There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn. Samuel Johnson
John Sloan, McSorley's Bar, 1912
Having followed with interest the ongoing give-and-take over crunchy conservatism, I would add my hearty endorsement of the good and true, the small and beautiful. Yet I must say I have little taste for granola. And the notion of spending time shucking peas from the natural-food aisles of Bread & Circus does not appeal to me, though it does to others, and I say, good luck to them and the Red Sox.
Good coffee, though, rates high in my book. So does fine ale (though more in theory than in practice, these days, the care of children leaving little time to idle in bars.) The Good Republic, in my view, has a used-book shop, a coffeehouse, a good newspaper, a church with high altar intact, and a pub of character.
Here, offered in the spirit of an urban Agrarian Chesterbelloc whose agricultural fancies extend largely to Sumatra beans and hops and barley, is a tribute to a few of the small local institutions that stand at the heart of organic society as repositories of regional flavor and bonhomie: The taverns.
Tune Inn, 331-1/2 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC. Venerable corner bar, blocks from the Capitol, has National Bohemian on tap, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams on the jukebox and road-kill on the walls. I get nostalgic just thinking about the place.
Billy Goat Tavern, 430 N. Lower Michigan Ave., Chicago. Inspired the "Cheeseborger, Cheeseborger" sketch on the old Saturday Night Live. Located under Michigan Avenue, on a street below a street, reached by subway-like stairs. Haunt of reporters from the nearby Tribune. In 1945, the owner tried to get his mascot goat into Wrigley Field for a World Series game and was turned away. He pronounced a "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Cubs that some blame for the team's lack of a championship since.
The Plough & Stars, 912 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. The literary journal Ploughshares was conceived here over pints of Guinness. Surf music on Sunday nights.
The Dugout, 718 Comm. Ave., Boston. Shared haunt of Boston University students and buildings-and-groundsmen. Subterranean bar located at what was the midpoint between Fenway Park and the old Braves Field. Let the Ivy Leaguers have their finals clubs – this was mine when I was at BU.
Further installments now and again. Nominations welcomed. – MCNS