The column below was my first ever for San Diego CityBEAT. Before this, it was called Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat and ran in SLAMM, a biweekly music magazine. In August 2002, SLAMM was bought out by a small company called Southland Publishing and it became what is known as an alternative weekly magazine. Whereas SLAMM was a smaller, less frequent music and entertainment rag, CityBEAT was more of a city paper, covering not only music and entertainment, but politics and culture and news in general.
When the buyout was complete, the decision was made by the publishers and editors to keep the column, however the scope of it needed to shift a bit. They needed something that would appeal to a wider audience than bar goers. So I shortened the title to Sordid Tales and altered the scope.
Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat was a column about the comedy and tragedy of the bar scene complete with anecdotes of drunks and brawlers and loners and miscreants from a bartender who’s seen it all, while Sordid Tales was more about the tragedy and the comedy of our culture as a whole — as seen through the bartender’s eyes. Some people preferred the original, others the latter. As for me, I love them both for different reasons. Enjoy.
(A Mission Statement)
Hello. My name is Ed. Some of you may know me from a column I’ve written for a local, biweekly, music magazine called SLAMM. The column was called Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat. It was about the comedy and tragedy of the bar and nightclub scene as told by a bartender who has been slinging drinks in San Diego booze pits for nearly 20 years.
Southland Publishing, which also owns Pasadena Weekly and the Ventura County Reporter, have recently purchased SLAMM magazine.
Their intent is to turn it into a weekly metro paper called CityBeat. Since Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat is not a music column, the editors have removed it from the SLAMM section of the paper, and placed it here.
The only other change we are going to make to the column is the title. We are removing the words “Bartender in Heat.” After all, SLAMM was a biweekly music magazine whose target audience was boozers, babes, bartenders, musicians, poets, artists and other such slackers with backfiring Pintos and multiple roomies. CityBeat is a weekly city paper. It means people with day jobs are going to be reading now: people with families and SUV’s, people who attend morning meetings and say things like “quarterly earnings” and “profit projections,” people with breakfast nooks and walk-in closets, people who wear slacks – you know, the kind of people who just don’t spend that much time hanging out in bars.
Whereas Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat was primarily an industry column about the bar and nightclub scene, Sordid Tales will be a column about life and love and culture and politics, and booze, and excess, and sports, and entertainment, and travel — as seen through the bartender’s eyes.
Now, as delighted as I am that CityBeat asked me to join them on this new endeavor, I realize that it’s you, the readers that dictate whether or not I get to keep this job. This sorta makes you my boss. So it seems only proper, since I am vying for a much-coveted slot in your weekly routine, to submit this job application to you. . .
Job application for Edwin Decker:
For Which Position Are You Applying?: Column guy.
Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Felony?: I beat the rap.
Schooling?: College dropout. The best schooling I ever received, was getting pummeled at the bus stop by Janet Abrignani in the fifth grade.
Employment History: Poured drinks in Blind Melons, 4th and B, Winston’s, The Bacchanal (during the heydays), Buffalo Joe’s, (during the heydays), Poppy’s, (which never had a heyday, but hey what the hey is a heyday anyway?). I have had multiple articles appear in SLAMM, San Diego Reader, San Diego Union-Tribune, Modern Drunkard Magazine and numerous alternative weekly magazines around the country.
Special Skills and Qualifications: Have served tequila to an African Lord, got scolded by B.B. King, made out with Wendy O’Williams, and saw Moby’s tiny, hairy ass in the dressing room of 4th and B. I played kazoo with the Beat Farmers, floundered in the city drunk tank, been kicked out of numerous bars including the Bambi Club in Tijuana. I have vomited on a lady, fell off a total of three barstools, broke up fourteen fights, and received one DUI. I was arrested in Mexico for possession (twice), mugged at gunpoint in New Orleans (once), bribed a Mexican Federali (thrice), and out-drank Country Dick Montana (once). I rarely ever short-pour, never roller blade, and don’t believe in good and evil. I have never owned a pair of Spock ears but love the allshit out of Star Trek. I take drugs, drink booze, and view porn. I don’t give a good-goddam about religion, nor race and certainly not Creed. Scott Stapp makes me nauseous. I believe rock stars should never close their eyes and raise tightly-clenched fists when they sing, I believe columnists should not place pictures of themselves at the tops of their columns (unless in character), and while I don’t believe we should outlaw leaf blowers, I do believe they should be manufactured with the exhaust tube aimed at the user’s face.
Mission Statement/Job Description: I, Ed Decker, do hereby swear to report to you, with vino and vigor, all that is vile or absurd in this world. I promise to twist the corkscrew of contempt into the flaking cork of social disrepair. I promise to sear, bruise, and muddle the egos of the egomaniacal – including my own. I promise to stumble drunkenly along the line between depravity and decency. I promise to spike the status quo with shots of 100-proof dissent. I promise to always question authority – even if it’s only to ask Authority where the keg is at. I promise to write only the truth, except if I need to lie, in which case I promise to lie as truthily as possible. (I never actually kissed Wendy O’ Williams). And I promise to never shake or chill or in any other way dilute my resolve with the ice cubes of mediocrity. Welcome to Club Sordid Tales, what’s your poison?
Author’s note: the word heyday has nothing to do with the word “hay” or “hey” or “day” even. “Heyday” comes from the old Germanic word heida, meaning “hurrah.” In 16th century England, “Hey!” or “Heyda!” was an interjection of joy or pleasure. Eventually and inexplicably, “da” was replaced by “day,” giving us the word we use today: “Heyday — a period of one’s greatest success.”