As I’m sure you can infer from the title of this article, I am not very hip. I get confused by fads, I pick up on fashion trends months after they’ve stopped being cool, and I’m so bad at getting into clubs that even New York Sports Club wouldn’t let me in unless I came back with two girls and wasn’t wearing sneakers.
I've spent the last five years living in NYC, and always considered it to be the epicenter of hip. I thought living there would make some of that hipness rub off on me. Instead, the only thing that was rubbed on me was the diseased hands of hobos. After a short LA vacation last year, I realized I had it all wrong. Almost every person in LA has a sleeve tattoo, dudes wear knit caps in 80-degree weather, there are Macklemore haircuts as far as the eye can see! This is where I needed to be! So, back in October, I made the brave decision to move here.
While NYC was my home court, since I've been in LA, I've felt like a fish out of water. The problem is that I'm still writing for Thrillist, and I'm supposed to be "in the know." It's tough to be a trendsetter when you eat most of your meals at Chipotle. Being in LA has ended up just making me feel even less hip than I already did.
So, per the urging (bullying) of my editor that I needed to spruce up my LA knowledge, I decided to hit one of LA’s trendiest restaurants, and try my best to fit in. This week, I went to West Hollywood’s “PUMP.” Even before I left, I faced my first hurdle -- what will I wear? I didn’t want to waltz in and immediately be spotted as an outsider, so I needed to sport something that made people think, “this guy is chill as hell.” I Googled “what cool people wear,” but when this was the first thing that popped up, I knew I was in trouble.
Then it hit me -- WWALD (What Would Adam Levine Do?). AL is the epitome of dude chic. I would let his fierceness guide my fashion choices. What were the results?
Nailed it. I met my friend Christine, who was to be my guide through this journey. Christine has been in LA for over five years at this point, and I knew that with her at my side, I would look slightly less out of place. The hostess told us our table wasn’t quite ready, so we headed to the bar for a cocktail.
The atmosphere of PUMP is its selling point. The lighting is dark enough that my complexion looks great, and the ambiance is warm and inviting. Ambiance is a French word that roughly translates to “wall stuff.” There were even olive trees in the middle of the bar! I think hip people are like animals, so they need greenery in their habitat in order to feel at home. Me? I just tried to blend in.
I looked over the cocktail menu, and at $14, these drinks were not cheap. I also expected them to be mixology-type drinks where they use syrups, and light things on fire, and zest stuff, and use big words like “zest.” Instead, what I basically got was a vodka cranberry in a disappointing glass.
Christine and I took a load off next to a fire pit made of marbles. Marbles are what trendy people use instead of wood... I guess? I was loving it! After 40 minutes of belonging, we finally arrived at our table. Our waiter, Jesse Mo, a cheerful Asian man with frosted tips, was a real delight from start to finish. He handed us the menu, which featured pretty standard American fare. We decided to start with an Ahi Tuna Tartare. Jesse Mo asked us if we wanted some bread too, and I figured, hell, it’s Thursday, why the hell not?! He disappeared to put our app in.
Within three minutes, our Ahi Tuna Tartare with crispy wontons was already on the table! Wow, that was fast! Some might say, suspiciously fast! But I guess cool people have really sweet Hollywood parties to attend, so they don’t want to wait long for their meals. Christine and I dug in, and I found it to be quite tasty, although the consistency suggested it had been prepared hours earlier.
Then, it happened. I made the unfortunate mistake of putting my butter knife on my finished ahi tuna plate. When they came to clear my plate, they took the knife off my plate, and placed it back on the table. I’d messed up... big time.
I was humiliated. Of course I was supposed to keep my butter knife! It was one of those moments that you immediately wish you could take back. Here’s a disgraced me, post-knifegate:
I tried to act like it didn’t happen and move on, as Jesse Mo came to take our entree orders. I was tempted to get the burger, but I thought that might make me look like a typical uncultured heathen American pig, so I opted for the Grilled Skirt Steak with Lisa’s Potato Salad. Christine got the salmon.
As we waited for our food, Christine, a superfan of the Bravo show Vanderpump Rules, which features some employees from PUMP, noticed that one of the cast members of the show was there “spinning.”
Spinning has many connotations in hip people world. It often refers to riding a stationary bicycle for $40, but in this context, it meant that he was DJing tunes. He looked VERY cool. The name of the gentleman was James Kennedy, and while I was disappointed that he was not the James Kennedy that I know and love, I guess the whole point of me being there was to expand my horizons.
Our food arrived quickly thereafter. The presentation left a little to be desired. Here's a pic of my meal:
It’s tough to mess up skirt steak, so it was quite delectable, although I wish it had been bigger. The asparagus was standard, no-frills, steamed asparagus. The potatoes were cold and what I like to describe as “not good.” I thought about complaining, but I realized cool people never complain; they take everything in stride! I ate the cold potatoes as another attempt to fit in. Christine said she was “pleasantly surprised” by her salmon. A ringing endorsement!
After opting not to get dessert for fear of being called fat, I had Jesse Mo bring us our check. I know that trendy people are rich, but PUMP is super overpriced. If I'm gonna pay $32 for an entree, I'd at least like it to be warm. I also noticed something a tad unsettling, which I had never seen -- a $3 charge for “Assorted Bread”! Those sneaky bastards. I guess in the world of cool people, they want to discourage you from eating bread because it’s so carb-y, so they charge you for it. I was slowly learning.
I paid my check and we were ready to bounce. But I didn’t want to do so before taking a full tour of the restaurant. The ambiance really is quite chic, so I would’ve been silly not to take advantage of that for Tinder pics. Especially since I was currently dressed like Adam Levine!
Here’s me next to the bar with a big vase of flowers.
Here’s me with a big bottle of something that looks expensive.
Here’s me in a sweet private dining area, trying to make it look like I’m the king.
Here’s me next to some type of wine cellar contraption thing?
And finally, here’s me next to a trendy scenester girl showing some exposed back.
I think it might’ve been Miley Cyrus!!!
There was only one thing left to do. If this “James Kennedy” fellow really was a celebrity, I needed a picture with him. One thing I learned from cool people like Dan Bilzerian, is that part of being hip is taking pictures with other hip people. It gives you credibility. Hipness via the transitive property, if you will. So, here it is:
I’m the one on the right.
I made it through the evening without anyone calling me out for being a loser, and I lived to tell the tale. PUMP's food is overpriced and “not good,” but maybe that’s the whole point! You come there to be seen! To take pictures next to exposed backs! To hobnob with Kennedys! And I did all that. I felt very blessed to have the experience, and think I’m finally on my way to fitting in here in LA.
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