Many of them have gone digital and few will give you two tunes for two bits anymore, but I still love jukeboxes. If a joint has a jukebox, I can program my social excursion. I can eat chicken vindaloo with Tom Waits as background or suck down a Cuba Libre as Los Zafiros sets the mood. There are hundreds to choose from in the L.A. area.
Here are some of my favorites:
The 101 Coffee Shop
6145 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles
Known as the "last cappuccino before the 101," it gets points for a fabulous breakfast burrito and a machine with super-groovy selections. My favorite two tunes: "100 Years From Now," by the Byrds, and "Feeling Good," by Nina Simone. Also playing: The Who, Kraftwerk, the Music Machine, Serge Gainsbourg, Holly Golightly, Johnny Cash, Lee Scratch Perry and Laura Veirs.
1455 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
A former watering hole for cops, it's co-owned by Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli. There's no sign, but the music slips and slides out onto the street. My favorites: "Creep," by TLC, and "Waltz #2," by Elliott Smith. Also playing: Francoise Hardy, Bobbie Gentry, Prince Buster, Howlin' Wolf and a nice sampling of locals, including the 88, Dengue Fever and Autolux.
4326 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
Nothing goes with the Rose Petal and Chocolate grilled chicken like this eclectic mix. My favorites: "Portions For Foxes," by Rilo Kiley, and "Roadrunner," by Jonathan Richman. Also playing: Arcade Fire, Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens, Parliament, LCD Soundsystem, the Beatles, Snow Patrol, M.I.A., the Flying Burrito Bros., Tom Waits and Dr. Dre.
802 Broadway, Santa Monica
With its Andy Warhol cow paintings and tattooed love-girl waitresses, it's got something for everyone to sing along to. My favorites: "We Will Become Silhouettes," by the Postal Service, and "God Only Knows," by the Beach Boys. Also playing: Funkadelic, Frank Sinatra, DJ Krush, Humble Pie, Morphine, the Roots and New York Dolls.
7205 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
This is the place with the highest decibel-level jukebox in town. My favorites: "4th of July, Asbury Park," by Bruce Springsteen, and "Y Control," by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Also playing: PJ Harvey, Spoon and T. Rex.
Gary Calamar hosts "The Open Road" on KCRW and is a Grammy-nominated producer for the "Six Feet Under" soundtracks.