El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Main Street Los Angeles - The Rolling Stones, The 5 Cent Diner & Metropolis Books

photos courtesy of El Niño Angeleno’s iphone

Earlier this week, a new version of the Rolling Stones masterpiece Exile on Main Street was released on digital media and on classic vinyl. Along with the remastered versions of the original 18 tracks, 10 vintage and alternate tracks were included from that epic 1972 recording session in the South of France. Among these "new yet old" tracks is one titled “Plundered My Soul”, originally recorded in 1972 for the Exile sessions with Mick and Keith adding a crafty 2010 redub of their guitars and vocals, it has already seen heavy rotation on my play list. After 30 years of listening to this record making it part of the soundtrack of my life, I just learned this week that the “Main Street” in the title is actually referring to our own Main Street in downtown Los Angeles, as the band was anxious to return to the City of Angels to mix their masterful record . A little bit embarrassed that I did not know this, but nonetheless not shy to admit my ignorance on this fact about a record that I have listened to hundreds of times while exploring its lyrics as a teenager and as an adult and staring endlessly at the collage of photos by Robert Frank that make up the album cover.
Coincidentally, today in a rare field assignment for my job I found myself on Main Street in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and had lunch at a new diner located in an old establishment. The 5 Cent Diner located on Main and Sixth has taken roots in an old coffee shop that started serving up breakfast for Angelenos back in the 1940s when gangster Mickey Cohen ruled Los Angeles. The new owners have kept all the great details from the diner's past such as the original advertisements on the inside and have complimented the diner with a contemporary and friendly staff serving up a great menu. I could not help but make the metaphorical comparison of the 5 Cent Diner with “Plundered My Soul”, as it too is a classic establishment with a new modern feel. I had trouble choosing from one of the many great burgers they offered, but finally I settled on the Low Rider Burger and the hydraulics of my taste buds gave the Low Rider Burger and the 5 Cent Diner my “El Niño Angeleno” approval.
Further down the street I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Metropolis Book Store located at 440 Main Street. Well stocked with great books about Los Angeles, Los Angeles Noir and The L.A. River with classic L.A. authors such as Fante and Bukowski, Metropolis carrys almost any title and subject that any 21st Century Angeleno or book enthusiast might be interested in. The proprietor of the store was very pleasant and friendly and was kept in good company by her trusty Pit Bull/Labrador companion Mr. Lucky. I would definitely return to this gem not only to browse the racks of great books but to be able to greet and pet Mr. Lucky once again.

My impromptu walk down Main Street Los Angeles was a success. There is a song on Exile On Main Street called “Torn and Frayed” :

“And his coat is torn and frayed,
It's seen much better days.
Just as long as the guitar plays
Let it steal your heart away,
Let it steal your heart away.”

Main Street may be a little torn and frayed but the 5 Cent Diner and the Metropolis Book Store definitely did steal my heart away. I will gladly return to this neighborhood to visit these new classic Main Street gems. The new remastered Exile On Main Street is not too shabby either.
The 5 Cent Diner:
Metropolis Books:
The Rolling Stones on Main Street:

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