Slim Goodbuzz Posts

Ripped at Ray’s Bar in 2004

[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 Ray’s Bar in the Town of Superior and composed this article for the June 2004 issue of the Ripsaw magazine. The establishment was more recently known as the Shortstop Bar, but is presently not in operation.]

About a year ago, I took a little tour of South Superior where, after wiping his piss on my neck, the drunken bartender at the Rusty Nail advised me to head down the road to Ray’s Bar. “Ray will shit on you for sure,” he said, inadvertently describing South Superior hospitality to a tee.

Now I didn’t exactly just fall off the turnip truck. I know some people are into that sort of thing, and I’m sure a lot of them haunt the thickets of South Superior. But as for me, I’m not much for excrement. Nonetheless, when faced with the choice of dealing with the Paris Hilton wannabes and renegade security guards at the latest version of the NorShor Theatre or wrestling with a psychotic South Superiorite wielding his own crap, I’ll head out on the highway every time.

Ripped at C.W. Chips Bar & Grill in 2004

[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 C.W. Chips Bar & Grill and composed this article for the April 2004 issue of the Ripsaw magazine. At the time, there was a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Duluth City Hall, which was moved to Canal Park later that year. C.W. Chips closed in early 2005 when the building was purchased by the Whole Foods Co-op.]

Because I’ve spent the past several years trolling the suckholes and boozehalls of this wreck of a city, because I’m cheaper than a Mexican proctology exam and because I like to control my own drunken experience, I like to drink at home. Preferably alone.

Tonight, however, my sometimes pal Ricky Flours is in town and we’ve pissed away enough time together in my cramped, dingy apartment to know that we need to remove ourselves from the sticky, bottle-filled dungeon I call Chez Goodbuzz. I’ve become a hermit, and Ricky is little more than a purring cat lying around on my floor. We don’t have to go to C.W. Chips, but we can’t stay here.

Ripped at the Incline Station in 2004

[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 the Incline Station and composed this article for the March 2004 issue of the Ripsaw magazine.]

Bowling is a game that was devised for drinkers. You get up, you roll a ball, you sit down, you pound some beers and watch other people do the same. Then you do it again, and all the time you’re wearing stupid shoes and knocking stuff down. It’s like alcoholic heaven.

In some sports, drinking is detrimental to one’s performance. Those are the sports that I like to call “watchin’ sports.” There are precious few games where alcohol is a performance-enhancing drug. Bowling, billiards and curling are about it.

Tonight I’m bowling at the Incline Station in Downtown Duluth. This dude who used to bartend at the NorShor Theatre is showing me his bowling technique, which is totally screwed up. He uses the last two fingers of his hand instead of the middle two, because, as he puts it, “If I bowled the normal way, my middle finger would come right off my hand and stay in the ball.” True enough, the first two fingers of his hand have obviously been reconstructed by a surgeon. “I got ‘em caught in an industrial grater,” he says. “I had to climb across the machine to shut it off, then I dug my fingers out of the machine and wrapped them up in a napkin.”

Ripped at Miller Hill Mall 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 the Miller Hill Mall and composed this article for the Dec. 24, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Historical footnote: This was Slim’s last column for the Ripsaw before it switched from a weekly newspaper to a monthly magazine. Neither were ever the same. Additional footnote: The Great American Bar & Grill closed in 2011; the space is now occupied by Noodles & Company and Chipotle Mexican Grill.]

With all the recent abductions and alleged abductions going on in the region, now is an excellent time to prey on people’s paranoia. That’s why I’m at the Miller Hill Mall, picking out people at random and following them around. It’s just before Christmas, so there are plenty of targets to choose from.

My first victim is Sean Baker. I know his name because he just registered to win a Sea-doo powerboat and 500,000 World Perks miles. I also know now that he is gullible. You don’t have to read the fine print on the entry form to know that the odds of winning are miniscule and the odds of being contacted by annoying telemarketers for the rest of your life because you just signed away your do-not-call list status are equal to the odds of whether or not you have a phone.

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.

Ripped at Jimmy’s Saloon 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 Jimmy’s Saloon, which still operates at 1812 Iowa Ave. in Superior’s Billings Park Business District. Although patios at drinking establishments have become commonplace in recent years, they were somewhat rare when this article was published in the Oct. 1, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

I’m a sucker for good conversation. So, by all means, tell me how bad your husband is in bed. The more details the better. Tell me about the spit bubbles that foam up on the edges of his mouth as he nears climax. No, seriously. I like that stuff.

