[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. The Sultan of Sot visited Shooter’s Saloon, 624 Tower Ave. in Superior, and composed this article for the April 3, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Shooter’s went out of business circa 2009.]
Shooter’s Saloon is a really nice place. The people who work there are efficient and friendly. The drinks are reasonably priced. The room is large and there are pool tables and a video hunting game with a big orange shotgun. Every time I go to Shooter’s, a live band is performing for no cover charge. Yet, it’s still the kind of a scene a judgmental guy like me looks at and says to himself, “How can I wreck this by weaponizing my prejudice?”
See, Shooter’s is a country-western line-dancing bar, and country-western line-dancing people love to go there. This is the one, only and perfectly acceptable reason why I’m bothered by Shooter’s and want to wreck it. I want to go up to any of the ridiculous posers there and say, “Howdy pardner. Nice belt buckle. You look like Nick Bockwinkel. Is that the AWA belt or World Class? Say, I have a question for you. I was just thinking about how Halloween was five months ago, yet you are still dressed up like you’re in a gay bar in Nashville, which got me to wondering, have you ever once milked, roped or gutted anything? Have you even shot a BB gun at a beer can? I mean, come on Hoss, we’re on the boozebelt of Superior, Wis. Who are you kidding?”
Seriously, if Shooter’s wants to have a western theme, that’s fine by me, but get a mechanical bull, some swinging doors and at least the slightest sense that a gunfight might take place. And why not celebrate good country music? Why not, as Hank Williams III would say, put a little dick into Dixie and a little cunt into country?
With all that in mind, I amble boldly up to the bar to order my next bottle of Point Lager, which is the “beer of the month” for March. It is served up for $1.75, for which I’m much obliged. I return to my seat looking onto the dance floor, where a bunch of people are, you guessed it, line dancing. Yes, it is the year 2002 and there are places where people still line dance. Not only that, but they actually consult sheets of paper with instructions on them mid-dance. Come on, people: Being as this fad fizzled out in about 1994, you should at least have the moves down by now.
Most of the line dancers look exactly how you’d expect, but not all of them are dressed for the occasion. One of them looks exactly like my mom does when she’s on drugs. The best-looking one sort of resembles Lilith Crane from Cheers. I try my best to keep my eye on her, but the whole scene is so comical that I’m constantly distracted. How can anyone like this namby-pamby Top-40 pop-country music? And why is the drummer sitting in what appears to be a shower stall?
The band tonight is called, I think, Stampede, out of South Carolina. But from here on out, I’m just gonna refer to them as the Cocksmoochers. Any idiot can see that the these guys are talented musicians; I mean they can really play. But it’s the kind of music they’re playing that makes them about as thrilling to listen to as a cricket drowning in a bowl of grits. Every song sounds the same. Every song sounds like Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus circle-jerking onto a NASCAR jacket.
To make things more annoying, the Cocksmoochers try to impress the room with various antics, like going for little strolls around the room during songs. Apparently we are supposed to be impressed that the bass player can strum a chord while walking. Or maybe we are supposed to be in awe of the futuristic technology of a cordless electric instrument. Of course, it might be cool if the bass player were wading through a sea of rowdy country music fans, but watching him mosey through a half-empty bar in the middle of his band’s act is kind of sad.
Just when I thought this good time couldn’t feel any more forced, the band begins to play its famous drinking game, called “Y’all Drink.” It works like this: 1) The fiddle player instructs everyone to hold their drink up as if they are going to toast something. 2) He then says “Y’all drink.” 3) Everyone takes a swing of their drink. 4) Everyone sits there looking stupid, waiting for the next part of the game or some kind of punch line or point to all this, which never happens.
Oh, Lilith Crane, why don’t you just come sit on my lap? But, no, this will never happen. I know from experience that whenever I try to get a piece at Shooter’s, the closest I get is some dude’s toupée falling in my direction during a vine to the right, left foot hitch.
After I’ve accumulated a good number of empty beer bottles, a pregnant woman comes over and clears them off. At first I think the T-shirt stretched across her distended belly reads, “Hooter’s,” which would be pretty spectacular, but then I realize that the zip-up sweatshirt she has on over the T-shirt is just covering up the “S” in Shooter’s. Damn. Well, at least she’s pregnant.
And at least there’s still the faint hope that Johnny Cash will drag his old Parkinson’s-infected carcass in here and clean house. Just imagining the Cocksmoochers being thrown through the front window by a trembling old man in black gives me the hope necessary to go on being an alcoholic in this pathetic community.
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