Ripped at the Copasetic Lounge in 2007

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. This piece was originally published one decade ago — in the Aug. 20, 2007 issue of the Transistor. The Copasetic Lounge had just opened at 322 E. Central Entrance. Barstools and operational toilets came soon after.]

I think it was close to a year ago when I first noticed the Copasetic Lounge on Central Entrance. Opening a bar right next door to Taco John’s, I thought, is nothing short of genius.

A sign read, “Coming Soon,” so there was nothing to do but wait. Every time I rode by on the DTA, I’d be sure to check and see if the place had finally opened. And every time, it was the same. “Coming Soon.” I began to lose faith.

But on the Friday of Bayfront Blues weekend when I finally see the boards off the windows and cars in the parking lot, I practically pull that dinger cord right off the fucken wall.

When I walk in, I’m confused for a split second, thinking maybe I came in the wrong door. Sure enough, there’s a bar with taps and people are sitting around drinking whiskey and beer, but this doesn’t look like any bar I’ve ever seen. This place looks more like a dentist’s waiting room than a drinking establishment. And while whenever I visit a bar I’ve never been to, I often feel like I’m about to “get a cavity filled,” it’s never quite so literal.

The Copasetic has all the ambiance of a tanning bed. There are neon beer signs rimming the place, spaced about a foot apart, and these combined with the lights on the ceiling make the room extra bright, so it’s easy to see just how ugly everyone is. The waiting-room chairs and waiting-room tables are inconveniently mashed together on one side of the bar, with a couple of high-top tables thrown in to mix things up. There are no barstools, either at the bar or at the high-tops, but I have to assume they’re on order. Anyway, people are sitting in regular chairs, staring down their bottles of Mich Ultra at eye level.

I order a pint of Killian’s, drop down a five, and get back a buck and some silver. This is going to be a long night.

Leaning against the bar next to a couple of younger guys with intentionally exposed boxer shorts, I scope out the room. Except for two lesbians making out in the corner, the crowd here is exactly what you’d expect for a neighborhood bar located in the strip-mall district: middle-aged fat people and anyone who just finished up a shift at Verizon Wireless or Pawn America. At least one of the bartenders I recognize from the old Buena Vista, a place named for its incredible views of Lake Superior. Like the Buena, this place also has giant windows all around, giving spectacular views of the Dairy Queen and a used-car lot. One window is completely dominated by the Taco John’s next door, and I can’t help but think it is the greatest ad space of all time. TJ’s should totally chip in for that window.

Back by the restrooms, a friendly woman is mopping the floor, and when a chick goes back to use the can, the mop lady tells her the toilets don’t work. “We came here to work on the place, and people were waiting to get in,” she says. “So we thought to hell with it and just opened.”

Opening a bar before the toilets are operational is something I can admire, for comedic value alone.

“Anyway, you can use the toilets, just don’t flush,” she says. Then she goes back to mopping.

When my time comes to use the pisser, I step up to the urinal, thank Jesus that I’m a dude, and recycle a couple pints of fake-Irish brew. When I step away, the urinal automatically flushes. I wonder if it’s only the women’s room that has busted flushers. If so, that is doubly hilarious.

Just then, some guy charges out of the stall, forgoes the sinks, and stumbles back out into the bar. I poke my head into the stall. No, he didn’t flush. Yes, he fully loaded the toilet out of both barrels. I pause for a moment with my foot on the handle, think about the nice mopping lady who’ll probably have to scoop up that douchebag’s turds, and decide against it.

“Actually, I like that the toilets don’t flush,” a woman tells her friend as they’re walking out of the ladies’ room. “It’s one less thing to do.”

Damn right, sweetheart. It’s all copacetic.

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