Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Yesterday, mostly because I was so happy to get a shot of a tall building from street level where the building doesn’t seem like it is falling over backwards, I posted a photo of The Hotel Chelsea.
Between reading a story about Tom Waite recently and posting that photo I got to thinking about a mostly forgotten location that was once called the “Chelsea Hotel West.” The The Tropicana Motel is long gone now. The famous golden age of rock motel and its black painted swimming pool was replaced by an ugly 1980’s era Ramada Inn. I may have some 70’s era Kodachromes somewhere but I don’t actually have any digital photos of The Tropicana. There is a good shot here at Flickr.
This is a keepsake shot, not "The Trop" but a view of The Original Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood. The story behind the license plates nailed to the walls is that starting all the way back in the 1920’s, before it was Santa Monica Boulevard and the street outside was still called Route 66, newcomers who had taken “The Mother Road” to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood would leave the plates from their original state at Barney’s Beanery.
Perhaps Duke’s Coffee Shop is even more associated with the Tropicana Motel. When I get out to L.A. I like to stop in at least once for breakfast and to feel the presence of that golden era. Duke’s is now right next to the Whisky A Go-Go and the Sunset Strip location is perfect for nostalgia but that is not really where Duke’s was located back then. The coffee shop that was once actually in the Tropicana Motel has moved.
Since little to nothing has changed, for that real electrified nostalgia feel Barney’s Beanery is the place. You can pull up a stool to the bar that Jim Morrison once urinated on, hoist a few at the last gin mill that Janis Joplin was seen at or just try and feel what it would have been like sitting there one night next to Jimi Hendrix or watching Led Zeppelin holding court in the corner.
Since the employees have claimed on a few occasions that Barney’s is haunted, that real nostalgia feel is even more electrified. No way of knowing if it is the rock legends or the regulars before rock that included Clara Bow, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Rita Hayworth. If you ask me I can tell you, Rock lives at Barney’s Beanery.
I do find it quite thrilling to walk into the famous gastropub that once fed Rock n’ Roll, fill up on the great food and then take a short walk down the block to where “The Trop” once stood. You can really feel what it was once like.