Last week, I was visiting some peeps in Los Angeles and stumbled on a pretty killer jukebox selection at this really awesome bar on Los Feliz Blvd. in Glendale called The Griffin. The bar has a big neon green griffin on the outside, and inside is everything you'd want a bar to be: dungeon-like, really dark and uh, really really dark. I've got this thing about bars where I like to imagine we've all rolled up to some basement-like speakeasy to drink in shame and not make eye contact for longer than half a second. (Mostly, it's just that vice should feel seedy, and something about drinking in clean, sanitized, well-lit bars takes all the piss out of the whole shebang. Or, the bar should be the swankiest, most over-the-top sophistication you've ever seen. I just can't take anything in the middle.)
But you know what shits me to tears?* When the jukebox sucks. The Griffin made me think about a few things. Firstly, in Nashville, when people talk about a great jukebox they usually mean it has great old bands on it, like The Stooges or Motorhead (see the Springwater). That's cool, but I noticed on a bar tour of Los Angeles that great jukeboxes seem to also have a ton of new, cool bands on them. The Griffin was rocking things I never see on jukeboxes, meaning stuff that just came out relatively recently and that I happen to like. Los Campesinsos!, Crystal Castles, and that one hilariously stupid Teenagers song, which is funnier than a hat full of assholes.* It had your Good Old Stuff too, like Television and The Cars, but mainly I was just a little giddy at having so many new choices. It's not that no bars in Nashville have new stuff, like, I seem to have heard that one song by MGMT about four thousand times at 3 Crow.
But what's your favorite local bar jukebox? And please feel free to define what makes a great jukebox in your opinion. I'll take this moment to give a shout-out to the Villager for being the only jukebox in town I've found that has Nina Simone on it.
*Both of these asterisked Australian expressions are courtesy of Dean Shortland, who happily lent them to me last night at Melrose Billiards for use in my next blog post.