A Replacement for Red Star; The Bald Eagle Pub; City Bar Thursday, Sep 27 2012 

The Search for a Replacement for Red Star

 

Bald Eagle Pub

140 Main Street

 

City Bar

333 Third Street

 

DBG and her Protector checked out a couple of the new downtown bars this week in an effort to find a replacement for their beloved Red Star.  They had the privilege of sitting in the back booth on the final night.  It was the last hurrah for karaoke. Metal Mike sung Memories from the musical Cats.  DBG got a little teary-eyed when everyone banded together and belted out Total Eclipse of the Heart. There was even confetti.  The only thing that could have made it better was glitter.

 

The first contender was the Bald Eagle Pub.  On a positive note: the drinks are cheap.  But the space is an underground hole that lacks atmosphere of its predecessor, The Thirsty Tiger.  It might be the kind of place that eventually finds it’s niche, develops a personality and becomes a great dive.  But for now, it feels like you are drinking in a janitor’s closet. The staff’s bartending skills are also questionable.  DBG’s martini had both an olive and a lemon.  The ladies room also has a poorly placed mirror. So females are pretty much forced to watch themselves urinate or worse.  (Urophiliacs may rejoice at this prospect.)

 

City Bar in Lafayette has been an Acadiana favorite since 2005.  An expansion into downtown Baton Rouge was a logical move.  The owners must have poured a ton of money into the space that was previously populated by the old Avoyelles Café. The main bar is downstairs, a dance floor opens up at 10 pm upstairs, and a large patio stands out front.  There are TVs everywhere.  DBG will admit they did a wonderful job with the renovations. Downside:  The bartenders all resemble Barbie dolls—there was one token brunette.  (DBG wondered if the others hazed her for her imperfection.) The typical City Bar patron is someone who has outgrown Tigerland, but isn’t quite ready for a gastro pub, wine bar or intimate dive with well-known regulars. To be blunt—Happy’s and Walk Ons now have a worthy adversary.

 

Alas, it is good porch sitting weather.  For now, DBG can be found on her stoop yapping with neighbors or down at Radio Bar.

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BuzzBallz Saturday, Sep 22 2012 

"The Rum Job"

It made my liver say curse words

Our neighbor to the west, Texas had decided Red Stick needs BuzzBallz. Cherry found this at Albertson’s today. Where to begin? Check out the flavor. Appetizing huh? Their website touts the many virtues of the BuzzBallz. They are recyclable, unbreakable, freezable, and floatable. Nothing is said about the way a Buzzballz tastes. Dive Bar Girl imagines the Buzzballz hangover is something that could not be put into words. It would be too dark, too graphic. So if you ever wanted to know how they roll in West Texas. Grab one of these pretty ladies–your liver might divorce you.
Upon tasting:
So Dive Bar Girl just had a sip of this. It burned all the way down. All the way. Wow. On a side note, it completely cleared out her sinuses. But it did make her cry. (The one sip) To quote her Protector, “This is the kind of beverage that makes your liver jump out of your asshole and run away from you.” This is a “dead behind a liquor store beverage.” It is meant to be a shot. Wow! How is this even legal? There is no way that these could be consumed responsibly.

My Debbie Harry Story Wednesday, Sep 19 2012 

So I was making soup and listening to Blondie and I thought I would tell you my Debbie Harry story.

I had recently moved from Queens into Chelsea.  This was a very exciting time for me.  I felt like a New Yorker and not a tourist who took the train into the city on her days off.  

I was walking back from the store with a roommate one afternoon, and she pointed across the street towards an aging blonde woman with interesting highlights in her hair.  One of those fluffy white dogs was trying his best not be be slapped around by her fraying broomstick skirt that was well past dragging the ground.  The roommate asked, “Do you know who that is?”  
The woman jerked the little dog’s leash forcing him towards the massive center entrance to London Terrace Apartments.  For all I knew she could have been anything from a transvestite to a member of the local homeless colony. It was Chelsea.  So I just shrugged.  

“That’s Debbie Harry.  Like Blondie–Debbie Harry.  Heart of Glass–Debbie Harry.”  The roommate was almost giddy with her name dropping abilities.

I didn’t want to seem too excited about living across the way from a celebrity.  So I muttered something along the lines of “That’s cool” and continued up the stairs into my building.  

Even though I was broke and spent most of my days off walking around the city because it was a free activity.  I secretly felt like I had made it because I lived on the same block as a music icon.  

