15. Joe Mantegna’s facial hair. Just squeaked in this time!
14. The five pound jar of Nutella.
13. Drakkar Nöir. The Baku metal scene had its high water mark in the late 90s, but nobody told these guys the grim grind party was over. We especially liked “Shashlik Midnight” but don’t stop before you get to the hard-bashing Turkic reinvention of “Little Wing.”
12. Kevlar’s. Last year this New Culver City treasure was a top 10, but since star pastry chef Lucas DeBeers defected to a revitalized nearby IHOP the brioche hasn’t been the same. Still the place for a weekday brunch in the Furniture District.
11. Dressing, The Orgone Trail. If you haven’t seen Dressing live, you’ve missed a projected screen game of Myst and a lot of M&M throwing, but not too much music. Where they shine is on record, and this flaming puu-puu platter of psychotronic gamer nostalgia will mark 2011 more than any number of on stage beach furniture auctions.
10. The oxygen bar at Raoul’s. Like it or not, the number of people in the scene “ironically” huffing is rising fast. Whether it’s just a giggle with a palmful of marker ink or a full gold paint overnighter, Raoul’s is the one spot to get a lung rinse without a crowd. Be safe, kids. The enamel kills even if you’re just joking.
9. Punch & Judy at Patch Park. Sunday morning isn’t just IHOP and regret now. Those in the know drag themselves down to the Merkin District for the marionette beatdown that’s too good for kids. Remember to stay in the back few rows and keep the smoking down or the whole delicious business is done.
8. The Beatles. Seriously!
7. Pressed Turkey. Remember brining and whole frying? Okay, we laugh now, it was dumb. But it’s not just Miley Cyrus and the Gypsy Kings ordering those big turkey presses this year; we’re all in on the act. Try David Lee Roth’s “Mushroom Mashup” version from August’s GQ if you dare!
6. The Barry Gibbs. Four of the same Bee Gee, singing nothing but classic Motown Soul. Only in this town, only Wednesday nights, and only at the IHOP on Technology Parkway West. Look carefully and you’ll see a “unique” celebrity guest most nights.
5. Virago State Prison Ballet Company. Probably the only maximum security dance company in the world, and certainly the best. Don’t mind the razor wire, but stay for the limeade and the heartbreakingly beautiful annual production of The Nutcracker Suite. Remember: there but for the grace of God the show must go on.
4. Balalaika Jones, Nightmares in Flax. We knew him as Fabrizio from the IHOP in the Lamination District. The whole world knows him now as the guy with the orange stuff on his balls. The two worlds meet in this two-fisted doubleheader, full of city pride and suburban swagger and that simpering cough we all knew would someday be the signature sound of a star. We want to put it on the list twice, and not just because our own Advertising Manager Jennifyr DeBeers sits in on percussion for two tracks.
3. AAA Art Supplies & Accessories. Don’t be shy, admit it. A lot of us end up in the Solvents District on Friday night, and there’s no shortage of places to to grab a quick “art break.” Tim and Broennwynn will remember your brand and color and even your bag size after just one visit, and their spacious alley is perfect for “jamming.” And don’t forget, Raoul’s is just a quick stagger west!
2. Badwater Grill. Just when the Dhaka was getting a little too damp, the latest “environment spot” hit our spot this year, spot-on. Lance DeBeers took this former IHOP on McMansion Parkway and turned it into a 130-degree Death Valley ultra-lounge that has the whole scene sweating like happy pigs. If you can brave the Sebum District after midnight, reserve the Scotty’s Castle table and order a Gatorade keg.
1. Pfft Gallery. Tucked into the armpit of the Resistor District where I-400 dead ends is the epicenter of an artistic earthquake. By now the phrase “infrastructure expressionist” sounds tired, we know, but when you see those blown-out transformers, bent girders, and huge jagged sheets of polyurethane, you’ll get what everyone from the Times-Record-Leader’s Ashok DeBeers to Christina Ricci already got: broken stuff. As cynical as we are here, we’re overcome every time we visit, and not just because our own Circulation Assistant Ashlii Redacted is the paint can girl. This year’s #1 and last year’s too. See you there!