As several of the reviewers have suggested, this story may not be suitable for inclusion on the web site of a law firm, not even under a category reserved for Humorous Vignettes. It is the story of a saloon, indeed, a saloon with some rather rough edges. It is not a story about a cocktail lounge or a gentlemen’s club. Accordingly, there is rough edge saloon language in the story. If that offends your sensibilities, please don’t read the story.
In Houston, Texas, land of the pickem up truck, yes maam and howdy, where Aggie alums are worshipped and adored and, for the most part, are really very fine people, you wouldn’t expect to find a pseudo Irish, go fuck yourself New York attitude saloon. It has to be the only one of its kind south of Manhattan. Even that real authentic Irish night club cum pub, The Dubliner, in Washington is a very hospitable and welcoming place, albeit full of goddamned yuppies.
Every bar has a personality, even if it is a plastic, packaged, insipidly non argumentative, non stylish chain business of which the persona was set by some marketing Presbyterian type person who doesn’t hang out in bars, but has read about a lot of them. You know, the system by which you select your target customer group(s), do “consumer sampling” interviews to ask what folks want in a bar, and then try to so configure the fucking place as to provide perceived proximity to the highest “hits” correlation in the consumer test panel surveys. Theoretically, according to standard technocrat bullshit, you can configure any concept, any business, any product, any service for an identified target market with absolutely zero personal familiarity or contact with the subject in a real life experience. Jerry Falwell, under this nonsensical crap theory, could successfully design and configure (including business plan and pro formas) a Saloon where there is dancing, lewd behavior, whores upstairs and every sort of perversion, because his personal sensitivities would never come into play.
The essence of business replication through chain growth, be it franchising or company owned units, is that they be carbon copies of each other, conforming to what the “consultants” said would attract folks you want. Think I’m kidding? Go have a drink at TGI Friday’s, the Fox and Hound, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesdays.
Per contra, Muldoon’s is the success and the fabulous great time that it is precisely because we didn’t have any input from any plastic wrapped yuppie asshole “expert” “consultant”. One of those guys would have turned down the location right off the bat. The location is the worst you could imagine. Inside a very tacky strip center with absolutely no street visibility. Also, it was started on a shoestring and was for a very long time ready to implode at the slightest financial setback.
It is a complete anomaly in every respect, telling customers that if they whine about the drinks, the service, the prices or their tab, they ought to take their sorry ass whining patronage elsewhere and tell their friends not to come here also. You walk a tab, even by accident, and it doubles every day. Not paid by the third day-you’re banned forever-go fuck yourself. Complain about the music and you’re cut off and can get back in only with a profound, public apology. You are, whether you like it or not, constantly the butt of jokes and pranks played upon you by the regulars. The Friday nighters are the cruelest - nothing is sacred, not death, disease, divorce, bankruptcy, getting caught in perversion, sodomized while serving a drunk driving sentence, or any other humiliation which could be exploited to give everyone a great laugh at the expense of your personal embarrassment. Your race, your religion, your ethnicity are all perfectly the subject of the most cutting jokes and tricks. No one is exempt. If you have any sensitivity to any social, religious, moral, artistic or humanitarian issue, you can count upon being offended at every visit. If you can’t take it, get the fuck out and don’t come back. Everyone who comes in there absolutely loves the bullshit. You can’t find any bullshit like it anywhere else in America, maybe in the world.
READY FOR BUSINESS AT MULDOONS
I think the attitude came from high school, when we used to “cut” each other competitively, face-to-face and behind your back, made no difference. We cut each others’ looks, complexion, hair, muscularity, pecker size, girlfriend, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, cars, clothing, grades in school, you name it. We did it so much and so intensely that what we would consider either tame or almost a compliment would be extremely offensive to any person of reasonable demeanor and social standards. It lead me to become a trial lawyer, and it pervades the saloon. When you have THAT kind of an attitude saloon, you get folks drinking in there who bring back all those high school memories about using the art of insult as the accepted means of civil discourse. What? This makes absolutely no sense whatever? You’re right. So what! After a long, hard day at work, being able to let off the steam and get a real belly laugh is damn therapeutic, better than an hour on any shrink’s couch.
