by Aaron Thompson
Hollywood Alley has always been just another bar to me. Since I relocated to the Phoenix area about four months ago, the bar, located in an unassuming strip mall at the Tempe-Mesa border always seemed like a potential suburban gem of hidden filth and rock 'n' roll debauchery.
Despite my love for hidden rock, filth, and debauchery, I never really gave it a second thought. Maybe I thought I was too cool. Maybe I was too busy. Maybe I thought it would always be there.
Yet as I held my tangy yet simultaneously putrid gin and tonic in my hands at 1:05 a.m., and a solo couple clutched each other to the sounds of a grimy blues band belting out tunes that blended into the atmosphere, it never was more clear to me and everyone else in the bar: This was the end of Hollywood Alley.
Being new to the area, the bar's legendary status means little to me, but the others inside are eager to fill me in, even then. Patrons around me drunkenly recall tales of being the subject of episodes of Cops in the bar's parking lot, playing their first gig on the club's stage, even just managing not to puke on the bar's floor.
"It's a place that's important to me," says a bartender I don't [and won't' know. The bar's logo is tattooed on his arm.
As the puke-y gin settles in and the blues band abandons the stage for a quick performance by some other band of dingy-looking assholes who manage to perform one of the better covers of "War Pigs" I've heard, Hollywood Alley's charm already is rubbing off on me.
Maybe it's the LPs hung up on the ceiling. Maybe it's the shitty Z-grade sci-fi movie posters that deck the walls in a schizophrenic fashion. Maybe it's the fact that the whole bar smells like a fresh grease trap.
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Or hell, maybe it's even the trashy Ramsay Thorne pulp novel I pocketed from the bar's "give a book, take a book" library as I popped open a High Life at 1:55 -- 24 hours and five minutes away from the bar's final last call I realize that there's more to Hollywood Alley than just some shit bar in a strip mall.
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Ultimately, it seems that I'm less of an Arizonan -- and maybe even less a person -- for not experiencing Hollywood Alley's frenetic cum disgustingly strange splendor sooner. Rest in peace, Hollywood Alley. I barely knew thee.
More Hollywood Alley Coverage: - Hollywood Alley's Final Weekend: Slideshow - Hollywood Alley's Anniversary Party Will Go On Without Hollywood Alley - Mesa's Legendary Hollywood Alley to Close After 25 Years