We took opportunity last night to indulge memories of one of my favorite old bars/neighborhood hangouts that are sadly, no longer. Although The Other AC remains bitter about our last days at Dremo’s after a spat with an asshole bartender (the details of which I won’t get into), I miss it. Reminisces can be found in an earlier post in the Dweebcentric blog. It was a two-story bar with a tiki-styled outdoor patio that was eventually razed. The burial ground was covered in black asphalt, guarded by a chain link fence.
Downstairs, in the backroom, they used to host special events. Zine festivals, the annual 101 Elvis Night, stand-up comedy, and Lyz tells me, even the occasional Burlesque. Every Tuesday night, it also used to be where the Washington Psychotronic Film Society screening their delicious bad and wholly trashy fare. You’d buy a beer at the bar (it ran concurrently with $1 and then $2 dollar beer night) head to the back to find a seat around the plastic patio furniture, and for free, you could see every manner of ludicrous cinema, television shows, commercials, and other random clips that fit the bill. For a while, they bumped around town, displaced as the rest of Arlington and nearby residents were when Dremo’s closed its doors, winding up periodically at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. But that didn’t last long, and I thought they were another DC relic to disappear entirely in the wave of condo mania and real estate development that has gripped this area in the last decade.
Last night I joined the Other AC, Lyz, and others for a trip over to a grim looking cocktail bar called Passengers. The Convention Center neighborhood isn’t exactly rabid with night life, and consequently, people, during the middle of the week. I never frequent the neighborhood at all, let alone the weekends to know if it’s any different. The indoors of Passengers were painted gray and looked, as most bars probably do in DC, like it was at one time a regular store. Where there were once window displays to the left and right of the central door, there were now booths. It was a very spacious bar, in that, there was the bar, a few booths lining the wall, and not much else. The patrons were mostly young, professional hipstery-yuppie types. Though there may have only been about 25 people tops there last night, AC said it was just about the busiest he’d ever seen it. Whether for lack of people, lack of objects, or simply the design scheme, it felt like an Edward Hopper painting. Though, the appeal is that you can basically get any kind of cocktail you’d like, or at least whatever the bartender feels like making. And to my understanding (I just prefer beer), it’s usually pretty damn good.
We had gone there, lured by the promise of a free screening of the 1986 T&A action disaster flick, Hell Squad, in the backroom. This is, rather surprisingly, where the beloved, Washington Psychotronic Film Society now calls home. As much as Passengers has that “lonely passenger” feeling, I’m glad they’ve managed to settle somewhere and continue the tradition that lasted for close to 20 years (and I see they finally entered the Blogosphere). The same heavy set black guy with the denim shirts and baseball hats was there, hyperactively introducing the pre-show clips with fun facts. Last night’s, although I didn’t catch the name, included some short animated features that were created out of toys by the guy who now does work for the Sarah Silverman show, among other things. A talking gentile crocodile and his uncouth spider mate endure (or rather, invite?) random misadventure, including police chases, encounters with cannibals, and watching a dog take a shit (imagine the puppeteer work!). It was actually pretty well done and the Other AC leaned over to say that this is what we could have done (referring in part to the Ghost of Screenplay Past) given the simplicity, stupidity, and quality.
Hell Squad! But if you squint, you can see the Troop Beverly Hills all grown up.
Hell Squad was introduced with a warning from the host that its ending was just like Scooby Doo. And, he wasn’t kidding. A diplomat’s son is kidnapped by (what else?) but Arab terrorists. Not an easy party to negotiate with, the diplomat’s assistant assures that he has a solution. “You remember where I worked before this job?” Well, it was somewhere in Las Vegas and had something to do with showgirls, because nine leggy blond and brunette dancers are trained to well… get in there, and kick ass for America!! Oh, and save some jerk’s son. The training was hilarious, and pretty much about the same training given to people on trust session retreats or high school football practice. After those couple of hours, they could handle anything. Which seems to be just about how their mission goes. Their cheapskate boss sends them to whatever Middle Eastern country the kidnappers are supposed to be in (this movie was filmed in Las Vegas and Baltimore) and they all bunk in the same room. Every day, when they’re about to enjoy Group Bath Time, the blonde one who shows her tits throughout most of the movie always gets a phone call with instructions of where to be the next day. It’s a steady regimen of morning and afternoon combat and slaughter (with no luck of finding kidnappers, of course), followed by evening bath time. I was in the middle of getting another round of beers when they finally do find the son, although I did catch the Scooby Doo ending. And it was just like Wayne’s World! Except they were serious and it wasn’t some creepy old guy. Just some creepy other son of the diplomat who disguised himself as one of the girls. You’d think they would’ve noticed something funny during Group Bath Time!
It was kind of fitting, then, that a transvestite, who sat near her balding date, should win the raffle for semi-working wind-up toys. “I’m not a spy,” she assured the host who handed her the toys.