Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Marlin Club, Catalina Island

We went to Catalina Island a couple weeks ago for the long weekend. We rented a little house in Avalon up the street from the harbor. I think the house was described as a “cottage.” While there were some fine examples of cottages surrounding the house we stayed in, our place was not a cottage. It was a small house that was kind of dumpy, outdated, and not cute. It was on the verge of being worth complaining about (there are a few online reviews of 333 Catalina Ave. that take the time to point out the ill fitting couch covers, for instance), but for $130/night and pet friendly it was well worth it. We just treated it like a Vegas hotel room and didn’t spend much time in it. Instead we spent our time outdoors in the sun, on the water, eating and drinking. One of our favorite places was The Marlin Club. It’s a good bar and I said a marvelous thing in the Marlin Club that I had never said to anyone before. It’s a tactic I plan to employ in the future. 

Tania and Beckett are seated on the port side of the boat/bar. Note the portholes under the bar. Yeah, they let Beckett come in.
The bar at the Marlin Club is shaped like the bow of a boat. Which I find absolutely delightful. And it’s replete with portholes. Although I can’t help wondering if the portholes, which are at crotch height when you’re sitting at the bar, are actually glory holes. Or even urinals. I think I’ve seen a bar with a urinal running along the underside of it? Which is such a brilliant idea. I mean why would you separate the customers from the place where they evacuate their waste and put that behind closed doors where no one can see it or smell it? As for the glory holes in the bar, I’ve never seen that before, but I’m sure that really exists somewhere too (I’m looking to San Francisco for confirmation of that one). Regardless, the lewd thoughts I brought to the innocent portholes at crotch height totally destroyed the child-like wonder the bow had created, and I often found myself sitting at the bar with one hand on my drink, the other protecting my crotch—a habit I learned while working in the Jackass offices. You never know when you’re going to get punched in the balls. Fuckin’ holes. Fuckin’ Jackass. 

Jager shark eats some mermaid tit.
Despite watching the Rangers lose to the Devils during our first couple of hours at the Marlin Club, I found the atmosphere at the bar simply wonderful. I’m not kidding. And I think it’s the reason I was able to handle the Ranger loss as well as I did. I didn’t throw anything in the bar when they lost, for instance. The lighting, the colors, the interior—it’s kind of a weird combination of all the things I like: a Mexican restaurant, a theme park, and a dive bar. I don’t think Tania enjoyed the murals as much as I did, but it reminded me of the art of Mary Blair, the woman who painted and created the “It’s A Small World” stuff at Disneyland.

Tania and Beckett enjoying some cocktails. You can see some of the art on the wall.
The bar seems to be a favorite among locals, especially the salty old drunk types that stir vinegar into their coffee. There was one old timer that was there every time we went in. He said a few things to us, but I couldn’t tell you what he said. He laughed after every sentence, so maybe he was making fun of us. Or maybe he was saying, “Wanna watch me fuck the bar later?” Because that’s what he did later in the evenings when the band was playing and he was really drunk. He’d grab hold of the bar and kind of dance, although it looked more like he was fucking the bar. Which, of course, was evidence that the portholes were indeed once glory holes in more glorious times. “It looks like he’s trying to dance,” Tania said, “but his body doesn’t remember how.” He wasn’t trying to dance. He was having buttfucking porthole flashbacks. Kind of like when Beckett humps his nigh-nigh on the couch.

He was dancing to a band that I referred to as Dinosaur Jr. Jr. because the singer kind of looked like J. Mascis. He actually didn’t look anything like J. Mascis except that he had long grey hair. If anything he looked more like Gene Ween. Or even Mike Watt. I was drunk. I know I was drunk because I liked the Dinosaur Jr. Jr. and they were nothing more than an old cover band. And I don’t even like the real Dinosaur Jr.

“I’ve never really heard the guitar in this song before!” I said to Tania all excited like I was on acid. “I didn’t know it was this good!” It was fucking “LA Woman” by The Doors. Dinosaur Jr. Jr. also played a lot of Tom Petty. I don’t know what was wrong with me. I’d like to think I was just in a happy place, but I’m worried I’m in denial about getting old. I became dimly aware of this encroaching stupidity as the Marlin Club grew more and more crowded on Saturday night. Whether it’s inexperienced kids who are still unfamiliar with the effects of alcohol, or drunks who have been drinking all day, or the combination of all of the above, it’s around 9pm that the atmosphere in even the best bars tends to get stupid. That’s when the kids take over and start ordering black and tans and the girls are screeching complicated cocktails to the bartender—that’s when it’s time to go.