We don’t get as many wives in the place as we would like. The couples who come in like the fun and games. But we know it aint the way a lot of wives think about what they enjoy in a social setting. So their husbands come in, relax with a few drinks and then go home to mamma a lot better company than they would have been had they just gone straight home.
The institution of the American tavern or neighborhood saloon declined for many years. And commensurately, our national frustration rate and emotional illness rate increased. Folks don’t wanna go “get help” at some shrink’s office or to group therapy that Blue Cross might pay for. It’s demeaning. It’s humiliating. It can cost you your job if your boss learns that you’re “in therapy”. Before therapy there was the tavern. You went in there and saw folks who you got to be familiar with. You talked about whatever was on your mind. You had a few cold ones. You were a well balanced, adjusted person and conducted your life as normally as you were capable of. When that became politically incorrect, the no escape valve frustration made a lot of folks dysfunctional. The temperance league, the mothers against drinking and everything else that is fun, lots of fucked up preachers who wouldn’t drink but also wouldn’t hesitate to molest little boys or to make sexual advances to a distraught parishioner coming to him for pastoral counseling about her marriage, and the politically correct establishment all conspired to deprive folks of healthy, normal facilities to easestress and frustration. Say what you want about the good or bad of a few drinks in a saloon or tavern. It has always been part of the social scene of humankind throughout its history. It is as natural as any mental or bodily function, and railing against it does not help the human condition one iota.
Saloons do not cause antisocial behavior. Such inclinations are in the person before they enter the saloon. If some are triggered by alcohol into hostility and aggression, then they have to learn not to drink. Others who are normal do not need to be regulated as a means to baby-sit assholes. There is an insane tendency in America to regulate everyone normal as a way to control the freakers. If a nut case whacks a bunch of folks in school, at the post office or at the stockbrokers’ office, why the “regulators” want to outlaw access by everyone to whatever instrumentality the nutso used to do his deed. The normals can have any instrumentality they want without danger to the society at large. Europeans are typically dirigiste, everything to be controlled by the government, deus ex machina. Our culture in America is supposed to be much more libertarian. But we must be vigilant else the regulators one day will have one statute that mandates everything they want us to do and another that prohibits everything that is not listed in the first statute. We are headed in that direction. Every day the Clintstones issue press releases announcing new programs to regulate every damn thing on earth. It is incipient tyranny and must be resisted to the utmost, whatever that is. The man who will go home and beat the crap out of his old lady is going to do it anyway. If a few drinks doesn’t trigger it, something else will - probably his old lady herself. At Muldoon’s we will tolerate a lot of wild and silly behavior. But if you get aggressive you are out of there forever. And if you want to confront the management, we will happily beat the living shit out of you if that’s what it takes to make our point about what level of conduct cannot be exceeded. We very rarely ever have to defend our flag in that manner. When that happens, it is usually some freaker who was snorting nose candy out in the parking lot before he came in. In almost five years, it has happened maybe three times. We are very good at governance because our approach is to make the place so much fun that even Saddam Hussein would want to behave rather than be refused service. And, to make sure the bastard is too humiliated to even try to come back after banning, we put his name on the bulletin board outside the front door for a week announcing that his no good ass is no longer welcome at Muldoon’s. Nobody wants to be on that bulletin board with that message.
There was, however, one major exception to the no aggression rule, and that was perhaps the best joke ever played on Der Chuck, early on, soon after Muldoon’s opened its door. One evening I was in there regaling all and sundry who would put up with me bullshit that night, being me usual loud, musical, perhaps obnoxious self, when from the other end of the bar came a bellowed “Shut the fuck up down there, you loud mouth asshole! Don’t make me have to come down there and kick your ass!” This was from one of the very few ever to patronize the place who is larger than me, a wonderful but unpredictable Irishman named O’Donnell. He stormed down to my end of the bar with murder in his eyes. Der Chuck, no puny wimp himself, got a look of sheer terror in his eyes as I replied “You aint man enough. Go fuck yourself.” We agreed to take it outside to save the furniture and equipment from utter destruction.Chuck went white. Belinda yelled “Chuck, call 911, quick.” O’Donnell and I stormed out into the parking lot for what Der Chuck was certain was about to be a murder. He followed, pleading with us to reconsider. Out in the parking lot, just before Der Chuck keeled over in shock, O’Donnell and I gave each other a big hug and cracked up laughing. Der Chuck has never before or since seemed so close to panic. Obviously, O’Donnell and I spent a half hour laughing our asses off and swallowing Jamieson’s, all in celebration of one of the great impromptu performances of the season.
