you walk into darkness as you enter, and hope to not stumble over a table, chair, or person. the only available light is is cast by christmas lights strung across the walls. the ceiling is low, creating an intimacy that's either inviting or threatening, depending upon what happens next. this is my first time here and i love it. wheeler's friend "fuzz" is celebrating his 50th, and the place is packed with friends and unknown locals. i talk to a bunch of odd peeps and engage in some weird conversations.
there's something about this place that kind of sums up new orleans, but is hard to put into words. george clooney came one night and the story goes that they didn't know it was him until he left, given the lack of light and cramped space. anthony bourdain, of course, came here to hang out. but despite being known as one of the greatest dive bars in the usa, it still manages to hang on to a certain, non-ironic authenticity. this is something, i think, that new orleans is good at. music trends come and go. nola absorbs and appropriates them all but doesn't get hung up on them. in the end, new orleans music retains a sound, changing and not changing. this lounge can take celebrities, yelp, and facebook, and remain true to itself, whatever that truth is.
the state of the bathrooms are key to dive bars. snake & jake's christmas club lounge does not disappoint in this area.
the drinks here are basic, schlitz being the preferred dive beer. pbr, i was told last night, is on the way out, or not available anymore, or something. i asked for a margarita, and was quickly rebuffed. settled for a jamison and local abita beer. talked for a while with the owner, dave clemens, a 66 year old, strange but friendly man, who has owned this place since 1994. said he liked to listen to the rolling stones in a bar, but the beatles at home. revolver is his favorite beatles album, something we have in common.
next door is a house, with this sign on the front porch. seemed to make sense somehow, that it sits next door to snake & jakes.
anyway, i will come back soon, i hope, to this haunted, sacred place. you can come anytime you want, it's open 24 hours.