2496 3d St. ~ (415) 643-8592

7:30pm Friday 22 February 2008

Prologue: I’ve actually been to Dogpatch Saloon. I found it quite charming. Only trouble was the company. (“Our drinks are stiffer than your date’s dick” was printed on the coaster, and that coaster wasn’t kidding!) A brand-new Barfly — Big Easy — is coming all the way from Santa Cruz and will finally be able to attend an Official Visit, so the company factor is guaranteed to be 100% improved over the last time I was there. And Dogpatch Saloon seemed to me then to be the sort of place that doesn’t change much, so it’s bound to be as appealing a place to drink as it was before. Please do come join me and Big Easy for a drink or so (that is, if you are reasonably certain of your status as “good company”) at Dogpatch Saloon, won’t you?

Afterword: As I mentioned, I had been to Dogpatch Saloon before, so its rustic charm was no surprise to me on my Official Visit. In fact, I was relieved that the place was precisely as I remembered it, despite being crowded with at least ten times the number of customers as the last time I was there. Even the bartender was the same. If I had forgotten his face (which I had not, at least not completely), then his name would have been enough to remind me that he was behind the bar that other time, too (hi, Goody!).

Big Easy was not there yet, so I had some (/lots of) time to scope out the joint. Dogpatch Saloon is brightly lit (not blindingly so, but there are no dim spots in which to hide a bad hair day, or, say, circles under the eyes from partying pretty much all week long, if one’s friends are to be believed about their version of a certain merry-making timeline that I still think sounds a little far-fetched, even for me). I’ve never had trouble parking there (a major plus). The coasters didn’t have witty — and uncannily accurate — double entendres printed on them on my reunion with Dogpatch Saloon and Goody, but I did get a chance to count the 5 tv’s, 4 ceiling fans, 3 semi-taxidermied pheasants on the wall near the optimistically named “kitchen’, 2 old-timey cash registers, and 1 pool table — squeezed in between the barstools and the booths on the opposite wall so tightly that players need to rearrange people at the bar fairly frequently. And you know what? The vibe in Dogpatch Saloon is so mellow that nobody minds this. Not even The Hostess, as she waited — and waited, and waited — for Big Easy to show up (and if that isn’t high praise, I don’t know what is…)

Dogpatch Saloon is quite evidently frequented by a preponderance of so-called regulars. Which is to say that The Hostess was more than a little, shall we say, conspicuous — especially given my unaccompanied state. Fortunately, I have found that whipping out the Official Notebook and gazing around purposefully and pausing to take notes almost always leads to a new acquaintance (or so), conversations with whom can easily tide me over until a ‘Fly buzzes in. For example, just as I was noting the existence of a raised bit of floor with a piano jammed onto it that could — perhaps — be deemed a stage, a regular named Rick (aka: Rugrat) decided to introduce himself — and a large part of the back of the bar — to me, in the course of inquiring what I was writing…”about our Bar, right?

I don’t think that any of them believed why I was really there and what I was actually doing, despite the business cards (with the possible exception of Cliff, who subsequently warned us about the dubious status of Oxygen Bar in the Mission). But everyone — including Gene, the “mayor of Dogpatch” — was very friendly, in a way that I didn’t feel like I was quite so conspicuously unaccompanied any longer. This being, ipso facto, the sign of a very good Bar…

As I began to seriously contemplate sampling the free pretzels (which really couldn’t have hurt me, given that I was easily 4 days into a debilitating and lingering mysterious illness that would plague me for weeks), Big Easy, at long last, tapped me on the shoulder. It turned out that he had brought along a surprise: the fabulous Dottie P.! So I had double my anticipated long-lost liaison, which was even more than twice as much fun as I thought I would have at Dogpatch Saloon that night (don’t bother trying to do the math — the Fun Factor is a variable that exists in four dimensions and cannot be calculated, except during Official Visits, and after at least two strong drinks). Big Easy and Dottie P. even got to be in the Official Photo since, after all, I had been there long enough to figure out who to trust with my camera for the duration of one shot. Even though we were all understandably disappointed that the Official Visit ended as soon as it did (although I personally had at least 3 scotch & sodas, all told), I made sure to sign Free Drink coupons for Big Easy and Dottie P., the better to keep them from being long-lost to me again.

Suffice to say, Dogpatch Saloon is a fine place to have a drink (or so). If I lived in the neighborhood, I’d most likely be one of the so-called regulars. Alas, I live elsewhere. But I will certainly keep Dogpatch Saloon in mind when(if)ever I’m in the vicinity. Dogpatch Saloon is the kind of Bar one can probably rely on (for a while, at least, as long as the forces of gentrification can be kept at bay) to be a reliable place to have a good drink, for a fair price, in the company of some friendly folks (and if one doesn’t wander in there with someone the coasters might be making fun of in the first place that night, so much the better!).

Bathroom Biography:
One for each. Perfectly serviceable. But I used up the last of the toilet tissue. Believe it or not, I think Dogpatch Saloon got extra points when I pointed this out to Goody and he hastily grabbed a roll out of the mens’ room and asked me to personally re-stock the ladies’. I tell you, the vibe is so mellow at Dogpatch Saloon, not only did I not mind at all, I was happy to help out. Go figure. Better yet, go to Dogpatch Saloon and check it all out for yourself.