Just about every bar has their resident artist. Who sucks. And he/she draws, paints, or scrawls a scene from the bar, filled with recognizable local characters, and then gives it to the bar as a gift, thus forcing the bar to hang the shitty art on the wall somewhere. "Uh, yeah, thanks..." The resident artist for the Marlin Club, however, actually did a pretty good job. The painting above the door depicts four old topless Party Grandmas with sagging dugs. Below, it says, "Marlin Club Mermaids—Santa Catalina Island." I like paintings of saggy old tits.
I went up to the bar to get a couple of drinks for the road and have the bartender cash me out. He tried to serve me, but before I could open my mouth he was distracted by a fellow to my left.

“HEY I ALREADY GAVE YOU THE CARD,” the customer droned at the bartender, “IT’S NOT THIS BLUB BLUB BLAH BLAH BLOOB BLOOB!”

I have no idea what he was talking about. He was about my age, wearing a finely pressed white dress shirt tucked into jeans, vaguely handsome in a metrosexual kind of way, and looked a little bit like Adam Rappaport (former editor of GQ, now editor of Bon Appetit). In short, he looked like a rich, preppie, douchebag.

“It’s twelve dollars,” the bartender said, exasperated. It was obvious he had already been dealing with him. He calmly explained the situation, pointed to the other bartender who also came over to explain that he still owed $12. They showed him a record of his evening thus far. 

This is the nice bartender fellow. He's changing a light bulb. Guess what those three girls are talking about. No, like, seriously, it was literally really important because basically at the end of the day it is what it is.
“NOT—NOOOOO! NUH NUUUHHH BLOOB BLOOB!” He was shuffling all of the credit cards in his wallet as he pathetically tried to argue about his paltry tab. I saw an American Express card and an American Airlines card, among others. He wasn’t trashed, but he was past his limit.

When it was finally decided that Adam Rappaport was wrong, even though he still didn’t agree, he started to turn to me with that, “Can you believe these people?” look. Before he could open his mouth, though, I sternly said the words I had never said to someone before.

“Don’t talk to me,” I said.  

It shocked me as much as it did Adam. He visibly did a double take. I, on the other hand, was very pleased with myself. Don’t talk to me—that’s a good one, it’s not rude, but it’s direct and to the point. As he started to open his mouth again, I turned, leaned over a little, looked him right in the eyes, and slowly said, “DON’T. TALK. TO ME.”

Have you ever complained to a cop and he uses that “SHUTUP OR YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL!” voice? Well I have. And that’s what I think I sounded like because that’s the effect my voice had on Adam. His whole being slouched, “Okay, sorry,” he seemed to say, and he turned back to the bar to get his drinks and pay his tab. I stared straight ahead, trying to remain as stoic and as tough looking as I could manage, but inside I was giggling my ass off. Don’t talk to me? What the hell? I gotta remember that one. Way better than “shutup.” 

Beckett was way past his limit too. Can't take that dude anywhere.
As Adam gathered up his Bud Lights and started to return to his party, he kind of mumbled over his shoulder at me, “Well don’t talk to me either!”

OH! BURN! I thought I had a Verbal Judo victory in my grasp, but at the last minute Adam Rappaport snatched it away with a well-crafted comeback. Well played, Adam Rappaport, well played, indeed. “Don’t talk to me either.” Brilliant, simply brilliant.

As I watched Adam stumble over to his group of similarly dressed douchebags, Tania emerged from the Mermaid’s room and I handed her a shot of Jager. She raised her eyebrows at the drink. We don’t usually go down the Jagermeister road. “I can’t help not getting stupid in here,” I explained. After I gave her the Adam Rappaport report, we left the Marlin Club and walked all the way back to our “cottage” not talking to each other.

“Don’t talk to me,” I said.  
“Don’t talk to me either,” Tania replied.  
“I told you to not talk to me first.”
“What part of ‘don’t talk to me either’ do you not understand?”
“Well then don’t talk to me either.”
“How about you don’t talk at all.”
“You don’t talk.”
“Talking. Don’t.”
“Don’t either talk.”
“Not talk you.”

1 comment:

Steve Swenson said...

The one and only visit to the Marlin Club was a day visit last fall. looking for a quick beer before hitting the ferry back to LB. I loved the 5 O'clock line up of hard core boozers, tourists, dogs and ambiance. One beer turned to two and I was soon swapping jokes. These were my people....Bought a t-shirt and now I'm headed back in September for my honeymoon. We will be in the Marlin Club.....Cap'n Buck.