I hadn't left the house in over a week when I met a couple friends at a poetry slam at Backspace last Sunday evening. The slam was alright. The girl who ended up winning was pretty talented, and she turned out to be only 18, which was impressive. When the thing was over I still felt rambunctious. The friends I'd met hopped on a bus to go home, and I stood on the street corner wondering what to do. I saw that there were lights on up the street at Casey's, so I decided to check it out.
I'd heard a while back that the Eagle, which had moved from Burnside to the basement of Casey's a couple years ago, had closed down and the owner was starting up a sports bar somewhere else, so I'd assumed that Casey's had closed down as well. That turned out to be not the case, obviously. Apparently Casey's has remained open, and the sports bar ship has already sailed and sunk.
The bartender that was on shift when I got there went by Topaz. He used to tend bar around the corner at the Shanghai Steakery, which was an old haunt of mine before it got shut down. That place was nuts. Topaz said that Casey's had started opening earlier in the morning and had absorbed some of the hardcore drunks that used to flood the Shanghai at 7am. Casey's isn't exactly what I'd call a classy joint, but it's not a dive, either; at least not yet. It's fun to imagine some of the old Shanghai characters in this well-lit environment: Obese lady who wears onesies and flashes her tits every five minutes, crackhead who bursts into your conversation to show you magic tricks, hermaphrodite who forces you to look at blurry photographs of his/her mysterious genitals (is that a scrotum or labia?) while you're waiting in line to buy a drink... I shutter to think what this place is like first thing in the morning. I don't know if I could handle it.
I sat at the bar, got out my netbook, and created an entry for Casey's in the Erotisphere business directory. During that time the place got surrounded by cop cars with their lights flashing. I have no idea what was going on outside. Someone said there'd been a fight or something. Just another night in Old Town, I guess.
When I finished typing up the entry for the site I got ready to leave and someone said “hey” to me. I didn't recognize him at first, but then I realized it was my old buddy Zuko, who was a regular at the Shanghai. He'd cut his hair short and shaved his beard. He was dressed professionally. He looked like a mature adult. He commented on my hair, too – I've been cutting it myself for the past year, and right now I kind of look like a lesbian elf-Vulcan. I'm experimenting.
It was good reconnecting with Zuko and with the bar. I've had good times here in the past. It's a very laid-back place, good for doing quiet writing on a laptop as well as going ape shit dressed as Santa and screaming at the top of your lungs with your pants around your ankles.
So Casey's - I'm sorry I thought you were closed. There's been enough turmoil in the downtown gay bar scene, and we need all the diversity we can get. Take care, and keep it real!
Now, just for fun, here's a video from Portland Santacon '07. I don't know who took this footage, but Casey's is prominently featured. At about 1:59, I'm the Santa who runs up to the car, flailing his arms and screaming, "I'm real! I'm real!" I did get ticketed for that ("improper placement in the roadway"), but I'm not the guy getting arrested. It was right in front of Casey's on the corner of 6th and Couch. Enjoy!