There is nothing particularly fabulous about the Golden Gopher. It could be on Pico Boulevard in West LA, or it could be on a side street off Hollywood Boulevard. The only reason it ever got airplay was the fact that it was opening to much ado about nothing in downtown Los Angeles.
Golden Gopher is in downtown LA, but it’s not in the “hip” part of dowtown LA, and by “hip,” I don’t necessarily mean the area in and around The Standard, the Bonaventure, and other such “hip” locales.” By “hip,” I mean “safe,” and Golden Gopher is in sketchtown. Ghettoville. Deserted streets, dark alleys, and decaying buildings. Yikes. We parked about a half-block away, thought smartly to put our laptops into the trunk, then thought even smartlier and took our laptop bags with us.
We went to the Golden Gopher for an event, which is why we so fashionably had ballistic nylon black laptop bags with us in the first place. The event was a post-event event that was supposedly not connected to the official event, but was capitalizing on the connection to the event, which makes all kinds of sense. Video game geeks are so lovably confusing.
From the outside, the Golden Gopher’s slightly askew red neon sign, shiny tiled façade, and arch make it look like an old-school, retro, perhaps Prohibition-ish art deco-y speakeasy kind of place, but don’t quote me on that because I am very bad with history and have probably just spanned four decades with all those references. No matter. If it’s pre-Boy-Toy Madonna, it’s all retro to me.
The bouncer looked bored as he checked out IDs, and as soon as we walked past him, I understood why. The place, like the street outside, was almost deserted. A young lady was sitting on the close end of the bar tapping away with her long, beuatifully manicured fingers at her Crackberry, and a small group of Dockers-clad, laptop-laden, nametag-adorned men were huddled nervously in a far corner. I think they might have been scared of the one attractive female in the entire bar. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think they noticed her at all, and were actually in deep negotiations about playing the real woman they cared about: Ms. Pac Man.
We sat down a few stools down from the Crackberry girl so as not to disturb her in her furious wireless communication. As per SOP, I ordered a Citron and soda, which was not remarkably expensive nor cheap. It had been a long, taxing day of fighting crime, committing crime, saving the planet via guitar, and playing tennis with a remote control. I gulped my drink in the most unladylike fashion possible, then stepped out onto the adjacent side patio for fresh air.
Golden Gopher has an odd sense of décor that was difficult for me to separate from the crowd of t-shirts paired with skinny jeans (not because they’re fashion conscious but because they’ve been weraing the same jeans since 1983). The room is dark, but luxe. Wood panelled walls are adorned with ornate wall sconces, embellished columns create space interest, and chandeliers hang from the ceiling and scream out for a dirty martini. I could imagine that any other time of the year, at a much later time of the night, the place would be filled with smoky, smudgy eyes, mink stoles, and stiletto heels balancing on arms of fedoras and shirtsleeves.
We didn’t have more than one drink, since we had all kinds of fun and games coming up early the enxt morning, and for the next few days. However, we did stay long enough for me to geek out. Like the little screaming fan I am, I took a picture with a book author.
If I lived downtown, I might make Golden Gopher a regular, though not frequent, fueling station. However, it's not so different from many places that are actually inside my driving radius. I bet though, come Spring next year, I will be there again.
417 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
** a year ago today, a jalapeno burned my bubble at border grill **