Thursday, January 15, 2009


On Thursday night I left the office at 5:45 to get over to the 944 offices for their monthly party.

It's a cool network of young professionals in entertainment and advertising, and there were several business acquaintances I expected to see. When I got there around seven, none of them had yet arrived. I had been just barely recovering from a harsh summer cold and didn't feel like drinking, so I took it easy with some soda water at the open bar. I made do with the crowd that was there, and engaged a small group of stylists, who were actually really cool to hang with. It was an hour or so before the people I knew started to show, and by then I had gotten to know almost everyone at the event.

When the party died down around ten, I gave a lift to the stylists who were too drunk to drive. We headed over to the neighborhood just north of Melrose and west of Highland. It was a nice place. I mixed them a few drinks and then left with two of the three, heading over to Jones on Santa Monica. It was not very busy, and I was able to grab a few seats at the bar. I ordered a bottle of wine and some glasses. My two new buddies—a brother and sister—had to hang by the booths, because the girl was under twenty-one. I struck up a conversation with a couple at the bar, and we chatted for a while until they left and I excused myself to the bartender to visit the bathroom. When I returned, there was some girl in my seat, and a few men standing around her. I very lightly touched her shoulder and informed her that she was in my seat. She apologized but did not move. Neither did I. She asked if I wanted her to move, and I pointed to my bottle of wine and the three glasses on the bar, and said, "Yes, I do. Thank you."

She extricated herself and I sat down. One of the gentlemen who had been around her sat down on the barstool alongside me, and as I swiveled to look, he clocked me in the face. And again, and again, and again…

There was no security (though there had been a doorman). It had been the crowd that separated him from me. I was at this point on the ground and being lifted by a few people—including one of my two new friends, who was calling for security as well. The manager approached and I asked him to stop the guy who was at this point leaving the bar. I ordered him to call the police as I wanted to press assault charges against this unknown individual who had just sucker punched me and followed through pretty well afterwards. I had the barback give me a towel with some ice in it, as I could feel my face swelling.

The management did not detain my attacker. They did not get his ID, nor did they interview any of his friends. I was able to get the bar staff to tell the police what happened, as well as get testimony from my crew of two, and by the time I left the bar at three o'clock, I had given my report to the sheriff's department as well.

I had to be at work in three hours, for an important conference call.

Ironically, the only alcohol I had consumed that evening had been the one glass of wine, but a painkiller the cop gave me was a codeine pill, and it made my mouth dry and cottony as though I'd been drinking all night. My body ached, but my mind was sharp. I got a ton of things done at work that day. It was as if I'd become more efficient. That night I stayed in and iced up my face a bit more, as the swelling had been pretty severe. I had a cut under my right eyelid, and the inside of my cheek was torn up from where my own teeth had collided where his fist had connected repeatedly. I also had a pretty good sized lump on my forehead, and overnight Friday the swelling went down considerably. This was an X Games weekend, so bruises weren't necessarily bad to have anyhow.

Feeling much better, and finally well rested, on Saturday I went for a long BMX ride across town, and that evening agreed to drive my friend Paul back from Alhambra after his Harley broke down. He took longer to get to the garage than I did so I went and grabbed some dinner at a Vietnamese pho restaurant called Golden Deli, where I had the best pho, the best egg roll, and the best lemonade I've ever had in my life. When Paul phoned I came back and got him and we headed out to the mountains of Malibu for an outdoor electronic music festival. It was up above the cloud line, and halfway up the hill we had to turn around and go back down to base to get gas, which we did, and then head back up. The performance had already started, and in the pitch black it took about ten minutes to find the path behind the rocks. I used my cell phone light to guide my way.

When we reached the performance area, we made our way to the front. The crowd was camped out on blankets around us, and one couple very close to the front left corner gave me their beers as they were leaving early. They were two Pyramid Hefeweizens, and they were kinda warm, but they were perfect, and I had grabbed my backpack from my trunk before climbing the mountain, so I removed and spread the blanket inside and used the backpack itself as a pillow. It was a clear night up there, while fog covered most of the rest of Los Angeles. I tilted back my head and listened to the band playing, as the peripheral images from the video projection caught the bottom of my face as the stars overtook my vision. The night air crispened and the beer got colder as I took my time to finish it.

copyright © 2007, 2009 Panik