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Flounder Inn Recently I ventured a few miles outside the Let it Pour Kingdom’s southern boundary to reconnoiter a central Oregon Coast town boasting some special history. I undertook this mission to determine if a bar there warrants annexation into the realm. Waldport is the town. Ken Kesey called it Wakonda in Sometimes a Great Notion, and it served as the wild and wet setting for that novel. During World War II, Waldport’s Camp Angell housed conscientious objectors, several of whom established Untide Press to publish the resident’s writings. Later, a few of Camp Angell’s artists and writers migrated to San Francisco to help spawn the Beat Generation. Waldport also claims the distinction of making national news in 1975 when 23 people left town after hearing an invitation from an unusual man named Marshall Applewhite to follow him to catch a space ship. Twenty-two years later, Applewhite made national news again as the leader of the suicidal Heaven’s Gate cult. He, along with 38 other members, ended their lives in San Diego by drinking a pudding concoction of phenobarbital, vodka and applesauce. My clandestine operation called for an infiltration into a joint called the Flounder Inn, a non-descript and plywood-fronted building standing on the west side of Highway 101 in the middle of town. As I sat at the bar with my back to the restaurant half of the establishment, near the porthole window, I admired the gorgeous back bar that apparently came around the Horn but is now obscenely obscured by NASCAR and U of O and OSU promotional detritus. While ordering a beer, I noted the mediocrity of the liquor offerings and the numerous misspellings of menu items on the ‘special of the day’ whiteboard. I also felt the stare of young, possibly lice-ridden children watching me drink as they shoveled what they thought was food into their mouths. Luckily, there is another part of the Flounder Inn off limits to children, very red in color, where the pool tables and video poker heroin are, and that’s where I would reside if I drank in Waldport on a regular basis. Obtaining accurate human intelligence is the key to any successful Let it Pour mission and typically I am a cunning interrogator or eavesdropper—either drunk or sober—obtaining vital cultural information that may or may not lead to an understanding of Oregon coastal life. Like the time I overheard a man in a Lincoln City dive say that eating arugula instead of iceberg lettuce is an indicator of homosexuality or membership in a cult. Or the time I urinated next to a man in a Pacific City tavern who told me, “The last time I pissed in here I put a dude’s head through the mirror and then went home with his wife.” In the Flounder Inn, however, when I asked a patron if the bar’s name meant “flounder” the noun, or “flounder” the verb, he turned his head slowly, looked at me for a moment, and then went back to watching his losing Keno numbers. He didn’t say a word. That’s fine, I thought. Who needs to talk when all you want to do is drink and support Oregon’s floundering state government? Or read? Or in combination as the obese woman behind me was doing—reading a fat Stephen King thriller by the light of the salad bar, checking her Keno numbers, and sipping a triple rum and coke. The Flounder Inn opened in 1976. I doubt any of its décor has been changed since and that includes the groovy mural/wallpaper of a non-Pacific Northwest forest scene. Who cares? That it hasn’t been remodeled is one reason to annex it. That someone feels comfortable in there simultaneously reading, drinking and gambling is another. That this independent joint is still in business as the next great wave of prudish gentrification (i.e more smoke free brewpubs) infects the Oregon Coast is yet another reason. The salad bar near the real bar, though, that has got to go. And parents, keep your snot-nosed kids’ eyes off me! I don’t judge you for allowing them to believe that Jesus Christ had blonde hair and blue eyes, or eat that shit you call food. Annexation of the Flounder Inn is probable, but something will have to be done about the kids proximity to us drinkers. No doubt the Let it Pour brain trust will look to “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift for guidance.
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