A Salute to Slinky’s Friday, Aug 30 2013 

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 A Salute to Slinky’s

144 West Chimes Street

Almost Twenty years ago Dive Bar Girl visited for the first time…

In the fall of 1994 while walking up Chimes Street towards the old Bayou, I heard Slinky’s before I even laid eyes on it.  The bartender was blaring Closer by Nine Inch Nails so loud it sent a tingle down my spine.  The door to the squat white building was left open, but I could only make out the shadow of the bar inside. Still there was an inviting glow about it. 

I had heard rumors that it was a watering hole for graduate students and minor members of the LSU faculty, which made it seem classy to my 18-year-old brain and it quickly became my dive of choice.  Early in the evening, I would sit in one of the wrap around booths and drink an electric blue concoction called “The Slink” out of a hurricane glass while making Saturday night plans with friends. Slinky’s was calmer than The Library.  No sweaty man-boys were trying to prove their worth on the foosball table, and Milwaukee’s Best served in large paper cups didn’t litter the tables.  All of Chimes Street was alive. It had a gritty, but electric vibe.  Bands played in The Bayou while a cast of characters who closely resembled the dipsomaniacal creatures in Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat smoked out front and kept the Elvis shrine company. Patrons proudly wrote poetry on bathroom walls before stumbling home to their dorms and apartments. 

Over the years, that ugly thing called progress reared its corporate head. (I knew it was the beginning of the end when I saw a sign for a Gap.) The Bayou burned and was replaced by a marginal pizza place. Gelato and coffee shops sprouted up.  Keeping with tradition, The Library continued to change names and owners over the years.  The Chimes and The Varsity still preside at the top of the hill, but for the most part developers have almost succeeded with their attempt to create a civilized whitewashed version of  “The Street.”

Thankfully, Slinky’s has remained untouched by this attempt at sterilization.  Pamela Sandoz has owned and bartended at Slinky’s since 1999.  There is a pool table now, an excellent beer selection and a jukebox that could rival Red Star’s.  When I visited, Pamela attempted to recreate “The Slink” for me while she and my husband recounted stories about a mutual friend, blue body paint, and a Halloween party at Kirby Smith dorm. 

Slinky’s might be the last of it’s kind near campus—a friendly dive with great people.  This is why I must give it the Sparkling Dive Bar Girl Gold Seal of Quality.  Stop by for a Bloody Mary before a home game or drop in during the Abita Fall Fest Pub Crawl on September 6th.  I can almost guarantee you will make a new friend and pass a good time. 

The Mystery of the Wild Mouse Roller Coaster Wednesday, Aug 21 2013 

1002499_10200921071368207_473207667_nThe Mystery of the Wild Mouse Roller Coaster

Exploring the Origins of a Baton Rouge Urban Legend

I was in 5th grade when I saw it for the first time.  It was the evening in the park. Colorful lights illuminated the rest of the rides and games, but it sat in the dark in the corner gradually being swallowed by weeds.  It was a large cube of grey metal that resembled a cage.  The faded words Wild Mouse marked the entryway.  My friend, Angie Rybolt walked up beside me and said, “You know it killed people.  That’s why they shut it down.”

The rumors surrounding the closure of the Wild Mouse Roller Coaster at Fun Fair Park in the late 1980’s were only rivaled only by the fantastic stories about satanic cults running wild at night on Hoo Shoo Too Road.  Over the next few years, I heard the Wild Mouse was responsible for multiple decapitations, the demise of its repairman, broken bones, and even the death of Fun Fair’s beloved mascot Candi the Chimpanzee.  All of these tales have proven to be false. With the exception of two girls who sustained minor injuries in the late 1970’s while riding the coaster together; there is no documentation to suggest the Mouse was a murderer of children and primates.

Franz Mack invented the Wild Mouse AKA Mad Mouse AKA Crazy Mouse type of roller coaster in the early 1960’s.  This small coaster was designed so that the cars were much wider than the tracks.  It made tight flat turns that gave the rider a feeling that they were hanging off the side of the track and created the illusion that the cars might plunge to their doom with every change of direction.  Amusement park operators liked Wild Mouse rides because they were economical and compact.  However as larger steel coasters came into vogue, the popularity of the Mouse declined and by the 1990’s they were almost extinct.

So how did the Wild Mouse go from a beloved childhood attraction to a death machine? The answer is a simple one—exaggeration. By the time, folks had spun a yarn about the two girls who sustained minor injuries; they had become headless ghosts who roamed the park. In 1985, a maintenance worker at a church fair in Baton Rouge was struck and killed by a rollercoaster he was installing, but this happened miles away from the site of the Mouse.  In the early 1980’s a boy was thrown from the Wild Mouse at Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans. He fell 25 feet and suffered a head injury. These unrelated incidents all melted together and shaped the mythology of the lonely coaster at the back of the park.

In the end, the explanation behind the Mouse’s closure was quite simple: by the late 1980’s, it needed major repairs and the owners were contemplating moving the park.  They decided to temporarily shutter the doors to the Mouse, and in 1999, Fun Fair Park finally did close. Owner Sam Haynes moved Candi the Chimpanzee and many of the rides out to Highland Road and opened a new park called Dixie Landin’ by Blue Bayou Water Park. The family still has the Wild Mouse in storage and might refurbish it one day.  I hope they do.  Then I will finally be able to take that wobbly yet harrowing ride that fascinated me 25 years ago.

Details….

Blue Bayou Water Park & Dixie Landin’

http://www.bluebayou.com

Writer’s Note: While we can’t ride the Wild Mouse, there is a ride called the Wild Chipmunk in Lakeside Colorado.  Here is a link to the point of view video that showcases the coaster. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I34A7fLSYFg