Without researching, I'd guess that there are probably a thousand establishments in Seattle where one can chug a beer, a couple hundred of them in Capitol Hill alone. Yet, now that I snort MacKayethics out of my nose and pass out at the shows, I've spent five of every seven nightsand this is a devastatingly conservative estimateat just one Capitol Hill tavern: the Cha Cha, off the corner of Summit and Pine.
Somebody could write an epic about the Cha as a microcosm for Seattle's still maddeningly insular rock scene, but I'm not that biographer; I can only handle erotic fan fiction. Not counting the grody Belltown/Bellevue weekend overflow, almost all the regulars and employees "rock," or at least harbor creative impulsesonce a month, every patron worth their well tequila incurs an oh-God-I'm-wasting-my-fucking-life-here meltdown, swears off attending, then shows up the next night. I am no exception. Since I first suckled the Cha's teat about six months ago, these three loosely paraphrased quotes have haunted my being, these three rings to rule them all:
1. "Don't come here every night. Don't. You'll regret it."Rob B., about six months ago.
2. "Do you date, Andrew? What's the point in coming here unless you're going to pick up some [use your imagination; it's funnier] and [use your imagination; it's funnier] them?"Ilyas A., last week.
3. "You should do a Marathon. It's easy. You show up outside before they open and leave when they kick you out."Jon T., last month.
In the interest of retaining my dubious dignity, let's tackle the first and third items. Last Monday, I did a 3 and spent a fuck of a lot of time pondering 1. The Marathon: It's merely 10 hours in a bar. Not so wild, right? Ever see Trees Lounge? Hell, ever drink in public? For some shitheads, every day is the Marathon, every second a revolting self-inflicted leeching. My Marathon was a bit more carnivalesque, for a few reasons: (1) I decided I could only leave my booth to take a leak, or God forbid, the deuce (I'll save you the suspenseI abstained), and (2) I'm neurotic enough that at the slightest tinge of pubic discomfort, I unceremoniously disappear. This is not cute or endearing, but seriously deranged, the stuff of real alienation. I was setting myself up for a major public freakout, and the Weekly wasn't exactly reimbursing for Jäger shots.
Per Jon's advice, I showed up at the Cha five minutes early and was surprisingly awarded the golden ticket by ex-These Arms Are Snakes keyboardist/current Bimbo's taco administrator Jesse, who was so enraptured by the Marathon-or so desirous to watch my physical being collapse in real timethat he immediately brought me two drinks and taped a homemade sign, "The Bonz's Monday Night Marathon, 2003. 4 p.m.-2 a.m.," on my booth. Staring at this hastily scrawled look-at-me monstrosity, I paused: Since I believe anyone with half a heart at least "bandies about" suicide once a monthit's perfectly healthy10 hours with that sign should get me through New Year's Eve with both wrists intact.
Jesse's generosity inspired me to spend the ensuing three hours (alone, trapped, chilly, absorbing Rahzel and Sabbath) devising ways to milk my pals for free booze and, more importantly, considering that I had a single bag of crumpled mini Oreos in my satchel, free grub. Indeed, a core group of six to eight friends made pilgrimages to my booth, endured my "pamper me" mind games, and treated me much like the apostles did Jesus in Gethsemaneif the apostles totally hated Jesus' guts.
The nadirnot counting the complimentary peppermint schnapps shotswas helplessly watching plans develop . . . and then not develop. For the former, I couldn't use the Cha as a springboard for supplementary entertainment, be it a rock show, the Lusty, karaoke, a nightclub, hell, Jerk in the Box. As to the latter, if my freak show was the most interesting thing going on, we're all going to hell. My entire nervous system was failing by 9 p.m., at which point I was shirtless, getting Sharpied with a variety of temp tats, including:
*A Black Flag emblem on the back of my neck, comprised of four penises.
*"Ass sniffer" on my knuckles. [Where, pray God, did they put the space?Copy ed.]
*A loose interpretation of Munch's The Scream on my chest.
*Affronts about beloved Weekly co-workers on my forearm that necessitated a rare, rigorous prework shower the next morning to avert automatic dismissal.
By midnight, I was abandoned. By 1 a.m., I was lost in the vortex between vomiting and the coma state. By 2 a.m., I was fumbling for $15 for a cab home. By 2:30 a.m., I realized that nothing had changed, or will.
By 7 p.m. the next day, I was back at the Cha Cha, devising this thinly veiled cry for help. That none of you will answer is almost as rock and fucking roll as the Cha itself.
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