An aging, nameless scenester--a tall man, wearing a long leather jacket and equally slick black leather gloves--hovers about a dimly lit, smoky room. He pauses to slide some bills into the video-poker machine, and then sits for a spell to watch the L.A. Lakers battle LeBron James on the big screen. He later lingers outside, talking on a cell phone.
Who is this puzzling character?
It doesn't matter--what matters is where he lurks: Slabtown. Formerly Cal-Sport, and before that Slabtown, this Northwest dive is exactly the kind of place where the mysterious-looking can exist without disturbance. That's because the lore surrounding Slabtown is as storied as it is strange. Take a look at some of the Slabtown-related rumors and historical tidbits swirling around the cosmos:
1. The bar in its current incarnation is really a pet project of glam-rockers the Dandy Warhols, whose own wacky warehouse, the Odditorium, is right around the corner. Courtney & Co. frequent the joint, and Dandy-cohorts Telephone and the Out Crowd play shows there.
2. The now-locked room behind Slabtown was once Tia's. One former patron remembers the restaurant/hip-hop club like this: "It kind of looked like an Italian restaurant that had gone out of business 20 years ago--booths with beaded curtains, an uneven floor, a dance floor with a crystal ball awkwardly shoved in the corner. The bar was just a counter with a tub of Heineken on ice...memory tells me that it was often unattended."
3. Slabtown, the cowboy bar? Yes, ma'am. The bar entertained the foot-stomping, chaw-spitting crowds in the mid-'80s. It has also been a lesbian bar (for a short time just before the cowboy thing) and a fringe theater in the mid-to-late '70s.
See what I mean about the random guy? At Slabtown he's not random--he fits right in.
Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th Ave., 223-0099. 3 pm-2 am daily. 21+.