“O’Donnell, Muldoon and Chuck”
Folks have made the bulletin board with various messages. Your president Clinton made it with his picture at a military base involved in the Kosovo bullshit, waiving at the troops, with the caption, “Ah just love the military.” Linda Tripp made it as a Green Bay Packer. We have a vast album of pictures taken over the past five years, so, if you screw up, we have a really stupid picture of you that will be on the board with a most sarcastic caption. Like Old Johnny Hargis in a photo one night when he had at least four times more to drink than it would have taken him to get drunk. About a year or so later he accused the bartender of padding his bill with more drinks than he had actually consumed, was banned, and his absolutely bombed photo appeared on the board over the caption, “I couldn’t have had that many drinks!” For some reason, my photo has never made it to the board, though any week I expect someone to go through the album and find some godawful photo of me doing something I wouldn’t want memorialized, and put it on the board over some outrageous caption. Like the first Gay Pride Week, on “Coming Out” day, when I came in dressed in an outfit that only a real flamer would have worn in public. The gay hairdresser from next door saw me coming into the building dressed like that, followed me into the saloon and exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were one of us!” He gave me a big hug and I told him that I was indeed a lesbian because I like doing it with women. He got pissed off and left in a huff. We had to have him arrested several times. He fell in love with Der Chuck, a former college footballer (tight end, no less-how appropriate to this discussion). Der Chuck would have no part of that and the adoration was totally unrequited. The gay caballero became quite aggressively hostile, sometimes even threatening customers, and playing dirty tricks like locking the rest room doors and even threatening in the end to kill Der Chuck. After several arrests, he moved on, but we see him lurking around the building from time to time. We once thought we would have to shoot the sumbitch, but it never quite came to that.
We also use the bulletin board to announce special events, celebrations and to express the political or social outrage of the management over various and sundry government excesses. Bill and Monica sent our cigar sales through the roof , and they received lots of well deserved publicity on the “board” for their help in boosting cigar sales. Right now, that Hillary is telling folks in New York that she has a Jew in her personal genetic woodpile, hoping they will vote her into the senate, we are working on a Jews For Hillary drink promotion. We read that in New York she is known as the “first shiksa”. We are also waiting to hear what else crawls out of that woodpile when she gives an election speech in Harlem. Will Jesse make any pointed references to her in the context of finding an apartment in Hymietown? What will Al Sharpton say or do in light of this newly discovered branch of her family tree? I posed this question to one of out more knowledgeable brothers who are quite sensitive to such issues, and , to a man, they were of the opinion that Hillarious, when asked about that in Harlem, will simply say that Billy Clintstone is a black man. And, according to them, she can prove it. Evidence which supports the statement includes (1) that he likes jazz; (2) that he’s a doper; (3) that he runs around on his old lady; (4) that she makes more than he does; and (5) that he gets a check every month from the government. Think about it.
Among the wall art at Muldoon’s are pictures of the rich and famous - mug shots made when they were arrested for drunk driving by our local constabulary. Some of Houston’s greatest luminaries are up there, bleary eyed, mashed potato faced, pathetic. To us it is a political statement as well as a public service announcement that, no matter who you think you are, if you get drunk and drive and get stopped, they gonna put your sorry ass in jail. We have had a few patrons think that those pictures are just for the sake of humor or unfairly to exploit the celebrity of some leading light in the promotion of our saloon. Many who criticize have called to ask us to pass the word for some of the guys to come visit them in the local hoosecow where they sleep each night with their asses against the wall. When they get out, they often still have to give up weekends in “community service”, mostly picking up trash along roadsides and in public parks.
