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So What's Up with That '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall' Song?

So What's Up with That '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall' Song?


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Someone was really bored.

Who in the world thought of this song?

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottle of beer — we know you’ve heard it, and we’re sure you’ve sang it. Though the song has a catchy tune, chances are the only time you sing it is when you’re stuck in a car for hours. Why? Because it takes forever to finish.

You’ve sung “99 Bottles of Beer” over and over again, but why? Or better yet, have you ever looked into who was bored enough to come up with it?

If you’ve ever gone in search of the origins of this tune, we wish you luck. We looked at numerous sources, and it seems as though the song doesn’t have a specific author. The only information that can be found is that it is believed to have originated in America and has been sung in the U.S. and Canada for decades.

According to Urban Dictionary, some believe the song was based on the fourteenth-century nursery rhyme “Ten Green Bottles.” This has yet to be verified, however.

It’s a shame that the songwriter is lost to history, but we’re more concerned about other things. For example, why are a bunch of school kids sitting around talking about something they can’t even drink? A little ironic, don’t you think?

The accompanying slideshow is provided by fellow The Daily Meal Managing Editor, Lauren Gordon.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


More Than 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

When they belly up to the bar at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach, it’s for Kiwi Lager, St. Pauli Girl, Double Dragon and 776 other beers from around the world.

In the 15 years since Naja and Ben Zeinaty began serving up stouts and pilseners from a hole in the wall on the boardwalk at King Harbor, Naja’s has become legendary, sort of Cheers by the sea.

Naja’s the blonde behind the bar, in a black T-shirt that proclaims: “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Beer!”

On a Saturday night the joint’s definitely jumping. In a quasi-quiet corner, Raul Vandenberg, 27, and friends sip Whitbread Ale and Anderson Valley Amber from 24-ounce glasses while extolling the virtues of Naja’s. Vandenberg, a teacher in Carson, says, “This place has no pretensions . . . a real grass-roots kind of place.”

He was introduced to Naja’s by his fiancee, Kristi Reinert, 27, an exercise physiologist. They’ll be married in May. “No, not at Naja’s,” she says, “though we thought about it.”

Sam Mitani, associate editor of Road and Track, is at the main bar drinking Weizenbier, a brew he discovered while in Wolfsburg, Germany, doing a story on Volkswagen for the magazine.

Mitani often brings correspondents from Asia and Europe to Naja’s, to sample L.A. life. But, he hastens to add, the magazine “doesn’t condone drinking and driving.”

Lebanese and French, Naja once was a fashion designer in Abu Dhabi, making “high-class clothes like for sheiks’ wives.” Ben, who’s Lebanese and Italian, was once a captain in the British army.

They married in 1962 and by the mid-'70s were in London, where they opened a nightclub, Farasha (Arabic for butterfly) on Kensington High Street.

But Ben, a boat enthusiast, wanted sunshine and, in 1979, Southern California beckoned. “We came with good money,” he says, “no need to work.” But they soon were bored.

So they took over a former gift shop and opened Naja’s, with seven beers on tap and 107 in the bottle. Naja keeps adding, and Naja’s keeps expanding.

The original bar, open to the boardwalk, adjoins a big room where customers at tables nibble Armenian pizza or falafel. There’s a dance floor and on weekends the Shark Brothers’ music floods the boardwalk.

Naja, who’s both cook and bartender, will tell you, “Beer is like gourmet food.” She holds up a corked bottle: “Made in Belgium by Trappist monks. It’s like a wine, almost. My favorite.” (And, at $9 for a large glass, the most costly.)

Lore holds that the monks fast for 40 days, “speaking to God through that beer.” She laughs. “If I drink this beer all alone for 40 days, I think I’m going to talk to God, too.”

Among the tap beers, which pay the bills, the bestseller is a German pilsener, Warsteiner. Naja’s now offers 79 on tap, but still calls itself the home of 777 beers, 77 on tap--for poetic effect.

Should a customer want one she doesn’t have, Naja will find it. Those that bomb go home with them, though Ben admits, “I’m not a beer-drinker.”

At Naja’s, Brits get their ale as they like it, in glasses rinsed in warm water. Naja can also mix up a “Snake Bite"--English cider and lager.

Snapshots of customers who hold Naja’s passports line the walls. One earns a passport, and a T-shirt, by drinking two beers from each of 39 countries.

Not in one night, of course. Drunkenness is not tolerated. Says Ben, “Too much beer, we call a taxi.”

Young and old find their way to Naja’s. From the-night-of-turning-21 to . . . .

Well, Ben’s father, who died recently, came to drink and dance at 105. His brew? Pepsi.

A Scottish Bard on the Walk of Fame?

Dentist Neil McLeod, “the flossing Scot” who heads the neophyte Los Angeles Burns Club, didn’t even smile as he stated one of the club’s goals: “We want a posthumous star for Robert Burns on Hollywood Boulevard.”

An 18th-Century Scottish poet on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

“As a lyricist,” McLeod explained. “and I see Charlton Heston, a true Scot, being there when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . . . .”

And what would Burns, a poor Scottish farmer, think? Well, reasons McLeod, “I don’t know that he necessarily would have openly greeted publicity . . . but when he was powerful with his pen, it caused him great joy.”

Burns’ words still bring joy to the hearts of the faithful, 85 of whom gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter Inn in Los Feliz on the 236th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s foremost bard.

Kilts and plaid skirts were de rigueur for this first Burns Supper. The guests even made a brave show of eating haggis, the traditional peasant dish of sheep’s innards and oatmeal. “Chopped liver,” muttered one guest, saving himself for the roast beef.

British Consul General Merrick Baker-Bates noted that he’s been at many a Burns Night worldwide, some merrier than others--"In Utah, they drank cranberry juice with the haggis.”

He then told the story about an Indianapolis couple who bought Robert Burns’ skull from an Edinburgh antiques dealer for 500. Revisiting Edinburgh, they spotted Burns’ skull for sale again and confronted the dealer, who explained, “But this was the skull of Robert Burns when he was a lad.”

McLeod recited from memory, and in proper Burnsian prose, with lots of ay’s and na’s and gie’s, the lengthy “Death and Doctor Hornbook.”

A piper played “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” a reverent moment for Burns believers, who know every detail of his life (a life during which, one biographer wrote, “virtue and passion had been in perpetual variance”). Women and whiskey contributed to his demise at 37, as did a doctor’s advice to go sea bathing in winter to cure his pneumonia.

But always, there was poetry: “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men,” “My luve’s like a red, red rose,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” And the immortal ode to a mouse: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in they breastie! . . . “

Inevitably, dinner-table conversation turned to the matter of what proper Scottish soldiers wore under those kilts. Simple, said Tarzana attorney J. Howard Standing: “Shoes and socks.”

James Yates, a Yorba Lindan only seven years removed from Scotland, offered the final toast, an honor traditionally reserved for he “who could stay the soberest.”

The L.A. club joins a network of 1,121 Burns Clubs worldwide. “It gives you hope,” said Esther Hovey, that all over the world people gather on this night to honor a dead poet.

Hovey’s late husband, Serge, a composer, spent 25 years matching Burns’ 300-plus song lyrics, including “Auld Lang Syne,” to the quite different tunes Burns intended for them.

After a toast to the lassies, Ann McBride responded with one to the lads: “Our husbands and our lovers, may they never meet.”

* This weekly column chronicles the people and small moments that define life in Southern California. Reader suggestions are welcome.


Watch the video: 99 Bottles by Makisi (June 2022).


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