Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Lounge


I love the lounge.

There are many types of liquor licenses in this town for on premise sales. Bars, saloons, pubs- public houses, taverns, taprooms, clubs etc. But then there is the Lounge.

I am a fan of all of these places for certain, but there is a particular attraction of the lounge. My spot now is definitely a public house. I try tell some people it is a restaurant, but in its heart it is a pub. Besides, by law it is not a restaurant. There is a bit of a tavern feel, a bit of a bar feel. And a bit of a lounge.

There are a couple of different types of lounges. Some are more my speed than others. Many of the newer lounges tend to be more clubs. But the lounges that I love are the neighborhood lounge.

I would love to open up a full fledged lounge. The lounge is a relaxed place. Not a saloon. The true neighborhood lounge is more refined, enlightened and mannerly. It is a state of mind.

Of these different watering holes, the lounge in particular gets a bad rap from some people, but it tends to be from people who are uninformed. Or maybe it is that the lounge is too civilized for some.
The other night I rolled up to Luckett's Lounge with my chum Tuen. He took the pictures. Stan Luckett owns the lounge over on Delmar just east of Taylor. It has been a lounge since the 1920s when some Italians opened it. He says in those days the police would come in and get a cigar and then get an envelope. This was quite common. Many taverns, bars, lounges etc continued to exist without much of an underground operation, more of an open public operation despite Prohibition. I wish I could have experienced this time to see how our society handled such a broad purist law dictated our social state.

Stan's uncle operated the bar since the 40s up until the early 90s when he retired. He was in his early 90s, at the time the oldest bar owner in town. The story Stan tells me is that our Excise Commissioner took note and brought together people in the industry to celebrate.

Luckett's is an interesting spot indeed. A definite neighborhood place, set apart from the neighboring hip West End. The interior is strikingly beautiful with most of the original ornamentation. Cozy booths, stained glass in a comfy small capacity locale. The time has worn in the lounge to a point where you can see the layers of decor. And the lighting is perfect for the ease of the lounge experience along with a warm and welcoming tone that is set by the proprietor Stan.

There is another attribute that is particular that makes this lounge distinct. Stan, back before he took over the lounge, ran a barber shop up on Page and Kingshighway. In the back of Luckett's is a barber shop. Not inside the bar, but set back. You enter in through the bar or the back along the side. But inside the bar is a 3/4 sized door in which you have to stoop down and enter in to what feels like a bunker. Down at the end are two chairs where the haircuts are given starting at 5pm and going until about 11 or so. The room was likely the speakeasy, and the stories go that the whiskey still was in the basement, but had been bricked up. Or so the story goes. So a sip and a cut. A nice way to spend an evening in a lounge indeed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Fish Fry Song

So last week we all went to Pius over on Grand for the Friday Fish Fry. It is one of the finer Lenten dinners around. There is live music from an Irish band- Clan Jameson. They hit all the classics like "Danny Boy", "4 and 9" and "Molly Malone". The Fry was packed with familys, kids, grandparents and all sorts in the basement of this neighborhood church.

The highlight of the evening was a song that was composed by Clan Jameson. I went over to sit with Amanda and Brian. Amanda pointed out one song that looked particularly fun. "Fish Fry".

Here are the lyrics:

A great meal is served here on Friday nights, a great deal of comforting warm delights.
A great throng of patrons enjoy great food, and great song and music create the mood.
We're having a fish fry, a fabulous fish fry.
Excitement is rising , it isn't surprising: we can certainly fish fry.
We destined our fish fry to be a delish fry fry, with baked fish and fried fish,
And fresh homemade side dishes, South City's best fish fry.
Geee, wouldn't you agree such gastronomy rouses jubilee? Yes sir!
We're having a fish fry, a Catholic fish fry.
The salmon and cod so delicious from God, it's a heavenly-blessed fish fry.
We're staffing our fish fry with people you live by:
Your friends from the parish and neighbors you cherish, an all-volunteer fish fry.
We're certainly grateful that you came for a plateful.
Delighted to meet you and serve you and seat you at Pius the Fifth's fish fry.
Gee, every recipe is what all agree dining ought to be. Yes sir!
We're having a fish fry, a fabulous fish fry.
So tell all your friends before Lent season ends that we certainly can fish fry.
So tell all your friends before Lent season ends that we certainly can fish fry!

I bet Amanda is going to be reading this tonight at Free Candy, which I think is tonight over at Hartford. Next week we are going to be at the Polish Falcons up on Saint Louis Ave. Yay for fish!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Captive Mice/Cuts/Tough Love - Repeat

Rodent Behavior

I used to own mice as a kid. I was about nine or ten or so years old. I bought them down at the pet shop on Jefferson, next to the Jefferson Bar on my way home from school. I was so excited to buy a mouse. I bought one at first. And then I started with another. And then another.

I put the mice in a box. My mother made me keep them in the garage. She was not too happy about my hobby. I bought the wood shavings to put into the box. I also had a small water bottle and a small bowl for food. I fabricated a top metal screen to keep the mice from escaping the cardboard box in which they lived.

