Sunday, April 10, 2011

Farewell to the Smoke- Part 1- All the Places that Died


A list of the places that are no more, beautiful and hideous joints that have gone the way of what a more cultured person would call progress but what a low life calls gentrification or modernization, places that just didn't have a place anymore for a variety of reasons and we'll begin with the Olympic Flame, a diner around the corner the 759 abode, a place where you could get an omelet and a stiff vodka-7 at a 7a.m., my favorite waitress was in her 50's with a loud laugh and pack of kids who caused her no end of grief but she always had a smile and a sharp comment and it made me tip all the better, the food was pretty good (the gyro omelet was my favorite) and though i never ate dinner there the place said it specialized in Greek food, the booths were red vinyl, the clientele was mostly old and they knocked it down and turned it into a Einstein's Bagel store...


Anthony's Lounge, my home away from home, a strip bar, described before on this site as something you might find in your swinging uncle's basement circa 1977, the door opened directly on to the street and the young kids would open it and gawk and run, when i first moved to the city the place would open at 4pm and the Engineer and i would go over and sit and talk to the girls and down drinks and eat .25 slices of pizza, the amount of capers i pulled in this place would in themselves fill a book, i won't go into it but let's just say i've most likely lived every man's fantasy in a place like that, the girls were for the most part kind and good looking and the owners pretty much left me alone, it closed down and re-opened as a gay bar which us old hipsters thought was comically ironic...


The Mustard Room, real name the Deli Bar, dubbed the Mustard Room because of the color of the walls, it was a place of business for me, i hooked up most of the staff and sometimes the owners, my drinks were usually free and the staff kept a close lookout for anyone who might give me trouble, the jukebox was good and since it was in a swankier part of town it provided one with lots of eye candy, i once spent a x-mas eve in there and got so drunk i was lucky not to burn my apt. down after popping in a t.v. dinner and blacking out for the next 8 hours, a place where i met some damn good friends, some of which i still talk today, now it's some Ultra Lounge filled with kids all dreaming of Brooklyn...


The Party Goods store i worked at circa 95, a place that on my third day i was so drunk that i fell down basically from still being so wasted, my boss loved me, the owner was scared of me, i came to work stoned out of my gourd 90% of the time, i smoked coke on my lunch break, i sold smoke to a good many of my co-workers and worked with a the owner's dad, who was the coolest and funniest old Jewish guy you'll ever meet, used to come in to work and tell me it was sex night at his house (he was 78 at the time) and we'd laugh like a couple of jackals, my boss once told me he thought the owner's dad liked me more than he did his son, it was a great gig for an aspiring hood as it they paid like shit and were just happy if you showed up most of the time, my record for calling off was 7 fridays in a row, the building it was in was bought by a giant medical conglomerate and now sits empty...


Ray's Bar, home of the greatest New Year's Eve ever, is pretty much the same place under a new name and owner, the reason it makes the list is that once the place changed hands all the drag queens and weirdo's stopped coming in and now it's just a run of the mill hipster bar, basically people trying to be interesting instead of people who actually were interesting...


Joe's Bar, a place that's made a few posts and will likely make a few more, bought by an ex-palooka who opened the pizza shop and took over the bar, at one point there was a problem with the taps that made the place reek of moldy yeast, a stench so strong you literally wanted to vomit within the first ten minutes in the door, but since the booze was cheap you drank fast and before long you barely even noticed it, a barfly hangout by day, it soon became a hip-hop bar at night, me being one of the only white guys crazy enough to actually enter the place, i was often called the Tree Man by black gentleman i didn't know most likely due to my acquaintance with a certain ranking hood, it got closed down after a shooting, re-opened as Duke's, closed a short time later and was demolished and now is home to a Qdobo parking lot...

The Laundrette in North Oakland is gone, now empty, it was next to an old hangout where i'd get plastered and do my laundry at the same time, across the street from that was another diner that's gone as well as the neighborhood pharmacy and lottery joint... in Bloomfield the old movie theater is now a Starbucks and some sub chain, the old bagel i store i worked at in 93 is now a Cricket phone place, i've lived in this part of town so long that i've seen so much change and yet so much is still the same, just now the hip kids are hanging in the old man bars and the coffee shops where once it was the kids who grew up in the hood, but that's how shit goes and i'm not for it or against it, i know i'm getting old cuz i'm experiencing new wave for the third time, but i miss some of these places that are gone, they are part of what shaped me, made me who i am in a weird sorta way, maybe it's misplaced nostalgia or that fact that i'm getting older, but they're little bits of a big picture, like a Hieronymus Bosch painting or something like that, in order to take it all in, i need all the little details...

8 comments:

daisyfae said...

20 years from now, are the "kids" going to be lamenting the loss of that AMAZING Qdoba, or that Chili's that used to be on the corner where we'd hang out after work....

nursemyra said...

you make lists of the bars that have disappeared. I make lists of the beautiful old independent movie houses that sadly no longer exist...

Blues said...

I like this post. It's got my mind spinning thinking about all the places that are no longer in Phoenix. To me it makes me sad, especially being away and going home and expecting to see places and suddenly you don't even know what intersection you're at because it's been completely changed. It's like losing an old friend to see places like that go down. In Tempe they got rid of an entire strip mall of dive bars, diners, and record shops for a giant Borders Bookstore, a monstrosity of a building that now sits empty from the recession. Those little dives I'm sure would have made it through - they were cheap and good and had a loyal customer base.

gary said...

thank you for this. sad. but thank you.

sybil law said...

It's weird for me to drive through where I grew up - what used to be wide open fields filled with actual cows is now strip malls, restaurants and other sterile buildings. There are no more familiar landmarks! So strange.

Gulfboot Johnson said...

I stopped going to Joe's around the time of the stink. So I’m lucky that it's forever frozen in my memory at its peak. With that wee little Indian dude and Spider and pool games with firemen and PFL and throwing pitchers at Bob and Danke Schoen and that chick who said: 'raise the roof'.

Rassles said...

I get it. All of the places I worked at throughout HS are gone. Used bookstore, Hobson video, a 100 year old horse farm got run out by new, giant houses whose owners complained to the city about the SMELL of the HORSE FARM they MOVED ADJACENT TO.

Jayne said...

I miss the old duckpin bowling alley, where pin boys were actually employed. It shut down in the mid-70's and was the perfect spot for a greasy breakfast hangover cure. Seems everything's a franchise now. But not entirely. ;)