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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Meet Rack - Tucson, Arizona - March 1998

This is my favorite dive bar in the world, and I found it totally by accident.

In Tucson, Arizona for Spring Training in 1998, I wandered into one of the stranger bars I've ever visited. It didn't seem that way at first. The Meet Rack is a pretty large place and it was nearly empty when I first visited it, looking for some place to watch the Sonics and Lakers game. Around the corner from where I sat at the large rectangular bar, an attractive, zoftig, mulatto woman eyed me. "You look like you could use a Butt Fuck," she said to me.

"I hope that's a drink," I responded, and indeed it was -- a concoction created by the woman herself, who sometimes worked at the bar. She asked the fellow working at the time to hand her "The Bible," and he gave her a stack of cards a good two inches thick, full of laminated, colorful cards which each had some drink recipe -- and actually "Butt Fuck" was one of the more modest drink names in there. So I had a Butt Fuck and, as much as I would like to say otherwise, was not particularly found of the experience as for my tastes it was -- and I do not mean this as a pun -- entirely too fruity.

The owner was not there at the time, but the walls were filled with clues about his personality. There were many photos of him as a biker, often with famous people. There were newspaper clips from his boxing career, and more clips from his four unsuccessful attempts running for mayor of Tucson. Some of the clips refered to him as "Jim Anderson" and others refered to him as "God," and the latter was featured on his personalized license plates. There was also a letter, proudly framed, from the county liquor board. This was addressed to Mr. Anderson, and cited three specific dates and restaurants where he had walked in nude. The letter warned that if he showed up in one more Tucson establishment with no clothes on, they would do everything they could to suspend his liquor license. On the opposite wall was yet another newspaper story -- this one describing his 60 violations of state liquor law (I believe this letter may in part explain why in subsequent years we found he had signed over ownership to his daughter.)

A bas relief portrait of the man is covered with coins, which turn out to be AA Sobriety coins that people have traded for a beer. (One of his mottos is "I'll ruin your life.") Against the wall was a jukebox, from which he had removed all the song titles, because he was tired of hearing the same ones over and over. (He still mixed the order of the records now and then to prevent his regulars from learning the numbers.) The men's room urinals had ice in them, and the wall above them had a plaque explaining "We rarely use this ice in our drinks." Eventually the owner himself came in. He was still an athletic man, and required all of his bartenders to get up at some ungodly hour of the morning to run with him. He gave roses to any attractive young ladies and none of the bartenders ever failed to ring the bell when they got a tip.

If you agree to be branded with an image of Anderson's face, you get 50 cents off your food and drinks for the rest of your life. When I last checked, nearly 700 over 2,000 people had been branded. There's a condom machine in the women's room and if you buy one -- well let's just say more people will be aware of the fact than you might have wanted.

For many requests you would do things his way, although that seems to be easing ever so slightly over the years. On my first visits I asked what kind of beer they had and the answer was always "beer." They now actually have a bit of choice. And if you asked ordered one of their genuinely high quality cheeseburgers it comes with Worcestershire sauce you will not be allowed other condiments.

Anderson is an even more interesting character when you talk with him -- so interesting that there are many things I cannot write here.  Start by asking him for a tour.

210 West Drachman, Tucson, AZ 85705 - (520) 798-1235 - (map)
Web site: facebook
Est. 1997
Previous bars in this location: Big Ben, Someplace Else, B-52
Articles: examiner - - wildcat - vice - dontpanictucsonunderground - yelp - tucsonweekly (Kardashians) - flickr
Postscript:  On a subsequent trip I copied the text of the letter from the liquor board, framed on the Meet Rack wall:

Dept of Liquor Licenses and Control

The department is aware that you have exhibited yourself in the nude at the Fun Factory at 5822 East Speedway in Tucson recently, and in addition you have also exhibited yourself in the nude at the Bum Steer Bar at 1910 North Stone, Tucson, and that you remained at the bar totally nude for a period of 10 to 15 minutes. It is apparent to the department that you have a tendency as an exhibitionist, but since you are a licensee your attitude in this respect reflects upon your qualifications, capability, and dependability to hold a liquor license in this state.

If the department receives additional reports of this nature, I, as superintendent, will do everything in my power to: 1) revoke your Series 6 Liquor License or 2) Recommend very strongly to the State Liquor Board that your license not be renewed.

This is the only warning you will receive.

Harold H. Moore, Superintendent

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