Friday, January 12, 2018

Eras and Ends.

The Cave opened in 1982.  1982, coincidentally, is considered one of the better vintages of Bordeaux. 1982, coincidentally, is the year Robert Parker showed up to tell everyone that. (Some think it was only an OK year until Mr. Parker convinced us otherwise.)  If you bought a bottle of Chateau Lafite upon release - like a lot of people here did to begin their collections - you paid around $40.  Today, a 1982 Chateau Lafite sells for $3,000.  (Inflation alone, it would be about $100 today.) A 2015 bottle will now set you back, depending on the bottle, from $600 - $1,700.  Bordeaux is no longer the stuff of beginning wine collectors.

Eras and Ends. 

The Era: I called Vern near the holiday and was getting no answer.  Vern, if you are just joining us, was your master of ceremonies before I, and it is directly because of him you all are now suffering me.  After a few calls I emailed his daughter and prepared for sad news and waited. HA! THERE IS NO SAD NEWS. Vern was under the weather and in the hospital a few days but is now back to his old self and I finally talked to him earlier today.  He sounds good enough, it was good to hear his voice, and as usual he bade me to tell everyone he says Hi.

Vern says, Hi.

The End: The singular privilege of being your resident troglodyte is my job description: I am the keeper of stories. There are many layers of story here. The building is a story, The Cave is a story, every bottle here is a story - someone's - and there are the stories that simply happen. Some I post and others I don't or won't, because.  One of The Cave's  better stories moved to Washington recently and came in this week to close out his lockers.  Sadness. So now I am at liberty to tell this story.

That's Steve on the back left.  He's been here since 2001. Three lockers. His buddy, the guy front left, I have no idea his name. There was never one without the other.  Both great guys.  They'd come in, Steve always in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, go into the cellar, be in there a while, you'd hear them laughing a lot, and then they'd come out carrying a case each.  The first time we all met they also were carrying two empty Mike's Hard Lemonades - which I offered to dispose of and they said thank you and then laughed all the way home.

One time after a long time and much carrying on, they came out carrying a case each and two PBR tall boys. This is the stuff of Awesome. This is Those Guys from That Era.

All the friends came in to help Steve move his lockers. It only took about two hours. This was some very funny two hours, let me tell you.  Old guys who've been friends for a long time are funny.  At one point I went outside and this was the top of the AC out there.  I was like, wow, when did that even happen? How did I miss THAT?


Here's a better look at the line up. 

And then they were gone.  Like every good story, the emptiness of The End.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The archeological dig of the old Hotel Glendale, Part 2.

Part 1
(click on pics to enlarge.)

HAHA, just when we all thought this blog was, in itself, HISTORY.

Things are actually wrapping up here in our little subterranean neighborhood.  The new electrical housing is built and progress is visible in the clearing of the great dumping ground. One of the items being discarded was this old electrical box, possibly an original.  It fell into The Cave recently, and I looked at it for a while trying to figure out what I could do with it.  And then, VOILA!  A bottle of wine would fit in that!

And then the great confluence of NOW: The box, the bits of scattered history, the trenches soon to be cemented over - we need a time capsule. And now we have one.

Here's what's in The Cave Time Capsule. I know, it looks like a bunch of garbage.  Sorry, no. Let's take a closer look.

The first of two bottles of wine. "Especially selected for your pleasure from Gil Jones' private stock."

Gil Jones, along with Mr. Day and the Broadway-Glendale Company, built the Cave.  GIL BUILT THE CAVE!  I drank this with him one day. Gil still cellars here. All this is about as legendary as it gets.

The other bottle I put in is this one. For years it's been next to my desk.  This is the first bottle of wine a customer ever gave me. Before it - before coming to The Cave - I was a non-wine drinker.  Occasionally maybe a bottle from Trader Joe's.  I was very satisfied with my $5 purchases. A year or so ago I tried that Trader Joe's bottle again and it was terrible.  The Cave has ruined me, all of you have collectively ruined me.   This was the first bottle to do so.  The elegance and nuance in this bottle was like nothing I'd ever before experienced, and with it my new job became clearly defined: do everything necessary to allow THIS.  I will never be a wine aficionado, but I understand THIS, and that's all I need to know.  That and more about AC than I ever wanted to know.

An original invitation to the Grand Opening of The Cave, December 15, 1982.

