Live and Direct

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bob's Java Jive

Sara and I went to Tacoma last Saturday to hang out with her friend Charity. While I've definitely acquired the Seattle sense of superiority toward Tacoma over the years, I have to say that it's pretty cool down there. We went to Hell's Kitchen to see a couple local bands play, Manplus (supercool!) and Raylazer (supersucky!), and there was a refreshing lack of hipster attitude. I mean, sure, the place was packed full of hipsters, but people actually smiled and talked even if they didn't know each other. And I didn't see a single shaggy mullet, undersized novelty T-shirt, or white belt in the place. The bartenders were uniformly nice, even in a punk club, and I got invited to an aerobic-disco birthday party by an overzealous girl named Trash who wielded flyers like they were Luther's 95 Theses. We left the show before the final bands played, mainly due to Raylazer's increasing supersuckiness. But I have to give two thumbs up to the Tacoma club scene, at least what I've seen so far.

But the capper of the night was our visit to Bob's Java Jive. I think I've heard of this Tacoma landmark before; there aren't too many examples of the Fifties' fascination with concrete novelty buildings left in the area, particularly since the demise of the Twin Tee-Pees on Aurora. Bob's Java Jive is famous in an odd sort of way. River Phoenix used to hang out there while he was filming I Love You to Death, and all the locals know it well. But I have to say, Bob's Java Jive may be the most depressing place I've ever been in. I'm a friend of dive bars. I've been in many, and I've not met a dive bar I didn't like. The absence of dive bars was at the top of my list of "Things That are Wrong with Denmark." But Bob's Java Jive may have broken me.

Maybe it was an off night. For a Saturday night, there were few people there, and it didn't help that it was karaoke night. A very punk-in-a-post-millenial-kind-of-way kid (clean, mohawk, striped shirt without holes or stains) held down the DJ duties, and he tried to coax a total of about six people through an evening of singing. One gentleman decided to sing "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, which I know always makes me feel like dancing. Maybe it was the decor, an inexplicable jungle theme that looked liked it hadn't been touched in probably thirty years. Granted, I've never hung out inside a coffee pot before, so maybe there's always a Baba Louie party going on inside each one, but somehow, this one didn't make me want to be like you-ooo-ooh. Maybe it was the host of career drinkers at the bar who looked like they just got stacked in the corner like chairs when the bar closed for the night. Maybe it was the ripped upholstery and bathroom that smelled like aeons of old urine. Though that's never bothered me before in the host of quaint hell holes I've drunk in before. I mean, I've seen the kitchen of the Jade Pagoda, and I still went back for more.

I entered Bob's Java Jive in a good mood and ready to love the place. Within ten minutes I was slump-shouldered in the corner, ordering [cut --double shots of whiskey--] pints of beer.

The funny thing is, if the place were located within a twenty minute drive of Seattle, it would be packed to the rafters with people every night of the week. Which makes me believe that it might not be the place, but the (lack of) clientele. I think if you got enough people in there on karaoke night, it could seriously rock out.

So I'm proposing a fieldtrip of dedicated drinkers to take over the place for the night and see if we can lift its spirits. Granted, we'll probably need to book hotel rooms to contain our sorry asses after all the [cut --double-whiskies--] pints, but it's a small price to pay for raising the level of drunkenness in Tacoma. Think of it as a civic duty! Who's with me?!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Today was a good day.

Seattle continues to floor me in its ongoing civic campaign to convince me that I should never want to live anywhere else. The weather is gorgeous today, so I took a walk over to Broadway to print and mail a few things back to Denmark. Along the way, I browsed a few record stores, came very close to buying Calexico's new album, and then decided to get some pho at Pho Cyclo instead. There I decided if I ever make it back to Burning Man, I'm definitely bringing one of these jobbies and handing out Vietnamese iced coffee. On the way back, I got an iced mocha from a very nice barista at the corner of 12th and Pike. I've decided I really like living in the CD, as the great blend of old and new in this neighborhood lends it its particular charm. I also made a mental note to catch a movie at Central Cinema sometime soon. So should you!