Last Call: Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Underground Resurgence?

Here’s the thing: I love bars. I love playing in them, and, believe or not, I love working in them. Even when sorority girls back up the toilets. Even when frat-holes puke everywhere. But there is nothing like a BYOB show. There’s just something about people nodding their heads along with the music while fishing through coolers for booze that warms my heart.
Maybe it’s because it reminds me of when I was younger and all of my drinking was done surreptitiously — and cheaply. Drinking also was much sexier and more dangerous then, especially since I was under-age. Nothing against bars or bartenders — slinging drinks is my part-time occupation, after all. But, as a customer, sometimes you just get tired of waiting in line to spend a lot of money — often money you don’t have — while surrounded by complete strangers. And that whole last-call thing can get really annoying. (The drinks cut-off, that is. This column is never annoying.)
Last Saturday, Pablo and the Hemphill 7 and my band, Darth Vato, played at the Eastside speakeasy. Imagine your coolest childhood friend’s parents’ rec room — that’s the speakeasy. With a pool table and some couches and picnic benches, the club has a vibe that’s part-hippie and part-hep cat, with an unusual classroom feel that lends everything a sense of order amid chaos. Pablo and DV rented the joint mainly because we haven’t played together in a while and our schedules meshed. Also, not to get all meta, but we felt the local scene needed a little jolt.
A couple of years ago, it seemed like there was a speakeasy throwdown every other week. Crowds would trickle in around midnight, when other shows around town were winding down, and since most of the time there weren’t set bills, musicians would jump on- and off-stage seemingly at random, giving a lot of local musos who never regularly played together a chance to jam and possibly consider collaborating in the future. I mean, apart from the Wreck Room’s Wednesday-night jams, where else could you see Ray Liberio, John Stevens, Eric Dodson, and James Norris backing Tahiti?
The parties eventually faded away. I heard a rumor that some hardcore band trashed the place and that the owner had had enough of cleaning up broken beer bottles at four in the morning. Or maybe the local scenesters just had to dry out. Whatever the reason, the speakeasy honcho said he was glad to have us back. Given the turnout, so were a lot of other folks, I think. — Steve Steward

Flood Watch
I’ve been bartending off and on for the past six years, which also means I’ve been cleaning public toilets since 2002. Recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: Customers who feel they’ve been cheated on their tabs or are simply having a bad day have taken to unleashing their fury on the bathrooms. For example, at around 1:45 a.m. at work last week at the Moon, as I was cleaning tables, I noticed a puddle on the floor — and “puddle” doesn’t even begin to describe the ocean spilling from the ladies’ room. Either out of anger or stupidity, some young woman had stuffed the commode with an entire roll of toilet paper. Do bar owners and managers have any recourse? Other than putting surveillance cameras in the restrooms, which, obviously, is illegal, there doesn’t seem to be any. My advice to bar folk: Get the door guy to keep an eye on the restrooms around closing time and keep track of the traffic. Banning someone from your place may cost you some revenue but not as much as having to call the plumber every other night. — S.S.

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