We used to play with the mice. I had some friends, the Sebben boys, who lived around the block who had mice as well. They would fight their mice. I didn't like fighting the mice. They would match up wild mice with domesticated mice. Nasty stuff.

Sometimes my mice would fight on their own. It always made me upset to see them fight. They often would pick on one mouse too. It was harsh. I occasionally had to separate the mice. They were brutal. I didn't like the mice that picked on the one mouse, but they were usually peaceful with the exception of a few bad apples, and one really bad apple who was a killer. But that is another story.

I would cycle through mice. They would either die or escape. I owned many mice over the year or so. That was their lives pretty much. Sweet freedom or captive death in a box with a supply of muridae company, food, wood shavings and water.

Then a week after one certain mouse make a break for it, I decided to track this rodent down.

The Bloody Side of Tough Love

So one of my favorite mice, Jerry, had taken a run for freedom. He chewed through the bottom of the cardboard box in which he had grown comfortable. Chewing through the wall was one of their favorite escape methods. Jumping over the side of the box when I took off the top was another favorite.

I had seen Jerry a few times making a run across the garage. I knew he decided to stay close by. But I needed to nab him. How to do this?

Simple. A shoebox, a stick and a string. I had seen it work a million times in the cartoons, and I knew it could work in real life. So I found a suitable box and had some kite string handy, and all I needed to do was make a stick. Being a city boy, I used a pencil. I grabbed my Buck knife which I had learned proper safety as a Cub Scout and my father. I grabbed the pencil and hacked off the tip. I then started to cut a splice down the middle, even though I had taken the knife safety course, I had done this. And sure enough.

Slice. Right through the skin of my left index finger. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I saw blood.

I ran into the bathroom with my other hand on the finger. Gross. Ouch. And then I saw more bloody. I screamed. I was crying. I was panicking. I was having trouble breathing. The blood. I was scared. Finally, my father came up.

He handled it like a pro.

"Let me look at it."

I had stopped crying at this point and I was breathing hard. I felt tired from the screaming and crying. He wrapped my finger with a clean towel and reassured me things were okay. He was so calm.

My mother came and put some peroxide on the finger.

I was in a daze. I wasn't sure what to do. I cried from time to time and I was in more of a stupor.

Then it was time for dinner. I did not feel well. I sat on the floor over by the Fitz the dog.

"We will take you to the hospital. But not until after dinner."

I couldn't believe this. I was laying here, dying on the floor. My mother made her big family meal that night. It was the biggest meal we were going to have that month. I think it was crab. It was a big deal. My Ma, Dad, Sis were all excited. I didn't like crab. I was a picky kid. And I was lying on the floor of my kitchen teetering on death.

And they ate. They enjoyed their meal. My Mother. My Father. And my Sister. My face was stained with tears and I was in a sober emotionless shock.

"Can you take me to the hospital?"

"Let me take another look at that."

My father came over, looked at my hand and then pulled off the bandage. I screamed. And cried. It hurt.

"Yeah, it looks like stitches."

They started to clean up and the Fitz the dog was licking the dishes next to me on the floor. My father got me my jacket and we jumped into his Oldsmobile 98. We were headed to the hospital ER.

By this point the sobriety had really set in. I knew I was okay. I started thinking about the Emergency Room. I didn't want to go to the Emergency Room. They were always a big pain. And expensive. I knew my father wasn't thrilled about what it was going to cost. I knew I wouldn't have the money to pay for it. But I knew that I was going to need stitches.

"Dad, I think they have a Med Stop on Manchester."

"Huh?"

"Yeah, they have this Med Stop on Manchester I think. Over by the IHOP. They are supposed to be able to do things like stitches cheaper than the hospital."

"Huh."

We wound up going to check out this Med Stop. And it worked out great. Five stitches. My spirits were fine by the end of the day. It hurt, but we got it all figured out.

I never did find Jerry.

The Beat Goes On

It is funny, I see this kid Brandon down at the market in Soulard. He occasionally wipes down the car, he also helps me haul boxes of produce down the lanes when I am picking up large orders. He is about thirteen now, but I have seen him bumming around Soulard for at least four or five years. Nice kid.

About a year or two ago he came up to me and needed four dollars. He wanted to know if I wanted my car wiped down or anything.

You see, he "needed the money." He was saving up for fifteen dollars to buy a puppy. Oh lord. The look on his face was so pure. He really did want a puppy. I wanted to just give him the money for it too.

I told him to go buy a mouse instead.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Election Day

Hooray for democracy! I love this most sacred right! Oh, how we elect our Legislative and Executive branches! And the check on these by the Judicial!!

GO VOTE TODAY!

In celebration of this holy state holiday, the Royale will be featuring $2.50 Schlafly drafts and bottles. Hooray! We will also be having some free eats to the voting peeps after 7. And don't forget a free drink to hardworking election officials. You must show your badge credentials as an official for the current election.

If you need a ride to the polls, please let me know. Go ahead and email me at theroyale at gmail dot com. I will be offering rides city-wide, but I do tend to stay close to my home on the southside. Don Beasely will also be offering rides as well.

Ice cream is a great treat for citizens on such an important day. Who loves ice cream?