Tuesday, November 11, 2008

John Bull Pub, Rio Nada, Cali.

The Princess and I decided to get our hairs cut, so we headed on down to the Snip's Kitchen of Beauty and Wisdom. It was pretty early in the morning and nobody was there save for a funny, stocky and talkative old English guy who looked a bit like a muscley gnome. The old guy's friend came in with a scooter of the "I can't get around" variety and parked the scooter and sat in one of the kitchen chairs. The muscley gnome got out of the barber chair and went to pay. When I saw his face I thought "I know this guy." Then he hopped on the scooter and zipped out the door.

It was Rick Hooker, the old owner of the long demolished John Bull Pub here in Rio Nada.

The John Bull was like a sitcom gone sketchy. The same cast of characters every night: Hooker, who was nearly blind then, the barkeeps Edwina, Diana, and sometimes Mo. There was Sweet Stinky, Bull Binkley, the great pencil artist, Riley, who once carved his name in the concrete door stoop with his chainsaw, Snip, Murphy, and Sunshine, who was sorta mentally challenged and, so the story goes, had his front teeth removed forcibly by his caretakers at the Swiss Inn to keep him from gnawing on his fist which he constantly put in his mouth.

We always sat under the portrait of Prince Edward in a dark corner near the jukebox. We were sitting there the night John Lennon died watching the television in that eerie light.

We were there the night when news came that Sweet Stinky had killed himself in Murphy's V.W. van beneath the redwood canopy at Patrick's Point.

Tuesday night was Stranger Night. Everyone was supposed to bring a stranger.
Monday night the Irishmen had dibs on the bench under Prince Phillip to play dominoes. And most everyone played darts.

Then they decided to knock the place down and make a parking lot. I stole one of the old mugs the last night it was there.I still have it.

A week later, all that was left was a pile of rubble. I slowed as I drove by in my Pinto. And from the rubble there rose two broken walls from that wretched pisser, rising like graffitti-pocked Phoenix toward the blue sky.

And on one wall it said "O. Howie Fertz was here."


Post a Comment

<< Home