Boy, I Tell You What

Location: A sports bar somewhere in San Angelo

You know, this is a nice enough town. Bill has settled right in; he’s even becoming part of the Establishment. Coming up will be his third campaign for mayor. He’s a Rotarian. He volunteers in the community. Yep, Bill is becoming one of them. It’s a large enough town that there are the amenities and while perhaps there aren’t the same cultural opportunities here as in other places at least there is a university to soften the, uh, West Texas Cowboy *cough*redneck*cough* influence.

There are lots of elderly drivers in this town, creeping from light to light and making left turns with agonizing care. The landscape is dotted with small towns, but when people get older and want to be closer to care, shopping, and other old folks this is where they come. I can’t blame them; this would be a good place to be retired.

There is also a wide variety of bars. Bill has shown me several, from the Lone Wolf Pub (which I now call Shea’s bar), which is a fairly divey place but they take their darts very seriously, to the newly-remodeled Oasis which would fit in just fine in downtown San Diego. Not swanky, but nice. Lots of wood paneling, trendy light fixtures turned down low, and whatnot. The modern version of the fern bar.

Those bars all have one thing in common. They don’t open until 4 or perhaps even later. What’s a boy to do? Well, this boy headed to the the mostly-dead downtown. I figured since the government buildings were still down there that there had to be at least one bar. Bureaucrats gotta drink, after all. I went down the main drag, witnessing the destruction wrought by the big box stores and strip malls, a side effect of the automobilization of America. If I was Bill, I would come up with a plan to lure businesses back down there and make that my Mayoral platform. I doubt Bill would agree with the government getting it’s fingers into business’s business.

I found no bar. There was a restaurant that probably would have sufficed, but I was looking for a bar. I drove on, and was suddenly surrounded by giant churches. After the congregation finished praying for their teams, where would they go to watch them? I kept driving.

I don’t know where I am now. I saw the sign for something-or-other Sports Bar. It didn’t look happening, exactly, but there were a couple of cars in front. I pulled up right in front of the reflectorized glass front door and read the hours. Open at 2 p.m. I looked at my clock. 2:05. Pay dirt, baby! I secured my car and went to the door. Locked. With a heavy sigh I turned back to the Miata when I heard the keys rattling in the lock. Praise Jesus. “Sorry about that,” the guy said as he opened the door. “We just barely opened.”

“Dang,” said I, “It’s tough finding a place to drink at two in this town.” The guy sitting at the bar, reading his book and sipping his draft beer, laughed. There is a group of three at one other table and that’s it for the patrons so far, so the bar is not yet smoky. I am currently the only person in here who does not speak Spanish, although everyone speaks English. Televisions surround the bar, while two pool tables in good condition dominate the center of the room. Beer propaganda covers the walls, broken occasionally by Halloween crap. The ceiling is festooned with streamerrs and banners for competing NFL teams and competing beers. The beer selection is limited, but not too expensive. I don’t think they have booze at all. It’s a beer and wine bar, without the wine. As I was typing that, the bartender came over and told me they have free hot dogs. I’m getting to like this place. Lil J’s Sports Bar is the name of the joint. I’ll tell you this, it’s the best bar in town before 4 p.m. on a weekday.

21 thoughts on “Boy, I Tell You What

  1. I feel remiss in not advising you to take more pictures and chronicle the road you’re on. Eastern NM/West Texas are SO different from all of the beautiful scenary you chronicled in the first half of your journey. Yet if you stay long enough – AND have the right temperment (my Carolina wife never got used to the concept of a terrain with no trees) – this land has a beauty all its own. Yikes, that sounds like a folk song, “from the redwood forests, to the blah blah blah.” Town names are especailly rich in West Texas: Happy, Earth, Bovina, and my personal favorite – Justiceburg. You did mention Llevelland. There’s some thing interesting about Llevelland, I think one of the Dixie Chicks is from there (not positive). And of course Buddy Holly is from Lubbock. If I had been on my toes, I would have told you where the statue is, and you could have had your picture taken.

    Which route did you take to San Angelo? Was it through Lamesa (pronounced luhmeeesa)? Barrie Corbin, the actor who played the ex-astronaut on Northern Exposure is from Lamesa. Also famous for wanting to “piss on a spark plug” in the movie WarGames.

    As you proceed this way please also chronicle the path in photographs. You will eventiually come across trees again, and you timed it perfectly, because they will be changing to their fall colors.

    p.s. why do you keep throwing the tag & in?

  2. I did take many pictures, I used my big-ass camera to do it however, and the workflow is much more complicated. I’m relying on you to force me to sit down for a day in NC and go through them and get them cropped and generally purtied up.

  3. As for Texas politics, I haven’t seen a national-level political ad the entire time I’ve been here, and there are a lot of Bush signs in yards. Yup, this is Bush country all right. Bill may be the only dissenting vote. In his words, “We must repudiate Bush.”

  4. As a request and suggestion, you may want to see if your travels take you through Votaw, TX located on a dusty farm road NE of Houston. Although I think that you should travel to St Louis for the series. Stories should abound.

  5. I was remiss in answering Jess’s question about the htmlcode tag. The way the blog software works is supposed to immunize the writer from the html that is generated. Unfortunately, winders machines don’t always take kindly to the result. You can say to the software “Stuff it. I’m doing my own html. To do so you imbed an htmlcode tag. If there is the slightest problem with the html between the tags, the software just punts and puts it all up verbatim. Often I type htmocode for the closing tag and naturally that breaks everything. Eventually I catch the mistake and quitely fix it, wondering how many people saw my goof.

  6. It was only after I left the caf’ that I realized a better answer was in order. Something about being really happy when it’s noon. Keith has already outdone me, however.

  7. All I gotta say is jessie’s sports bar is one of the best in Angeltown Texas. I’m up here in some redneck town in Idaho that has no bars, so I miss the hot spot LIL J’S SPORTS BAR!

  8. Next I’m in San Angelo, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. I’ll even buy you a beer. I liked that bar. Right now I’m eight time zones away, however, and there’s a host of new bars for me to come to know.

    I will be in San Angelo again, someday, and when I am I’ll drop you an email. And you’ll ask yourself WTF???

  9. Oh, dang, Joshua, you’re asking a lot now. Looking at the date on my post I’d have to think it was October 21st. The bartender was a really nice guy, but I’m sure I never learned his name. He went out of his way to make me feel at home, offering to let me plug in (most places I have to ask) and making sure I knew about the hot dogs.

    I can say to anyone passing through that way, stop by Lil’ J’s and let them make you feel at home. It is a good bar.

  10. thank you for the imformation it’s just my homeboy owns lil j’s, and I was like in there all the time to help him open and close so I was trying to figure out who you are. I reasently moved out of state and came across this on the internet. I just got off the phone with the owner and he says thanks for the letter.

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