Slim Goodbuzz Posts

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.

Ripped at Shooter’s Saloon 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 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?”

Ripped at Sanitary Harry’s 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 penned this article for the March 6, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Sanitary Harry’s went out of business not long after.]

St. Louis County Highway 7 is a long, thirsty road. I started tonight’s quest in Twig, figuring there would be some combination bait, liquor and grocery store there, and the proprietor would offer me a stool, creating a bar-enough atmosphere. No such luck. If there is any booze in Twig, I can’t find it. It’s enough of a task for me just to find Twig. Any attempt to retune the radio or pay attention to traffic is enough distraction to completely miss the tiny township so feebly, yet aptly, named.

If I am anything, however, I am determined. True, quite often I am not anything, but tonight I am indeed determined; “determined” being a synonym for “thirsty.” So I keep motoring down Highway 7, and, after mile upon mile of driving through more and more nothing, I start hoping for space aliens or Sasquatch to please abduct and abuse me before I die alone of sobriety. Finally, I find a small shack in Kelsey with a bunch of Arctic Cat jackets mulling around outside it, marking the spot. Aliens, Sasquatch … the Snowmobile Monkeys of Kelsey will be close enough for me. The name of their headquarters is Sanitary Harry’s.

Ripped at Pizza Lucé 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. Pizza Lucé opened its Duluth location in 2001 and quickly caught the attention of the Sultan of Sot, who penned his review for the Jan. 9, 2002 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. The restaurant has undergone several renovations in the past two decades, so we note here that the U-shaped semi-unisex restroom is no longer as it was. Also, the early morning openings are no longer a thing.]

As an old-fashioned Duluth rum hound, I want to dislike Pizza Lucé. When a Twin Cites enterprise expands to Duluth and sets up in a nice, clean new building, I pretty much go into auto-hate mode. But not this time. Pizza Lucé is a friend of the drinking class.

First off, there’s a decent happy hour seven days a week. Plus, there’s the extended hours — you can go there and get drunk at 7 a.m. (they actually have a list of morning-time cocktails for people who want to do just that), you can check out some live music in the evenings or you can go there for booze-soaking victuals after bar close.

Ripped at Mama’s Bar in 2001

[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 he filed a report from Mama’s Bar, 1019 Ogden Ave. in Superior. Mama’s went out of business circa 2017. This article appeared in the Nov. 14, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

There are two kinds of mamas in the world, and Mama’s Bar in Superior is named after both of them. One of the first things you notice when you walk into the place is all the hot mamas. Black-and-white photos of Veronica Lake, Marlene Dietrich, etc. line the wall across from the bar. At the bar, the real-life mamas sit. The 45-year-old white-trash mamas are always out in full force at Mama’s Bar. The place is everything I ever wanted in a filthy dive.

Mama’s is one book you shouldn’t judge by its dirty pink cover. Yes, the exterior of the place is painted pink — but it’s not a gay bar. This, of course, begs the question: What stereotypes can our society possibly rely on anymore? A pink bar called Mama’s, full of straight patrons, does nothing to simplify our already complicated lives.

Ripped at the Rendezvous in 2001

[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 he filed a report from the Rendezvous Bar in Scanlon, roughly 10 miles west of Duluth. This article appeared in the July 25, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So, it starts with Sean the Locksmith and me barreling down the southbound lane of I-35, sober as a couple of appellate court judges. Sean is worried, and with good cause: The brakes on his newly purchased Delta 88 are suddenly … how shall I put this? … nonexistent.

The plan, and I’m not saying it’s a good one, is to sort of just not go any faster. Sean plans to take the momentum we have and ride it out, giving little nudges on the gas pedal to keep us going in an attempt to run out of speed precisely as we reach an off-ramp. Eventually, with a little practice, he actually does it, landing us in the heart of beautiful Scanlon. We immediately head to the Rendezvous Bar with its promise of wonderful, sweet booze to wet down our sizzling nerve ends.

