Have a feeling I've used that post title before, but I can't find any trace of it, so I'll grant myself a free pass.
Back at work (briefly) after a three-day weekend in which nothing was done -- totting up my accomplishments last night, I came up with "made jambalaya" (which was really good, at least!) and "watched half of 'The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3'." Uh, that's it. Unless you count acting like a moron in various places around town.
Friday night, I was waiting for friends at frequent haunt Atkins Park -- Angry Cocaine Blues Guy was there! He even played his favorite song -- didn't sing along, though, choosing instead to scream obscenities at various St. Louis Cardinals.
While sitting there alone, waiting, drunk yuppie dork dude sidled up to me and asked -- "are you a local?" Not sure what the proper answer was, but figuring brevity was best, just said "yeah" rather than "well, I'm originally from Colorado, but I've lived here for eight years and have made something of a home for myself blah blah blah." The conversation as followed:
Him: "I'm new to town -- do you know where I can make a purchase?"
Me (confused and irritated): "A purchase of what?"
Him (sheepishly): "Never mind."
"Look, man, I'm not a cop. Do you know where I can (chuckles) sample the local culture?"
(interlude) Oh. So that's what he meant. Naturally, he picks the one guy out on the town that really doesn't have experience in this sort of thing -- seriously, if you want to buy drugs, why ask the morose loner at the bar? Ask the really happy people. (end interlude)
Me (not wanting to be rude): "Uh, try the Clermont Lounge. Down Ponce a ways. I'm sure there will be someone hanging out there that can fulfill your needs."
Him: "Thanks!" (sprints away)
I'm not sure why I picked the Clermont, and I feel a little bad about it. It's a legend and a landmark -- an old hotel, with a long-running nightclub in the basement. The club is a monument to seediness. Dingy, dark, and known for strippers that ... don't fit the classic profile of a stripper. Large, old, or missing some limbs is the order of the day.
When the subject of strip clubs comes up (you'd be surprised how often it does!) I tell people, not without pride, that I haven't been to one since college. That's not totally true. I just (unintentionally) leave out the Clermont, because (I guess) it's so much more than a strip club.
I've been twice, and both times were pretty memorable -- even if I'm fuzzy on the details.
First time: Halloween 2002. A friend and I, after hours upon hours of alcohol consumption, decided that going to the Clermont to see Hot August Knights (um, a Neil Diamond cover band) was in order. And thus I made my maiden Clermont appearance.
I sat at the bar, and watched the strippers in awe and horror, until one that was actually attractive came up -- at which point my friend dragged me away ("that's not what the Clermont is about," he said). We watched the band and got proceedingly drunker -- the last thing I remember is laughing uprariously as some guy (a friend of a friend of a friend) punched me over and over in the ribs, because I'd shown signs of being tired.
Next visit: summer of 2004, perhaps? My old friend Daron -- hadn't seen him since college at that point -- came through town with his then-band. A group of us showed up at the show, we reminisced, we drank a lot, and at some point (I guess) someone noted that we were just across the street from the Clermont. How convenient!
We took Daron there (it was pretty much deserted), drank plenty more, and got roped into signing a get-well card for one of the dancers who had broken a leg or arm or something.
Other than that, well, the Clermont has some pretty cool signs. One of which is tough to photograph properly: