DERBY DANDIES; A PLACE WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME

May 2, 2010

Jerry Greene wrote on ESPN.com page 2 about the best entries to his request for Derby horses names.

“”A horse is a horse, of course, of course,” but a Kentucky Derby champion should have a cooler name than Mr. Ed or Ice Box, a real thoroughbred that has 10-1 opening odds to win Saturday’s Run for the Roses.
We asked you for some great names for the next Kentucky Derby champion, and you delivered big-time.
You had to follow the stringent rules of the Jockey Club, which mandate that names cannot be longer than 18 spaces. If needed, you can run words together to make your name fit, such as this early entry “Tebowleggeditout.”
So what’s in a name anyway? Are all Kentucky Derby champions as well-named as Charismatic, Spectacular Bid and Secretariat? Hardly.
The first Kentucky Derby was won in 1875 by Aristides, which has that classical feel of a word that makes no sense to most of us. But the next Run for the Roses was won by Vagrant. Really?
Jumping to 1932, the winner was, uh, Burgoo King. We don’t know if he sired a horse called Homeofthewhopper.
Last year’s winner was Mine That Bird, which doesn’t sound very grammatically correct.
So we asked you to do better. Hundreds of creative minds submitted more than 500 names. Tiger Woods was the most popular subject, but Ben
Roethlisberger and Tim Tebow were right there, too. We cannot hope to list them all here but have subjectively chosen the top names, broken into “Win,”
“Place” and “Show” groupings.
• Win: She’sGotANineIron, Matt M., Freeport, Ill.; Kobe’s Acquittal, Curt H., Indianapolis; Haulin’ Oats, D. Fisher, Lancaster, Pa.; Andy Reid’s Diet, Ryan
M., Colts Neck, N.J.; LeBronsfirstring, Jim J., Geneva, Ill.; BigBen’sBodyguard, SSgt DeGrasse, Keesler AFB, Miss.; A-Rod’s Mirror, Ryan F., Tulsa, Okla.; Runaway Prius, Hampton R., Collierville, Tenn.; Elin’s Slice, Gabe M., North Merrick, N.Y.; Theresanappforthat, Brett S., Cincinnati;
SamesizeasJaMarcus, Mark M., Apopka, Fla.; Oatcho Cinco, Adam N., New Orleans; Colin Horseherd, Todd M., Zeeland, Mich.; The Big Tebowski,
Joel F., Hebron, Ky.; Kenny’s Mane, Chris F., New York City; Tebowchangedmylife, Curt H., Indianapolis; Behind By A Neck, Shawn B., Orlando, Fla.; Dukefloplikefish, D. Bell, Pawleys Island, S.C.; Entitled, Dan J., Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; HorseThatRuthBuilt, Dustin C., Hershey, Pa.; and, bringing up the rear, Public Apology, Galen P., San Francisco.
• Place: Victorious Secret, John McG, Chicago; BigPapi’sFlatTire, R. Lindsay, Sikeston, Mo.; LeBronco, Pete M., New York City; Rabid Ginobili, Anthony, Cleveland; Philadelphia Spew, Alex S., Huntingburg, Ind.; MaliceInThePalace, Ray S., Lake City, Fla.; The Wanstache, Elliott C., Columbus, Ohio; Butterflystampede, Nancy S., Fresno, Calif.; Looks Like My Ex, Andrew G., Newark, Del.; TooMuchForHoward, Jason M., Neenah, Wis.; Steroid
Stablemate, Ray S., Lake City, Fla.; Big Ben’s Alibi, Jarrod D., Fort Myers, Fla.; DarkSideOfTheMoon, Bryan M., Grand Prairie, Texas.
• Show: Mint Gallop, Zach M., Atlanta; Doubledowndan, Brent N., Ashland, Ky.; Avatarded, Brandon T., Tegueste, Spain; Crossing The Mound,
Dustin C., Hershey, Pa.; Fillyharmonic, Dave H., Toledo; NoDoubtAboutIt, Jorge R., Tulare, Calif.; Millen Draft Pick, Pat V., Plymouth, Mich.;
TiredofGoingLeft, Tim P., Rolette, N.D.; Got Ur Back, Michael W., Ocean View, N.J.; Where’s My Cesta, David F., Braintree, Mass.; Rose Seeker, Chris H., Bentonville, Ark.; Gimmethebleeproses, Jimmy T., Greensboro, N.C.; and Hoof Hearted — the first of many to submit this name was Anthony V.,
Atlantic City, N.J.

• Special Superfecta: Our “Best in Show” award to Bill P. of Tualatin, Ore., for the following four-bagger: Tebow Messiah, SackingSamBradford,
LeBronchitis and Favre-atar.

Thanks for playing, and good luck Saturday picking the real name of the next Kentucky Derby champion. Please don’t let it be Ice Box.”

Chris (I almost called him Carl. Where’s my mind?) Erskine wrote in the LA Times about a “watering hole” near Chavez Ravine that was once a cop-bar and is now a Dodger-bar.
“The ups and downs of this Dodgers season have already driven me to drink.

So I find myself in a little joint called the Short Stop bar. It is perched on the lip of Chavez Ravine like one of Philip Marlowe’s cigarettes. The popular Echo
Park watering hole is so noir-ish, you can barely see your .44 Magnum resting on the bar. It’s dark in here — Satan’s wishing well. In fact, there’s a bullet hole in the front door that allows in the bar’s only natural light.

Somehow, this notorious former cop bar has become the hottest Dodgers fan hangout in town, and perhaps the unsportiest sports bar in the entire nation
(yes, those are candles on the tables; yes, that’s Bobbie Gentry on the juke).

Only in L.A., huh?

Let’s cut to the highlights: Parking? Free. Beer? Two bucks. Martini? $6. No cover, no attitude.

This is the kind of place naughty debutantes end up at 2 a.m. Did I mention the bullet hole? That’s a souvenir from the days when cops from nearby precincts used the Short Stop as after-work therapy.

Not everybody always knew this. In 1983, a poor sap by the name of Carl Blackwell wandered through the door of the Short Stop, pretended his pocket
comb was a gun, and robbed the bartender while a bunch of cops looked on. When Blackwell fled, one of them fired four rounds, dropping the robber on the sidewalk for good — or bad, I’ll let you decide. A sign in the bar still reads: Use a Comb, Go to Heaven.

The Short Stop did well as a cop hangout until 2000, when the Rampart investigation cast a cloud over the place, and it was sold about 10 years ago to former rock singer Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Oliver Wilson and a couple other cronies, who have maintained the LAPD memorabilia while attracting the hipster crowd with music on weekends.

But during Dodgers season, it’s all about the baseball.

On Friday night, bartenders Joe Skyward, Chloe Taylor and Zimran Canas stock the place with Pabst in anticipation of the late-afternoon opening.

At 5, the doors swing open and allow in a rare ray of sunshine, as well as about 30 fans prepping for the night’s game against the Pirates. Before the night is over, hundreds will use it as a pre- and postgame oasis.

The appeal is obvious: Instead of paying $15 to park at the stadium, fans can park down here and have a few brews before the game. Instead of contributing to the Dodgers, they invest the money in the neighborhood. They also avoid the long wait to get out of the Dodger Stadium lot.

The Short Stop, at 1455 Sunset Blvd., is not quite a dive, but neither is it at all clubby. L.A. has more bad bars than good, and not nearly enough joints like
this, reminiscent of the taverns you find more commonly back East.

Now, admittedly, I can be a tad lowbrow. I’ve always found Shakespeare to be a little chatty, and most motion pictures move far too fast.

I also find that a good Pabst, properly chilled, is the Dom Perignon of beers, a nuanced witch’s brew that enchants the tongue and girds the loins.

Trust me, you don’t get that from those ridiculous, overpriced craft brews. Beer is the last thing that should be overthunk. Here’s my brew master’s philosophy:
Put some swill in a can, chill it, pour it, ahhhh. . . .

So this place plays to all that. The Short Stop is also benefiting from the surrounding neighborhood, which is “gentrifying,” a term for when white folks move in and destroy any natural character. Some ‘hoods need a little of this. In big quantities, it can turn a colorful inner-city neighborhood into a devastatingly awful version of Encino.

Being a white folk myself, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

But for a long time, Dodgers fans have needed a festive pregame watering hole. There’s a reason “Cheers” was the greatest show of all time. It wasn’t about a bar scene, it was about a family. One way or another, all TV shows are about family.

But I digress, for that is what I am paid (minimally) to do. The important thing is that the Short Stop has the feel of an L.A. institution in the making. I wasn’t at Philippe’s for that first French dip. I missed the first marvelous pastrami (the sinfully succulent, stacked-like-a-starlet No. 19) when it rolled off the assembly line at Langer’s Deli.

Yet here I am, in that rarest of L.A. finds, a bar with charm and friendly chatter, a bar on its way to becoming a sports landmark.

The Short Stop is the kind of place you’d like to take your son for his very first beer. Or at least what he tells you is his very first beer.

Bottoms up, kid.”

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