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location:cannon beach

It had been a glorious day so far. A magazine editor sent me a check to cover a bottle of George Dickel, Merle Haggard's favorite whiskey. Jesse Helms retired. I saw a topless Tillamook County woman on a riding lawnmower I read that someone is launching an initiative to abolish the fascist OLCC. I delivered some freshly picked blackberries to the Cascadia Forest Alliance tree-sitters in God's Valley. I was on my way to Astoria to investigate rumors of an extraordinary tavern when the glory ended abruptly. Traffic slowed to a coma on 101 and it lasted for 50 miles. The culprit? A long line of Model T Fords behind two hay trucks behind three 40-foot RVs delayed by brush cutting and fiber optic cable installation. Welcome to hell. And my flask in the glove department was empty. Near Cannon Beach I was on the verge of murder so I decided to stop and get a drink. Moments later I was in a bar, drinking a draft Guinness, listening to Al Green. Moments after that I was completely restored to the human race. Clark's Restaurant and Bar in Cannon Beach is a new place, a little clean around the edges, but it has all the right stuff to be a great drinking hole on the Oregon Coast. At least the cute guy who won the best supporting actor Oscar for Traffic thinks so. He visited Clark's not too long ago and hopefully he'll bring celebrity friends next time so the low-wage service locals can beat them all up for sport. Remodeled from a hardware store/lumber yard, and locally owned, Clark's has a huge bar area separate from two adjoining dining rooms. This is perfect for those of us who don't want children watching us drink. The interior is sturdy as a frontier stockade, full of hard and softwoods, soaring thick beams, high ceilings, and centered by a rustic river rock hearth with a well-endowed piece of stone dubbed the "penis rock" by management. I propose a new tradition of stroking it for good luck as you leave. At Clark's, it all starts with friendly manager Jimmy Tanquary, who quite possibly has the coolest appropriate name on Earth and can tell you the story of gin. Jimmy presides over a full service liquor bar, two custom-made pool tables, a World War II-era shuffleboard table, five TV sets that can simultaneously broadcast five different NFL games, and a waitress named Matisse who surfs and has the most sensuous back I've ever seen or fantasized about. I think the food is probably great at Clark's (but too expensive for me) because it smelled good, there's a wood fired oven, and they bake their own pies and cobblers. Good food probably is important. This is about drinking, however, and I judge taverns and bars on the Oregon Coast by the unusual and unexpected in the John Barleycorn department. And Jimmy T. definitely presents the unexpected with an unpublicized drink deal that normally I wouldn't reveal because a few assholes might ruin it. But it must be put on the record because life is nasty, brutish and short and good things must be shared. The deal is: if you are sitting at the bar with a drink prior to 6:00 p.m., you get the same exact drink after 6:00 for a nickel. So does that mean I should order a double Knob Creek neat, easily a $15 drink in class joints, at 5:59 and then expect to get another one two minutes later for five cents? Yes. As for music, Jimmy is trying to build Clark's into a first class Oregon Coast rock/blues Club. Both Paul DeLay and Lloyd Jones have played and more big name regional acts are lined up--if Jimmy can convince a Clark's neighbor to quit calling the cops because of excessive noise on gig nights. Evidently the neighbor is a Christian teetotaler who just doesn't get booze, Rock and Roll, and the need to cut loose every now and then. My advice to Jimmy on this problem is straight from the Old Testament. Tell the guy the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho where the Israelites blew trumpets loud enough and long enough to have the city walls tumble down on their enemies. I'm sure they celebrated the victory with drink. Tell him what's going down at Clark's on Saturday nights is about vanquishing whatever conspired against us that particular week. Tell him to join the party. Tell him God made morbid composts from which intoxicating goodness leaks forth. And it was and is good.
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