“Fuck you, Phil Collins!”
The gentleman was quite cross, fuming, and had a weird apparent Phil Collins animosity at the end of the bar the night Kelly and I had a couple drinks at one of our neighborhood pubs: Streets of London. Above us, another of the countless repeats of ‘Sharknado’ was playing on some of the several TVs scattered around the bar. I only spared a brief glance, noticing a lot of chainsaws, people running around, and boatload of computer generated carnivorous flying fish. Most of the people around us were drawn into the B Movie Hollywood faux-carnage, trying to ignore the furious Phil Collins Hater as he continued his diatribe against several others at the end of the bar about the merits of the Lionel Richie’s song ‘Say You, Say Me.’
“I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m just saying that you’re opinions suck!”, bellowed another regular’s retort. Obviously he must have been touched by diabetes-inducing saccharine of Collin’s ‘Another Day in Paradise’ ballad. Kelly and I were located a safe distance further down the bar. I really don’t remember how this particular argument started, or what’s so special about Lionel Richie, or what Phil Collins even had to do with it all. All of this seemed to have stemmed from the ongoing music war playing out on the jukebox. Some of the regulars were apparently in a ‘Yacht Rock’ kind of mood, much to the chagrin to the rest of the other regulars wrapped up in ‘Sharknado.’ A friend of ours was crooning Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ in the corner over an old Hall & Oates song playing from the speakers. It was only 8pm.
“It already sounds like 2AM in here.”, Kelly said from around her Newcastle.
“For Day Drinkers, it is 2AM.”, I replied as I ordered another whiskey and soda from Zhawna, our bartender, who places the pint sized drink in front of me. Yes, that is how they roll here. Outside the window and across the street, a long line of people went down the block towards Franklin Street, all patiently waiting for treats from the new Voodoo Doughnuts that recently opened. The new garishly painted pink building was hard to miss.
“Christ, they are just doughnuts.”, someone close by said to me. “Why do they still have lines after 8 months?”
“I don’t know.”, I replied. I’ve been in this argument before and didn’t want to hear about it anymore. Pleading ignorance was the safest bet.
It was just another night at Streets. Some people hate the place, others love it, you just can’t ignore it.
It was just another night at Streets. Some people hate the place, others love it, you just can’t ignore it. Streets is within stumbling distance of our place and we do enjoy the bar, dropping in every now and then for a change of pace. In the many years we’ve been coming here, we’ve seen a lot of changes: shift changes, staff changes, regular changes, crowd changes (though it always seems to be a core group of punk rockers, skaters, Englishmen, locals, and drunks), and even kitchen changes. That seems like a weird change of phrase, but it’s apt when you watch the pub kitchen move from standard pub grub, to being utterly closed (food then being served from the small breakfast joint sharing the building in the back), to original kitchen becoming a separate pizza joint… and then that being sold to another person as a different pizza joint… in an English pub. However, I do find the smell of pizza in the bar oddly comforting. A reminder of my East Coast roots, perhaps.
Streets of London even got a recent cosmetic renovation inside. Gone are collection of green painted bricks, replaced with a more making faux-finished off white and dark painted bricks, making the bar look more like a classic down-to-earth pub and to also compliment their sister bar, Churchill’s Public House, in the LoHi area.
As the Yacht Rock argument dies down, a new argument starts on the other side of us. A half-lidded woman slurs complaints and abuse at a sober-looking gentleman sipping his whiskey. “Don’t be drunk at people.”, he calmly comments to the open-mouthed confused woman. “Then, people may respect you more.”
His friend shakes his head at the entire scene as he tries to get Zhawna’s attention. “Some people are born drinkers, some have drunkeness thrust upon them.” I overheard as he orders a glass of red wine, a drink that a pub is not really known for. He pulls a pained face after his first sip, adds a few ice cubes to glass, and gunned the whole glass down in one.
“I’m impressed.”, his friend comments.
“I’m disturbed.”, I chime in.
“I’m an alcoholic.”, he grins as he wipes at his mouth. A moment or two pass before his eyes lose some of their focus. “That may have been a mistake.”
Streets. No matter how classy you make it, it’ll always be Streets.