Some social inventions have endowed humanity’s diversity for millennium. The public market was one such social invention, but modern capitalism exterminated that one.
The monopolies of print newspapers were definitely not one of them. Idolatry and innuendo of the printed word can only go so far, and thankfully, the Internet is destroying that media. European civilization did gift the world two good things however: the game of football, or soccer as we say in the States, and public drinking establishments.
Yet, I now despise bars. I used to enjoy visiting such alcoholic dens. But even when a few bars have had good tasting food to offer – I cannot do it anymore – nor can I afford it anymore. I have seen the light of Reason. But a more important question begs to order: what happened to public drinking establishments in the States? The American Revolution was partly started in urban taverns, and the Wild West lived inside of western saloons.
We must return to Roman civilization. The first bars were actually Tabernae, or taverns. These little stores and eating-drinking establishments had the complete bottom floor to the roads. The owners were often freedmen who got into the trade in order to supply urban dwellers and other visitors ready-made, cheap foods and cheap drinks.
There was not much mead, nor bier, or beer, in those Roman cities. Instead, the cauponis, or innkeepers, served vino, or wine, out of cool, large wooden casks, called cellae, with the most expensive regional grape representing Falernia. The first bars or taverns were more similar to the small convenience stores with large wine barrels, now called bodegas, currently found all over Spain.
Thanks to this popular Roman experiment in social class climbing and cheap oblations, the invention spread all over European civilization, from the steppes of the Rus, or Russia, to the hills of Hibernia, or Ireland, from the fjords of Norvege, or Norway, to the mountains of Iberia, or Spain. Europeans would never lose their shoddy reputations as the Kings of Binge Drinkers and ad-hoc partying. Roman Carnival just never ended for all of them: Bacchus, (Drink), Pan, (Music), and Priapus, (Sloppy Sex). In our absurd contemporary world, we can now add, football, or Soccer, into the sensual mix.
German culture had the kneipe, while French culture preferred the brasserie. The Spanish set up mesones. For the sake of this essay, I will not list every European name for a bar-drinking establishment, as the reader could surely find a specific name for such places in every European language, from Turkish to Breton, and from Frisian to Basque. The American version takes its lift from British culture.
Britain had its alehouses, which were private drinking establishments with a 24 hour, seven-day a week, lock ins. These places were in pre-Norman invasion Britain. At least one thing survived the Anglo-Norman shock troops.
It was during the late 13th century that the first public houses, or pubs, appeared, often run by tenants paying a fee for serving the brew master’s ales, or through freeholders, who owned the entire operation.
These public drinking establishments became such a rage that England’s greatest authors celebrated the local cultures that swam in such saloons, or particular entertainment rooms, filled with storytelling, songs, music and games. Chaucer’s setting for the Canterbury Tales took place at the roadside Tabard Inn, while the notorious Shakespearean character, Falstaff, was often found half-drunk, or pissed, at the Boar’s Head Inn.
Due to the hazards of road travels in those medieval days, many pubs were similar to travelers inns and taverns, which served special drinks and prepared foods. Some places had shared bed lodging, so the drinkers could snore and sleep off the hard water alcohol. The inns generally served beer and ale, while the taverns also served wines.
When the States was the colonial American Plantations, taverns became the premier social space for American men. In Boston, the historical legend states that the first plotters began their talks for American independence inside the Green Dragon Tavern.
As the United States moved west, the first saloons opened their doors for men, which were essentially taverns that served mainly whiskey, beer, sweet wine and other strange concoctions. These saloons also had gambling, such as tilted machines, dice draws, and card games. Other saloons attached themselves to bordellos of loose women, the so-called ‘opera house’ for cheap entertainment, or the local hotel.
Once the US Federal government ‘closed the western frontier’ and ended any ‘wild west’ freedom, about 100 years ago, the first state licensed bars emerged. The bars took their style from the original pub counters in Britain – without the saloon theatrics. Gun fights in the bars now led to arrests and imprisonment. The origins of bars were more medicinal, since certain sick people could take spirits in order to soothe their pains.
With the Woman’s Crusade of 1873, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement and the Anti-Saloon League gaining in political favor, the saloon-bar was a marked entity. The US Federal Government passed the Eighteenth amendment to the Constitution, and the drinking establishments ceased to exist – except for the illegal Speakeasies. This period was Prohibition.
After the repeal of Prohibition in the 1930s, the saloon transformed into a wild west side-show, and the bar took over everything, with taverns only designating food service with booze. Bars were also open to both men and women. The meat market scene began with both young and old men trying to chat with, and hopefully lay, the women visitors.
