Ripped at Keyport Lounge in 2003

[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. Twenty years ago the Sultan of Sot paid a visit to Keyport Lounge in Superior and composed this article for the Nov. 12, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

It’s Vikings vs. Packers, and the place where I want to be is the Keyport Lounge. It’s right at the foot of the Bong Bridge, so you know it’s where all the cheapskate Viking fans are gonna be, swilling Wisconsin-priced booze and risking life and limb among the inbred Packer Backers.

Sure enough, when I walk in, the amount of purple and green in the room is enough to violate some kind of health code. At least it should.

Anyway, this is a big night for me, because I like watching Viking and Packer fans interact. Personally, I don’t care who wins the game. Drink specials and free food at halftime make us all winners (at least in a loser sort of way). See, I’m a natural-born border straddler. My mother is a Viking fan who lives in Wisconsin. My stepfather is a Packer fan who actually worked as a meat packer years ago. My real father didn’t watch football at all, but he acted a lot like a Viking. You can see how it’s hard for me to develop a clear allegiance.

I will say that, philosophically, I align myself more with the Viking fans. We are people who have learned the hard way that we are always going to lose. No matter how promising things may look, we remain pessimistic, because we know that doom and gloom await us in the end.

The Vikings beat the Packers half the time, and the Packers beat the Vikings half the time, but only the Vikings could fuck up four Super Bowls and oh so many playoff and championship games. That kind of almost accomplishing something and then failing is pretty much a characteristic of the whole state. The Vikings and their fans are like Job. God is testing them to see how much they can suffer.

The Packer fans, on the other hand, are convinced they are going to win the Super Bowl every year no matter how shitty the team is. They’re like those drooling imbeciles at the casino who win a couple thousand bucks and are somehow convinced they have the magic touch.

Anyway, being the strategic drinker that I am, I’ve arrived about halfway through the second quarter, allowing the natives to get some beer into their bloodstream. I don’t want to deal with anyone who’s sober, you know what I’m saying? I just don’t want to see that shit.

Everyone is well lubricated by the time I arrive, and the place is louder than the Metrodome. I’m not kidding. Some of these people actually think they are at the game. They cheer and jeer as if the players on TV are in the room. And I’m not referring to the perfectly natural urge to shout out, “C’mon you pussies! Tackle that dirty prick and break his fucken spine!!!” I’m talking about the people who actually applaud when an injured player is helped off the field.

I can’t help but wonder if this place is louer than it will be at the Third Rock Bar later tonight when heavy metal sensations Ratt come to town. No matter how this plays out, tonight has the makings of a truly classic Sunday in Superior.

Half-time strikes and suddenly there are wieners everywhere. Employees start hauling out huge, trough-like Crock-pots filled with hot dogs and beans. They must have spent like $30 on this stuff, but to us, it’s all free. That’s the beauty of going to bars to watch football.

You know how, when food is served, everyone usually eyes it at first, standing around casually, until one brave soul says, “Well, I guess I’ll be the first,” and starts things off? Well, that is nothing like what happens here. That food isn’t even on the table and there’s not so much a line as a crowd of salivating drunkards licking their chops with paper plates in hand, mistakenly thinking they’re going to avoid the inevitable Monday morning hangover.

What’s really going to happen when these people stuff their faces with brats becomes clear when I make my first trip to the can and bump into Tommy Kramer, who is on his way out. “Hey, let me give you some advice,” he says. “Someone just yacked. Take a deep breath before you go in there, and finish as fast as you can. Whatever you do, don’t breathe when you’re in there, and DO NOT look in the last stall.” This encounter makes me realize that I can hold it for the rest of the game.

We’re getting a special inside look at the game tonight because ESPN has put a microphone on Viking lineman Chris Hovan. This, of course, is guaranteed comedy. Normally, the guys who get the mics in their helmets are the players who have clever new slang to share with middle America. It’s educational. Hovan, however, is a big dopey guy whose remarks are about as brilliant as the guy you see wearing the Vikings jacket at the grocery store, hovering over the Spaghetti Os.

And it’s this kind of intelligence that leads the Vikings to inevitable failure, and me to head down the street to the Ratt concert. And, when I get to the Third Rock, I find out that Ratt has canceled. Strike that up as two wins for Superior.

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