Last Call: Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ever heard that saying about how little man really knows about the ocean? You know, how we supposedly know more about deep space than we do our own planet? Well, that’s sort of how I’ve always felt about the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area. I honestly think I know more about Los Angeles than I do the mysterious suburbs northeast of Fort Worth. Once, a long time ago, I referred to them out of frustration as three large growths metastasized around the main artery between the Fort and the airport, choked and throbbing with chain restaurants, sports/karaoke bars, and about 8,000 clogged onramps. After getting lost there the other day, I discovered that I seem to be only 80 percent correct.
My previous boozing experience in the wilds of H-E-B is limited to two house parties, 12 years apart, and at both of them I was so hammered I could have been in Boise or Belgrade for all I knew. However, I do remember some bar names being bandied about during general conversation, and I think some fellow straggling partiers and I may have even gone to a couple. One of the names was Volcano’s Sports Bar & Grill, a great and evidently unforgettable handle for a bar. Driving through H-E-B with some time to spare and a thirst that only frosty hooch could quench, I thought, What the heck. Lemme try and find this Volcano’s joint, just to see if it’s just like I don’t remember it.
The digital clock in the S.S. Erin Gray said 9:30 p.m. About an hour later, I still hadn’t found the place. I’d like to point out that my disorientation was not the bar’s fault. I just have no sense of direction. But, I reasoned, H-E-B isn’t that big, so maybe if I just exit somewhere, I’ll eventually bump into Volcano’s or some other non-chain bar. Next thing I know, I’m thinking, Jesus, did that road sign just say, “Colley-freaking-ville”?!
I was so desperate for a beer, I actually thought about hitting the nearest convenience store for a 40-oz. roadie. Then, like a beacon in the dark, a bright neon-green awning came into view. I exited, slammed the gearshift into “P,” and stomped inside Papa G’s Sports Bar and Grill. On the plus side, “Sweaty Teddy” Nugent’s “Stranglehold” was blaring over the loudspeakers. On the downside, I was by myself and in a packed sports bar where everyone seemed to know everyone else, making me feel especially friend-less and loser-like (which had nothing to do with Papa G’s, mind you, just me). I swallowed my pride, downed a Pacifico pronto, and headed back onto the highway.
You know that creepy Stephen King novel The Wasteland? Yeah, that’s what I felt I was driving through – until, right across the street from the Bell Helicopter complex, I spied a dive. Sweet.
The Starlite Lounge smells like Chinese food, probably because the place serves Chinese food. Even weirder, the Starlite — like a lot of H-E-B bars, apparently — is really into gambling. Not only were some gaming machines in full swing and a poker game going on but a cover of Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” also was coming from, I believe, the juke. (I kid you not.) I’m a functioning alcoholic, not a gamer, so I took what little disposable income I had allotted for the night and once again took to the road.
If the Starlite wasn’t quite my cup of tea, then The Den was a tall drink of motor oil. Or chew spit. Or something else equally disgusting. There. Was. Scary-oke. And in between “performers,” there was … Nickelback, specifically the Top-40 band’s “hit” “Rock Star,” to which pretty much the entire bar sang along. Sitting there, heavily self-anesthetizing, I realized there’s another good reason why we can’t carry weapons into bars: I know a lot of people, self included, who’d rather puncture their eardrums with a dull butter knife than have to listen to more than three minutes (or 30 seconds) of Nickelback. Thanks, TABC!
Of course, just ’cause I don’t approve of karaoke and bad, awful, dreadful music doesn’t mean you have to agree. To be fair, the people at all three joints seemed to be having a mighty blast. I’ll just make sure that I have very detailed directions to and from Volcano’s next time I try to go there, which, FYI, will probably be next week. Sit tight. – Steve Steward

Six (Packs ’n) Flags over Texas?
Speaking of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, last year Six Flags Over Texas quietly filed an application to sell suds – not at the amusement park, even though getting all loaded and going on the “Superman” or “Mr. Freeze” sounds like an awesome though probably vomitous proposition. No, Six Flags filed on behalf of nearby Hurricane Harbor, the amusement monolith’s only other family-entertainment property in town.
Imagine, if you will, descending the gleefully disorienting turns of the “Hydra Maniac” only to zip through someone else’s recycled beer and/or lunch or, worse, pass out on the way down and into the drink. Kind of drown-y and way not cool.
However, there’s an upside: the whines of other people’s sunburned, crabby children going unnoticed because you’re conked out on a chaise longue under the spell of 40 bucks’ worth of Budweiser. And think about all of the sloppy brawls and potentially NC-17 catfights that would have gone down. Now that’s entertainment.
Alas, the good people at Hurricane Harbor told me they seem to have lost interest in the application’s status. The good news is that an online petition to ban booze from the fake beach has only six signatures on it. I could get six signatures in opposition to the opposition just by standing in line for the “Hydra Maniac.” – S.S.

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