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April 15, 1973 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-04-15

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the local
liar scene


Number 81 Page Four
he business ofgetting ..,

Sunday, April 15 1973


A TEN DOLLAR "bank" neatly
folded between my index and
middle fingers and an unfamiliar list
of liquor prices floating in my head,
I tucked my cigarettes away into an
inconspicuous spot for later use, and
ventured forth into the sparcely
filled room of one local bar for my
debut performance as a cocktail
waitress. It was 8:00. Business was
just beginning to pick up. In an hour,
the band would begin to play.
A middle-aged ,man motioned for
me to come over to the corner where
he was sitting. He wanted a glass of
cream. Not remembering a drink of
such description on the menu, I feeb-
ly approached the bar to inquire
whether or not this request was pos-
sible. Ordinarily, I learned, it was
not. But this man was a regular cus-
tomer, and the bartender obliged.
"I am told," he explained, "that
cream settles the stomach - good for
ulcers." I would have to remember
that, as I was to remember many
other specialty requests.
Asked to describe a million and one
mixed drinks, I soon learned that a
"Rusty Virgin" combined Southern
Compfort with cranberry juice, that a





"student bars" per se (that is, no
bars that cater entirely to students).
THERE IS, however, a small- cluster
of bars - Mr. Flood's Party, the
Blind Pig, the Pretzel Bell, Bimbo's
and the Village Bell - that draw
heavily from the University campus.
Reflecting the moods and desires of
a fairly heterogeneous community,
each bar offers an atmosphere that
is in itself totally unique.
MR. FLOOD'S PARTY, for instance,
offers a totally surrealistic visual
experience like no other to be found
in town. The bar sports a "museum"
of hanging stained-glass windows,
Tiffany lamps, stuffed moose heads,
vintage family portraits - even an
outstanding Rubenesque painting, a
statue of an angel with American
flag in hand, an antique juke box,
and a time-worn barber chair. The
collection, explains owner Ned Duke,
"evolved gradually over the years."
He claims to know the history behind
each and every artifact.
In one corner sits a framed por-
trait of "Mr. Flood." There really is
no such man - the fictitious name
is taken from an Edward Arlington
Robinson poem. "We invented him,"

mosphere. Quiet conversation drifts
through the upstairs room where
dainty crocheted curtains cover the
windows and candles slowly melt
down aged wine bottles onto small
circular tables.
In 1880 the building housed the of-
fices of the Ann Arbor Central Mills
.-an historical fact evidenced today
by a huge metal safe that still covers
one wall. The days of the grain mill's
occupation, however, have long since
past, and the building now serves as
a place where "people can get to-
gether," according to Tom Isaia,
who co-owns the bar with Jerry Del-
Giudice. "We originally thought to
name it the Melting Pot."
On one wall hangs a gigantic, col-
orful painting of pigs - the bar's of-
ficial rascot. Disclaiming any-intend-
ed allusions to those illegal sanc-
tuaries of drinking and gambling of
the twenties, Isaia says the name 'was
chosen basically because it "sounded
A man with long dark shiny hair
and a flowing moustache, Isaa leans
back on a sturdy wooden chair to re-
kount the bar's early beginnings. Op-
ened just a year ago on April 1, the
Pig was originally conceived of as a
wine shop. "Jerry and I had spent
some time in Europe and we realized
that Ann Arbor needed a bar with
European flavor."
And so the bar, where at least 200
cups of cappuccino are sold daily, of-
fers a connoisseur's selection of im-
ported wines and bread and cheeses
(also beer). Plans are even in the
making for weekly wine-tasting par-
ties, complete with formal linen
cloths on the tables.
The Blind Pig offers live entertain-
ment in its downstairs room six
nights a week and old-time movies
on Mondays. About 15 per cent of the
musicians are local - featuring jazz,
blues and classical music. Once a
month, nationally known musicians
perform. The bar, which Isaia pre-
fers to call a "neighborhood tavern,
cafe, and jazz-blues club," has never
hosted rock or country bands because
of its "size and -climate."
PERHAPS ONE OF THE oldest bars
in Ann Arbor, Clint Castor's
Pretzel Bell offers a fairly traditional,
collegiate atmosphere. Remnants
from the "good old days" cover the
walls .. . reminders that there once
was a time on campus when school
spirit was high and when the cap-
tain of the football team sent young
coeds swooning. Framed newspaper
clippings and photographs record
the faces and accomplishments of
past University teams and their
coaches, while heavy, round, wooden
tables record the carvings of genera-
tions of love-lost couples.
The Pretzel Bell derives its name
from good old German tradition dat-
ing back to the original rathskellers
--pubs in cellars and the basements
of city halls where beer was never
served without pretzels. An evening
of drinking was often initiated then
by the loud clanging of a bell.
The bar, famous for its hot pret-
zels, opened in 1934 immediately fol-

