Blooms Saloon Friday, Jun 22 2007 

1318 18th St. ~ (415) 552-6707

Sunset (-ish), Saturday 14 April 2007

Prologue: Blooms Saloon is supposed to have a great view of the city. So I thought I’d get there while it’s still light out, and stay to see the sun go down as the city lights come up. Then I found out that it’s probably going to rain on Saturday, screwing my plans to see a sensational sunset. But since I’m spending the afternoon at the Tea Garden Springs Zen spa in Mill Valley that afternoon, I’m not likely to mind if the view from Blooms is less than stunning. So Saturday evening, right around the time the sun is setting (behind the clouds or no) I’ll be at Blooms, rain or shine. (Somebody stop me before I say something about April showers and frickin’ flowers, will you?)

Afterword: The evening began auspiciously with my being able to find Blooms Saloon by my directionally-challenged self AND a parking space with zero fuss. Then, when I sat down and ordered a vodka martini, up with a lime twist, the bartender decided that a martini made that way ought to be called something, and asked me my name, and promptly proclaimed that the drink was henceforth to be called a [Gre]nadine. Well, you can see why I decided I liked Blooms Saloon at once, can’t you?

Lindy was the bartender’s name. And I don’t know if she has named any drinks for herself, but I do know what her name means in Hindi, which I would tell you, but then you would not have the pleasure of having Lindy tell you the amusing anecdote of how she came to find out this pretty esoteric tidbit of information. Lindy introduced me to her friend Mitch, and they proceeded to question me about who I was and where I came from and why I was at their bar, and what had taken me 7 years to get there. On learning about Bars By The Book, Mitch was, well not exactly unimpressed, but definitely not interested in becoming a Barfly since, he explained, he only goes to two bars (Blooms Saloon and one other one which now I cannot remember for the life of me, but I hope it’s a Bar and that he’s there when I go). Lindy, on the other hand, was totally down with the program, and even miffed that so many Bars had gone by already that she couldn’t possibly win the Fabulous Prize at the end (Batman is working on a mathematical way to even out your chances, Lindy, don’t worry).

Then a bunch of us at the bar all had something called a Hot Shot which is not a shot at all, but a combination of Baileys, coffee, Irish Whiskey, and Kahluha, and was on the house, so was even more enjoyable than you can imagine it would have been with all those yummy ingredients. (Warning!!! Do not try this at home until you read Lindy’s comment below which tells you what ingredient I missed! Thank you, Lindy!) It’s apparently some deconstruction of something else that Michael J. Fox (not the actor/Parkinson’s Poster Boy, but a regular at Blooms Saloon) decided needed tinkering with.

That’s when Batman tapped me on the shoulder (hi Batman!). And as much as I love making new friends (my longstanding dislike of people notwithstanding), it is always nice to see a familiar face in the mirror behind the bar, too. In all the excitement of Batman’s arrival, there was a shift change and Lindy joined us on our side of the bar while Gene took over behind it. Gene and Lindy both tried to get me to read a framed article on the wall about the regular Blooms Saloon bartender, who is apparently famous and has won a “best bartender” award, but really, I like to focus on the bartender(s) in front of me and how much better could this guy be than Lindy and Gene, who have both mastered the art of pouring martini’s right to the rim of the glass?

Anyway, Mitch finally called it a night, and we were both pretty surprised he hadn’t drowned in my dimples, but that was probably for the best, because what, after all, would I do with a decent man? Lindy and Batman smoked way too many cigarettes between them and we all bemoaned the lack of access to the tantalizing back patio, home of the indeed “great view” which can now only be enjoyed on a limited basis from inside thanks to a crabby neighbor who is not content to have caused the patio to be closed (except for the 4th of July and October 26th, or the closest Sunday thereto), but is also letting her trees obscure most of the otherwise yes, “great view” (bitch).

Batman took the Official Picture(s), and even snapped some of the gentlemen’s bathroom on his new camera phone (which I am now going to start calling “phameras”, and I think you should, too), so when I get around to doing something with all these pictures (I am starting to wonder about the wisdom of putting them online…), we’ll all finally get a look at the parts of the Bar I ususally don’t get to pass judgement on (thanks, Batman). I even got to go behind the bar (my favorite!) and Lindy took pictures of Gene and I and the “No Sniveling” sign.

Amenities at Blooms Saloon include an old-timey phone booth, pinball machines, and plenty of seating. No hooks (just gum), and no dogs, except for some that get special passes, but if you have to ask, then your dog doesn’t have one. A receptacle for cigarette refuse it thoughtfully provided just outside the door, which is something the losers at Maggie McGarry’s in North Beach could take a lesson from (fear me, Maggie’s…UPDATE: Maggie finally got an ashtray so consider that lesson learned; well done, Maggie!). But the best thing about Blooms Saloon is that even if you don’t know anyone when you walk in the door, the people who are there will make sure that doesn’t last long.