Sports and rock ’n’ roll are good too. Just please do me the favor of saving the politics for your Chamber of Commerce meetings and lame-ass Wicca bonfires.

Tonight at Jimmy’s Saloon in Superior’s Billings Park business district, the conversation is just right, so far. Sure, I could probably hear the same talk of music, sports and fucking at any other bar in town, but it’s better at Jimmy’s because the drinks are cheap and there’s a nice courtyard.

Ripped at ‘R’ Place Bar & Grill 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 ‘R’ Place Bar & Grill and wrote the article below for the Aug. 6, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. ‘R’ Place, located a few miles outside Superior at 6611 State Highway 13 in South Range, has been out of business for many years.]

The first thing I do when I walk into ‘R’ Place is check to see if Jake is still alive. It’s hard to tell sometimes. He tends to sprawl out in the middle of the floor for extended naps. Sometimes he’ll look up when you step over him, but not always.

Jake, by the way, is an old, fat golden retriever. But he’s no ordinary old, fat golden retriever. He’s on a short list of candidates for being the best bar-dog ever. That’s because, when he is awake, he knows how to entertain. His best trick goes like this:

1) You take a dollar bill and present it to him like food.

Ripped at C’s 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 visited C’s Lounge, 1419 Banks Ave. in Superior, which today is the location of a Kwik Trip convenience store. The article below appeared in the April 16, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

Whenever I go to C’s Lounge — and I’ve been known to do that from time to time — I find myself baffled that I’m in Superior, Wis. Hell, I’m baffled that I’m in the 21st century. Walk into C’s and it’s like walking into Hibbing in the 1970s, not that I have any idea what that would be like. Nonetheless, that’s the feel.

The place is dark, in a good way, with amber and red lights hanging from the glittery ceiling. Everything else is either red or the color of wood. In fact, it looks and feels a lot like the Regal Beagle from Three’s Company, except that instead of spotting Jack Tripper and Larry, you’re more likely to spot middle-aged white trash.

The best thing about C’s is that the drinks are cheap and strong. It’s not uncommon for the drink specials to be something different and surprising, such as $2 Manhattans. For the domestically inclined, beer comes in big mugs for under $3. And, for folks like you and me, tap Busch Light is always 65 cents a glass. That is information to be treasured.

Ripped at Frozen Man 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 wrote the article below for the March 19, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

One reason to be nice to your bartender is that she will likely throw a party some day, and you will want to be invited. See, bartenders are good at throwing parties because … well, they’re bartenders. They have connections to all the good drinkers, and they know who the big-time assholes are. This allows them to “cast” their parties.

The party I’m going to tonight is called “Frozen Man.” I won’t provide too many details, like the name of the host, the date or the location, because I want to be invited back next year. I will tell you that Frozen Man is held in the Duluth Township, just outside of Howdy-Dotyville, where a good bonfire/campout/drinkfest can go down without someone creating an ordinance to stop it.

The concept of Frozen Man is to drink alcohol around a fire when it’s really cold out. There are various activities and rituals and surprises throughout the night, but the main purpose is to see how much cold your body can endure before you either die, go home crying or prove you are more powerful than nature itself.

Ripped at Molly’s 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. One of Slim’s favorite old stops was Molly’s Tavern in Superior, which had a sign outside promising “dancing & sandwiches,” neither of which could be found inside. The bar closed in 2005 and later became Tower Avenue Tavern. Twenty years ago the Sultan of Sot paid a visit to Molly’s and wrote the article below for the Jan. 22, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

Whenever I find myself at Molly’s, I’m usually there to “finish up.” Usually, it’s late, I’m half in the bag and I have little interest in anything other than the square foot of bar top directly in front of me — the magical zone in which I lay down money and it miraculously turns into booze. But tonight Sean the Locksmith and I end up at Molly’s relatively early in evening. And I’ll be damned if Molly’s isn’t a pretty sweet place.

This doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve heard many tales of the coolness of this bar: the cheap booze, the weird and amazing antiques scattered about, the mother of Darryl Hall’s child pouring drinks. But maybe it’s to its credit that I’ve never really analyzed it. I go to Molly’s because I want to drink undisturbed. The appreciation of the bar among homosexuals and its seedy location at the very end of Tower Avenue help to keep away most of the local dillweeds.

Ripped at My Neighbor’s House in 2002

[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 spent an afternoon obstructing someone’s homebrewing plans and wrote the article below for the Dec. 25, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

It all started about two months ago, when my neighbor came pounding on my door with a bunch of little pumpkins in his arms. By his report, the pumpkins had sprouted up without being planted, putting him in the unexpected position of having to come up with a use for them.