One of their ilk, a short Italian (or rather Eyetalian) with an enormous complex and a mouth to match, was recently cut off simply because he was visibly intoxicated and we didn’t think it prudent to serve him any more drinks that day. Like any real man, he became furious, announced that he would never ever again set foot in this damn pansy ass bar (they all say that, but they all come crawling back soon as they sober up). He and his close buddy, Lonesome Jim, went down to the Palm where they were served generously for another few hours, and then decided, exactly when the police had set up a sobriety check point on Westheimer, that they would come flying down the street at twice the speed limit, drunker than skunks, weaving in and out of traffic and cursing loudly at others perceived as driving too slowly, to stick their heads in at our front door and tell us to go fuck ourselves. They were stopped by the peacekeepers at the sobriety check point, first for excess speed, later, when shorty the wop mouthed off at the five foot tall lady cop, calling her a bulldyke bitch, also for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. The cops let Lonsome Jimmy go, figuring they had their hands full with Wopalino. Several weeks later, Wopalino came up for trial. The judge let into evidence his prior drunk driving convictions, which, apparently, his lawyer had told him would be inadmissible. Frankly, I never believed the lawyer would say that. The record comes in at least in the sentencing stage of the proceedings. But he used it as his rallying point to lament the ineffectiveness of his “fucking Jew bastard lawyer” and as the basis of his neglecting to make the last payment on the fee - if the lawyer was stupid enough to represent this guy without being paid in front, he might indeed have been dumb enough to say that the prior record wouldn’t be admissible.
The little meatball went to the slam, and we threw a “going inside” party for him in which the theme of the evening was “going inside” - with primary reference to his asshole while in jail. One patron, a bit of an artist, drew an impressionistic pair of circles, one small and one large, which he entitled “John’s Asshole Before and After He Serves His Time”. His angst at having to go to jail was the subject of every bad and tasteless joke and trick that evening. He’s back now, having paid his debt to society, just as loud and demonstrative as ever.
We have our own variety of “oil field trash”. Do you know what “oil field trash” really is? The term oil field trash historically refers to those really rough, tough guys who go out and work the big rigs, in the dirt, the muck, the swamps, the jungles, if need be. Their lives are rough, their work is excruciatingly hard, their manners are rougher, and their language is rougher still. And when they come back into town to cut loose, that’s as rough as it gets. They don’t get paid that well, but they get to save up cause there aint no place to spend any of it where they work most of the time. In the mid-east there are many venues were alcohol is forbidden by Islamic law and penalties are very stiff. They don’t hang out at Muldoon’s. They hang out where the booze and the beer are cheap and the gals are as rough as they are. But their bosses do hang out at Muldoon’s. Now most of these bosses have also been real oil field trash earlier in their lives, but they went and got degrees in geology or engineering, and they are very highly competent and successful business men who still have not lost the common touch. They can be rough and as crude as I am on occasion. They are the Muldoon’s level oil field trash. They have a good time, usually attract a lot of female attention, are real men, know how to behave, have good manners when they want to, and are very large, physical, energetic folks. They always seem to be having a celebration when oil prices are rising and a wake when they are going down, and always in Muldoon’s. They have a discreet lexicon. For example, a unit is $ 10,000,000. As it’s considered bad manners to go around talking about how much money you have or that is involved in a deal you are working on or have just closed, “unit” is the euphemism most used. You don’t have $ 100,000,000, You have ten units. Now there are folks, especially in Texas, who love to tell you how much money they have, how big their house is, how much they paid for their Porsche or Mercedes and who shoot their cuffs so you can see their diamond studded Rolex Oyster. We don’t see em in Muldoon’s often. There are a few reasons for that. One comes from Nelson Bunker Hunt’s testimony before some congressional sub-committee investigating Texas bank failures several years ago. When asked how much money he has, he said, “I don’t know, senator.” When the senator reacted incredulously at the answer and decided to push it a little harder, Hunt responded, “Well, senator, it has been my experience that folks who know how much money they have usually don’t have much.” So in Muldoon’s you won’t be approached or asked by anyone to “Guess how much I paid for these boots.” There are guys in Muldoon’s wearing $ 2,000 boots that are just caked with mud, and worn, faded jeans that look like they’re about to fall off em, but they have money in the bank and a less ostentatious sense of values. And they are always pushing each other and everyone else in subtle ways - a glance, a pained expression, a grunt of derision, the unbelieving snicker. But they’re good folks. They have their brand of bullshit, but it’s their own inside joking system that you wouldn’t begin to understand. They drive pick ups and SUVs and the occasional Lincoln or Mercedes. They drink beer and whisky, and I’ve never seen one of them with a glass of wine in his hand.
