Dive! Dive! Dive! Awoogah!

Last night, after an afternoon with Mle's family, we went with our friend with whom we're staying on this trip to a bar near her house in Oakland. It's called the Alley, on Grand near the Grand Lake Theater, and it's one of the coolest bars I've ever been to.

First off, we ordered drinks without noticing the (tiny) sign above the bar that said it was cash only. Between the three of us, we had eight bucks, and two drinks came out to ten. "Well, the ATM's not working," the bartender told us, "so just give me the eight and I'll spot you two." Very cool - not too many bartenders I know (and I've known more than a few) would have done that. And they were good drinks, too - at least, mine was. I ordered a Beam and Coke, and I got Beam and Coke, not Beam and Coke and Coke and Coke and Water and Coke, so that was good. Mle sez her Kamikazee was good, too.

The walls of the Alley are covered with business cards from years' worth of patrons. And I do mean years' worth - some of the cards were on the order of, "Spuckler's Plumbing - call KL-5273." We sat in an oddly shaped booth lit mostly by the red glow of the neon sign in the window, listening to people sing along with the piano player, everything from jazzy piano bar standards to "Me & Bobby McGee" to a group of five or six people enthusiastically (and probably not just a little drunkenly) singing "The Teddy Bears' Picnic."

Yeah, it's a dive and a half, but it's a great dive. There weren't thirty giant-screen TV sets with bassitbaw on them. There wasn't a sound system blasting out awful Nickelback songs at eardrum-shattering volume drowning out all conversation. It wasn't calculated or over-decorated. It felt genuine and fun. All in all, it's one of the best bar experiences I've ever had.
If you're in Oakland, give the Alley a try.