Triumph the Insult Comic Dog had been up since 4 p.m., and now, as the sky over the Sunset Strip turned the color of dried blood, his hangover was finally wearing off. Standing in a corner at Bar Marmont, a glass of bourbon in his paw, he offered a running commentary on his fellow imbibers for the benefit of the pair of blond would-be actresses who flanked him. ”Sigourney Weaver looks great,” he said. ”I wonder if she goes to Cher’s mortician.” He took a sip of bourbon, and it smoothed out the scratchiness in his voice as he continued his assault: ”Wow, is that Claire Danes having a smoke with James Van Der Beek? Calling ‘Us Weekly’ magazine! We’ve got the lead for your Who Gives a S – t? section.” His companions chuckled politely, but it was clear that Triumph was tired and merely going through the motions. He coughed – a phlegmy rumble that shook his small body – and then, at a loss for anything else to do, lit up his cigar.
This was a mistake. Up until now, the staff had been kind enough to bend the rules for Triumph – he was allowed into the bar area, in violation of L.A. health codes, because, the bartender told me with a wink, ”I can see you’ve brought your Seeing Eye dog with you.” But blowing cigar smoke into the crowded room was pushing his luck. Nearby, Salma Hayek made a big show of coughing, fanning her hands dramatically in front of her face. Seeing this, a bar staffer made his way through the throng of pretty young things and addressed Triumph with that brand of stern pleading waitpersons use when circumstances require that they reprimand the rich or famous. ”I’m terribly sorry,” he said, ”but we don’t allow smoking in the bar area. Or dogs. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
For the first time all night, Triumph snapped to life. He’d been sleepy and withdrawn all evening, but, his dignity affronted, he let loose a fusillade of raw invective. Loud enough for everyone to hear, he started shouting in his distinctive Russian accent: ”You swarthy punk! Do you know who I’ve pooped on?” As bouncers moved in, Triumph backed warily away, shouting all the while. ”You don’t serve dogs? You served Benji last year! Do you have to be a metrosexual dog to get a drink?” Half the patrons in the bar made a point of looking away; the other half made a point of staring. None were smiling. The blondes faded back into the crowd.
Triumph marched for the door, clearly trying to make his departure look like a moral victory. But one of the sad truths of L.A. is that any dramatic exit is inevitably cut short by the need to wait for valet parking, so 10 paces outside the door – with many of the bar’s patrons still staring – Triumph got in line for a jacketed attendant to retrieve his car and began fumbling through his pockets for some dollar bills. As we stood behind Brian Grazer, Triumph cocked his head in the direction of the bar and said, with an evil gleam in his eye, ”Great place, Bar Marmont. A real Hollywood landmark: This is where that producer f – -ed over that writer. Oh, no, I’m sorry. I’m thinking of everywhere.”