HMS Bounty

Best Jukebox, November 2006

There it is, in a dark corner, the Galaxy 200, coin slot covered with tape. The 45s have grown dusty inside, nudged into obsolescence by a flashy CD jukebox that feeds on dollar bills just a few feet away. It takes some negotiation, but the bartenders at the HMS Bounty , the grand nautical-themed dive, can be persuaded to turn on the old one, to let it crackle and hiss, needle on vinyl, three plays for a quarter. Dean Martin sings “That’s Amore,” Ella Fitzgerald does “Mack the Knife,” Frank Sinatra croons “Strangers in the Night.” With each skip and sputter the gin somehow gets better and the red booths cozier as the ghosts of Wilshire Boulevard are once again soothed.