A pack of cigarettes in memory of Joe Burns, the first troglodyte. Also a smoker. I had his business card but it's disappeared. These I found in the storage room behind a shelf when I first came to work here and was doing the Big Clean. It was this, or the broom with his name on it.  The broom didn't fit.  People still tell me Joe stories.

The photo of Vern in his overalls, holding his pipe.  Vern Homer, your second emcee. Writer of poems, singer of songs, lover of seas. Without him I'd not be here.I still call Vern twice yearly. 

 The rotary dial from the original Cave landline.

A couple of post-its to represent the third troglodyte, years 1-8.
 Small gifts from customers, a khachkar brought back for me from Armenia, and an origami heart made from a $1 bill.

This Thomas Hardy Ale bottle medallion, because it was delicious, and to represent the beer people. And sharing delicious things.

Why not?  The shards dug up from even longerer ago.

The paper bits I tucked into this envelope. The Cave address is on it but also because it's my favorite example of desperation: "Please get my very late payment IMMEDIATELY before you sell (drink) all my wine like you just emailed me you were about to do."

Sunday evening I picked up the boards we've all been trying to wheel very heavy cases of wine over - for a very long time - to dig the hole for the time capsule. Maybe it will survive, maybe it will get infested or other elements will have their way with it.  Either way it is a very satisfying errand, this story that is us that gets to stay on in some manner.

Because with all that has passed The Cave remains. Story continues. So we bury our offering to the wine gods to say thank you for everything, for our fortune that we have this story, and for every bottle that opens up from here to become new stories.  The wedding, the graduation, the birthday, the family get-together, the dinner with friends, the quiet evening with Netflix and popcorn, the girls night, the first date, the fiftieth year, the horrible day at work, the great day at work, the screaming kids, because it's raining, because it's delicious, because it's Friday, because it's only MONDAY?!?, because because because: Cheers.

The archeological dig of the old Hotel Glendale, Part 1.

Spoiler alert: no dinosaurs, no bodies, no treasure.  
(click on pics to enlarge.)

For manymanymany months, The Clan of the Cave has suffered the loss of convenient parking.  OK, it was always a bit dicey with the steep, narrow driveway and the rarity of parking cooperation from neighbors, AKA, the good ol' days.

Yep, it's been a mess down here for a very long time. 

Almost everyone has taken our lapse in generous stride, and over the months many cases of wine have been rolled up and down that driveway into the secondary, free parking in the lot above. It's not horrible really.  Call me from up there, I bring you a hand cart, I happily roll your wine up and down and up again. It gives us all a chance to catch up on the state of the nation. I even have a pile of courtesy quarters for the meters.

The first appearance of a bit of history, since removed, was this hunk of cement sticking out from the trench.They went down a ways to get it out of there.

Once this was a radio tower - you can see the skeleton of it along the right side of this photo - circa early '80's.  Then it was a square of cement.  You can see the footprint in it of the remaining anchor.

For the first two years of the Hotel, the radio station here was KGFH.  It was in 1930 that KIEV took over the basement, for the next thirty years. You can read more about that here. For years the sign remained on the back of the basement door and then the door disappeared one day, the sign with it. Bummer.

Up the stairs some more digging gave up a few other bits and shards - a super heavy old glass fragment, a piece of tile, the top of a milk bottle, and a beautiful jar that remained intact. The jar went the way of the digger - well-deserved. The fragments came to The Cave.

These could well be leftovers from when the Hotel was originally built. Based on the debris out there now, the future will maybe find lots of plastic water and soda bottles and an old pizza box. But it's the other thing they will unearth that will be the real find.

Part 2.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

1966 was a good year.

Vacation?  I needed to do something and left for a week.  It turned out to be a very good week for me.  Very Good. 

When booking things, I opted to come home a day earlier than necessary.  I thought, well, no one will know where I am for a day and that's kind of fun. Turned out to be a good plan, I got out just before the blizzard.

And landed late in Los Angeles and came to The Cave to check on things.  Also, since the week went so amazingly, and I had one more secret day, I decided to keep it going: I retrieved what would be breakfast the following morning, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day: 1966 Chateau Figeac.

It was given to me a few years ago, yes, GIVEN TO ME. He was sober and everything, beats me.  I wanted to open it last winter, and then open it this winter, and then open it with a couple of other people, but the events of the week decided it: open it NOW. 

