Sometimes events in the universe seem to conspire. I got a message on my “My Space” from Sean Havey. Jim and Donna’s child on the photo from my “Breaking Up” post is an adult now. He invited us to meet up with him at the Venice Cafe.
I had my son Dylan. He’s a minor so we had to leave the bar before the band started. Dylan had been after me for a long time to take him inside. He’s heard a lot of stories. Uncle Bill would be working the door but hadn’t shown up yet. Bill’s wife Martha Rose was setting up her table out in the garden. She makes her living reading palms as Madame Rose. I told her I’d flash her card on my blog.
I was wondering what I’d write about this week. I was looking at the photo with my brother and me in the middle of the street in U. City. I was thinking about palmistry and it came to me.
I think it was 1973. I was 16 or 17 and still living with my mother. Pam, Dominic and I were working a Ouija board in my room.
We asked about Dominic at first. It kept telling us in different ways that Dom must never go to
Pam was living with me at my mom’s but it was time to for us go. I had to get a job. I asked the board. It told us I had to go to Hi Fi Fo Fum immediately (a local high end stereo store). I blew it off. I’m not superstitious at all and figured we were subconsciously manipulating the board.
Later that afternoon I jumped into Wild Life, my Pontiac, and went out job hunting. I figured, what the hell, I’ll check out Hi Fi FO Fum. The manager told me he wished I’d been there a little earlier. He had a job I would’ve been perfect for but the position had just been filled.
Feeling a bit dejected I drove to U. City. There was a Chinese restaurant there call The Lantern House. I went in and was hired on the spot.
I ended up getting jobs there for my brother and my friend George. George said it was the worst job he ever had. They worked us to death. They had an incredible work ethic and no one spoke English.
I remember once they told me to go down to the basement and get a bag of rice. The bags were a hundred pounds. As I was struggling to drag it across the ground a small woman, maybe 4’2” and 80 years old named Miss Linn, told me to move over. She threw it over her shoulder and carried it upstairs for me.
We used to fill giant bowls with rice and water and skim floating weevils out. You’ve never lived until you’ve scoured the grease trap of an overhead industrial stove fan.
I was the only white person they let cook anything. I made the fried ice cream desserts.
The place was owned by 2 brothers named Ben Roth & Liong Q. Wong. They won several gold medals but they never cooked for the patrons. They would be so offended when someone ordered a hamburger that they would make me go across the street to DQ to buy one. Then they’d put it on their bread. It reminds me of when
At the end of the night, when the Lantern House closed, the brothers would cook for us. The family and employees surrounded several huge round tables. Once they prepared carp someone caught. They loved it but I had trouble keeping it down. It was like overcooked eggplant that smelled like cat food. The building is now owned by the Fritz Root Beer company.
Anyway back to the cosmic events that would unfold leading me back to the Venice Cafe. I never did see Sean but I was able to give my son Dylan a tour. He’s 14 and after introducing him to everyone it occurred to me that we’d come full circle. The reason I left the bar 14 years ago was that I would come home drunk at and stare with wonder at my new baby in his crib. It was time to move on.
Photo is Dom and Ben from the Ouija board era. Dom is doing his best Ian Anderson. This was in his mom’s basement where we learned how to be a band. Dominic shares Ian Anderson's birthday.