The other kind of oil field trash at Muldoon’s consists of internationalists. They may speak several languages, and are as comfortable in Africa, the middle east, Asia, Russia, any of the former soviet republics and the whore houses of Amsterdam, Berlin and Moscow. I always enjoy their reaction when a big, tough looking woman comes into the bar. These ladies remind them of the eurowhores they enjoy so much, so there’s an instant attraction. To me it’s a wonderful natural selection , allocation of natural resources, because most guys in Texas are so spoiled at looking at beautiful women that they wouldn’t go near one of these beefmasters with a cattle prod. So the good Lord brings these people together at Muldoon’s. None of these guys has a wife or a home. They live in hotels around the world and keep a flopping place in Houston when they’re back in town. They drink way too much and I expect will die too early from their lifestyles. But they can promise and deliver exotic gifts from around the world, and the ladies love it. They endear themselves with all of us because we can give them a Christmas order for a fur hat from Russia for $ 100 that would be $ 1,000 in a Houston store. They are very popular. When they and the “big” gals start going at each other it looks and sounds like rutting season on the dinosaur farm.
Going around the room, I have to stop at Reactionary Corner. In Reactionary Corner we have a small coterie of folks who really hate the way the civil war turned out, live to go to gun and knife shows and to the shooting ranges and the Confederate Air Force fly-by demonstrations. One, my favorite, is an expert on the history of the third reich who swears that I look a lot like one of his favorite German generals. I looked this general up one day and he turned out to be an unbelievably ugly psychotic who was a total tactical and strategic failure, known throughout the German general staff as the general who killed the most Germans in World War II.
HERR GENERAL DOKTOR VON TRACHTENFAERTZ
Herr Von Trachtenfaertz is in love with Belinda because she has a slick 9 mm automatic and allowed him to go with us to the range when she first got the gun and to be her gunnery instructor for the day. As I have mentioned in an earlier story, Belinda is a fantastic shot with any firearm, and her shooting on that day made him so very proud to be able to go around bragging that she is his student. He appeared in his combat fatigues and Vietnamese War jungle hat with a kerchief around his neck, boots and his sieg heil salute (which made the range safety officer a bit nervous). He explained to her the dynamics of how the first joint finger pad is placed on the trigger just so to prevent trigger pull from being a force either to the right or to the left, and I think he was drooling just a bit and I believe I saw his eyes roll around in his head a few times while she was shooting. It was reminiscent of a scene from Dr. Strangelove. Like all worshipers of things Third Reichish, he is impotent and very distracted whenever he has to use a bar of soap, a vestigial remnant, no doubt, of his encounters with soap back in the 40s.
In this corner, as you may well imagine, there are certain attitudes about social mores that some people would call politically incorrect, especially as they apply to matters of race and religion. But they carefully observe the universal genuflection that precedes every racist remark or joke - a twisting of the neck to turn the head in every direction to see whether there are any minority people within hearing range. So, for the most part, it is seldom that anyone takes offense at anything said in that little corner of the bar. In five years I have never seen Goldberg go over and say hello to any of them. Goldberg, alas, has stopped coming in because, he says, we’re just too rude in there - he’s from Long Island and he thinks we’re rude. I think it has something to do with his wife having a baby and making more insistent demands upon his comings and goings.