(sorry, guys.  Another wine, another time.)

Don't you eat your fridge clean before vacay so nothing spoils?   Everything but that last bit of tumeric. I was very proud of myself.

I woke up at 6 a.m., bummer, and made it worse by running a quick errand so wasn't able to begin breakfast until 8.  Precisely.  The plan was to have a glass of wine an hour to see how it unfolded, because there was also the possibility of it going south FAST. 

Also, A Woody Allen marathon was running.  Perfect morning!

Dense black in color, bright around the edges, I was amazed at the clean cork and didn't realize until I asked if it had been re-corked, which it had, in 1991. Just as the gold "Wine Guard" label stated.  Which I didn't read.

Here are the notes.

8:00 a.m. Grapey, metallic, watery.
9:00.  Deepened body, lots of herbal things - tarragon? And rust.
10:00. Mmmmmm, interesting. It's all one. No usual leather/tobacco overwhelm, no, gentle everything - fruit, age.

It was about this time I was realizing being in 20-degree temps for a week and then an airplane, my nasal passages and palate weren't intact, and I regretted not being able to fully, roundly, absorb this wine.  Which didn't stop me.

11:00 Holy Sh*t.  Everything. Body, fruit, herbal, subtle vegetal, cohesive, and a little bit rusty.
12:00 Fruit and love. Mature vs. aged. Magnificant.

Then I took a nap for three hours.

Awesome end to a great week. I am a fortunate troglodyte. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

3 odd bits of the week.

Out and about, recently I saw this.  It took me a second.  (The frame helped.) Then I took a picture of it, and then I accidentally deleted it.   Here it is meticulously re-created for your perusal:

I'm not sure that was the exact license plate frame, but it was one I found on the internet.  Also, clearly not the official State of California license plate font. Fonts are a big deal amongst the font lovers, and there are many forums on license plates and their fonts.  Like the classic CA black plates use "Penitentary Gothic Fill." I don't know if that was its original name, or a post-plate tongue-in-cheek font design. A lot of people talk about Pennsylvania's font.  Many people are very devoted to license plates.  Others to wine.  This person is devoted to both.

Saw this curious couple at the Glendale Community College swap meet, (circa 1972), this past weekend. $40 and $30, respectively.  I was about to open one, and the guy told me they were designed only as display.  I asked if they were filled with water, (like, can you legally sell these at a flea market?) but he didn't answer me.  I get that a lot. 
It turns out the bottle was empty.  Never mind, then.

This happened this past weekend, so I am told. I wasn't there. Bert and Ernie's Barley Wine by way of Eske's Brew Pub and Eatery.  I take it that's Ernie on the right there, maybe the brewer (?) It was brewed only once.  We were joking about how the label looks like it was made with an x-acto knife and xerox machine.

But I hear it was delicious!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Highlight Coffee.

Every time I walk past Highlight Coffee and see all the tables full - which is often- I'm so happy for owner Frank. The space is simple and pristine, the coffee beautifully served...this is a real experience in impeccable aesthetics. But the real money shot is at night, walking past this historical building, a beautiful soft, white light emanating from its iconic corner. The whole building glows because of it.  The building is fortunate to have this.

On Christmas day, when he finally gets a day off, Frank instead had free coffee and pastries set up in the lobby for all the residents.  Even when some jerk dumped the canister of milk all over things, only a few minutes later it was again clean and beautifully presented.

The old Hotel Glendale is moving up in the world, and Frank @ Highlight Coffee is the class act.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


It's the first night of Hanukkah. It's also Christmas Eve.  We all get to celebrate our joys together this year.  Much nicer than Turkunukkah or whatever that was. (Not to be confused with Turducken.)

The night before Christmas is my favorite night here.  It's mostly quiet and you think you should go home, but then someone shows up at the last minute and you realize that's why you're here and why it's worth it to stay.  We've been open normal hours Christmas Eve at least since I've been here.  It was a decision made because there's so much running around and procrastination and traffic and chaos there should be one place, one errand, that is civil and not about time or deadlines.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HoHoHo, You're Killing Me, Santa.

I happen to know the Santa on Hollywood Boulevard, in the lot there next to one of the Scientology buildings, likes wine. He stores it here.  The Larry is a pretty good Santa, too. The triad of "Ho's" is spot on.  PS. The above title?  All The Larry. Cheers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

UGH: The Deanster.

