Capping the Night at Dan Tana’s

By Bob Sparrow

The last leg of our journey into La La Land was Dan Tana’s Italian Restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, two doors down from the famous nightclub, the Troubadour.  For those not familiar with the Troubadour, any musician who was anybody in the 60s, 70s and 80s performed there.  In 1970 Neil Diamond introduced Elton John there, who performed his first show in the U.S.  John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were ejected from the club for drunkenly heckling the Smothers Brothers.  The list goes on.

Eagles Glen Frey and Don Henley in Dan Tana’s for ’60 Minutes’ interview

OK, back to Dan Tana’s.  Every entertainer that you know has probably eaten there and many would call it their ‘go to’ restaurant.  For the last 50 years it truly has been a favorite watering hole of Hollywood film industry personalities and professionals.  The walls are adorned with pictures of various stars, past and present.  In 1975 Glen Frey of the Eagles saw a young woman who he knew was married to an older man, having an intimate dinner with a younger man and started writing lyrics on a napkin – those lyrics turned into the Eagles hit, Lyin’ Eyes.  

I was hoping as we entered the restaurant that people wanting to have their picture taken with us would not pester us and ruin our evening.  As it turned out, no one did.  We arrived around 7:00 for our 8:00 reservation and the two small dining rooms, both of which are slightly larger than a walk-in closest, were about half full.  The small bar had everyone of its 10 stools occupied.  Within a few minutes Linda was able to wrangle a seat and soon a couple left, which gave us two much-coveted seats at the bar.  The lady that Linda was sitting next to (whose lips had so much cologen in them that I thought they were going to explode any minute) had a seat on the other side of her that she was saving for her boyfriend, who was over at the Troubadour, checking in on a friend.  She told us her boyfriend was in the “music business” (her quotes, not mine) and was talking with his friends, Hall & Oates who were performing there that night.  A man down the bar, who looked like Fonzi’s father, we were told, was a famous ‘voice over’ performer.  What I could pick up from his conversation was that his voice certainly was over, over-bearing.   But overall a very good LA vibe to the place, meaning that there was a sense that everyone was looking at everyone else wondering if they were ‘someone’.   A gentleman just down the bar asked me if I was Ray Bradbury, the science fiction writer.  I said no and later when I look up an image of him online, I realized I should have punched the guy.

You can see I left a nice $2 tip

At 8:00 the maître d came over and told us our table was ready, but the bartender, Raffi, was so entertaining that we said that we’d prefer to eat at the bar, which we did.  We discovered a unique feature of the bar, your wine glass is never allowed to be empty. We each ordered a glass of cabernet (their ‘well’ cab is Francis Coppola) and whenever our wine glass got below half full, Raffi would stop buy and fill it up.  I was afraid to ask how he kept track of how much wine we had and much more afraid to ask how much it was going to cost me.  When we asked Raffi what was good on the menu, he said in a dry tone and a straight face, “Nothing, all the food here is bad and the service is worse.”  But the entertainment was great!  That’s why in the photo you see the fairly significant tip for Raffi – he was most appreciative.  Linda and I ordered the Cannelloni and Veal Parmesan, respectively, both were outstanding, the service was great and the price of our multiple glasses of wine turned out to be surprisingly reasonable. When we left around 9:00 the place was totally packed with standing room only in every place one could stand.  I’m sure some of them were ‘somebody’.  It was a great experience! 

I have to say that while I’m not the biggest fan of L.A., it was a very entertaining day; and while we only saw a very small sampling of it, Johnny’s Eastside Market, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, The Grove, Rodeo Drive and Dan Tana’s, they all got me closer to believing that L.A. is, in fact, the ‘entertainment capital’ of the world.


My Evening with the Eagles

by Bob Sparrow

Eagles      I have a friend, who happens to know a guy, who is an acquaintance of the road manager for the Eagles, so I felt distantly-connected for getting good tickets for the kicking off of their History of the Eagles concert tour at the ‘Even More Fabulous Forum’ last week.  My friend said, that his buddy told him, that the road manager indicated that we’ve got great floor seats with back-stage passes AND we’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite to eat with the Eagles prior to the concert – are you in?  “Am I in?  You’ve got to be kidding me – the Eagles are my all time favorite group.  Book it!’


The limo was real

Our limo was waved up right next to the entrance to the Forum Club, a well-dressed gentleman escorted the four of us into ‘the club’ and then into a separate room where there were only about twenty people.  Among those twenty were Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh – the Eagles, who were casually moving amongst the guests, meeting and chatting with them.  I personally got to meet them all and in fact carried out a plan to give Don Henley a $2 bill saying, “I sang one of your songs, For My Wedding, at my daughter’s wedding, but changed the words to fit the occasion, so I figured I owed you a royalty of some kind.” I held out a $2 bill.  He looked at me sternly, grabbed the $2 bill, then smiled and said, “It’s about time you paid up!” and we both had a good laugh.  He kept the $2.

I thought I was too excited to be really hungry, but the food looked and smelled so good I had to try it – I ended up trying it a lot.  I didn’t think I was that thirsty either, but how do you pass up ‘having a cold one’ with the Eagles?  OK, maybe a couple of cold ones.  OK, OK, it was more than a couple, but it was free . . . and it was the Eagles for crying out loud!   After about 30 minutes the Eagles said their good-byes and went off to prepare for the concert.  We stayed a while longer, eating, drinking and thanking the people that made this all possible; we were then escorted to our seats – floor level, middle, 6 rows back – perfect!

The concert started with just Don & Glenn (yes, we’re now on a first name basis) coming on stage with guitars and singing Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?’   Other band members, including former member and guitar virtuoso, Bernie Leadon, gradually joined them on stage.



Pink’s hotdog

Reality first struck when we picked up our tickets at Will Call, which I now refer to as ‘Won’t Call’ – no backstage passes!  So instead of a gourmet meal with the Eagles that I had envisioned, we bought a Pink’s hot dog from a vendor wandering through the masses in the Forum lobby.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Pink’s – it’s an LA landmark that started with a funky little hot dog stand back in 1939, but it wasn’t the beef filet tornados sliders on Hawaiian rolls that I had imagined.  Of course, there was no personally meeting the Eagles and the seats . . . well, not exactly floor level, but we could see the floor from where we were, more importantly, we could see the ‘Jumbotron’, which is where we watched most of the concert.  Right before the concert began, I was almost expecting to hear the announcement, “Sitting in for Glenn Frey this evening will be Stir Frey, Glenn’s older, tone-deaf brother.”

top of stadium

Not our actual seats – I was visiting a friend . . . really!

Further reality sunk in when the concert actually began – the Eagles are still amazing – great harmonies, great musicians and great guitar riffs.  They talked to us between songs and provided stories around the history of the group and the songs.  Glenn Frey said he wrote Lyin’ Eyes’ after the divorce from his first wife, whose name was ‘Plaintiff’.  The sound system, which was an integral part of the recent $100 million makeover of the Forum, was second to none in the world (so I’m told, I haven’t actually heard them ALL).  In my opinion, the only thing they neglected in that makeover was to move the Forum out of Inglewood.

All in all it was a wonderfully entertaining evening, both real and imagined.

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