My friend Audra has a theory that the shortest route to madness is buying a club or bar. She says that she has seen good, sane people go batshit in a span of months after diving into their dream of running an establishment. Unfortunately, I think she is right, although copious amounts of booze and cocaine might be more to blame than the daily rigors of business ownership. I'm guessing that the fantasy these proprietors have is based on the camaraderie of Cheers. There are also great amounts of money to be made, which means that once you have the right staff in place, you can spend most of your time at your Lake Tahoe retreat and let the joint run itself.
I have no idea why former S.F. Supervisor Chris Daly would volunteer to eventually go insane (allegedly) by taking over the Buck Tavern on Market — though he has said that he wanted to open a place for progressives to hang out together and, um, do stuff and fix stuff that is wrong and should be fixed, in a liberal kind of way. He does have history on his side; many a plot has been hatched in a pub. Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Paine would get together at the Ye Olde Custard Pot and do body shots off each other before they orchestrated the revolution.
One thing Daly did have going for him when he stepped behind the bar at the beginning of this year was a ton of press attention. The picture painted was one of a gathering place for colorful townsfolk: firefighters, the DA, college kids, celebrities. The man himself was serving whiskey to everyone, and when you weren't chatting up an ombudsman, you could play vintage videogames or shoot pool.
I was ready to snuggle up against someone in a power suit, so I was rarin' to go when I walked into the Buck Tavern. Alas, Daly was not tending bar. There were some hipsters playing pool, and some fellas sitting at the bar chatting. Perhaps they were movers and shakers. The first thing that struck me as odd was the music. It was one bad song after another, as if someone had programmed Wilson Phillips into Pandora.
I also expected to be hit over the head with taxidermy, but the inside of the Buck is pretty pedestrian. That said, there is a nice enough vibe, though I would hope that Daly's presence will eventually inject more warmth. Might I suggest some throw pillows, or perhaps a Saint Bernard?
My friends and I grabbed a table by the window and looked at the food menu, because that was really what we were there for — late-night greasy pub grub. I decided on the nachos, and my friend Whitney opted for the chicken tenders. We moseyed up to the bar and the bartender sort of acknowledged us; he was the only one working, and it was kind of busy. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was blaring into my ears, and damn if it didn't actually hurt so good.
He finally came over and we began to order food, but he poked up an index finger and told us that we had to order drinks first. Whitney and I gave each other a quick WTF look, then reprogrammed our brains into drinks mode. But Jesus, I did not want a drink; I wanted nachos. A seed of resentment began to brew. Oh yes, revenge would be exacted. Such an affront would not go unpuni—
"Didja decide?" he said, now smiling. We dutifully shot out our drink orders, caving in to the pressure. He made our concoctions, then pulled out the order pad for the food. I think I have figured out this whole exchange. If a leftist establishment is what Daly wants, then it makes sense that he would impose socialist ordering policies. For the good of the whole, each person must do her share and pay her taxes. If you want Velveeta melted onto Tostitos, you must first tithe into the PBR fund.
We shuffled back to our table and waited for our food, which was hella yummy. The servings were large, though we each ate according to our abilities and needs.
Despite it being a Thursday night, there were very few people in attendance. Part of the problem was that almost anyone who really appreciated S.F. bar culture was probably at the Eagle, since it was facing closure. Actually, I was supposed to be there, too. Crap! Oh well. I could read about it on Facebook the next day.
The food settled oddly in our stomachs, shall we say. "I have demonic gas" is one quote that comes to mind.
"I wonder if Chris Daly will show up?" someone said.
"Hm. I dunno," someone else said.
This wasn't Cheers. This was a Seinfeld episode. Nothing was happening. The good news was that nothing pointed to the impending madness (allegedly) of a certain supervisor; for the most part, the Buck Tavern seemed to be running smoothly. It just needed more customers.
Yes, friends, apparently the revolution will not be patronized. We shall see.