Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the Love of the Bar

I live in the northwestern region of Raleigh. The primary artery in this area is Glenwood Avenue, and my neighborhood is about halfway between the south end of Glenwood in the Glenwood South area of Raleigh and the Brier Creek neighborhood which has exploded over the last few years. It is also halfway between Crabtree Valley Mall and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. While my neighborhood has experienced some growth recently, it is a mainly a middle-aged neighborhood relative to other areas. Similar to its geographical location, it is squeezed in between the fresh-faced Brier Creek and the older downtown area. However, I would argue downtown Raleigh, particularly Glenwood South, experiences much less turnover than the more northern end of the avenue.

The Glenwood South area of Raleigh is known for its restaurants, bars and clubs. Some, like Hibernian and Sullivan's, have been in the their locations for years. Others, like Cashmere and Natty Greene's are newer and replaced previous establishments. I have spent more than a few nights out and about in Glenwood South. For a few years, El had an apartment that was only a short distance from the main strip of Glenwood South. She and I and many of our friends could walk from her place to the various establishments in the area. Nowadays however, I seldom make it downtown.

While the nightlight in my area of Raleigh is not quite so well known as Glenwood South and other areas of downtown, there are plenty of places to have a drink in the north and west areas of Raleigh. I occasionally venture out to Sawmill Tap Room, Edwards Mill, and the new Buffalo Brothers location. Back before they closed, I payed visits to Crowley's and Ben's Place which is soon to be reborn as The Luxury Box. However, I usually just frequent three places that are found along Glenwood Avenue.

Switching gears slightly, a problem that I have with people in general, but particularly with people that hang out in bars, is the gross overuse of the word "love". At least in the bars that I frequent, people are always saying how much they love each other. They also love the bartenders and servers, and of course, the bar staff always loves their patrons. To me, it all seems a bit unseemly. I understand the problem is really with the limitations resulting from the English language having a single word for love. That single word is used to cover love in all of its various forms. The ancient Greeks were much smarter about the subject than us. In fact, they were intelligent enough to have four different words for the different types of love. It just so happens that the three establishments that I most frequent can be mapped to three of the four type of love as defined by the Greeks.

First is O'Malley's which represents familial love (or storge). O'Malley's is an Irish pub that is located in the nondescript Oak Park shopping center where it is sandwiched between a hair salon and a framing store. The parking lot is populated with motorcycles and muscle cars as well as SUVs and minivans. On warm days, people of all shapes and sizes are out front with tasty beverages in their hands. For better or worse, the regular patrons of O'Malley's seem to be like a large family to me. Most of the folks seems to be particularly close and have come to be dependent on each other. However, there is also that peculiar aspect of everybody knowing the business of everybody else and all that goes along with that.

If O'Malley's is familial love, then Blinco's represents fraternal love (or philia which incidentally, is what makes Philadelphia the "City of Brotherly Love"). Blinco's is obviously a sports bar. While there are four televisions in all of O'Malley's, Blinco's has more than twenty. Blinco's is in a free-standing building that faces Glenwood Avenue. It is located in front of a shopping center whose major tenant is a Havertys furniture store. The patrons of Blinco's are generally a friendly lot. The same folks are regularly saddled up to the bar playing Buzztime trivia or poker on some of the televisions. In the fall, Blinco's is the place to be on Saturdays and Sundays to watch some football.

Finally, there is Lynnwood Grill which would be eros or what most people think when the term "love" is used. However, I do not mean that Lynnwood is love in a romantic sense but in the sense of pure lust. Lynnwood will soon be moving into a brand new building that is currently under construction across the street from its current location. The new building will have with a rooftop bar which will offer a great view of the nearby Lowe's and Target stores. At the moment, Lynnwood is holding down one end of a small strip mall. (Drinking establishments that are located in shopping centers is a common theme here in North Raleigh.) This strip mall is located between a movie theater and a Goodwill store. Most of the time, Lynnwood Grill (or "LG" as the regulars say) masquerades as a pizza joint and also serves as a watering hole for the local neighborhood. In reality though, Lynnwood is something much else. To put it simply, on weekend nights, Lynnwood becomes a prototypical meat market.

As I mentioned above, there are actually four different types of love as defined by the Greeks. As I also mentioned above, I really only frequent three local bars which map to three of those four types. I tried searching my mind to find a fourth bar which could represent the fourth type of love which is agape. To me, agape seems only slightly different from storge or familial love. Agape is suppose to be the highest form which is unconditional love, sacrificial love or charity. I guess love progresses up from eros to philia to storge and finally to agape. Anyway, I could not come up with a place that for me fit the agape type of love. Perhaps that place in on my couch with a cold glass of the home brew in my hand. Or this could mean I have not yet found a bar that I truly love.

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