I swore I'd never again write about The Deanster, certain at least I if not everyone else had read ENOUGH ALREADY about this guy.  When he came last month I held true and silent. But then Dean did something that I thought was really cool. So here we are.

When Dean comes into town, he spends a lot of time at The Cave.  We tie a cute little kerchief around his neck and refer to him as The Cave mascot. He does this because in Indiana he doesn't get to share wine things with too many people.  Here, he can. People walk in, discussions occur, it makes Dean happy.

This week, a lovely intersection occurred. Dean and another Cave gentleman got into a very long conversation about wine things. I didn't really see what came of that, but I did see Dean writing on a cork and I got very curious about that.  He was writing the gentleman's name, and the date. He keeps the cork; he keeps who he shared the moment with, and with which wine.

And I DIG that idea.

So today I interviewed Dean about it.
"Did you get the date?  Make sure you get the date."

How long have you been doing the cork thing?
Shit...30-plus years. A long time.

Is it an original idea, or is this some kind of wine tradition?
No, I just started doing it.  I don't know if anyone else does.  I'm sure they do.  They collect corks.  They usually write on the bottles.  I see that alot.  They keep the bottle.  But corks are smaller.

How many corks do you have?
Maybe 100. I don't know where they are, how's that.

Then why do you do it?
Because it reminds me, whenever I see those things, who I was with.  It's 100 % at a restaurant.  I have the date and who I was with.

(At this point, after some deep confusion on my part, it was finally established some of the older corks are MIA, but recent corks still exist and are revisited.)

Do you do it if the wine is special or the person is special?
When the occasion is special.  You're not going to keep Two-buck Chuck.

You've never kept a cork from wine you and I shared.
It's your wine usually.  I won't take a cork if it's somebody else's wine.

Also, Dean's guitar made it's Cave debut. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Qurrent Qave Quaffs.

It turns out between plonk and DRC there is at least one other tier of wine and name for it.  It was The Deanster who recently introduced me to the term quaffing wines, your basic daily dinner wine that isn't plonk

These are the qurrent Qave quaffs.  Look, I'm just going to say it: the holidays are coming and a certain amount of not horrible wine needs to be on hand for delivery guys and other vendors who've kept us in wine at the ideal temperature all year long.  Some I'll see in October and November, and then not until next year, so the quaff is here NOW.

Also, sometimes you just want something decent to open while the rest of your stuff is incubating. The quaffs are each around $10.  The two on the left are from Topline here in beautiful Glendale, California, and The Cicada is from K&L Hollywood.

The Bugey Gamay is the one most unlike the others.  It's fun and fruity and different and a little strange. The Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone is safe and likable with some nice, delicate, simple layers. The Cicada, which I opened last weekend and got four more bottles of and already only have three now, was the most sophisticated and surprising: This for $10! Wow, that's pretty good!  Like that. Even the winery refers to it as a pleasant "quaff."

This article about the best regions for good/cheap wine made the rounds this week. Though it opens with "Stop buying wine by choosing the bottle with your favorite animal on the logo," and I'm pretty sure a cicada is some kind of animal, it's still good for a gander.  In the meantime, Happy Quaffing!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekend wine, and vinegar.

I figured since I am spending a lot of energy hoping we keep getting reasonable weather, I should offer  compromise by opening something white.  Because everyone knows white after Labor Day is tres gauche!  And I've managed to squeak through summer minus doing so.  (Success!)

But according to research, aka, Cellar Tracker, it seemed like this (a generous donation to The Cave) needed to be opened.

I don't know why I don't like white wine, it's pretty tasty stuff and of course this didn't disappoint.  It tasted a lot like pears the first night though no one else writing about it agrees.  Still, it was really good and everyone who tried it was excited to do so, so it's probably better than that. 

While writing this, A. brought in 35-year-old Corsican red wine vinegar, one of which he was good enough to pop open for a try. The first go was strong and tart and bitter, and left a raw path down to the gullet. My eyes watered. By second taste, though, it had already evened out and was softer with more finesse.  Super interesting! 

Coffee, wine, vinegar.  What a vast and curious realm of flavors there are! All the many hunters, how fortunate I am to experience the various fruits of their labors.