Title: A Place Called The Bla-Bla Cafe
Writer: Sandy Ross
Publisher: SLR Publishing
The Bla-Bla is a book about a small cafe on Ventura Boulevard in LA that lived and breathed from 1971-1978, then with a change in location limped along until 1982 and its ultimate demise. The cafe sported an impressive list of steady goers that included, Al Jarreau, Sting, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Amanda McBroom, Gene Nelson, and Robin Williams to name a few.
It’s the story of a place where people grew together as a family in a time when the world was less understanding about certain issues and more tolerant of others. The book technically offers a novice style and is in need of a second copy editor run through, but much like the era this book is about, the story, improvisation, and the sincerity are much more important than ones ultimate skill with the written word.
Sandy Ross does a wonderful job at keeping the integrity of the story intact, much as she did when booking the talent at the Cafe during its heyday. You can also enjoy many chapters written by past patrons, which I thought was a fun touch.
As I read through, I could feel the emotion leap off the page at me. I felt the excitement, the nervousness, the hope, and the fatigue. Sandy Ross invites you into the memories of eight hundred family members and all for a cover charge of .50, and $2.00 on the weekends.
I retired as a professional musician several years ago and the Bla-Bla reminded me of how much I missed the road. And by road I mean the camaraderie that I felt while on the road or on stage.
I loved the stories, I loved the honesty, but most of all, and what this country misses most of all is – the love. Yes love, the Bla-Bla Cafe was about love. A place where anyone could go no matter their persuasion, color or creed and be free to create to be honest and to love. The world is a different place today, in many ways better, but we no longer have the freedom of the 70’s and with its departure goes some of the most influential music of all time. I remember my Bla-Bla and by all accounts would have loved to drop in and had a cup of cinnamon laced coffee, a warm Sabby omelet and friendship.
A Place Called The Bla-Bla Cafe reads less like a book and more like a personal memoir of a building with the perspective of a fly on the wall and that is a good thing. But, the Bla-Bla was more than a building, it was a laboratory for those who needed a place to experiment, a place to wind down, a place to get a bite, to network, to find friends, a home, and a place to fall in love.