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The Enabler

January 10, 2008

Craby Joe's -- the scrappy skid row bar that slung pickled eggs and liquid inspiration to Charles Bukowski, John Fante and legions of down-and-out Angelenos for 75 years -- served its last $3 shot of bottom-shelf bourbon on Christmas Eve. Demoralized from fighting City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo (whose office called the place a magnet "for rock cocaine sales"), Craby's owners decided to throw in the bar towel and hold a "wake."

Naturally the Enabler was there. So were a gaggle of trendy artist-types and preservationists with cameras. Everyone made a big show of lamenting the loss of downtown's most beige, most titularly misspelled and last genuinely frightening dive. The owners of nearby Bar 107 and Charlie O's -- gussied-up rocker havens that were once Craby peers -- showed up, one in sunglasses and a Santa suit with a white beard. "This is where we hung out when we weren't doing well," he said, dribbling his Jager shot into his beard before proclaiming himself the ascendant "king of the downtown dive bars."

The Enabler nursed a beer and a shot, then two more, staring at the peeling faux-wood and waiting for Craby's regulars -- particularly talented panhandlers -- to pay their last respects. Instead, a TV actor arrived, ordered a whiskey, tasted it and scowled. "These places water their booze down. Good riddance, what a dump," he said.

Craby Joe's, 1933-2007

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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