Back when I was a kid, Blogs were called 'imaginary friends' and were only slightly more pathetic.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Der Kloon!

A big believer in the notion that what you drink determines who you are much more than nature or nurture, Barrespondent Drew nurtures a few more pints while discussing the nature of something or other. Take that Darwin!

Creating a great dive bar isn’t nearly as easy as you might think. After all, there’s no shortage of bars in this city or anywhere around the world that could be classified as ‘dive’. Anywhere vaguely unclean and in danger of being shut down by the health department pretty much fits the bill. But to be the kind of dive that people with some of their original teeth actually go to is a lot more tricky. After all, how clean is too clean? How surly is too surly? And, most importantly, is there anything anyone can do to get thrown out of the place? These are all questions that you better have a clear answer to if you want to be a great dive bar.

Clooneys, on Valencia and 25th, is a pure classic dive. Unchanged for generations, it still curtly serves its booze to a clientele that runs the total range from ‘lowlife’ to ‘reprobate’ to ‘derelict’. The most comfortable thing about this place is the incredible faith that one has walking into it that it hasn’t changed since the last time you were there, or indeed since it opened nearly a century ago.

Upon first seeing ‘The Cloon’ awhile back, our first thought was that it was way too bright. While this is still the case, the added light leads to a lot more interaction between patrons here than at most bars. We’ll let individual readers decide if this is a plus or minus. Just don’t bring a first date here for some quiet ‘alone’ time because you won’t get it. What you will get is great bartenders, stiff drinks, and probably the occasional blitzed up drunk pointing at you like he has something important to ask and then forgetting what he was going to say.

So if you want quality divey-ness day or night (they open at 6AM!), then get yourself into Clooney’s.

Liver… Out!!


Friday, September 23, 2005

Call On Your Power Animal

Went and saw Mike Mills' (not the bassplayer from R.E.M., jackass) film Thumbsucker Wednesday night. It included a Q&A with the man himself, Mr. Mills. For those unaware or unlucky enough not to have heard me or my wife rave about this man's genius (he directed Air's first three videos 'Sexy Boy', 'Kelly Watch The Stars' and 'All I Need' and also made a brilliant short film about SoCal suburbia called 'The Architecture of Reassurance'), this was Mike's feature film debut and a highly anticipated one in my household.

He did not disappoint. At times sad, uplifting, funny and prophetic, Thumbsucker is an incredible slice of suburban life, comfortably attacking issues like drugging kids, failed adults vicariously living through their children and teenage lust fantasies with the hand of a seasoned professional. It's a movie that can simultaneously rip your heart out and make you laugh like an idiot at the same time.

The acting in the movie is nothing short of brilliant by everyone. Keanu Reeves, who I usually can't stand, actually ACTED for the first time in his career. You would never know it was Ted. No 'I Am an FBI agent, dude' lines in this movie at all. That, and anyone who's on the fence about Vince Vaughn should check this out too. His character is hilarious while at the same time seeming very real. That, and Lou Pucci and Kelli Garner give two of the breakout perforances of the year.

The Q&A afterwards didn't necessarily add a whole lot. The film was quite complete as it was, so it was just the usual drama geeks and completely insane people asking questions (one lady spent a good 10 minutes going on a diatribe about how Keanu Reeves needs alcohol counseling and she knows this because she was born the day River Phoenix died and then started rambling about the year 1100 or something. When the audience booed her off, she delivered a predictable, "Boo Yourself!").

But back to the point. Go see Thumbsucker. It's good.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bars Bars and More Bars

Following his doctor’s strict advice, Barrespondent Drew continues to get all lit up a few times a week and sober up long enough to scribble out a review of the only place he remembers going. At least we think it was a doctor. He had a white coat on…

People are always telling us to Get out and see the world. Or at least telling us to ‘get out’. So following that advice, we recently took a CalTrain down the peninsula to check out a bar or two south of our fair city. With an open mind and a relatively low blood alcohol level, we ventured off to the suburbs to see if life exists south of Monster Park.

You’ll be relieved to hear that it doesn’t… Just kidding. More after the jump...

The Prince of Wales Pub on E. 25th near El Camino Real in the beautiful ‘race track’ neighborhood of San Mateo has gained quite a bit of notoriety over the years. From winning The Chron’s Best Peninsula Bar award the last two years to being hyped up for its taste bud incinerating Habanero burgers, it seems to be getting a lot of good publicity so off we went.

You really do have to be looking for this place in order to find it. Unlike most bars on the peninsula, this place doesn’t have any huge neon signs trying to hustle in people that just ate at Panda Express. This place is off the beaten path and may require a certain amount of bravery to step into for the first time.

Once you are inside, however, this place immediately becomes more inviting. Sure, it’s pretty darn corny. Lots of hilarious ‘Tipping is not a city in China’ style signs on the wall and the names of all the suckers who have either eaten a habanero burger or have spent $12,000 to go to London (you see, if you join their ‘beers of the world’ club and drink 30 different beers 100 times, the owner will send you to London). But all in all, it still maintains a very city neighborhood-like feel even though it’s smack dab in between a godawful mall and one of the dingiest horseracing tracks in the free world.

Aside from hazing new frat pledges or trying to kill your rich uncle who has a peptic ulcer, there’s little reason to eat here. The super hot burgers give way to a pretty lackluster rest of the menu that’s just your basic fish and chips and burgers and stuff. And despite its reputation, the drink selection doesn’t really knock your socks off either. They’ve got enough decent stuff on tap and in bottles to keep you busy for a little bit, but for the most part seem to lack a lot of the specialty beers you'd expect to find in an authentic British pub.

