Last week my readers sent me to visit Willie's Bar as part of my quest to explore corners of Lawrence that are new to me. Bars are often romanticized as place to find good times or a sense of community, but reality is probably somewhere between Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" and The Replacements' "Here Comes a Regular." I'd also throw a dash of Skynrd's "Gimme Three Steps" to capture the potential dangers that lurks in the corners of most bars.
Willie's used to be the Shenago, which has since moved to 15th and Wakarusa. The Shenago was a great place to get away from the college kids, but for a lover of melodious words like myself, I always got a kick out of saying, "Hey! Let's drink at the Shenago!" or "Hey! Let's join in some shenanigans at the Shenago!"
Now the Shenago is Willie's, and that's where I found myself at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon. I should note that I've never been a regular at a bar. I prefer to lounge on my front porch rather than perching on a barstool. When I do visit a bar, I prefer to do it in the afternoon. Not only are things a little bit more laid back, but I like the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the population, who are probably at work, school, or anywhere but a bar. I do fantasize being a regular at bar. When I retire from teaching, maybe I'll spend my days welding metal sculptures of great literary scenes, and then by late afternoon, I'll occasionally slip off to a bar. Of course, it would have to be the perfect bar, so at Willie's I started thinking a bit about my criteria of an ideal bar.
1. I look for a bar with good people. I need to reflect more on what I mean by this, but I liked the folks at Willie's. I didn't take any pictures inside and I won't write about the patrons of the bar because I don't like infringing on others. If I return to Willie's, I'll write more.
2. I like a bar in an unique location. Willie's fit this bill because it was attached to a motel that rented rooms by the month.
The motel also had non-operational pool, which earned bonus points in my book because a rundown pool makes a place more interesting.
3. A good jukebox. Willie's had a solid jukebox, but they needed more female singers. Patsy Cline was notably absent.
4. The bar should have something good to eat or we ithin walking distance of good food. Willie's had hotdogs and chips for $2.50 and free popcorn. It shares a parking lot with a Japanese Steak House, and there's a grocery store across the street.
What variables go into your equation for a good bar?
PS. . . Be sure to vote for my next fieldtrip. The polls will close on Monday, June 16 at 10:00 AM.