Gettin’ Ripped at Black Water Lounge

I’m not going to tell you how I came into all this money. Let’s get that straight right away. I can’t tell you how I afforded to get out of Ashland, or how I can afford a night like this, at least not without using the word “swindle,” which I’m not about to do, so just forget about that part of it and let’s get on with our story.

It’s enough to say that I’m back in Duluth, with a warm and dry place to lay my head, and enough ka-ching to spend an evening at the Twin Ports’ newest and dumbest booze hole, the Black Water Lounge on Superior Street.

At least I assume it’s on Superior Street. As far as I can tell, this place, with its valet parking and a dude whose sole job appears to be opening the door for rejects like me, is located in the old Chinese Garden space on the first floor of the Greysolon Plaza. But as I walk in the door, I can’t help but eavesdrop on the shithead in the entryway rattling off into his cell phone: “Yeah, I’m at this new place my friend works at. The Black Water. Yeah, it’s downtown. I’m not sure what street it’s on. I want to say First Street? Yeah, I think it’s on First Street. Anyway, this place is pretty cool. We should start hanging out here.”

The other aforementioned shithead opens the door for me and calls me “sir,” which has to kill him a little bit inside every time he does it, especially when he does it for a bum like me who, despite the wad of bills in my front pocket, looks like someone who just got his face kicked in at the Union Gospel Mission. I blow past him and make an instinctual hard left for the bar, passing along the way about four or five painted and primped waitresses wearing name tags on the uniform black leather corsets laced over their T-shirts.

Without looking at the menu, I order a Bourbon Old Fashioned. The shithead behind the bar asks me what kind of bourbon I want, and I say I want whatever’s in the well, which turns out to be Jim Beam, which is what I would have chosen from a list anyway. The bill is six bucks. Not bad for a place like this.

I can’t imagine where the people here come from. I must be the only person in the room with any hair below the neck. Who the fuck gets dressed up on a Thursday night to go to a bar with mediocre fancy-drinks and leather chairs? The only thing I can imagine is that half of these people came directly from the Duluth Playhouse’s showing of The Full Monty, meaning they’re probably Hermantowners who did something a little naughty tonight and decided to cap things off by going all-out decadent and drinking an entire adult beverage. The other half are groups of 30-something women having the monthly meeting for their Sex in the City fantasy league, quietly debating in their individual minds who gets to be Sarah Jessica Parker and who has to be the old trampy one from Mannequin.

The room is laid out in a sort of L-shape, with one arm of the L being the bar area surrounded by a few tables, and the other, wider arm being a loungey zone with leather chairs and couches used primarily by large groups. Being a sole, lurking pervert, I naturally gravitate toward the bar area. The haggard, overdressed women keep their distance from me, and the bartender keeps calling me “sir,” just like the doorman. Whenever he does so, I thank him with a salute, and call him “my good man.” Just like the doorman, his face seems to die a little whenever I do this, which pleasures me greatly.

Of course, as fancy as this place tries to be, there’s one area it can’t keep up — the men’s room. It doesn’t matter whether a cocktail costs $2.25, $6 or $48.63, dudes will still spray the recycled version of it all over the floor. Below both urinals are two dry spots on each side where shoe bottoms have soaked up the splatter.

Slim Goodbuzz lives in hotels these days, and thinks it will be a long time before the novelty of it wears off. Come hang out with him at Edgewater’s waterpark some time. E-mail him at, and look for the next edition of “Gettin’ Ripped” in the May 4 issue of Transistor.