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Triangle Tavern In the dictionary, the verb “triangulate” means to measure by trigonometry. In the Clinton White House, “triangulate” meant using a political strategy to use America’s underclass to reelect Bill Clinton. In the Triangle Tavern in Astoria, my definition of “triangulate” means constructing an isosceles triangle of three equal sides: 1) sitting at the table near the back window; 2) two black pints consumed; 3) wanting to write in the best public place to write on the Oregon Coast. The Triangle Tavern exists on Highway 101 under the Megler Bridge, and its magic number is 34—opened in 1934 after sanity repealed Prohibition, and the beer always chilled to 34 degrees. “We cleaned it up a bit,” said co-owner Sharon Rose, about some of the subtle changes made when she and co-owner Denny Butler took over. And with these changes, the Triangle Tavern has earned official status in the Let it Pour Kingdom. It stands ready to defend the realm against sobriety, pretension, gentrification, workaholicism and terrorists who seek to overthrow the true Oregon drinking ideal, meaning hipsters who open a nightclub called Doug Fir in Portland and decorate it with logs from an Oregon clearcut. These dudes evidently know as much about how logging destroys Oregon watersheds as Sammy Hagar knows about horticulture when he sings, “…hot, sweet cherries on the vine.” As Wendell Berry wrote: “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” With that in mind, I suggest someone arrange a search party for the Doug Fir owners and upon finding them, arrange a tour of a recently sodomized steep slope in the Coast Range. The hipsters can party there. The Triangle Tavern customers know where the fuck they are! They drink in a great Oregon tavern. And making it even greater is the presence of an irregular regular named Whiz. He is alleged by his fellow drinkers to know “everything” and I believe the claim without reservation. Finally, the Let it Pour Kingdom has an oracle and the two questions I intend to ask Whiz on my next stop in the Triangle are: 1) what kind of diseased mind would mix a single malt bourbon with Coke? 2) is President Bush still sleeping with his wife? Actually, I have a lot of questions for Whiz. I have often wondered why drinking joints like the Triangle don’t satisfy more people who go out to drink. I also wonder why I am so drawn to these establishments. Why would a person need to buy a $11 cocktail in Doug Fir? Why isn’t a decor of vintage Astoria photographs, vintage US Armed Forces recruiting propaganda, and the classic Bud Clark “Expose Yourself to Art” poster suitably pleasing? Why aren’t a 1946 Bally pool table and the spectacular triangle neon hanging over the bar cool enough? Why would a person need to go anywhere else for a beer after sitting at the Triangle’s back table and looking out to the mighty river? How can a lunch of a cold meatloaf sandwich and macaroni salad be topped as fuel for existential errands? Why are humble places that resemble the Triangle Tavern disappearing from Portland? I like to ask these questions, and most enjoyably when I am triangulating in the Triangle, listening to Whiz opine, feeling a bearable lightness from dark beer, in Astoria on the Oregon Coast, near the Columbia River, as it closes in on the Pacific Ocean.
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