You see, my neighbor is a go-getter. He’s one of those people who actually mows his lawn, trims his hedges and shovels his sidewalk. He’s the kind of person who notices when pumpkins spring up on his property.

“Look at them. Just look at them. I didn’t even plant any seeds,” he raved to me in astonishment, as if he was holding eight little baby Jesuses birthed from the Virgin Mary’s garden. “What do you think I should do with these?”

“Make beer,” I responded, as if the answer wasn’t obvious.

Ripped on Arrowhead Road on 2002

[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 took a rare trip to Hermantown and wrote the article below for the Nov. 11, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Since then each of the drinking establishments mentioned have changed. The Afterburner Bar & Lounge was replaced by Arrowhead Tap House. The Runway Bar closed in 2011 and the site became home to the Kolar auto dealership. The Local Bar & Grill is now Foster’s Sports Bar & Grill.]

Laugh all you want, but on Election Day I like to be near the Duluth International Airport. I mean, you never know: We’re on the brink of destruction, and, in the event of a sudden military coup, I want to be the first to take off to another land. But, security being what it is these days, I’ve unfortunately had a bit of trouble just hanging out and getting drunk at the official airport bar, the Afterburner. I’d rather not go into the details.

The Runway

So I find myself a mile or two away from the airport at the Runway Bar and Grill, hunkering down, waiting for the inevitable and having a few beers in the process. I’ve got three problems with this place: 1) They use the kind of pitchers that have the “ice reservoir,” thus cheating the customer out of valuable pitcher space. 2) They’re not showing election coverage on TV. 3) The man/woman ratio in this room is at least 20:1.

Ripped at the Keyboard Lounge in 2002

[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 stumbled into the Keyboard Lounge in Proctor and wrote the article below for the Sept. 18, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So I walk into the Keyboard Lounge and, although there’s a fistfight going on in the middle of the floor, I’m distracted. The violence, the hollering, even the gang of people on the karaoke stage providing the obligatory a cappella version of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” can’t compete with … uh … well … you should sit down for this.

I don’t normally have hallucinations when I’m drinking, so I will gladly swear upon a kitchen cupboard full of barley, hops and yeast that everyone in this joint is wearing nightgowns and underwear. The female bartender is wearing pasties. The male bartender is wearing a bulletproof vest and silk boxers. There’s a guy who looks like Sonny Bono and he’s wearing assless jeans. There’s a woman wearing a black fishnet number that’s getting everyone bothered. Everywhere I look is flesh and panties and frilly stuff. A sign on the wall finally explains. It’s “Naughty Nightie Night!” Well, that’s just typical for the Keyboard Lounge. Ask for an explanation, get an exclamation.

Ripped at Burn’s Bar in 2002

[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 drove out to Rice Lake Township for this article, which appeared in the June 26, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Burn’s Bar, by the way, closed in 2013.]

Throughout my long history of drunken escapades, I’ve seen quite a bit. I’ve seen prostitutes working their trade right out in the open. I’ve seen barroom floors covered with blood. I’ve had white-trash women sic their mongoloid husbands on me. I’ve never seen a gunfight, but I have sipped suds right next to fresh bullet holes. One time, a guy seriously tried to sell me on the idea of pimping out young girls. “You don’t have any ambition,” he told me. “Where are you going to be in five years?”

But at no point during any of this have I seen anything like what I see when I pull into the parking lot at Burn’s Bar. Burn’s Bar is awesome.

If you need simple evidence, then judge the place by its patrons’ appreciation of great poetry, which is scribbled on the men’s room wall.

Ripped in Superior’s East End in 2002

[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 drinking establishments in the East End of Superior for this article, which appeared in the May 1, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. A few updates: The Office went out of business in 2015. East End Tavern and Hudy’s Bar remain in business. Mr. B’s later became Pudge’s]

I set out looking for Eddie’s Ribs in Superior’s Itasca neighborhood, following the left-handed, pencil-scrawled directions of some coffin-dodger I met at the Pioneer Bar in Duluth. At some point, I take a turn that I’m pretty sure is incorrect, driving into an area that common logic would demand turn into either a suburb or a swamp, when suddenly — whoa! — a bunch of bars. Needless to say, it’s at this point that the whole big-plate-of-ribs idea is immediately jettisoned to make way for the get-hammered-right-here-and-now idea. It’s a common occurrence in my life.