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I blame Congress (and why not?) for the “Service Engine Soon” light interrupting my otherwise satisfactory drive to the Gaslamp Quarter to meet SDH/GL Managing Editor Eva Ditler for dinner.

Once there, I was happy to find a lot that only charged $7 (I cringe when I find that I am now saying “only” when referring to paid parking) and activated the lot’s pay station. The machine gave me two ticket options: Padres Game Day ($20) or 24-Hour Pass ($25). I called the service number on the machine to report the second glitch in my evening (assuming the customer service rep would not care about my first, “Service Engine Soon” glitch). After asking what state and city I was in, the young man on the other end of the phone informed me that all he could do was request an attendant to come check the machine. What!? You mean in this day and age of technology these machines can’t be remotely controlled? Could this have anything to do with the government shutdown?

With no idea what state and city said attendant would be coming from, I got back in my car, drove to another lot and walked to Bang Bang, where I found Eva awaiting my arrival with a tokkuri of sake. Above her, large paper lanterns covered the entire ceiling. At the end of the room was a screen with an anime image I immediately recognized as being the artwork of Takashi Murakami.

It being our first time at Bang Bang, we checked out the rest of the space. I took an iPhone photo of the faux-koi-pond floor (see above) in the sushi bar room. Then we went back to our table under the lanterns.

Because I’ve been working out extra hard lately, I was tempted to order the Protein roll featuring a variety of fish. But it came wrapped in cucumber and I really was in the mood for seaweed (I know, seaweed sounds like a strange thing to be in the mood for, but it supposedly is good for stress relief, probably especially glitch-induced stress). So I ordered a sushi roll called a “Portopecan,” composed of portobello mushroom, pecans, roasted red pepper and avocado (wrapped in seaweed).

Purists would likely frown on my ordering a glass of red wine in lieu of sake to accompany my sushi, but I would suggest that a Portopecan falls outside the realm of traditional sushi anyway. I opted for merlot when our server said that Bang Bang’s house merlot is from 14 Hands Vineyards in Washington. That’s a cut above what one can typically expect for a house wine.

While awaiting our dishes, I noted a large white bowl with three straws two tables down. It was a six-cocktail “Punch Bowl” of vodka, lime, ginger soda and sparkling wine that costs $42 ($21 during happy hour). Our server informed us that one (a loosely used term in this instance, since “one” would probably not order a single serving of six cocktails) could get the bowl poured into separate containers if one (idem) had concerns about a companion using his or her straw in reverse.

After dinner, Eva and I toured the ladies’ room. Yes, touring is not something you usually do in a ladies’ room (or, for that matter, a men’s room). But Bang Bang’s “facilities” are more than merely functional. Each stall has been plastered with a different motif (see photos below for a few examples).

I’m sorry, but when was the devolution that returned adults to such a childish state (oh right, well I mean besides the dunderheadness in our Capitol) that Hello Kitty became ubiquitous beyond a little girl’s accessories? I’ve seen Hello Kitty on license plates, wine bottles and, now, as décor in a ladies’ room.

The largest (handicap) stall is something of a shrine to Ryan Gossling, covered with images of the actor. I wonder what he would think about being a bathroom-stall theme, especially in the same ladies’ room as Hello Kitty.

As long as I had paid to park in the Gaslamp District, I decided to make a post-dinner walk some blocks to another venue where I had been told there was a weekly art-related event. When I arrived, I discovered nothing but people eating and drinking. I asked the hostess about the “event” and she called out the manager, who told me that the person who handles the “event” was in Mexico on vacation. I couldn’t help but wonder if this had anything to do with the government shutdown.


Janice Kleinschmidt


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Having predominantly spent my formative years in the Midwest, the opportunities to go surfing were so few and far between that they were, essentially, nonexistent. The closest I got to the sport was watching Gidget movies at the drive-in.

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