What’s the best dinner and a movie you’ve had lately? Leave a comment.
Everyone knows that dinner and a movie is a great combination. Like macaroni and cheese. Like tattoos and rum. Wait. What?
Team Betty was invited to a private screening of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry, a documentary about the life of American tattoo master, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. We enjoyed cocktails made with Sailor Jerry Rum, the comfort cuisine of The Edendale Grill and the wild tales of Erich Weiss, director of the eye-opening documentary.
We gathered in the historic space that originally operated as Los Angeles Fire Station Number 56 in the 1920s. The district of Edendale, now known as Echo Park, was the home of the first permanent movie studios in California. Hollywood was just a farming community when the studios in Edendale started churning out classics from Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand. Would you believe a guy named Walt created the world’s most iconic mouse in a studio right around the corner from The Edendale Grill?
Signature Sailor Jerry cocktails called The Perfect Storm and Grog got the party started. I felt like a Merchant Marine sipping rum as Weiss shared war stories from producing the film and interviewing contemporaries of Sailor Jerry. After spending time with Weiss, you see how his witty, down-to-earth demeanor enabled him to gain the trust of guys like Philadelphia Eddie Funk and get them talking on camera about the industry and culture they helped create.
As we sat down for dinner, the film began to roll… and so did my education on tattooing. Considering I earned a degree in Art History, it’s embarrassing that I have not given the art or the history of tattooing much thought. Sailor Jerry, or Hori Smoku as he came to be known by the Japanese, pioneered the techniques, the aesthetics, the colors and ultimately the cleanliness of the American tattoo industry. Put it this way, if you think Ed Hardy is just a wildly successful clothing brand (like I did), you need to watch this film (NOTE: for mature audiences).
In between laughter and shock, I enjoyed the Scottish Salmon Fillet on lemon Israeli couscous with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, arugula and fried capers. My shipmates enjoyed tender cuts of Hanger Steak and homey Chicken Pot Pie.
As Sailor Jerry’s story played out on the wall, the taste of Sailor Jerry Rum passed our lips and stories flowed. Weiss’ use of interviews and archival footage exposes fascinating hard truths about American tattoo culture, but does so in a “one day we’ll look back on this and laugh” kind of way.
The historic and intimate feel of The Edendale Grill was perfect for the screening of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry. Both the location and the film have roots in the past and seeds in the future; a nod to movie making old and new.
Erich Weiss is a super cool cat. Since he’s from Philly, I had to know: Pat’s or Geno’s? He hesitated to answer but eventually did. Score one for Pat’s.
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