I was once in Mandeville, Louisiana, just across the lake from New Orleans, for a reunion of sorts at my grandmother's house. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in the family who doesn't like seafood; it's a long story, but I'm sure it's got something to do with my dad being allergic to fish and me thinking that I'd inherit the allergy. Anyway, at this reunion, a few of my nutty uncles might've fed me a few shots of whiskey and then definitely tried to get me to eat an oyster. They were almost at the point of prying my mouth open when I finally succumbed and slid that snotty meat into my mouth. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me not to chew the thing. So there I was, biting down on what felt like an enormous rubber booger. After a few quick and horrifying bites, I ran to the side of the deck and hacked the thing up.
A few years later, I was watching Late Night With David Letterman — and some moron was doing a stupid human trick where he closed one nostril with his index finger and snorted an oyster through the other and then spit it out into a glass.
So when I'm at the Crown Hill Taphouse (10151 West 26th Avenue in Wheat Ridge) and a guy at the bar starts talking to this gal about how he's done some oyster fishing and starts describing a gigantic oyster he once ate, those gag reflexes in the back of my throat start flexing. The guy should know better than to shuck and jive. But I never get to chime in and tell him my oyster horror story, because by the time there's a break in their conversation, they've already moved on to another subject — and I always feel silly bringing up something five minutes after the fact. But even though the guy does stir up a few sour memories, he unknowingly makes up for it by playing a damn good set on the jukebox: Sam Cooke's "Peace in the Valley," Jerry Jeff Walker's "Pissing in the Wind" and Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee," a favorite of one of my Louisiana cousins.
Crown Hill Taphouse
This place used to be the Wheat Ridge Bar & Grill until Tyson Murray, who plays bass in the Railbenders, bought it and reopened it as the Crown Hill Taphouse a few weeks ago. It's still in a bit of a transitional phase — heck, even the old bar's signs are still up — but it's definitely got some potential. The tricky thing is finding the joint, which is below Las Margaritas at 26th and Kipling Street.
Anyway, I'm talking to this gal Alex, who's a massage therapist, about music. She asks if I've ever seen the film True Stories. I tell her that my mom took me to see Stop Making Sense at the Esquire when it first came out in 1984. She remembers a line in Stories when someone asks, "Do you like music?" and the other person says, "Everybody says they do."
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Turns out we both like music, and the bartender does, too: She spins house and breakbeats around town. But she's not too fond of people ringing the bell at the bar. One guy, after ringing it once, reaches around and runs his fingers up and down the string, acting like he's going to ring it again. And she warns him, joking that she's very protective of the bell and that if he tries it, she'll put her boot up his ass. The dude does not ring the bell a second time.
Club scout: Had enough of the poker-tour scene in various dives around town? The classy Le Rouge (1448 Market Street) just kicked off a series of poker tournaments that runs every Sunday in September; each week, first- place winners score pairs of Bronco tickets, while second place wins bottle service. And Sputnik (3 South Broadway) has introduced its first-ever trivia night; summon your inner geek at Triviatron 3000 every Sunday from 9 to 11 p.m. And if that's not enough, you can still play bingo on Monday nights here with one of Denver's funniest comedians, Ben Kronberg.