As a lover of the perfect hoax, I have to include an episode involving perhaps the only lady that comes in there who could give Belinda a run for her money in every way. Connie is always gorgeous, so lovely in fact that guys probably don’t hit on her cause they are sure they don’t have a chance in hell. Connie also has a wit and a very highly developed sense of humor. Last year, at Belinda’s birthday celebration, Connie went around the room telling people that Belinda was pregnant. Belinda knew nothing of this, and she looks young enough to still be capable of that. Eventually, after probably an hour or more, word got down the bar to Belinda, as folks came up to congratulate her or express their surprise, or both. Now Belinda aint no slouch when it comes to a good joke either. So she accepteed the accolades with aplomb and let the story grow a beard by not denying it. Only later did we find out that this was started by Connie as a hoax on the whole bar in honor of Belinda’s birthday. Belinda decided to go with it, and week after week, folks would come down the bar to ask about the wisdom of drinking while pregnant, to which Belinda would say that she was drinking only water and ice (Yeah, right). Folks would come around and tell her stories of friends they knew who had had kids later in life, and what a blessing they were. Belinda would take these stories in with sincere appreciation. Of course, everyone wanted to know the due date, and were told that it would be in the springtime. Around Christmas they wanted to hold a baby shower, and Connie and I wanted to go through with it and give the presents to charity, but Belinda was getting tired of all the damn advice people were giving her at every chance. Had she gone further with it, we would have had to stuff a cushion in her dress for effect every Friday evening, and we would have had to show up eventually carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket when the hoax was finally blown. But it didn’t last that long. People can well wish you to death. Several were nonplussed and a bit put out when it was revealed that it was just a scam. Connie still holds the record for the best joke in Muldoon’s history. It was really a lot funnier than I can possibly make it in this story. You just had to have been there to appreciate it.
Among the nicest is, undoubtedly, the coonass contingency. What? You don’t know what a coonass is? A coonass is a cajun from southwest Louisiana. They are a culture unto themselves with their own unique humor. If a hurricane comes along and the levee on your side of the bayou collapses, flooding you out, but the levy on the other side holds so that your neighbors are high and dry, you would go blow up the levy on his side so he could be flooded out too, because “us coonasses have to stick together.” If you have a pig or a cow die in the flood, you throw the carcass into the bayou and tie it to your dock, and catch crabs off it for at least two weeks. When JFK Jr. flew himself and others into the water off Martha’s Vinyard, we could have saved millions and found them within 36 hours just by calling out the coonasses. They would have gone out there with fish finders and found where the fish and crabs were schooling up around the bodies, and they would have been absolutely thrilled with a new bass boat and a few cases of beer. I do believe that our government is completely unaware of the great coonassets we are blessed with in this country.
WHEN COONASSES GET DRUNK
When a coonass gets drunk, he remembers every joke anyone has ever told him. Mostly he remembers (if you have been his friend for a while) every stupid thing you ever said or did, and he can describe your every failing and shortcoming in the most vivid and comedic detail. We have at least one pig roast every year at the home of my favorite coonass, Boudreaux (his real name). He has an Acme pig roaster, essentially a small safe with the bottom a perforated metal floor under which a grease pan is placed. The seasoning injected pig goes right on this floor. The top is placed on, and coals and logs are placed on top of that. Everywhere except in Lousiana, heat travels upward. In this contraption, the pig beneath is perfectly roasted in about 8 to 10 hours, depending on how large the pig is. And so, if you gonna have a pig roast feast at 6 pm, the pig gets goin about 8 am. You have to stick around to put mo wood on top of the roaster every now and then (about every hour), and you don’t do this by youself. You do it with several friends and a hell of a lot of cold beer. The stories get better and funnier as the hours roll away, or maybe they just seem to get better and funnier because of the beer. About every two hours you have to pull out the grease pan and empty it into a bucket and put it back under the roaster or that hot fat gonna kill yo grass. This whole affair is best done out in the country, but we don’t live out in the country. So we have this here bucket of molten pig fat sitting there, and the neighborhood doggies come by and lick up a bunch of fat whenever we aint lookin. They then go home (and these are dogs that are allowed in the house) and spray that warm hog fat around the walls of their owners’ homes in a fulminating attack of the “hog fat dog squirts”. We, of course, when the neighbors come round complaining that their dogs have ruined their living rooms because of our bucket of warm hog fat, simply remind the stupid yuppies that if they had complied with the leash law, their dogs wouldn’t have gotten into the hog fat to begin with. This infuriates them, because it was the yuppies who wanted the leash laws in the first place. Poetic Justice! Around 6 pm, everyone in the neighborhood, and all the coonasses who were invited show up with their casseroles. You have about 50 or so casseroles, plus the roast cajun seasoned pig, mucho mas beer, and in about two hours, everyone is imitating the dogs. We, of course, are much too smart to eat a sampling of all them casseroles. We eat some beans, tater salad and all the hog meat we can get our hands on, so we never get sick.
