Norms Restaurant: A Slice of Life, with Butter (1 Viewer)


In "The Shoe Lace Poem" Bukowski mentions someone trying to make it "on the half-shift at Norms Restaurant." Here''s why, I say, he said that.

There were two Norms in Bukowski country, and the nearest one was at the heroic juncture of Sunset Blvd. and Vermont. This was my favorite coffee shop; my soul savior. Open 24 hours you could get the best bacon and eggs in town, and you could watch the chef, black, white, or brown, making it with style. Instead of the chefs working behind some insane wall like moles or slaves, everything was out in the open. I loved that . . . I loved watching them face the customers, making the food, and seeing the customers eat what they had just prepared. There was something democratic about it"”that the chefs were human beings too, even if they were just slinging the standard, but good, hash (potatoes not drugs).

The night owls and the proletariat hung out at Norms: the writers, the Hollywood industry people, the ones with insomnia who couldn't sleep, the bohemians, the winners, the losers, the poor with only a few dollars in their pockets. The seats were orange, the tables were clean, and the waitresses usually served your food with a nice combination of cleavage and attitude.

The price of food was cheap"”what the restaurant was known for. You could get a most excellent steak and eggs for under 5. You could get the standard bacon and eggs, plus toast with real butter, for under 3, but made with the same flair as something less ordinary. My favorite was the fish fillet dinner for under 7. You got the fish"”you got the mashed potatoes with gravy"”you got the peas and carrots"”you got the bun with spread, a choice of strawberry or plumb"”you got the tartar sauce with the fish prepared just right. (They had enough practice.) Add the coffee and/or beer, and you'd be waddling through the swinging door on the way out to the car with a few dollars left in your pocket. And the nameless people"”the friendliness of it all. You'd remember and feel like a functioning human being again, even if you were still the same average smuck with no future, the same as when you entered.

Then it happened. One fine afternoon I was hungry. It was time for Norms. I pull into the parking lot. I walk to the front door. I see the front door. I grab the front door. I see the sign:

Norms has closed.
This will be the
new location of
Kaiser Hospital.

Good-bye Norms on Sunset and Vermont!

Later I go to the Norms on La Cienega. It's not the same. It's not as good. The comfort of the proletariat is still there, but there's something missing. On one thankless Thanksgiving, I have dinner there with a musician friend"”good, but there's no lift to the spirit. I thought the Norms on Sunset and Vermont would last forever. It was good. It had soul. I believed it would outlast me.

So in the long run, when the millennium finally runs down like a besotted clock, I wonder who will have saved more lives when the spirit drooped, the lips were parched, and the belly ached: Norms Restaurant, or Kaiser-fucking Hospital.


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Nice post, Poptop!!!

Good to see the old neighborhood...Norm's looks awfully familiar, I grew up in LA in the 60's not far from some of Buk's haunts Echo Park, Silverlake, Vendome...anyway as I told someone recently my Mom was of that ilk and could probably have drank Henry under the table (or given him a run for his money anyway)...I remember going to a Dodger game one night and my Mom getting caught trying to sneak in a fifth of Kessler's in to the stadium. She sent me on ahead to get a seat. About 45 mintutes later she showed up. What happened? Rather than give up the booze she and the security guard went under the left field pavillion and drank the bottle down...

She's been dead for 30 years now and never wrote a poem, but she did work at the downtown LA post office :) Cheers...
Sounds like you had a v cool mom Bobby ,i also had an upbringing not too disimilar to what you describe ,my mom is still here godbless only here in aus we call em mum, as in mummy, something from our colonial past i think. Its funny yknow i come from a slightly pinko background & the deal is were not suppose to like americans, ynow that thing in iraq an all, but i must say the folks i find on this thingy make it worth the trouble of learning all this computering, Now if dont mind i have an appoinment with the ice cold beer in my fridge,it is 32' outside ynow
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