As to the tragically tantalizing view, well, Batman and I did make a point of checking it out after the sun had set and you know, it’s still a pretty nice vantage point from which to take in the Bay Bridge, which at night and from a distance is quite lovely. We are lucky folks, indeed, to live in such a beautiful city with so many Bars to visit and so many bartenders (and their friends!) to meet. If only there were as many parking spaces everywhere else in San Francisco as in Potrero Hill, then the word perfect might could (as they say in Texas) be applied.

Bathroom Biography:
One for each. The ladies room is single use only, and otherwise unremarkable except for the hilarious advertisement for something called dumpcupid.com. “Why trust your love life to a fat guy in a diaper?” it says. Why indeed! Bottom line: go for it and ponder the cupid question for yourself.

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Deluxe Club Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

1511 Haight ~ (415) 552-6949

4:59pm Monday 18 February 2008

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Thank you, Webweaver for the free festive art!

Prologue: It’s time for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary! As if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, it’s also Presidents’ Day, which means a lot of us who would otherwise have to work, don’t — yay! As an added festive element, Mercury is also coming out of retrograde (finally!) so the malaise that so many of the the attuned among us have been feeling will finally dissipate — whew! Last, but certainly not least, this otherwise entirely momentous date happens to dovetail with Day No. 14 of Chica Cherry’s 40-Days-of-Fun 40th Birthday Extravaganza, and she has most graciously decided that celebrating Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary is the Fun Thing she wants to Officially Do that day. (What an amazing Barfly that Chica Cherry has turned out to be!)

After all, she was there when this madness started. The question is, where were you? If you were there, too, then surely you want to come and commemorate the auspicious occasion. If you weren’t there, but have been along on other Official Visits, then this is the perfect time for you to check back in (and get another notch on your Barfly belt…Batman? Wanda? Miss Anthrope?)

And if you have (unfortunately for you) never experienced a Bars By The Book outing, what could be a more perfect introduction to this Tome of Taverns (so to speak) than the one year anniversary party? I don’t want to oversell the evening, but a brilliant neurochemist re-booked his flight to the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans (!) just to be sure he could make it. And another Barfly scheduled the end of her recent bereavement to coincide with having a stiff drink at Deluxe Club with The Hostess on this special night. There are rumors that certain largely anti-social Barflies will make appearances. And Nora Charles is threatening to bring a cake, of all things!

You should come. It’s going to be one for the books, I can feel it. Even if they don’t have a stripper pole, there’s allegedly a dance floor of sorts. If you buy me a drink, maybe I’ll dance with you…

Afterword: What can I say? If you were there, then being there was more fun than reading my description of it can ever be, and if you weren’t there, you won’t believe me when I tell you how much fun you missed. But everyone there deserves to read about themselves, so here goes…

Although the opening time of Deluxe Club was confirmed by Nora Charles and myself on no less than three separate, and independent, occasions, 5:oopm came and went and the Bar remained quite firmly closed. I paced, and waited, and peered in the window, and tried the door; I inhaled the cigarette smoke of dozens of Haight Street denizens, I fretted: repeat (repeatedly). I placed a frantic call or two to Nora Charles. When I was nearing my wits’ end, Ritchie showed up. He’s a Haight Street handyman of sorts (hi, Ritchie!) who spends a lot of quality time at Deluxe Club, and who assured me that the place would open sooner than later. As Ritchie was rolling his second cigarette (the first of which he properly disposed of in the vintage smoking refuse box mounted just outside the door where we were, for all anyone could tell, loitering) who should appear but Chica Cherry, with Scotty just behind her, lending credibility to the whole Bars By The Book (abridged version) I had tried to explain to Ritchie (who seemed to think I was more or less deranged until they showed up).

Handy man, or no, Ritchie did not have the keys to the joint on him, but the pizza guy did! Giovanni was my new favorite person while he unlocked the door, invited us in, and offered to make us drinks (as long as they were uncomplicated). Ritchie split, but Giovanni (hi, Giovanni!) seemed genuinely interested in what we were, in fact, doing at Deluxe Club that night, and he told us all kinds of interesting things about the Bar’s history. (To be fair, Ritchie’s the one who started us down memory lane.) You see, Deluxe Club used to be the Gold Cane, but that place moved down the street, and the former Gold Cane became Deluxe Club, which used to be a gay bar, but became de-gayified when the current owner, Jay, purchased the establishment. Now, don’t ask me how one de-gayifies a Bar, but some of us did wonder. However, before we could delve too deeply into the pondering, Nora Charles showed up with The Cake.