Some folks think they too good to have coonass friends. They are so wrong. Coonass people are the best friends you can have on this earth. Bouodreaux and I love to get the occasional New Yorker going with an act we do about sharing Belinda. Boudreaux will tell the guy he is married to her, but there I am with my arm around her. The New Yorker asks how come Boudreaux lets that guy fool around with his wife, and Boudreaux then goes into a very pronounced coonass accent and explains to the New Yorker that among us coonasses, when your friend likes your wife, why that’s a great compliment, and the only way your can show your appreciation is to let him have her every now and then. Of course this aint true, but the New Yorker doesn’t know that and is horrified beyond comprehension . It’s a real hoot. You have to see it to appreciate how hysterically funny it is. When we start into one of those stories, everyone gathers round to witness the horror and amazement in the stranger’s face.
Muldoon’s even has a little to do with my law practice. Not in the way Galligan’s Bar used to be when I lived in Detroit, however. Back in those heavy partying days, you went out with clients and other lawyers and had some drinks, and things went along smoothly. I think I am the last generation to practice law in a saloon. Nowadays that is totally unacceptable. Especially during the work day, no one, not even me, has any alcohol anymore. The three martini lunch is gone, baby. The firm culture of every business and professional firm in Houston is sobriety during working hours. And among lawyers, there is no longer that camaraderie we all used to enjoy at Galligan’s or at the Buhl Bar where the best and most colorful criminal defense counsel hung out every day, telling the best stories you will ever hear no matter how long you live. At Muldoon’s we don’t even open until 4 pm.
But I still will invite a new client to meet me for a drink at Muldoon’s at the end of the day. That’s where we get to know each other and get that first impression about “Do I want this guy for my lawyer?” or “Do I want to represent this person?” My meter is not running at these meetings, and the would be client is our guest. We talk about their problems. I ask soft ball questions, then some slightly more pointed questions. In about an hour or so we start to feel comfortable with the situation or it ends and they go elsewhere. The new client “sign-up percentage” doing it this way is much higher than in some stuffy office. My personal style (if you want to call it that) is extremely casual. I think that makes most people at ease very quickly. The lawyer-client tension just never gets a chance to get started that way. The comparison to the big downtown law firms where a handshake costs $ 25,000 is compelling. I like it better this way than the old way. I’d be dead if I still went out like I used to do. Most of the younger executive types I run into do very little if any drinking. Personally, I think that is a very great improvement. I knew too many people who self destructed with alcohol because their bosses were heavy drinkers and they thought they had to stay with them to stay in their good graces. An executive who makes a point of going out drinking with his staff today is making a very big mistake and sending out a very bad message. I believe that more folks today are into their families, their churches, their children and a healthier lifestyle. And I believe that is a wonderful thing to be happening in this country. No one should ever be made to feel that he has to go out drinking with his boss. A good executive will be very sensitive to this and keep his distance from his staff after hours.
