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Humor January 2017

Ernie's World

Lost in Funkzonia

By Ernie Witham

First thing I noticed is that they had 20 taps, but no names on them, just numbers. I was a little nervous that if I just pointed I might end up with a Coors Light or its close cousin – water.

We were looking for a tiki bar called the Test Pilot, which used to be a tapas bar called Reds, which took over from the Wine Bar, which at one time was a coffee house. Things change quickly in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, as they probably do in your town, too.

"I think that was it."

"There was no sign," my wife said.

"Signs are passe."

The Funk Zone is well, funky. It is situated between lower State Street and Santa Barbara Street, and Cabrillo Boulevard and the freeway, with the railroad tracks dissecting it diagonally. It used to be mainly warehouses and wholesale fish outlets, with a Harley Davidson rental store and the old Diver's Den thrown in for good measure.

"Weren't you going to take up diving at one time?"

"I was but I had trouble breathing every time I thought about getting in the ocean with really large sea creatures."

Now the Funk Zone is the “in” place and we of course are quite hip. Although most young people came at night and on the weekends and we were here at noon on a Wednesday.

Pat pulled into the parking lot beside a construction truck. Shoot, had we missed it? Was it now going to be a vegetarian sandwich shop?

"We don't open until four p.m.," a guy who was drilling told us.

"Is that when the senior specials start?"

He went back to drilling.

Pat cut across State Street to see what the heck the new building near the train station that looked like it was Moroccan but there was no sign. We exited the parking lot by the famous Morton Bay Fig Tree and immediately had to wait for the train to go by. Only it didn't. It just stopped in the intersection.

"Back to the Funk Zone," she said pulling a U-turn. She took a right on Santa Barbara Street and parked in front of two converted cargo containers. "Oh look, it's Lama Dog!"

"Didn't this used to be a country and western bar?"

The Lama Dog allowed dogs, but apparently not llamas. Probably something to do with spitting laws. (Actually, there is a Tibetan Mastiff that hangs out there and he is considered a Lama Dog, probably barks in Zen.)

First thing I noticed is that they had 20 taps, but no names on them, just numbers. I was a little nervous that if I just pointed I might end up with a Coors Light or its close cousin – water. The bartender pointed to a menu on the wall near the bar. It listed 20 beers with the corresponding numbers.

"We keep changing our beers, so it's easier to just change the menu. We also have a walk-in cooler with a great selection of craft bottled beers."

I walked into the cooler, looked at about three beers before all my extremities started freezing. Wonder how they would feel about me wearing Lama the Tibetan Mastiff in the cooler? I decided to go with a draft and perused the options. "What's the difference between a regular beer and a nitro?"

"It's the gas."

"Which one will give him less gas?" Pat asked.

The bartender continued. "Beer carbonated with nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide is much creamier." She poured a sample of a peanut butter porter nitro and it was all foam. I gulped it down quickly. Then I wondered if I were to belch, would it sound different?

Pat said: "Do not belch just to see if it sounds different." We have been married a long time.

I decided to go with Firestone Nitro. It sounded dangerous. Pat got a Figueroa Mountain Baltic Porter. "If we share, we only have to buy 10 beers each to try all 20." I've always been good at math.

"Maybe we should have lunch instead."

One of the other cargo containers that jutted into Lama Dog was a restaurant called Nook. I ordered a simple Waterline Seafood Burger with salmon, shrimp, scallops, grilled tomato relish, tarragon mayo and watercress. Pat got crab cakes with fennel orange slaw and sriracha mayo. They were quite good, but no one offered us a senior discount.

"Where to next?" I asked.

"I heard there's a new wine tasting room on East Yanonalli where that burger placed used to be."

"We'd better hurry."


For more adventures please check out: Ernie's World the Book, and "A Year in the Life of a 'Working' Writer" This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit:

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