FROM THE ARCHIVES — I Hate Valentine’s Day
But I Like You
Originally published February 5, 2023.
I Hate Valentine’s Day
Memories flooding back - a million bars in a million cities - a nightlife writer for a million years.
Leaning back in a dark corner of a bar - doesn’t matter how small I make myself, they still find me.
I was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times for 15 years, writing about the things we do at night.
I was the keeper of secrets. No matter what club I was in, someone would beeline over and say, “I have something to tell you, but you can’t print it.”
So I took in the intel, and kept the secrets. Bette Dangerous, Confessions of a ‘Fox Blonde’, and Fox Undercover are the beginnings of telling those secrets. Enough time has passed, and sadly, enough people, but I still honor my promises by fuzzing details.
“You should have named names,” a former Fox 11 colleague told me last week after reading Confessions.
I told her, “I love everyone.” And it’s true. Resentments are too great a burden to bear.
So I am telling the stories of a time when I was a queen of the night - or as my sister used to say, the gold card.
There were no lines, velvet ropes would vanish - I could get a dozen people into D’Angelo at the House of Blues and get better seats than Magic Johnson. I had every doorman on speed dial.
I could show up at the Palace to see the Cure without being on the guest list, and be inside the venue, backstage, within seconds. I could get a plus three to see Nine Inch Nails at the Probe.
Such was the power of the pen - which I used judiciously. My mantra was “Do no harm, take no shit.”
If I didn’t fancy someone, their name simply wouldn’t appear in my column. That was my big get-back. But if I liked you, my ink was infinite.
If I noted a new club had promise, but the promoter was drunk, I wouldn’t hit that point head on. Somewhere toward the end of the column, I would write a line about how the best club owners didn’t imbibe on the job. It was my subtle way of nudging people toward slobriety. There are dozens of nightlife expats still sober today who will tell you they took the hint. And there are many livers I still pray for nightly.
I was in line to attend a funeral once, and someone asked me if I could get her tickets to U2.
That was legit my life.
On that day in October of 2007 when I hung up my columnist pen, I took a long nap. I had been working as an investigative producer and a nightlife writer for so long, to quote Lili Von Shtupp, I was tired.
But I never stopped going to shows, and refueling on music.
So this weekend when I went to hear my son’s band play at a local ‘80s thrift shop with wall to wall Robert Smith posters, it all felt so familiar. I knew all the lyrics, made song requests, and became friends with the venue’s owner.
And last night, when I went to hear my friend perform at Tom Bergin’s - an 87-year-old Irish bar - the back room was giving me all the feels - all those nights when I was tucked into a back corner somewhere just enveloping myself in music.
And like I said, they still find me. A gentleman sat beside me and started telling me the history of the bar - and how it was almost demolished like everything else in L.A. but saved by becoming a historic landmark.
As Joan Didion wrote, “The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past.” So many legendary venues were raised to make way for the Crime of the Stucco.
But last night, in a building with gorgeous old bones, we listened to each singer-songwriter perform, commenting on their talent, and my new friend asked me to come back. I like to leave these things up to fate.
My fingers are fueled by music. Even now as I type I’m listening to the CDs I bought from the musicians last night to help support their work. As artists, I think you’ll understand.
To do the work I do - fighting the fascist creep - I have to keep my world very insulated. The money is on the side of the fascists, and they pay people to psychologically terrorize the people doing the work of democracy.
But the truth is on our side. And the truth always prevails eventually, but it doesn’t surface on its own - it takes work.
Today, RadPod interviewed war correspondent Zarina Zabrisky reporting from Ukraine. She said Russia isn’t our enemy, because that would put it on the same playing field as us. She said Russia is a sickness, an insanity, and I told her we are trying to prevent that insanity from further leaching here its “tube-fed brainwashing sludge,” as she described it.
I am fulfilled by this work, but it keeps me in a lonely place. There are no rear areas in hybrid warfare.
As I left the venue last night, I was thinking about how much I hate Valentine’s Day, but how grateful I am for all of you. To write with purpose for people who care about truth and support independent writers, that is something special.
Bette Dangerous is a reader-funded magazine and Substack bestseller. Thank you to all monthly, annual, and founding members. My reflection, Confessions of a ‘Fox Blonde’ was just published in Byline Supplement. In a review of my latest ebook, the erotic novella Fox Undercover, I’ve been called “The punk rock Anaïs Nin” and a “powerful woman - the book is smart and sexy AF.”