One aspect of Muldoon’s that make me very happy and proud is that we have every possible nationality and religion in there every week, and there is never any trouble. Jews drink with Arabs, Catholics with Christians, African Americans with Anglos, Latinos, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Brits, Frogs, Wops, Micks, you name it. There is never the slightest hint of friction among any of these people. I am tempted to believe that once people get outside of a bar they feel free to be racist, nationalistic, obnoxious, aggressive and downright hostile - attitudes that would never, ever be tolerated in a saloon. The saloon as an instrument of foreign policy is a concept that, hopefully, one day, will become de rigeur in all intergovernmental situations. Why have “diplomats” (who are almost always a bunch of ignorant assholes anyway) getting all dressed up and getting up on a podium to speak, where they never say anything useful? Why not have your foreign office or state department populated with laid back humanists who like saloons, and let em do all their business at Muldoon’s. Just as it is now, there would always be some dumb ass who can’t come in because he doesn’t know how to act, so we wouldn’t lose the benefit of warfare, with its unemployment reduction potential and its enhancement of business activity. But, among the nations that count - those that like to go to the bar and have some fun, and who don’t always have to be fucking with somebody to feel good about themselves - peace and prosperity would reign. Saddam and Slobodan wouldn’t be allowed near the place. Bill Clinton couldn’t come it cause he’s just too low class. Real countries could prosper and the little assholes could kill each other off whenever they like. Think about it!
That’s the way we run Muldoon’s now anyway. If you can’t get along you can’t come in. Take Cocaine Louie, for instance. Louie and Big Heather, a psychotic nymphomaniac about the size of Arnold Schwartznegger, both now banned, have been going together for a while, but the relationship drove em over the edge. Louie has a good job and lotsa drugs all the time. He has a lifetime supply of hair mousse too. He loves to dress up as a greaser, but he’s too young to have been a real greaser - hell, that was my generation. He says he used to be a boxer, but if he was I can understand why he aint one any longer.
Louie and Heather have been pursuing a career of mutual self destruction for some months now, including showing up at Muldoon’s on dates. From what I gather, Louie, to prove his love, gave away all his furniture and invited Heather to decorate his digs. This she did totally in pink, including pink leather, rugs, upholstery, towels-you name it. I haven’t seen it. This is hearsay. She did this as a spiteful thing. Louie thinks pink is really her favorite color. It aint. Louie comes into Muldoon’s only to find Heather at the back end of the bar exploring new social territory. Louie goes wacko, which you can tell because he musses up his own hair when the switch is thrown, and goes up to Heather to lament her wandering nature (to put it nicely). She resists. He persists. Next thing you know, it’s like Kosovo in there, with Heather in the role of fleeing refugee and Louie the ravening Serb. Der Chuck, ultimate arbiter of all things good and evil at Muldoon’s, intervenes as a peacekeeping force so that Heather can get to her car and make her escape. Louie struggles and is restrained in a manner that causes some patrons to believe that Der Chuck may have sexual inclinations in Louie’s direction. Both are banned. Up go their names on the bulletin board. End of saga. Louie and Heather select another venue for their voyage into oblivion.
There have, to my recollection, been only three really tragic personages in our five year history. There was old Igor the Slovenian who told folks he was an agent of the Slovenian intelligence service-now there’s a story in itself-Slovenian intelligence? He was eventually stabbed and badly cut by someone tired of his bullshit. And there was Mork the Dork who had to tell everyone in the bar all about the anatomy of whomever he was seeing at the moment. Both are history. Everyone else is normal, hardworking, except when they’re unemployed. It’s a community, a microcosm of a world that I like, not the real world. At Muldoon’s we have an asshole shortage. Isn’t that a wonderful situation.
As we round this milestone, there may be about to be a second Muldoon’s in another part of town. Is that going to be a mistake? It certainly won’t be anything like this one, and I probably won’t have anything much to do with it. Besides, it’s at least two sobriety checkpoint stops away from home. I can walk/stagger (depending upon whom you ask) home from Muldoon’s now and I intend to keep that option open. When Our Lord returns, don’t you want Him to find you in a place like Muldoon’s, having a good time at the end of a good or bad day, surrounded by friends in fellowship? Think about it!
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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