Ripped at R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon in 2001

[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 he filed a report from R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon in Downtown Duluth. The article appeared in the June 13, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. The last paragraph refers to a poster that disappeared from Quinlan’s men’s room wall a few years later. The word on the street back then was: “someone stole it, and he is a fucker.”]

Holy Christ, the rear entrance of this basement hooch joint is lurid. It’s like a nasty Minneapolis strip club, with about four cheap multicolored bulbs attempting to light up beautiful Michigan Street. The Superior Street entrance is … well … it sort of blends into Mr. Nick’s charburger joint, so no one sees it or uses it. When you go to Quinlan’s, you gotta take that long walk down Michigan with all of its homeless teenagers and homicidal paint-huffers, just to get yourself in the mood.

Quinlan’s is the gathering place of 40-year-old men who don’t want to deal with any bullshit. They’re not looking to enjoy live music, score with chicks, get into a bar fight or be entertained in any way other than a regular conversation or a little TV. They want a direct, nonstop, one-way ticket to oblivion, and tonight as usual I’m right there with them.

Ripped at the Black Cat in 2001

[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 he filed a report from Ashland, where he visited the Black Cat Coffeehouse, which remains in business. The article appeared in the May 30, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So I’m in Ashland visiting my mom, and after three or four days of listening to her rant about some “potato bug infestation” while under the influence of Tequila Rose and Aunt Jenny’s George Jones records, I decide to walk around and discover all that “alternative” Ashland has to offer. Namely, “alternative” Ashland consists of that hippie college, the co-op and the Black Cat Cafe. My instincts tell me that only one of these places is going to serve up any kind of booze, so I skip the first two and jump right to the Black Cat.

The Black Cat is among the growing number of regional coffee shops that have discovered the obvious: Coffee shops that serve booze are some of the most comfortable places in the world. I’ve said this a million times, but here’s all you need to make an outstanding drinking establishment in this area: good beer, great live music, couches and dim lighting. Of course, reasonable prices help, too. The Black Cat has all of this in spades.

Ripped at Le Grand Supper Club in 2001

[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 he took a ride to Grand Lake Township for a night of imbibing at La Grand Supper Club. The establishment closed in 2010 and was replaced in 2016 by the Cast Iron Bar and Grill. Goodbuzz documented his experience for the March 21, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So, Sean the locksmith shows up at my door and tells me that he’s “in the mood to drive.” How fortunate: I’m in the mood to drink. I suggest we head up the Old Miller Trunk Highway to Le Grand Supper Club and see what kind of mischief we can find.

Le Grand is a nice, big place, and tonight it’s all but empty except for a group of disgruntled pool players and about six or seven inebriated regulars at the bar. If I did my drinking on the weekends like any normal person, I might be able to see this place packed as a cover band such as Sh-boom attempts to rock the house. But weekends are made for pleasure drinking; I’m here for business drinking.

Ripped in 2001: Mary’s Place vs. Terry’s Place

[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 he visited two Duluth bars — Mary’s Place and Terry’s Place. Both would later change their names. Mary’s Place became Clubhouse Sports Bar in 2005, then closed in 2014. The building at 132 N. 34th Ave. W. is now home to Stadium Pawn. Terry’s Place became Bergey’s in 2006 and remains in operation. Goodbuzz documented his experiences at Mary’s and Terry’s places for the March 7, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

“I haven’t had my sled out in a month,” complains the dude across the bar from me. “I worked 60 goddam hours this week.”

I tell him that I also worked 60 hours this week. I don’t mention that drinking is my job.

Then my new friend starts complaining about what a lousy game he just bowled. He seems cheery though. Complaining seems to make him happy; each self-deprecating remark inspiring a grin and a nod in my direction to indicate he knows that my life also sucks. All our lives suck. We’re at Mary’s Place / Stadium Lanes on Wednesday night.

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