The staff and patrons are friendly enough, but even though it wasn’t terribly busy when we went there, we felt more than a little rushed, as if our trying to figure out where the beer list was amongst the knick-knacks and funny plaques was holding up all the other no customers behind us in line.

So there, we did it. We got out and saw something outside of Gavin’s jurisdiction. Good for us! Continue to send us good tips on places in and out of the city in the comments.

Liver... Out!!


Monday, September 12, 2005

A Very Special 'Staggering Through Fog'...

Even though this column’s supposed to be about the bars of San Francisco, given the unbelievably tragic events of the last couple of weeks, we simply must pay due respect to the drinkin’-est city this side of Bavaria, New Orleans. Things may look bad now, but we know that you’ll rise again and take back your rightful place at the throne of Fat Tuesday’s mayhem.

Even though we’ve never had a chance to experience the nonstop free-for-all boozefest of Mardi Gras for ourselves, we certainly know enough people who have. And any city that lets you walk around with open containers and doesn’t have a last call doesn’t just sound like a good city, it sounds like the greatest place ever. I think the reason we never made it to the Crescent City is a lot like why we never tried skydiving. We were secretly afraid we’d like it TOO much and develop another really expensive hobby.

And while it’s easy to to be overwhelmed by what we’ve witnessed on TV over the last two weeks and think there’s precious little we can do, The 500 Club on 17th and Guerrero has provided a chance to do something positive for the folks of the Big Easy. And it involves getting drunk too, which is always a plus.

This Tuesday from 6PM on, everything the 500 Club takes in will be donated to charities supporting the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That’s right, everything. The more you drink, the more it helps. Now, we’ve reviewed the Five-Hundy before, but if helping out like this doesn’t warrant them getting a second mention, I don’t know what does.

So get on down to the 500 Club this Tuesday and drink yourself stupid. It may one of the only times in your life when you can judge how charitable you are by the size of your hangover..

Liver… Out!!


Sunday, September 04, 2005

SFIST Reprint, Now Under New Management!

Local Gadfly and generous fool who let me poison his website with my inhebriated ramblings Jackson West has stepped down as editor of SFist. So bow down before our new overlord Eve Batey and her assistant, the ridiculously capable Rita Hao.

But enough of that shit. Here's this week's review;

In the ongoing fight between sobriety and drunken mayhem, Barrespondent Drew whispers to sobriety that it really never had a chance and should probably give up.

Oh Inner Mission, we can never stay mad at you. Every time we get fed up waiting for a drink and vow never to frequent your bars ever again, we do so knowing full well that we’ll be back at the trough soon enough. After all, where else are you gonna go when you don’t want to drown in uber-rich pretense or risk getting beat up because you’re not from within a two block radius? (It also doesn’t help that all our friends live there.)

And besides, if you grow tired of one bar in the Inner Mission, it’s not like you don’t have 30 more to choose from whichever direction you head.

Casanova on 16th and Valencia is rapidly becoming (or perhaps has already become) the ‘it’ bar of the Mission. Of course, being the crusty old fogies we are (we can remember all the way back to the mid 90s!!), we remember a time when the Casanova was that little empty pseudo-lesbian bar that you went to when The Albion and 500 Club were totally crammed.

Well, things have certainly changed and it’s now the Casanova that provides the biggest challenge to get a drink at on a Friday or Saturday night. Luckily, the layout of the Casanova has always been able to support this kind of crowd. The half-circle bar located near the entrance accommodates many, many customers, and as long as there’s enough bartenders on duty, wait time for a drink is usually pretty short.

The one thing that Casanova’s not made for is the amount of noise this place generates. Trying to carry on a conversation anywhere but 4 blocks away from this place is an act of pure futility and anything but an incredible knack for reading lips means you’ll probably miss at least half of any conversation you’re currently engaged in.

So if you want to get up close and deafeningly personal with what’s hip and happening in your fair city, hurry on down to the Casanova before it joins the ever growing list of places in the Inner Mission that ‘used to be cool’.

Liver …Out!!


Thursday, September 01, 2005

I Didn't Know That Brett Favre's Grandparents Were Gay!

Yup, it was just a matter of time. From 9/11 to Sri Lankan Tsunamis and now the flooding of New Orleans, there's just nothing that can happen in the world that can't be blamed on gay people.

This theory makes perfect sense, you know, apart from the fact that most of the 'sinners' hadn't even arrived yet and that a lot of damage was done to Mississippi and Alabama as well (and I'm pretty sure they're not quite as 'gay friendly' as the Big Easy). But apart from that and the 80% of the god fearing populace that lost their homes and lives, and the near destruction of the home arena for a team called 'The Saints', this theory seems to put it all to rest.

Apparently the God that people like this believe in has really bad aim and doesn't get the internet so he could check for the proper dates to send his hurricane. What a crummy God to believe in. I'd like to think that if I believed in God that he wouldn't be some bumbling idiot that made me guess what he was trying to accomplish. Oh well, I guess this particular God has to break a few million eggs to make a big giant anti-fag omelette.

You know, this guy's right. Back when we kept gays in the closet, natural disasters never happened at all. When will those wicked liberals in Washington learn?