And she didn’t just go to the grocery and purchase a cake. She baked one. (Actually, she baked two, but that’s another story…) Scotty took one look at that confection (The Cake — not Nora Charles — although maybe both, now that I think about it) and ordered one of Giovanni’s pizzas to start. Then Ms Olive strolled in, and it was time for some photos…

To his credit: Giovanni not only got us all drinks, but he managed to bring us a pizza, AND take some fantastic photos of us. For a guy who technically just leases the kitchen space (and has grand plans to restore the menu to its former oyster bar glory) Giovanni went above and beyond the call of duty during the Official Visit, and The Hostess sincerely thanks him for his efforts., wishes him the best of luck in all his culinary endeavors, and hopes he will surprise us with his presence at a future Bar (pizza or no).

I’m pretty sure Jay, the owner (hi, Jay!) arrived next. He plugged in his impressively-loaded i-pod, turned down the lights, and helped Giovanni attend to what was obviously going to be a bigger crowd than they expected so early on a Presidents’ Day Monday (go figure!). I was busy trying to explain The Cake to Jay when Malvolio walked in. And Art (sans Barfly name, which we were hastily able to correct due to some quick and creative thinking) was suddenly strolling in the door. I have to admit, it was getting a bit much to introduce everyone by this time (maybe Scotty was right and we should have had name tags — then again, some of us did have identifying necklaces….)

Chica Cherry started having to take phone calls outside (hey, she has a lot going on right now), and Nora Charles decided it was time to serve The Cake (before the regulars who were wandering in tried to eat it, perhaps). Just as Chica Cherry bid The Hostess adieu, Nora Charles ran out of forks, and Sigerson snuck in. While Sigerson was sorry to have missed Chica Cherry, he and I could always share a fork, so we allowed the scrumptiousness of The Cake (which was shared, of course, with Jay an Giovanni) to console us about Chica Cherry’s early departure (which was really understandable — as she is less than halfway through her 40 Fun Things before she turns 40, and may need to be carried over the finish line, if she doesn’t schedule herself a bunch of spa days in between now and D-day…) Anyway, as we were all enjoying The Cake, and Ms Olive was demonstrating how she got her name by stuffing olives into her bottles of beer, and Sigerson was trying to explain his rather obscure (yet appropriately literary) Barfly name, and Malvolio was trying (not too hard, mind you) not to seem too smug that he actually knew where the name “Sigerson” came from, and Scotty was being apprised of Sigerson’s real name, and Giovanni was bringing out more pizzas, and I was buying Art another drink, and Jay was just trying to keep up with our drink orders without alienating his regulars, I’ll be damned if Batman himself didn’t show up — with another new Barfly, no less (hi, Ben For Now!).

It was like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo and Columbus Day all rolled into one for The Hostess. One year, 33 Bars, 9 Barflies — lots of whom had never met before — and me. Plus, there was The Cake. And I definitely danced with Art (in the absence of a pole) and maybe even had a spin or two with Sigerson (can’t say for sure as I was dazzled by his snazzy shirt as soon as he took off his jacket). We were having so much fun, no wonder the people in charge of the show (comedy?) that was fixin’ to start came over and informed us we would either have to stop telling jokes (that demonstrated the fact that only Batman and I have a truly sublime sense of humor) or take our party elsewhere…

Thank goodness Nora Charles didn’t invite us all over to her place, or I’m quite sure that’s where we’d all still be! Instead, we took what is destined to be the best Official Photo of all time, and went on our (mostly) separate ways. But that was for the best, because now The Hostess — at least — can’t wait to go back to Deluxe Club again. As I like to say, these days, “one has to leave before one can come back” (or something to that effect…)

Alright already, if you have read this far, either you are reeealllly interested in finding out what Deluxe Club is actually like, or you were there, and you wanted to read about how much fun I had with you. What follows is a description of Deluxe Club as it will most likely be when not more or less over taken by Barflies:

Deluxe Club is rather snazzy. Remember in the 1990’s, when there was that weird swing-dancing revival? Ritchie says that actually started at Deluxe Club. The place actually seems a little small for that sort of tossing dance-partners about, but who knows? Anyway, it’s got the ambiance of the sort of place where that could have happened. It’s certainly retro-tastic.

But I must confess, I think one of the best things about Deluxe Club is that it is clean enough — with enough of a respectable, if somewhat genteel and faded, veneer of respectability — that the procession of Haight Streeters marching past outside never even looks in door. Which means you can enjoy some drinks, some music, and maybe some pizza, without getting cancer from second-hand smoke, being hassled for change from fake hippies, or succumbing to the smell of patchouli-scented dreadlocks. In short: Deluxe Club is a haven in the Haight, and I hope to return to it soon. It was also a spectacular venue for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary party, and may give Ace’s a run for it’s money in the end…(Jay? You need to have start selling t-shirts — I need something to wear next year!))

 

 

The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

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