After I was interviewed by Joe Escalante for the morning show that he hosted on the late Indie 103.1, he asked me if I had ever eaten at Tokyo 7-7. He described the Culver City diner as a time warp tucked between the shadow of a massive parking lot and the back side of mini-malls, with an impossibly cheap menu where you could get rice instead of potatoes with your breakfast. Yes, it lived up to his billing. Upon hearing that the restaurant is closing this week due to an unreasonable rent increase, I was one of his many friends and acquaintances who hit him up for one more meal there. Somehow I made the cut, and we met there for lunch today.
Joe got the teriyaki burger with rice and iced tea. I got the veggie royale (omelette on rice) and coffee. Our bill was about 12 bucks. We tipped a little extra because we spent a long time lingering, talking about The Vandals' ongoing battle with Variety, struggles faced by bands and band members (not to mention magazines and shops), my sordid past as a Jungle Cruise guy, and life in general. There's also the owners' and employees' retirement to consider, and more than a few of the staff stopped to say hi to Joe one more time. He wondered alound which one was going to get his autographed Indie 103.1 glossy that hangs on one of the wood-paneled walls.
While there was some heaviness, the moment wasn't that depressing. Joe's actually going back to Tokyo 7-7 to meet someone else tomorrow. And he just got Kelly Osbourne's actual Dancing With The Stars hoody in the mail. Sweet, but that's a story you'll have to hear from him. Maybe on one of his radio shows.
R.I.P. Tokyo 7-7. Long live Tokyo Joe.