First off: THANK YOU to Taneesha for buying me a round on the house. You rock and you extended my stay at Jack's long enough for me to learn about Jack's history from Tim (see below). I really appreciate it.
Another good crowd at Jack's Bar & Lounge on Friday after work. To me a good crowd is all the bar chairs taken up, less one for my tired butt. There were about 16 men and 5 women in the bar, including the bartender.
Taneesha was behind the bar again tonight and I noticed this time around that a lot of people seemed to know her. She was talking somewhat animatedly with three or four bar patrons and got excited when someone they were talking about showed up out of the blue.
A guy named Ron came in for one quick drink to say Hello to Taneesha. Ron is a nice guy -he bought his wife a car for Christmas even- and just got a new smart phone. I experienced severe pangs of phone envy when he whipped it out. It's called an Eris and it leaves my Blackberry in the dust.
I drowned my envy in beer and watched some Italian league soccer on one of the flat screens, between Chievo and Inter. This game was violent. I'm used to soccer players from opposing teams touching hands, then falling over in feigned agony as though every bone in their hand was broken, but for this game it was all real pain, which the sports network was keen to show over and over.
First contact: two guys bump backs while trying to head a ball. Guy one lands, elbows guy two in the back, guy two responds by doing a swift horse style kick to guy one that catches him between his legs, lifts his nuts up slightly and drives them into the front of his crotch. I even felt pain on this one.
Impact number two: two guys jump up to head a ball, but they were both running so their leaps are as much vertical as horizontal. Neither guy heads the ball, but they sure as shit run their heads into each other like a pair of rams battling over who gets to nail the ewe first. Both guys fall to the earth and are taken away on stretchers. What an impact!
Collision number three - a one sided affair. Once again a guy jumps up to head the ball, but guy two on the other team is thinking he wants to close the distance to guy one and jump over him to get to the ball first. So guy two runs and leaps like a goddamned gazelle over guy one and leads with his right knee raised up when he does it. Guy two does get to the ball first, but also nails guy one in the back of his skull so hard his nose damn near kisses his chest. Guy two gets a yellow card and guy one goes out on a stretcher.
WTF kind if soccer is this? It's the awesome kind! The guy sitting to my left with his ass crack hanging out plumber style and his buddy one seat over both thought it was pretty cool too.
But for all the human drama going on for our viewing pleasure, the highlight of the night was my conversation with the man to my right: Tim.
Tim moved to San Jose in his early twenties and his lived here for something like twenty or thirty years. He told me he's been going to the Wienerschnitzel (faster, this time) next door to Jack's for at least 25 years and says Jack's has been "Jack's" for at least 14 years.
He also noted that, up until the current owner of Jack's took over, Jack's was filled with hardcore local patrons who'd all grown up with each other and gone to high school together. These folks liked to start drinking early and were capable of giving a withering team stink eye to anyone and everyone they didn't know who dared set foot in "their" bar. Didn't matter if the bar was full or not. In Tim's words, "These guys were assholes. Real assholes."
Tim told me how when he learned Jordan would be taking over Jack's he warned Jordan about the asshole regulars, to which Jordan replied that he knew about them and had a plan.
So it was that Jack's opened later for some time (5 o'clock-ish, much later then when the regulars would want to start drinking) and generally worked the jerks out of the bar.
Things are much better at Jack's now, according to Tim. I have no frame of reference like he does, but I sure as hell agree with him that Jack's is great.
Other factoids from Tim:
- Togos was founded by a San Jose State student. It's first shop was on the south side of San Jose State university.
- He knew Rina (the bartender) when she worked at Mission and was all of 21. Said she's one of the best bartenders he knows and that he and his buddies were sort of hesitant to talk to her at first because she looked so damn young! He theorized she might be one of the many Dave & Busters dropouts who moved on to other, similar jobs in the Bay Area.
- Mission Alehouse failed because the owners -in addition to making numerous little mistakes- bought the building their shop was located in at the height of the market, which then crashed at took the building's value with it.
- Knows Tod (the sailor), who I had a blast with during the first of last year's Jello-O pudding wrestling events at Jack's.
Tod's awesomeness grew in my mind with the stories Tim told me about him. Thanks Tim for letting me in on the history of Jack's and the San Jose bar scene!
Quite a lengthy blog post, eh? If your eyes and brain are tired out, head over to Jacks and buy yourself a round or two to liven up a bit.