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. In the case of “The Extraordinary Case Of Mike Berger” the great Alec Silverman shines a bright light on one of the best human beings I’ve had the good fortune of calling my friend. The wine tastings are not as frequent as they were when this was first posted, but Mike Berger is better than ever.
Stan Lerner, editor-in-chief and creator of Downtownster is a revered cohort for whom I am indebted to Mike Berger, the subject of this entry, for making possible our acquaintance. Mr. Lerner has been googled over 1.2 million times; his blogs (articles for Downtownster and his satirical serial Downtown Oliver Brown) have around 2 million hits; he is a screenwriter receiving residuals in seeming perpetuity; he is published in hardcover as a novelist, a long-form satirist and a children’s book author. I am honored that he invited me to be a guest contributor to this blog and, after much consideration concerning what form to proffer (e.g., an op-ed piece, a film review, a vignette, etc.), I found it “altogether fitting and proper” to pay homage to Mr. Berger. This piece however, strictly speaking, could be classified as a restaurant review. The restaurant is an ad hoc wine bar and it is Mr. Berger’s one-man show.
On the north side of 9th Street between Hope and Flower – as any denizen of downtown knows – is the entrance to Ralphs Market. Its manifestation on the cityscape was like an oasis created by a meteor. At last, under one roof, downtown had a purveyor of some of the most essential trappings of civilization. What too many apparently do not know is, that within this architecturally unimaginative space, like gleaming crystals in a geode, lay a treasure for wine enthusiasts unparalleled anywhere in Los Angeles. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays between five and eight p.m., one can get both the best value and the best wines by-the-glass downtown. For twelve hours a week, four nights of happy hours, if you will…. Don’t blink or you’ll miss out. This is all because the store opened with an exceptional department manager. You see, dear reader, with the advent of this civilization, like a gift from an extraterrestrial race, came a subtle, dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool service professional – a one-off, wine and spirits manager by the name of Mike Berger. That’s right, you read correctly, in Ralphs Market.
Part of what makes him seem like he dropped in from another planet is Continue reading