In towns across America, each bar snatched a particular, cultural personality. There were the dive bars for the drunks and cheap losers, old men bars for the elderly drunks and cheap losers, cowboy bars, local bars, cop bars, gay-lesbian bars, black bars, (for the Blacks), vato bars, (for the Mexicans), driller bars, (for the oil and gas workers), and miner bars. With the success of professional sports in American life, and especially the NFL, during the 1970s, the sports bar emerged with multiple television sets on the walls.
In the Amerikan Empire, we now have themed bars, from Metal to Folk, and from Punk to ‘Decadent,’ or whatever that means. Bars have used every imaginable enticement in order to fleece more money from the customer-marks. They regularly employ happy hours, free crappy food days, lady’s nights, DJ-band cover charges, game nights, trivia nights and holiday bashes with expensive entrance tickets. The old demarcations between bars and private nightclubs have blurred.
The pool hall is falling into the relic of historical memory – while hopefully, the latest incarnation of the Amerikan bar will end up there too. Why would a Doctor Historian Anarchist wish for such a thing?
Walking into an American bar is like invading the private den of an enemy. Our current incarnations of bars have lost their community soul. Even the local bar in the small town is dying. Many of the people visiting such establishments represent the lumpen refuse of the Amerikan political-economic nightmare.
Most of the patrons have serious drinking problems, terrible physical maladies, or mental issues – or all the above together. The conversations are either one person monologues that display horrendous suffering, or they represent aggressive-paranoia, back and forth bantering. I have never been able to have an enlightening talk with another person inside those places. I have been able to converse with others inside weirdo cafes – while loaded with caffeine.
The consummation of heavy doses of alcohol with extreme global monopoly capitalism has murdered the bar vibe. This is the reason we should cut down the bar dependency: global monopoly capitalism.
Bars often have owners who personify the worst elements of the small business owner class. Some years ago, I remember visiting a bar run by so-called Anarcho-Syndicalists in a hipster west coast city, and I later found out that the employees did not even receive wages – only tips! And those guys were supposedly fighting the Class War in the employee’s name? There are hundreds of bars across the States where the owners don’t even pay their employees basic wages.
Due to the nastiness of the owners, the tipping scam is out of control in those rip off joints. At restaurants, Americans generally tip 20% for the final bill of service. But in bars, the bartenders expect at least a dollar tip for every drink served! Most bars now have drinks that at least cost five dollars or more, so a dollar plus per drink means 20% per order. If you decide to act the gentleman and pay for a few rounds, the customer is looking at a good amount of his or her salary falling into bartender tips. If you don’t follow this code, you might have the bartender slip some Visine eye wash into your next order – and straight to the restroom you will run.
Intelligent patrons know that using a bank-debit card in a bar is a dangerous proposition. In American bars, you must only use cash. When the bartender’s friends come in for a visit, which they regularly do, then guess who is paying for the ‘free drinks’?
When the bartenders are not dipping into the owner’s till for their lost wages – then the rest of the drinks are on you. If you forget your card and leave it overnight, then you might as well take a deep monetary hit.
Finally, both bar owners and bartenders are generally rude cretins. I have rarely encountered a gentleman-gentlewoman bartender or bar owner working inside an American drinking hole. I have encountered plenty of obnoxious and rude assholes – and they still expect you to tip them 20%!
How many actual bartenders know how to pour a beer, mix a cocktail or even serve properly a glass of wine? There are very few left. In our savage capitalist system, more and more low skilled, jack of all trades people now work behind the bar counter. They might dress well, have a tight friendship with the owner, and if they are attractive women, create a certain eye candy – but they are not true bartenders.
Our bars have even become part of the grand American Pyramid Scheme. We pay inflated prices on cheap drinks in order to feel happy for a very short period in our transient lives; meanwhile the bar owner and bartender openly detest us. They might say hello and do a little idle chatter with us, but their eyes always betray their hate and murder. We continue to flush our money down their till toilets.
We do have options. We could simply visit the local liquor store, convenience store or supermarket down the street. Buy paying less for more product, we might also have some money left over for food, like a delicious round of pizzas. We can enjoy the booze and food all within the good community of family and friends.
We ought to reject the fears of encountering bar owner-bartender scam artists, and the aggressive lowlifes who regular visit dive bars in order to commit violent acts. We don’t even have to worry about getting DUIs, where the police normally haunt bars in order to destroy people’s lives.
Submitting to a supposedly cool, fraudster-hipster hangout is just not worth the destruction of our honor, nor the loss of our basic human dignity, nor even playing slaughter house chicken with our fragile lives.