A few months ago, after spending a long night at the Bigfoot Lodge


“A few months ago, after spending a long—and much-too-sober—night at the Bigfoot Lodge on Los Feliz in LA, my best friend headed down the street to the Roost. Inside, we grabbed a table and a bag of popcorn. Looking to my left, I recognized a man sitting with some aging hipsters. “Janine,” I began, “what are the odds that Elliott Smith would be here tonight?” Looking over her shoulder at him, she replied, “Pretty good, I think.” Just then, a woman placed a chocolate-frosted birthday cake in front of the Elliott look-alike. As his friends launched into a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” we waited in anticipation for—and soon received—confirmation: “ … dear Elliott.” Singing along under my breath, I briefly entertained the notion of sending him a drink but quickly thought better of it. Instead, my friends and I grabbed some dollar bills and headed for the jukebox. Careful to pick songs I knew he hadn’t covered, I made selections I hoped would inspire him or at least put a smile on his face. Half an hour later, the last of my songs, “Dancing in the Streets,” came on, and Elliott got up to leave. His arm around one of his friends, he headed toward the exit with a giant smile and a half-shimmy, half-bounce to his walk. It might have been his birthday, but seeing him dance out of the bar to a song I picked was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.“

Ellen Griley


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