Evening Out

I’ve found two low-key venues to hear live music in the Conejo Valley area this year. One is actually over the hill (now don’t take that the wrong way) in Malibu – Ollie’s Duck and Dive. The setting is a little cramped: they lock the front door and stand the band up in the entry. The place is aptly name – long and narrow, with the front dominated by the bar, and most of the dinner seating actually in the enclosed patio outside. But on Saturday night the four-piece bands bring people in, and there’s a collection of steady regulars. The music is eclectic, and often loud, and dance-worthy even though they don’t play much in the way of cover music.

And – what can I say? – it’s Malibu. The people are classy, and beautiful in a self-conscious kind of way. If you sit at the bar, be sure and strike up a conversation with the tenders. They’re all good people.

The other venue is The Twisted Oak in Agoura Hills. The place has a checkered history, starting off as Moz Buddha Bar back around 2000. It was a hot pick-up joint for a while, with beautiful waitresses that would dance on the bar during the seasonal parties. The cover bands that came in drew great crowds, and the dance floor was always hopping. Unfortunately, the lead guy behind the bar seemed to have connections back in New Jersey, and the girls sometimes had morals that were a little shaky. When the joint stopped being trendy in 2005, they started Tuesday night jazz with small combos. While I wouldn’t miss it, the cultured music scene never took off.

The place was revived as a micro brewery and music club with a new investor. Roger is a great guy, and loves his brewing – everything from beer to smooth moonshine to wine. He also loves music, but it’s the dinner scene that pays the bills, and the bands on the large stage seemed to interfere with gatherings. So they knocked down the stage, opened up the bar with seating on both sides, and do something pretty much like what Ollie’s does: stand a couple of guys up in front of the brew vats. The music is eclectic, original, and really, really heart-felt. I can party at Ollie’s, but some of what goes on at The Twisted Oak can only be classified as a spiritual experience. If you want to take someone out for a light-hearted date, this is the spot on Friday nights.

Tonight they had a steel guitar and fiddle duo called Skin and Bones. While they packed up, I bought a CD out of the case, and Taylor came up to chat. Just a really classy young man with his lady-friend Stephanie. He let me rattle on about my sons, and took my compliments graciously before recommending that I come back out on September 11th to hear a couple of his friends play. I certainly look forward to it.

Loving Women

For the last two years, I have been frequenting a restaurant down in Calabasas that has live music Friday and Saturday nights. One of the owners decided on Friday that I couldn’t dance there anymore. The band had come back on stage, and the floor that the DJ had filled up was emptied. I went out, as I usually do, and danced by myself, filling the floor up with joy. When I walked off, the party of twelve at the front table began applauding wildly. That’s when he walked up and told me to never dance that way again. I frowned at him, and asked “Why?”, and he just stalked off.

The bouncer came up and told me that, while he didn’t agree with the owner, he had been told to tell me that I couldn’t dance there. So I took my sweater and left. The manager intercepted me at the parking lot and made his apologizes as well. I asked him not to worry about it, and to have a wonderful holiday season.

The thing that cracks me up was that people have approached me and said that they had seen videos of me dancing on YouTube. The bands have approached me, too, just to say how wonderful it is to play when I’m there with them. So here I am, generating trade for this venue, never having hurt anybody in two years, and they basically throw me out.

While some rationale was put forward about liability in case of an accident, I have a sense that something else was going on. There’s a group of four gigolos that hang out there, and they’ve been really proud to make a point of setting the owners against me. One of them in particular is actually dangerous: his “come-on” move on the dance floor is to trip the lady and throw her over into a deep back bend. I’ve actually seen girls walk off the floor in pain. Recently I had a woman ask to dance with me, and the first thing out of her mouth was “no back bends”. I had a pretty good idea who had put that into her head.

Their problem is that they can’t pick up women when I’m on the dance floor. We just get this glow of joy going. While I’ve had women come on pretty strong, for me it’s not a sexual thing. It’s just the joy of feeling what women feel when they no longer have to fight off the dirt that the world heaps on them.

There’s a “Freedom From Religion” group out on Facebook that cross-posts to the Religious Tolerance group. I decided to go out and see what their dialog is like on their home turf, and the first post quoted a male sympathizer of the women’s suffrage movement. In summary, the quote said that the Bible was a piece of trash that never taught anything of value to anyone. The issue of the day, of course, was the admonition in Paul’s letters that women should be “submissive” to their husbands, which was used by some to justify the denial of voting rights to women.

I have to admit, until you get to Luke, the Bible is really not good to women. When I was at Torah study one day, a young lady got really upset about that, and I leaned over and whispered: “You know, you’re right. But the Bible is all about men’s problems.” We weren’t good enough for you ladies, and that’s part of why Daniel 11:37 describes Jesus as “the one desired by women.”

So what is the problem with men? Well, we’re designed to change things. Unfortunately, the easiest way to change something is to break it. I see so many men struggling with this, and I have to say, I have submitted myself. What’s kept me steadiest is the strong sense of feminine approval I receive when I try to fix things. Mostly, of course, that’s fixing people’s hearts, and women bring me a lot of opportunities. Not just to work on them: women feel things deeply, and carry people around with them.

So: thank-you for being what you are. Please just try to remember that you’re supposed to feel that way all of the time. And grant me the benefit of this testimony: the example of Jesus is what made me what I am.