The Blind Pig, where "candles slowly melt down aged wine bottles .

lowing the repeal of Prohibition. In
those days, recalls former owner Clint
Castor, Sr. (the bar is now owned by
his son, Clint Castor, Jr.), men were
required to wear a coat an~d necktie.
It is a bar, he believes, where "town
and gown get together."
There was a time when "having
your bell" was a phrase synonomous
with celebrating your 21st birthday.
Until the recent age of majority rul-
ing, it was Pretzel Bell tradition to
announce the passing of another
student into adulthood with a loud
clang of the bar's official brass bell.
The new adult was awarded a free
pitcher of beer, which he or she us-
ually, chugged down while standing
precariously on top of a table sur-
rounded by cheering friends. On dis-
play in the bar is a book which re-
cords the signatures of 25,000 stu-
dents who celebrated their all-im-
portant birthday in this manner.
The bar, which according to mana-
ger Chris Keane sells about four half-
barrels of beer (that's roughly 200
pitchers) on an average weekend

ment --- only a comfortable place for
quiet couversation and at times loud
T BIMBO'S, the fare is gay nine-
ties with the twang of banjos
backing loud group sing-alongs of
tunes from days long past. Peanut
shucks on the floor and portraits of
Laurel and Hardy and W. C. Fields
on the walls, Bimbo's features an
Italian cusine and beer, beer, beer.
The bar, which takes its name
from the owner's nickname, opened
roughly 11 years ago. "There have
been few changes since then," ex-
plains manager Tony Matteis. The
bar, which seats about 150 in rela-
tively plush booths and long expan-
sive tables, offers live music four
nights a week and old-time movies
two nights a week.
scene, there are undoubtedly
places whichhave been overlooked.
The bars discussed were chosen not
only because they attract a large per-
centage of students, but also for the
diversity of atmospheres they repre-
There are many other bars that
offer "good times" in Ann Arbor. For
example, the Del-Rio, famous for its
"Det Bergers" and antipasto salads,
offers a fairly mellow atmosphere
with candles dripping down wine
bottles onto ornately-carved wooden
tables. Music is usually taped, with a
jazz band performing live on Sun-
days. The Scene offers a psychedelic
mind-boggling atmosphere featuring
a colorful flashing dance-floor. And
Mackinac Jack's (which may soon
change due to a recent change in
ownership) offers a logger's atmos-
phere complete with rest rooms
marked "does" and "bucks."
Despite the obvious differences
between Ann Arbor bars, they all en-
counter one common condition. On
weekends, they are usually packed--
absolutely filled to the brim with
It's 10:23 p.m. and you can feel the
brisk night air tug at your coat. You
can hear the muffled sounds of a


