hell, crazed
Chuck on “Takin’ It To The Streets”
We gather around him, the army of
musicial pacifists, guitars the only weapons
No mics, just naked acoustics, so I have to
wait for a lull and take the piano with great
intention to render “Skylark” as it should be
People wait for hours outside
Munching veggie trays, waiting for
two hours just to get in
The floorboards harbor stories
of naked piano players, cooks banging
fudge pots, making fun of musicians
Of after-hours massage lines, practical
jokes magic serving starving
The life of a singing waiter or host
Poppy stops in, baby River bops in his arms
He laughs when he smells the Divine Weed
wafting from the kitchen
Enrique the dishwasher knows three words
in English: “E-spread ‘em, babeeee!”
Kitchen staff schooling him
Late nights playing pinball for free
Greggie found the key and we laugh and
drink and sing the old songs, it’s quiet now
Lights out, don’t have to go home
but ya can’t stay here…
Farewell, my youth, my touchstone
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Fireblossom wanted poems about a specific place. How about a specific place and time, with specific people? For those of you who never experienced the Great American Food & Beverage Co. in Santa Monica in the 70s, this is only a taste of the wild, wickedly fun, wantonness that was the G.A. A place that holds me fixed in time and space, a place where I went from girl to woman – and from beer to beyond. Peace, Amy
May 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Always knew food could be the music of life, but not so literally.
May 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Nice sensory poem, Amelita. You certainly put the reader there. I also love your process notes, you make me smile.
May 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm
Thanks, Amy! Felt like I was in that room again!
May 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm
You have conjured this space in such a way that we read it with our senses. The atmosphere is brought to life, as is the spirit of the people who inhabited it back then.
May 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm
You made this place come alive, Amy. And the joint was jumping(no pun intended.) I remember Enrique–he taught my son his Spanish cuss words–that’s called being an exchange student, isn’t it? I loved the feel of this, from ‘Sounds bounce and dervish,’ to ‘the key of frenetic,’ and especially the perfect word choices in the end lines.
May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm
I love this part:
“This restaurant is like nothing ever
Smells mingle and linger
Rib sauce, beer, whipped cream
Sweat and hot chocolate”
You just about got me drooling.
May 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm
I can see it, I can hear it and most certainly smell it…
put that weed down.
May 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Agree with everyone’s comments including henna’s quote. Such lively writing engaging the senses. Nicely done!
May 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm
We all need a G.A.F.B.C. in our pasts … all of it .. the food, alcohol, music, pot, pinball!!!!
May 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm
That’s grand work. I’m hungry now!
May 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm
… thank you so much for visiting my blog and your comment. I have had a terror of bridges since I was a child. Tried working through it (among other issues) during a year or so of therapy. My therapist told me I passed a milestone when I had one of my ‘bridge dreams’ … and actually was able to ‘crawl’ across (YES) without falling in. I might have passed a milestone, however I am still terrified of them.
May 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm
Glorious! What an upbeat rhythm you gave this place and its buzzing hive of activity and song and rumors! I love it.
May 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm
Sounds like a very lively restaurant, and you set a vivid scene in place and time in the 70’s … realistic, well done 🙂
Kay, Alberta, Canada
May 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm
Wow, Amy, if only…yeah, but…
Well, just “Wow, Amy”!
May 25, 2013 at 12:02 am
Wow Amy I felt like I was there! ;D
Susie Clevenger (@wingsobutterfly)
May 25, 2013 at 12:28 am
Full of sounds, smells, visions…..Thanks for the peek into your memories.
I HAVE A VOICE
May 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm
a great picture [s] of location that whet the appetite!
May 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm
!! You have me a glimpse of a time and place I don’t think I could have even imagined!! You’ve led an interesting life, Amy. So many singers today don’t know how to song and fill a room without damaging their vocal chords.
May 26, 2013 at 8:20 am
“Skylark”. *sigh* I love those old Johnny Mercer songs.
May 26, 2013 at 11:38 pm
A very vivid description Amy! Could see the place and the ambiance brewing out of the words!
May 27, 2013 at 9:21 am
The in-crowd that gathers all night to share good times together. It’s the same the world over for the youngsters to let off steam. More of a passing fancy for most people! Thanks for sharing Amelita!
June 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Amy, another incredibly penned memory–full of the sighs, sounds and scents. Felt like I had to shake my head to come back to reality 😉
August 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm
Amy, you’ve captured those long-ago days so beautifully. I imagine that you served my friends and I on one of our frequent visits. I also brought my sheltered high school-aged ice cream store employees there to get a taste of the real world! A special time and place.
February 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm
Thanks for the tour…
June 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm
Amy, this is RICH and BRILLIANT. But in my mind’s eye, you’ll always be that wild-eyed crazy young thing in the lobby at the Pong machine. Or was it PacMan?