I had been absent from the Let it Pour kingdom in recent months due to the pressure-cooker habitation of a literary endeavor, and oh, how my thirst and soul ached in sad concord.Finally, with the endeavor concluded, I unpacked my liver and entered the realm. There, barely a few sips into royal ale, a man seeped in the unusual and explosive combination of cheap wine and crank, mistook me for an undercover FBI agent who apparently had a hand in assassinating Randy Weaver’s wife, child and dog. I pounded the pint with him foaming in my face and eased out the door, just catching a glimpse of a flyer seeking information on a missing woman who was last seen in this very dive. She is dead, I can assure you, and this nameless dump has been erased from the Let it Pour map.Thus I craved refuge, sanity, and a safe house. Later that day, I found myself in Netarts, inside Michko’s Pub and Grub. Soon, all was right in the kingdom again.What a tavern! Should it exist in Baghdad--outside the Green Zone--the problem of inculcating proper American values would disappear overnight.The joint is owned by Steve Cham, and is named after the owner’s father, Mike, which translates to “Michko” in Ukrainian. There is exactly one and only one noun to describe Steve, and that is “pro.” He’s been working here since 1968 and has the precise lay of the land. At Michko’s that means a salty breeze off Netarts Bay, a deck, beer garden, fire pit, horseshoe pit, and a pen housing three goats Steve rescued from imminent slaughter. He’s even got a feisty beagle running around that occasionally slips into the tavern and can only be subdued with slices of raw bacon.Michko’s is spacious inside, certainly big enough for the bands that blast the place every other weekend, pack in the locals, and regularly affirm what the American strategy to win hearts and minds in Iraq should be--give away millions of rock and roll CDs and billions of cases of Budweiser--not notions and slogans of a phantom and fantasy political philosophy, otherwise known in this country as “representative democracy.”The tavern boasts beaten hardwood floors, psychedelic wallpaper in the restrooms, a pool and ping pong table, a vintage cigarette machine dispensing death, other machines inducing personal bankruptcy and state-sponsored addiction (video poker), and a long bar that fronts a glass-fronted fridge packed with alcoholic delights. Whether there were non-alcoholic offerings was irrelevant to me. The beer selection is good, and a liquor license is in the works, but on my recent visit, I was mysteriously drawn to the Inglenook taps, and felt a sudden urge to take several long draws—without a glass. I have been under a lot of pressure lately. The urge passed. What I especially like about Michko’s is the hearty grub, including seafood caught locally, and the décor. I’m not sure a Let it Pour establishment can top the latter for sheer cool and kitsch Americana.Check out the Big Buck Hunter video game, hat and license plate collections, or the big game trophies taxidermied by Steve’s brother. I was particularly intrigued by the stuffed crows hanging over the bar, as they called to something Jungian in me.There’s also a piano and a house rule that anyone who plays three songs earns a free beer. (Should I ever be in Michko’s and some woman pounds out three Rolling Stones’ tunes, we will soon be leaving to Las Vegas.)Above the piano is the finest piece of Michko’s décor and with it a mystery.
It is an oil painting of a blonde and nude woman splayed on what appears to be red velvet. She possesses the second finest female stomach on the Oregon Coast and exudes enough carnality that even a zombie anti-Christ like Dick Cheney might harden if he saw her. Written in the lower right hand corner is the artist’s signature—an anatomically perfectly named artist called Woody Cooper. Incredibly, I’ve seen this guy’s work before—both oils of other come-hither babes in two other Let it Pour joints! I’ve asked bartenders about him, but nobody knows who he is…or was. What would inspire a master painter to create such beautiful pictures and then display them only in Oregon Coast taverns? This is a sensation. Who was this man? Did my mother have an affair?