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I have just visited the greatest dive on the Oregon Coast, in Rockaway, on Highway 101. Quietly it rests at the bottom of the Let it Pour Kingdom’s equivalent of the Marianas Trench. Called the Second Chance, it offers the apotheosis of a dive tavern experience and exists as a place where second chances are theoretically possible. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are no second acts in American lives,” but according to Ernest Hemingway, he was a “rummy,” meaning he couldn’t hold his liquor, so I discount his declaration as easily as turning away a free bourbon desecrated with Coke. To drink in the Second Chance is to get the bends, but this feels very good to me. I found my brief time in the Second Chance intensely religious because of its Zen-like simplicity and economy and because this notion of getting a second chance in life is so compelling. Reinvention is the proper verb, and I feel blessed that I live in a nation where reinvention is possible, even for a malingerer, coke fiend, drunk, coward, and perpetual loser in business to reinvent himself as a kind of Henry the VIII’s Groom of the Stool (meaning inspecting Cheney’s feces) who talks to God but doesn’t know jack shit about Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, since he is invoked by politicians (except his preaching about helping the poor and giving away all your wealth) on a regular basis, he would undoubtedly dig the Second Chance. Why? Just look to the large red neon sign “Wine” hanging in the tavern’s main window, which suggests the Son of Man wouldn’t have to repeat his first miracle if the tap wines were ever to run out. And speaking of wine, the Second Chance sells a carafe for $10.50, but the red variety is of highly suspect quality. I know this because my companion ordered a red Bud but was served a glass that appeared to be fortified wine of a brand favored by urban transients. She refused to try it so I took a sip. My liver is no longer speaking to me, even after I apologized by pounding a pint of McTarnahan’s. This all went down in a duct-taped booth hidden near the back of an 18-foot wide by 120-foot deep room. Charming seashell-encrusted light fixtures illuminate the booths to a degree that reading one of the $1 paperbacks for sale at the Second Chance is possible. Customers can also entertain themselves with darts, shuffleboard, televised sports, pool and a jukebox, but thankfully no video poker, the state-sponsored addictive enterprise whose unchecked expansion represents the complete failure of Oregon’s mainstream Christian churches to fight real moral and political decay. Or you can sit at the bar and drink with the regulars, including the man wearing a nylon Chevron baseball cap who is surely the only man in the history of the world who drinks wine--from a glass--in a nylon Chevron baseball cap. Or you can sit on a bench in front of the tavern, drink beer and think about getting up and walking to the beach about 200 yards away. Or you can scheme about a second chance with some person you love or some dream you abandoned. Food? When I had to leave the Second Chance, I nearly wept but not because the proprietor called me “Part,” as in “partner,” after I paid the bill. No, I almost cried because voluntarily leaving this sublime and quintessential dive for our hectic and rapacious society is truly a shattering experience for me. How shattering? Let me quote Joseph Brodsky: “To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die.”
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