Drinking and Diving in L.A. with Lina Lecaro at the Joker

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There are few people who understand what it’s like to have a life covering nightlife. Those of us who’ve done it for a living are part a super secret club that the rest of the world barely comprehends. I met L.A. Weekly‘s Lina Lecaro, who was my West Coast doppleganger while I was at the Village Voice, for the first time a few months ago. Our intro was fast and furious, as we quickly swapped tricks of the trade. In between writing her Nightranger column for LA Weekly, Lecaro is busy putting together a book on the dive bars of L.A.. The book, called Los Angeles’ Best Dive Bars (Drinking and Diving in the City of Angels) is to be released in the summer of 2010. As she is an East-sider, she was in need of getting some West Side hole-in-the-walls. I proposed the Joker located on Pico Boulevard.

I went to the Joker with a friend of mine, who called it “the bar of out of the Accused.” The first time I went there, I had to stifle a giggle, because boy, was she right. Wood-paneled walls: check. Pool tables: check. Jukebox with classic rock: check. Ms. Pacman: check. Trusty, crusty old bartender: check. Cheap booze: check. Library: Huh?

That was Lina’s favorite bit. She proved to be an ever more curious reporter than I: quizzing the bartender about their collection of odd mystery novels, worn out, dusty lil’ paperbacks propped on the side wall. Me, I would have drunkenly gazed at the selection and thought nothing of it.

Lina’s about halfway through her pub crawl. She says: “I’ve been to about 40 bars so far. Growing up in LA, I had already been to most of them, but I did do re-visits.”

So far she says the most divey of the dives include: Smog Cutter on Virgil, The Winchester Room in Glendale/Burbank, Relax Bar at Hollywood and Western and her favorites rank among some of the city’s most popular, including, Jumbo’s Clown Room.

For the rest, you’ll have to wait til’ next summer.