Castor Oil...sickeningly good

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Call of the Wild

When traveling repeatedly to the same locale it's a good idea to set up a reliable base of operations. I travel to a certain mid-sized Southern city quite often for the jobbidity and always stay downtown at the same hotel so the hotel bar would seem to be the logical choice. However my loathing of the animals and maniacs that frequent hotel bars in general combined with overpricing and really scary bartenders invariably led me on a quest to find an alternative go-to location to wile away the time until I can get home to the happy embrace of my palacial estate and it's surreally cute occupants.

Some time back I ventured out on a warm fall evening (it's the South remember) wandering up Broad Street looking for the hovel away from home. I shuffled past the boarded up windows and tea houses and anything that resembled a cigar bar or a place most likely frequented by assholes. I was looking for some pretty basic criteria -

1- Dark
2 - Good jukebox
3- Good bartenders
4 - No dudes in French cuffs smoking cigars
5 - Cheap liquor

Not too much to ask for and after a few blocks and some looking about at unsuitable venues I stood at the threshold of a place called the Firehouse. "Hmm", thinks I, "this looks promising." From the sidewalk I could hear "Big Dumb Sex" by Soundgarden playing and saw a print of Iggy Pop's "Brick by Brick" album cover on the wall.

So far so good.

BDS ended and as I stepped to the threshold the opening strains of "For Those About to Rock" cranked out of the speakers the nanosecond my foot hit the floor of the bar.

Promising indeed.

I let my eyes adjust to the gloom, (two seconds in and criteria 1 and 2 had been met), and saw bounding up to greet me a happy faced yellow lab with a tennis ball in his mouth. The bartender yelled, "Awwww don't worry about him he's super-friendly. If you like dogs and play ball with him for a minute first drink is on me."

Check on #3.

At the bar was a motley looking assortment the kind you see at working class rock and roll bars in cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Tattoos and dirty shoes, that kind of thing. Nary a collar much less a French cuff in sight. I tossed the ball to my new best friend and had a seat. The guy sitting next to me had two shots in front of him and said askance, "My buddy had to take off before we could tell Neil he didn't want another round. That's Jack Daniel's if you want it."

Tickmark next to #4.

So I'm just soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the tunes and enjoying my now two free drinks and was very well pleased with my discovery. Looking at the chalkboard I see that domestic cans cost $1.50 and shots are $3.00.

Bingo on the fivespot.

And I have found me a home. So I head over there whenever I visit and have gotten on a semi-regular basis with the bartenders and regulars. Enough to get an honest "good to see you" but not enough where I really have to get to know anyone. It's perfection with uneven floors. That being said the charm of the place is the rough edges and from time to time you're going to get some entertaining yet idiotic events taking place.

I headed over after dinner one night last week with some of the work folks that I have shared the secret of my Fortress of Solitude location with. A good group and we were looking forward to some bent elbow time at the bar. We got in the door and before I could order a beer a wild-eyed Grizzly Adams looking local yokel got into a push and shove with another yokel then punched him square in the mouth. The bartenders pushed them both outside where they proceeded to yell, advance, grimace, stomp, yell some more and then as is the nature of the universe give each other the big BRO hug and become best friends.


The BRO hug knows no boundaries!

So while I would rather be at home it's nice to have a place where you can curl up with a cheap cocktail and watch dumbasses punch each other in the face. Home is indeed where the heart is.


  • Conragtulations indeed!! Finding one so far from home, so easily is a rare feat. It took me a month of living in Memphis before I found one. It's got a little overly friendly, but partly my fault for drinking there most evenings now. The beer is cold, the liquor cheap and the clientele interesting. They range from moi (very wonderful and british (thus exotic & exciting)), to fantastically hot students, to 400lb rednecks who love to hug and roar and tell jokes etc. And there are even occaisional brawls.

    ahhhh...heaven on earth

    By Blogger tideliar, at 3:08 PM  

  • conragtulations?

    I need to get back to said bar and top up my blood-alcohol levels I think....

    By Blogger tideliar, at 3:08 PM  

  • Ragtulating is the best.

    By Blogger Phil Rossi, at 1:01 PM  

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