FOREWORD BY STAN LERNER: downtownster does not celebrate its first birthday until February, but I still feel compelled to post the TEN BEST downtownster blogs of 2009. And while I think all of our blogs have been great, these are the ones that readers read the most and gave us the highest level of props for writing. “Breakfast At Bottega Louie” not only introduced a whole new literary experience to the world of blogging, it made a very good restaurant famous. So it should come as no surprise that this groundbreaking blog made the TEN BEST LIST.
(Original) Foreword by Stan Lerner: the following short story “Breakfast At Bottega Louie” is a work of fiction, written as a novella, meant to give the blog reader a unique literary experience. In essence “Breakfast at Bottega Louie” is a love story that examines the intersection and repair of two broken lives. I present to you the story, now in its entirety.
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE
I did not move to Downtown Los Angeles in order to seek adventure nor to help the less privileged, but rather as a small, insignificant dinghy adrift in the sea of life. It’s true that like all writers, although I was a businessman all those years ago, I have had my moments of self-aggrandizement in which I have felt as if I had some special calling in life. I might have even caused a few dozen or so to share in this indulgent maybe even delusional belief. Yet, the reality is fairly simple: I came to live where I have now lived for the last fourteen years because it was inexpensive. Not that it looks inexpensive, rather the converse is in fact the case—I live in the lap of luxury. Indeed it was a once in a lifetime event that imbued such a fortunate circumstance on to me. A golden cage of my own in a thriving part of the city that has on some blocks even surpassed the quality of life that can be found on Ninth Street between Flower and Hope, for this is where I dwell.
One such block to rise in status midst our prosperous neighborhood would be 7th Street. It had some grand old days in the grand old days but had spent forty of the last forty years as a shadow of its former greatness. My own mother, may she rest in piece, reminisced about the trolley cars that had transported her and Aunt Louise to shopping excursions at the stores that once towered above the streets. The original Robinson’s headquarters I’m sure was a favorite stop. And just across the street was Brooks Brothers where my dad had bought suits. I know this latter statement to be absolutely true as I wore a hand-me-down from this very store in my senior picture. I didn’t mind at the time, but now wish I had been wearing a fine suit of my own on this occasion.
With this location, formerly Brooks Brothers, I am inimitably well versed. Because in the days that I sought to build a clothing empire of my own rooted in the value proposition and a familiar sounding name, I toured the premise with the serious intent of turning it into a larger and improved version of my store a block to the north. Why this did not transpire I can no longer recall, but this is easy to forgive as my empire building days left carnage on the streets that would have wowed the Cesar’s—even Caligula, and after praying for much forgiveness some things a man should be allowed to forget.
For three years the site that was once almost part of my rein of business terror seemed to be under perpetual on and off construction. The floors above were with equal sluggishness being transformed into lofts—part of an adaptive reuse boom that was both revitalizing the city and adding substantially to my net worth, which ironically had been increasing daily for years as I benefited from no merit of my own other than the weakness to live the life of what I think of as the faux rich. Interesting, that a phantom economy turned my faux rich life into a life of semi substance. No doubt in the future I shall lay claim to visionary status when I inevitably decide that humility no longer suits me. Humility? Yes, in substance if not in form I am a humble man. Particular? Yes. But one can be humble and still have an appreciation for the finer things in life. In fact in Los Angeles you can have all of the fine things in life—as I exemplify with little money at all or a fair amount of money that you owe and mean to, but don’t pay back.
I had been told of a gourmet market to open in this space where my father was once fitted for suits. Dave told me this and since he is gay and in real estate I assumed it to be completely accurate. Because, let’s face it, who can not keep a secret more so than a gay man that tells everyone he is gay. Personally, if I were gay I would tell no one. I mean that would seem to be more fun—especially with respect to the opposite sex. Imagine a black hole of neediness that one could not be sucked into simply by the fact that you appeared to be, but were not part of the same universe. I think that this is the great secret of heterosexual males—all wish to be gay. Not because they are attracted to men, personally I would rather be mauled by a Grizzly Bear, but because like the truth it would set us free—I digress but not really.
The gourmet market, known as Bottega Louie, when the wrappers came off the windows was a market, a café reminiscent of an indoor piazza, and fine dining establishment with an open kitchen. The white marble that lay beneath my Gucci clad feet exuded the class of a substantive foundation necessary to all great social interactions. Continue reading