More Bars in More Places: Bouncer Signs Off

Composer John Cage was big on something called “chance operations.” He would use the I Ching to help him write, compose, and make art by tossing the tiles and using the random symbols that came up to lead him to words in the dictionary or notes on the scale, then he would make sense of the seemingly disparate messages… or not. Remember, this was a guy who wrote a silent four-minute composition.

“In the use of chance operations is the belief that all answers answer all questions,” he said. In other words, there's no such thing as a hodgepodge. There is truth in everything.

This has sort of been my approach to Bouncer. In the very beginning, I knew I wanted it to be a bar reviews column that was more about the feelings, experiences, and impressions that came from visiting a place than the kind of drinks it served, the efficiency of the staff, or how clean the bathrooms were. That stuff came up in my columns of course, but it wasn't what drove me. An evening is a composite of many things, all of which come together to reflect a snapshot of your life. I was lucky that I had a lot of readers who were happy to join me, and luckier still to be writing for editors who appreciated my eccentricities and nurtured them while gently and not-so-gently prodding me to get off my ass, make deadlines, and above all make sense. I am very grateful to Garrett Kamps, Jennifer Maerz, Ian S. Port, and Anna Roth for making this thing look good every week and saving me from myself on many occasions.

And so, Gentle Reader, in my final column, I have created (or rather, the Universe has) a chance operations piece based on lines from all of them over the last 10 years. I used a dice-app online and let the numbers that came up direct me to columns and sentences within them from each year. Then I took all the sentences and rearranged their order to deconstruct some meaning. It's fucking weird, but also kind of cute and if you read it aloud it has a certain beauty. And that's what I have been going for this whole time.

Bouncer Chance Operation Prose

There is a certain camaraderie that sets in when you are stuck on the wrong floor of a hotel with strangers. You can canoe down the Illinois River for only so long — restin' on the banks at night, your feet hangin' over the side, your fatback sammich wrapped in a bandanna, just waitin' to be et fer supper — before you feel the pull West. Hear me now: Everyone must visit the Silver Crest before he dies.

Why a place that is trying to appeal to the upper echelon would name itself after Mayberry's town drunk still puzzles me, but Otis seems to want to exude a casual elegance. Bulbous stone tables that look like gigantic martini glasses with fat stems grow around the perimeter like Easter Island mushrooms. In this case, let's say the man is a milquetoast who can't get a woman, and now that he is a rougher time, he will find himself face to face with Big Bad Bart, the town menace. I have mentioned before that fear plays a big factor in whether a place is a dive.

The stool I was on made the left lip of my vagina fall asleep. I'd like to think that if I weren't able to reach the grapes, I would feel some disappointment, and then I'd figure out how to build a stepstool out of shoots and brambles, nimbly constructing it with my little fox paws and wiping my brow now and again with my big bushy tail. Second, no one wants to see Jeff Foxworthy with me.

In one room a huge horseshoe of seated men were each awaiting their turn with a girl who writhed her way across all of them in a communal lap dance. I just prayed that they took my suggestion and rode on that Quackers thingie, the half-tank, half-boat whatsit that goes from turf to surf. “I want to look at people,” he replied. Dracula didn't have big breasts. Reader, I banged him, and we laughed, we sighed, we reminisced. “Lead the way,” I added, and we set off down the street, deeper into the Castro.

I crack myself up.

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