The mysterious charms of Mrs. Harry began began to slowly wain.  I knew I would never get up the nerve to speak to her.  What would I even say or ask?  The creature that walked the white fuzzball down the street while talking to herself was a far cry from the Playboy Bunny decked out in gold lame.  I did wonder from time to time how many cocaine spoons she owned. I also began to have complete and utter disdain for the London Terrace Apartments.  It was such a massive development. It blocked all the sun from my side of the street.  My apartment was always in a state of perpetual twilight.  

One night, I was returning from a trip when I spotted the poorly dressed, heavier version of Stevie Nix.  She had taken her mutt across the street so he could urinate far from her historic marble and brass apartment.  (Only my side of the street smelled like urine at the end of the day.  It was well know that all the residents of London Terrace took their dogs to the opposite side of the street to let them do their business.)  

I passed them and the small beast tried to attack my rolling luggage.  Mrs. Harry gave me a horrible look for upsetting her walking dust bunny.  Apparently, I was not good enough to walk past the two of them. When I got to my brownstone, I turned back to the top of the street and saw Debbie letting her dog take a crap.  She left the scene with out picking it up.  

Listing to a Blondie Album has never been the same.  

I guess the lesson is that crazy women and rock stars don’t have to pick up after their animals. 

Casamento’s Wednesday, Sep 19 2012 

The Tile Palace

4330 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA
http://www.casamentosrestaurant.com

Rejoice! Months that contain the letter ‘R’ have returned to the calendar. For DBG, this means a trip down to New Orleans for some oysters at Casamento’s.

Joe Casamento built his tile oyster palace way back in 1919. Why is everything covered in these beautiful imported tiles that make you feel like you might have just stepped into a Roman bath? According to Joe, tile is easier to keep clean. And tile holds up, so Casamento’s is one of those places that never changed. Brass hooks still protrude from the walls desperately reaching out to men with suit coats and fedoras. Customers still walk through the kitchen to get to the restroom. The restaurant takes cash only, no credit cards or checks. (Although an ATM is located on site for your convenience)

When you eat a raw oyster at Casamento’s, you can tell it just came out of the water. It is so good; it doesn’t even need cocktail sauce or horseradish. So start with at least a dozen. If you need to order more, that’s OK. They have to fastest shuckers in the business. Then get a fried shrimp, oyster or crab loaf. Casamento’s makes their own bread. It is called “pan bread.” It is thick and soft and lightly toasted. The combination of the lettuce, tomato, bread and hot fried seafood is just plain magic. Add some homemade fries or split a bowl of seafood gumbo. It is all so simple—but so great.

PS—Don’t forget to check the website for their hours before you go.

PSS—After lunch take a stroll down Magazine Street and do some shopping.

Almost too pretty to step on.

Yum! Yum!

A Farewell to Red Star Thursday, Sep 13 2012 

A Farewell to Red Star

Last week I heard the sad news that Frank McMains had made the decision to sell the building downtown that contains his bar, Red Star. He wrote customers a thoughtful letter thanking them for their patronage over the years and reminisced about his 12 years as a barman.

When Red Star opened, I was living in New York and working as a flight attendant for Delta. I found myself with a Baton Rouge layover, and a good friend invited me to a new cool bar. I secretly scoffed at the prospect but agreed to go anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to find a space I could only describe as a swanky dive for adults with jobs. Back then, downtown that was pretty much devoid of nightlife. Red Star gave workers a happy hour alternative to the Thirsty Tiger and Hound Dogs. A few years later, other bars started to populate Third Street. The Shaw Center was erected, and hotels returned to downtown.

I decided to end my expatriate days about four years ago and returned to my homeland. For me, Red Star was my only option for drinking downtown. It was a real bar. Many of the other watering holes relied on cheesy themes or scantily clad sorority girls to get customers in the door. Red Star offered an inviting space and bartenders who could actually make a proper martini. In all of my travels, I must say that Red Star most reminds me of Circle Bar in New Orleans. (And to quote Nicholas Cage: “This is high praise indeed.”)

Red Star always hosted bands on their way to and from South by Southwest in Austin. I saw Gal Holiday for the first time there and jumped around like a crazy person when Mod Dance Party came to town. The jukebox was carefully curated and could please the most eclectic of tastes. My favorite place for holding court was the back booth. It was the perfect place to gossip with friends or have an intimate conversation with a paramour.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Cherry and I would like to thank Frank for being a pioneer for downtown and for marching to a slightly different, but appealing drum.

Many of us will be at Red Star on Friday night to say our farewells and to toast an old friend who left us too soon. If the spirit moves you, join in. Put one last dollar in the jukebox.