A Night in Whittier

Staying local isn't so bad or expensive after all

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: August 6, 2008

A Night in Whittier

All I've been hearing about lately in the news is about the rising cost of gas, chorizo, and diet soda, the credit and housing crunch, the rising unemployment rate, the presidential campaign, and Brad and Angelina's twin babies...nothing new, nothing good, nothing exciting for a good-looking vato over 50 who refuses to sit on the porch munching nachos as a way of life, know what I mean?

One would think that times dictate we ride out the financial hardships by staying home and watching TV or babysitting grandchildren to save our precious last dollars, rather than lose them (literally) driving to Vegas, Laughlin, Reno, Mexico, or any other casino or tourist spot for a good time on the west coast.

Excuse me...but I beg to differ!

As a full time practicing non-rich Brown guy, I was faced with decisions like go out this weekend and start an unplanned diet on Monday, or stay home and join the bored masses, so I said heck with it! A little searching and smart planning, and a good time can be had without stretching the budget into poverty for a week. Here's how it came out:

First, my boys at the local ARCO gas station hooked us up and dropped gas down to $4.09 a gallon in the Land of 1000 Dances. Whew! That helped!

($20.00 in my Lady's economy car took us a long way)

Then, with FREE admission, and FREE parking, and $3.00 Corona specials, SUSIE HANSEN (pictured) and her Latin Jazz band put on a killer dance~show at the WHITTIER RADISSON Hotel that saw us joining around 400 of Peter Jaramillo's closest friends, as we partied and danced around the luxurious pool complex to some of the hottest salsa music in L.A.

Susie and the band, of course, gave up a great performance that had everybody dancing non-stop.

With a new chef in town, and a reasonably priced dinner menu, we had a gourmet dinner with excellent service in the luxurious ambience of the hotel restaurant Sophia that didn't break me (I HIGHLY recommend the pork chops!), with Peter himself taking a little time to join us for drink and pleasant dinner conversation.

"People still want to go out and have a good time without spending the rent , but with a lot of clubs cutting back by just having generic DJ's 2 nights a week and raising their drink,food, and admission prices, a good time with live bands or top notch DJ's is moving to the casinos or out of the average guy's budget", Peter explained, "But here at the WHITTIER RADISSON, we've developed a good team and a good concept of reasonably priced entertainment, food, drinks, and rooms that will surprise a lot of people. We offer live entertainment and the best DJ's every Friday & Saturday night, and we want people to come out and have a good time here at the RADISSON...and keep coming back!"

I had to agree, I think they found the right combination to make it happen. Rumors of still more good changes to come are in the air, and the name "Club 201" is on the lips of Gente in the know...I can hardly wait!

Outside by the pool, a generous buffet dinner plate of tacos, rice and beans was offered for only $8.00 a plate, and two full service bars with generous seating in the tropically landscaped pool area made it hard to believe you were anywhere near L.A.!

Friday nights offers generous room prices (under $100.00), and for the luxury the RADISSON Hotel offers, you can reasonably spoil yourself at an unbelievably discount price that includes the ultra comfortable dial-a-bed (THIS you gotta try!!), room service, cable TV, with air conditioned first class clean, modern, quiet, and plush rooms. I was in heaven!!

After Susie's show, my Lady and I decided to take a little walk through uptown Whittier, which, since the earthquake of 1987, has morphed into an oasis village of shops, restaurants, coffee houses, theater complex, and art & culture centers.

About 3 blocks north of the RADISSON, we walked through the gala lighted streets to STEVE's BAR-B-QUE and BLUES RESTAURANT, one of L.A.'s up and coming Blues clubs. Owner Steve Perez was there, graciously inviting all visitors to come in and taste his wares of one of the best Bar-B-Que menus in L.A., while live, killer blues music played inside.

Still full from the gourmet dinner at the RADISSON, I managed to have a couple of cold ones, while I saw others enjoying ample servings of great smelling bar-b-que beef and pork ribs, beef tri-tip, and chicken with all the fixings...so much so, I had to at least have a small tri-tip sandwich.and I WAS NOT disappointed!

(buuuurrrp! Excuse me!)

Plenty of fixings come with the dinner, and again, you can bring a date or the family, and you won't leave broke (just happily full!), and of the many times I've been there, I've NEVER been served a warm beer!

And while you're dining to your heart's content in a comfortable, clean, and welcoming atmosphere, some of L.A.'s most popular blues bands entertain you. On this night, WHITE BOY & The BLUES EXPRESS took the stage for three great sets of blues, rock-a-billy, and more blues. Other great L.A. Blues bands like BLUES STRAIGHT UP, JUMPIN' JACK BENNY, and THE MAMA'S BOYS have checked in as well, keeping Blues music lovers happy & satisfied.

"We have live Blues music Wednesday through Sunday, and we've added a few more items to our menu." Steve proudly states." And with FREE parking and FREE admission, we're always full with a good crowd. Staying local has never been better!"....Can't argue that!

After our visit to STEVE's, we leave and take a stroll back to the RADISSON, and we find both clubs going full steam. In one, DJ Panchanga is blasting away with the salsa, keeping the Susie Hansen party alive, while SUAVE took the stage in the other club, keeping the dance floor full, and my Lady and I had to kick in a little cumbia, disco, and slow dance action before calling it a night.

The next morning before checking out, I decide to splurge a whole $21.00 and order room service breakfast for my Lady and I (...yeah, I know...big spender Frankie...that's me!!)

We leave the hotel, but before going home, we drive down about seven miles to the Santa Fe Springs Swapmeet, where, for only $1.50 admission and FREE parking, we get to catch the cream of Chicano music, TIERRA for three great sets. Great show and a big crowd, we leave after a PEPE MARQUEZ "5 star" recommendation of a bowl of menudo and a cold one for only $7.00. (Right on, Pepe!)

Heading home, we start making plans to drive down to the Norwalk Guesthouse later on that evening to catch a couple of sets of the SATISFACTION Band and some more great dance action. With FREE parking and only $5.00 cover charge, where could we go wrong?

Sunday morning, I take stock of my finances...total cost of Friday and Saturday for both of us: $197.65 ~ less than $50.00 a person a day, for two days of cruising and partying and good times in the Land of 1000 Dances that started out with just a little cruise down to Whittier, and not a lot of money in my pocket.

Now you know what we mean when we say "I love L.A.!!!"

Note: for info on the action at the Radisson Hotel~ www.jegrp.com

For info on Steve's Bar-B-Que & Blues - (562) 789-0200

And tell 'em you heard it from Frankie Firme & LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Chicano Soul.
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com
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