Imagine yourself in a far-away land populated by people with interests different from your own. You could try to assimilate yourself or you could go another route. John Arakaki chose the road less traveled. Being a Browns fan in Cleveland hasn’t been easy. Imagine being a Browns fan in LA. That’s the predicament John and his friend Vince Tessmer found themselves in, but they weren’t about to switch allegiances to a California-based football team. They didn’t only stick with the Browns, they created their own oasis.
“I was sick of going to bars to watch the Browns in my vintage Bernie Kosar jersey and being made fun of by fair-weather fans of other teams. Here in LA before the Rams and Chargers, you had to fight for a space in a venue playing a bunch of other games with no Browns game sound. I met Vince and he also made fun of my Kosar jersey, but I didn’t realize he was a Holy Name Green Waver just testing me. After a few discussions about Fair Hooker, the brilliance of Omar Vizquel and Super Host, we instantly connected and the group was born.”
That was in 2001. The club started with five members. Through persistence and hard work, the club now has over 600 members and is on its way to 1,000!
John Arakaki aka Johnny “Parmaggedon” 99 is the owner of The Powder Room and St Felix Hollywood. He’s a frequent guest on NBC Sports National Radio – Rob Buska Show when his Cleveland expertise is needed.
St Felix Hollywood just happens to be where the Los Angeles/Hollywood Browns Backers meet (saintfelix.net). That’s no coincidence.
“When we opened up St Felix Hollywood, we wanted a space just for Cleveland Browns fans on Sundays. Only for the Orange and Brown, no other teams, with full game sound accompanying that experience. We also designed a food menu featuring Parma Pierogies and we serve Bertman’s Stadium Mustard. We created an environment where people could feel at home and network with like-minded individuals with ties to Northeast Ohio. We wanted the atmosphere to feel like your favorite Browns bar back home and for fans to make good friends with good roots in a tough city like LA.”
Aside from John and Vince “Garfield 1-23-23” Tessmer, the group gets a lot of entertainment people tied to Cleveland or the team. Celebrities drop in, too. Chad Stewart from the rock band Faster Pussycat is a member.
The club hosts numerous events each year. They have a draft party and televise Indians and Cavs playoff games in addition to all Browns games. The club is also now the official Ohio State Alumni Backers! (https://osula.alumni.osu.edu/)
Eric Metcalf hosted an LA Browns Backers Bash when the Browns played the Chargers (https://m.facebook.com/groups/305088129678226). There are unverified reports of Ben Roethlisberger Piñata Parties. You just never know when someone famous will walk in, either.
The charity of choice for the group is the Cleveland Browns Foundation, but they would like to work with any of Jim Brown’s LA endeavors. Please contact John if you can help with contact information.
Being a long-time fan has left John with an impressive list of Browns favorites.
“Jim Brown, Bernie Kosar, Herman Fontenot, Josh Cribbs, Jarvis Landry, Brian Sipe, Clay Matthews, Eric Metcalf, Fair Hooker. There are just too many! I could keep going!”
This club president is bullish on the season. Calling himself an optimist, John believes the rebuilding years are over and the party starts now. He’s pleased to see an OC added.
Acknowledging the tough schedule, John still believes the Browns can put a decent record together.
“There is a changing of the guard happening in our division as the dominance of the Steelers seems to be loosening with age, with Ozzie Newsome taking a step back with the Ravens and the Bengals still looking for an identity.
I believe the Browns will go 0-0-16 because they always surprise me.”
Thanks to John Arakaki and the Los Angeles/Hollywood Browns Backers for taking part in the series! If you would like to join this great group or get in touch with John or Vince, you can reach them at: