Monday, December 18, 2006

Irish Pubs Part 4

The remainder of the 90s would prove to be a tumultuous time for me, primarily because of a young, troubled divorcee named Heather who I lived with in the Back Bay. When The Causeway closed I settled into my last two club jobs, at TT the Bears and The House of Blues, both across the river in Cambridge, and continued to freelance for my friend Mike Higgins’ sound company.

This was when the Irish pub thing was really starting to snowball. “Invasion of The Bar Snatchers” we called it.

It was already starting to become a cliché when I moved into a “breakup insurance” apartment in Somerville in 1995. As if some sinister corporation in Dublin was secretly pulling the strings venerable old taverns were being turned into spiffy McBars on what seemed to be a daily basis. Though independently owned these new, immigrant establishments were remarkably similar to one another in beer selection, menu and décor.

Those first few months I was in Somerville the closest bar to my house was called O’Malley’s. Nondescript on the outside the interior was frozen in the 1960s. Naugahyde barstools skirted the bar and there were filthy mirrors everywhere. Yellowed posters for “Midnight Cowboy” and “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” that had probably been hung when those films were current remained as did a vinyl jukebox that I remember featuring “Society’s Child” and “The Peppermint Twist”.

On my first visit to O’Malley’s, at about three in the afternoon on a weekday, the only people in the place were the fat, gruff, forty-ish bartender and two old drunks face down on the bar like bookends. I was a little put off at first, especially since one of the drunks was drooling on the bar, but I was sold when I paid for a Budweiser and a shot of Beam with a fiver and received a dollar in change!

I maybe went in there five more times and then one winter day I found this curious relic shuttered. A few days later my “break up insurance” roommate Aldo and I heard the news. They were opening an Irish immigrant pub where O’Malley’s had been.

Already tired of the trend Aldo and I had a lot of laughs speculating on the name and style of the new Irish pub.

“They should call it ‘The Troubles”.

“How about ‘The Bobby Sands’? "

“Do you think they’ll have Guinness and boneless tenders? That would be a first!”

When the bar finally opened it would be called “The Thirsty Scholar” but in mocking the accents of the owners and staff Aldo and I would from then on refer to it as “The TIRSTY”. They did indeed have Guinness and boneless tenders and the bar was well groomed and boring as hell.


Chris Rich said...

You know, this has to be another factor in the unseemly disneyfication of Mumbleton.

Are outlying zones beyond the curse of Ally McBeal, say, Waltham or Quincy afflicted by this alien intrusion?

Or do the bog trotters confine their unseemly squat to the mumbleton core?

And what's with the shitty bar food? Did some proto mick read some ara services manual on what 'murricans like to eat and diss the corn beef n cabbage, the bangers and soda biscuits or mulligan stew to descend into sub par airport bar slop?

EricDoberman said...

Willing or not the Irish pubs have made an excellent partner in the pseudo-gentrification of the area. Aside from being a "great after work hang", as many of them proclaim, they have replaced the kind of unseemly toilets that once acted as a bulwark against incursions by "The Creative Class".

And yes, Waltham and Quincy most certainly have their share of these places. Even Lawrence is now home to "The Claddagh".

Basically, with the exception of some more pretentious establishments I will detail in the next installment, the food is similar to that of Applebees or the 99 at most of these places, with the exception of the occasional traditional brunch. The difference is that an "Irish pub" atmosphere allows the clientele to feel more cosmopolitan, or even ethnic, as they eat the same Sysco potato skins they would at a chain.

Chris Rich said...

How Ghastly.

This is an essence of Baudrillards 'Simulacra' assertion regarding the USA.

A decorative pastiche of faux keltness is wallpapered over some dull dump with sysco simulacra airport bar food to reinvent the sucker trap.

My god, it's morphic resonance refined.