What’s more insane than cutting out the soul of a city?
By Stacey Warde
Madness, madness, madness.
That’s life on the high sea, in a dank Morro Bay bar called Happy Jack’s, and for a fisherman who spends five years in prison.
That’s the gossip we spread in Cayucos, the reason McCarthy’s bar in San Luis Obispo is relocating.
That’s why lawyers take money from inmates and file bunk writs. That’s the repo man coming for our car on the day we promised to take mom for a spin around the neighborhood.
That’s this issue of The Rogue Voice, where we’ve taken cover from threats of bodily harm and people who don’t understand what this madness is about.
We’re mad, mad,mad. Crazier than a woman on her way to Vegas looking for some action.
I say mad because nearly everything in this edition has something crazy and wild about it.
Start with the venerable McCarthy’s bar in the heart of San Luis Obispo, forced to relocate for retrofitting and higher rent in the city’s new chichi shopping district.
What’s more insane than cutting out the soul of a city? As commentator Dell Franklin points out, McCarthy’s serves a diverse clientele where business deals and lifelong friendships have been forged. See page 4 for Dell’s commentary about the losses to be incurred beyond the dank and pungent appeal of McCarthy’s.
Money and the Santa Barbarianization of SLO Town will soon put an end to the non-elegant charm of one of the county’s best bars. We will miss the old McCarthy’s and will do our best to christen the new McCarthy’s with old-school love for one of our favorite bars.
You could try other bars, like the Gaslight down the road but take care to steer clear of old blind Lizzie, a sourpuss of a drunk who has trouble holding her bladder while taking a cab ride home. Lizzie’s sour disposition leads to a crazy unruly confrontation between her son, a so-called “government agent,” and the cab driver on St. Patrick’s Day. See this month’s Cabby’s Corner on page 13.
Drinking suits some occupations more than others. Drinking and fishing, for example, go well together. But fishermen like John Gallagher (see “Rogue of the Month” on page 16) don’t have many places to drink anymore. The one decent bar, Happy Jack’s, that a fisherman could rely on is long gone, transformed from a rank dive into a sanitized watering hole.
And fishing itself is on the way out.
A good fisherman, like a good drunk, measures himself well against the impossible odds of making a living, staying alive, and staying free…. He knows how far to push things, and when to cut his losses and head for dry ground.
Which is what a lot of fishermen, and some drunks, are doing these days. You’re less and less likely to find a fisherman or a drunk anywhere on the Central Coast—on land or at sea. Endangered species, if there ever were any, even in the quaint little fishing village of Morro Bay.
But if you look hard enough, you might get lucky and spot an old salty like “Beached pirate” Long John Gallagher walking along the embarcadero, nose to the sea, remembering good times and bad.
John sat with us to recall the madness of sleeping on the pool table at Happy Jack’s only to awaken to the jangling of the boss’s keys in the door and jumping up to make coffee before returning “home” to the fishing boat he worked on.
Those days are long gone; Morro Bay’s also cleaning up its act, happily for some. We suspect those are the same individuals who recently expressed their displeasure in this magazine by threatening us with physical harm. We counted four outright or veiled threats this month for the content we print (see the commentary, “Trash talk” on page 5).
We figure when someone’s got a hardon for us like that we must be doing something right.
People who despise us so much must be feeling a lot of pain. We understand, because we’re feeling pains of our own, like the lost traditions and freedoms associated with fishing and drinking and carousing.
But few pains are more hurtful, or more crazy-making, than betrayal and financial ruin. Disgraced attorney Richard Dangler dangled the carrot of cheap retainer fees in front of inmate Tito David Valdez, Jr. and hardly lifted a finger for the $24,000 the Valdez family paid him, a fee they could hardly afford. See Tito’s “Life in the Cage” column, “Jailhouse lawyers,” on page 6.
Darren Delmore felt the sting when the repo man showed up with his tow truck and started hooking up Darren’s car to haul it away for delinquent payments. The scene wouldn’t been so bad if mom hadn’t been visiting and getting herself ready for a day of sightseeing with her son and his wife. See the next episode of “Humboldt Chronicles” in “Repo man cometh” on page 15.
If it’s not negligent lawyers or the repo man, it’s bugs you can’t see that will drive you nuts in a Texas downpour, leaving little red bites on your legs that start to bleed as you scratch them; see “Window Washing Across America” starting on page 10.
Finally, mythic vital women like Lydia Lee Sanchez will drive a man to distraction as she searches lavish Las Vegas for material to get her creative writer’s juices flowing. But first she must negotiate an agreement with her 17-year-old son sent along by dad to serve as a kind of chaperone to keep an eye on mom. Check out M. Frias May’s story beginning on page 18.
We’re pleased to present poets Marnie L. Parker, Todd Young (not Smith), and Harry E. Northup, happy that they have joined us with other fine artists in this madcap rogue adventure. §