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[whitespace] Nude Painting
Photograph by Eric Carlson

Notes From the Underbelly

Nude on Murphy Avenue

By Eric A. Carlson

"The undressed is vulgar--the nude is pure."

--Robert G. Ingersoll

BLINK AND YOU MISS THEM--dusty, musty, neighborhood dive bars. Blue collar, hardworking, sinewy tattooed men smoking and shooting pool at the same time. Disco balls, perhaps a cat walking through, and occasionally someone being shown the door against his or her will. El Camino Real used to harbor its fair share of such gin palaces. The Patio Lounge and The Oasis, almost side by side, are reminders of the Camino's halcyon days of old. Only the strong and cantankerous survive.

Purchased a beer from Brandy, the daytime bartender, and surveyed the room: two pool tables and four television sets--one in each corner. A jukebox rapped, "Soft spoken with a broken jaw ...," lyrics fading out in a din of television, clacking pool balls, and bar chatter. A sign, yellow with age, warns of bouncing checks (20 bucks per bounce); a button behind the bar reads, "Don't talk to my breasts, they're deaf," and another, "Piss me off, pay the consequences." The Lobby Lounge in the Fairmont Hotel would do well to consider such signs as a means of providing a more homey atmosphere.

Brandy and her relief, Amber, were professional and friendly. (It was Maria's night off, but those in the bar spoke highly of her.) They suffered my foolish questions gladly: How old is the bar? Who painted the nude? Why isn't there a disco ball hanging from the ceiling? Answers: The bar has been around a long time, John "somebody" painted the nude (the artist had too much flourish in his signature--it is illegible), and a 4-foot-diameter deluxe disco ball is on special order from Luxembourg. Amber recently celebrated her birthday, and seemed quite excited about receiving the complete collection of National Geographic on CD. The world should be filled with such women.

Apropos of nothing, the mayor's office has not returned my call regarding the Thomas Fallon statue. Something is rotten in Denmark. The placement of Thomas was to have been in heartbroken Pellier Park, but was deferred, the argument being that Julian Street needed straightening out. I don't see any 'dozers out there. And don't reckon I will. Those in power do not want this heinous statue going up on their watch. Stand by to suffer through a series of clumsy machinations designed to delay.

Ross of Oz writes, "If Thomas Fallon is truly this dangerous in death, he must have been an absolutely fearsome bit of kit at the height of his powers." Ross suggests a public subscription be raised for a plaque to commemorate the hiding place of the Fallon statue. Good idea. I would suggest an auxiliary contest to actually find the hiding place--winner to receive one "Get Out of San Jose Jail Free" card. Hint: it's probably in Oakland.

Final note: Paul and Harvey's was possibly an auto garage in the 1940s. And Amber recommends Branham Lounge as having the most comfortable bar stools in San Jose.

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From the April 26-May 2, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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