band playing inside, but you're out-
side, and man, it's just plain and
simple truth that you can't 'go in
until someone comes out. Capacity
seating regulations are just:,that
You really want to lose yourself
for the evening in some strong brew
and the loud, pounding vibrations of
some musician. So you search other
bars, finding the situation no better .
anywhere else. It's a good thirty-
minute wait until you get inside.
The problem doesn't usually pre-
sent itself if you go to a bar fairly
early on a weekend night or if you
get your drinking time in during the
week. If, however you choose to drink
late on a weekend night, be prepared
for the consequences.
But, friends of the mighty bottle
take heart - Director of Liquor Li-
censing and Enforcement Roger Ros-
endale says that Ann Arbor still has
14 licenses yet to approve. According
to the 1970 Federal Dicenial Census,
Ann Arbor's population of 100,035 al-
lows for a total of 67 licenses within
the city. (one license per 1500 resi-
Currently, Ann Arbor maintains
43 class "C" (beer, wine and spirits)
licenses, 8 "B" hotel licenses and two
tavern (beer and wine) licenses.
In order to obtain a liquor license,
an owner's request must first be ap-
proved by the City Council, then by
the State Liquor Commission and fi-
nally by the Police department.
Points considered in an investigation
include an owner's "personal back-
ground and present financial con-
dition," explains Rosendale. He adds
that a neighborhood survey is usual-
ly taken of residents within a 500'
radius (about one city block) of the
proposed site. "If enough residents
disapprove - let's say 80 per cent -
then the license is not approved," he
* * *
(LEARING OFF soppy menus,, dis-
carded pistachio shells, and half-
filled glasses of beer from my tables,
I breathed a sigh of relief on the last
night of my rather short-lived career
as a cocktail waitress. It was nearing
1:30. The band had long ago p&pked
away its instruments and departed.
A silence, that was at once color. t-
ing and unpleasantly void, settled n
the room.
Images of the people who had sat
at those tables remained stubbornly
clear in my mind. There were the
crowds of boisterous students with
their carefree laughter and vigorous
stamping and clapping to the music;
there were the many couples who
had sat totally lost in each other;
there were the swinging singles who
had spent the night casting furtive
glances at other swinging singles,
and there were a few of the very
lonely who had come to drink away
their miseries.
I remembered one man in nartien-



Mr. Flood's Party: "A totally surrealistic visual

night, offers live bluegrass music
four nights a week. "People who
come here in the evening really en-
joy bluegrass," he says.
Located less than two blocks from
the Engine Arch, the Village Bell
(also Castor domain) comes closest to
being considered a "student bar." Be-
cause of its location, it attracts a per-
centage of University people (espe-
cially sorority and fraternity people)
larger than any other local bar.
Noted for its plushly carpeted
ceilings, the Village Bell, nearly five
years old, offers no live entertain-

"Freddie Flood Fucker" combined...
and so on and so forth. I became
able to demonstrate the technique of
drinking Tequila straight with a few
grains of salt and a bite of lemon.
Another waitress even advised me of
the bartender's sure-fire cure for hic-
,coughs, should the problem present
itself. Most of the customers, how-
ever, drank pitchers of beer with
few problems - an order which re-
quired little to no explanation.
As the strains of sonme lively blue-
grass overpowered conversation, the
bar filled fast with customers. And
while wiping off tables, clearing
glasses and pitchers to the dishwash-
er and taking practically inaudible
orders and delivering them to their
respective tables, I noted the divers-
ity in clientele there that night.,
It was a young crowd - mostly
students, but also recent graduates
and those who never chose to par-
take in higher education. All, 'how-
ever, were not youth, as some tables
filled with groups of businessmen in
suits and ties with their women in

Duke explains.
The bar (Duke prefers to call it a
"club") was originally opened for
"beatnicks who had no place to go"
Duke and his now deceased partner
"Buddy" Jack endured a long two-
year struggle with a then Republican
Council to fill a spot that had pre-
viously housed the "redneck" Andy's
bar. After hours of debate and a rare
executive session, the license trans-
fer was approved and Flood's opened
in April 1969. "It was a young move,"
remembers Duke, a man who wears
long dark hair, wire-rimmed glasses
and golden earrings.
In those early days, the quiet
strains of folk music, and occasional-
ly some blues, flowed through the
small bar that when filled seats'about
100 people. "People then wanted to
hear acoustic music - nothing loud,"
Duke explains. Today, although the
bar hasn't turned to heavy rock and
roll, loud vibrations of bluegrass and
country music (about 75 per cent lo-
cal musicians) can be heard six
nights a week and on Sunday after-

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